September is upon us and the much awaited (and anticipated) report from General Petraus on the situation in Iraq is becoming due. Already there is a certain tug-of-war between the President and Congress over whether progress is really being made in Iraq (witness the study carried out by the White House in June), or whether little (if any) progress is being made (see the just-released GAO report).
In a perverse form of poetic justice, I see that any success of the so-called surge is really just further condemnation of the entire administration approach to the execution of the Iraqi invasion and its aftermath. A story my father once told me will serve to illustrate that assertion:
It was during the days when the tall ships ruled the oceans of the world, in the 18th and 19th centuries. One such tall ship was sailing into the night when a fierce storm arose. In the middle of this terrible tempest one of the cannons broke loose from its moorings and rolled about the deck, threatening to sink the ship. One sailor braved the winds and rain and waves and went up on deck, grabbed the cannon, pushed it back into its berth, and lashed it securely into place. His heroic actions saved the ship and the lives of his fellow sailors.
The next day the captain brought the entire crew up to the deck where he gave the sailor a medal for his heroism, then had the sailor hanged from the yardarm.
Why hang the heroic sailor, the sailor who saved everyone’s life?
Because it was that sailor's responsibility to make sure the cannon was properly secured before the storm arose.
The Bush administration is just like that sailor: They were responsible, before the invasion of Iraq, to ensure that our military had enough men to accomplish the mission. If 20,000-30,000 additional soldiers are making such a difference today, why weren’t they sent over to Iraq four-and-a-half years ago? Or three years ago? Or even last year?
If the surge is doing such wonderful things today, then wouldn’t such a surge at the beginning of the invasion have saved the lives of untold numbers of American soldiers and sailors?
Like that sailor of long ago, heroic actions today (the surge) do not compensate for yesterday’s lack of action when it comes to the Bush administration’s handling of the entire Iraqi war. And any success of the surge only goes to further highlight that truth.