Immediately, I felt respect, appreciation and compassion for him, assuming he was a soldier.
Then I found out he was not a soldier. He was working for a private company. He was a former soldier, doing security work for the US embassy-- basically, riding shotgun for diplomats when they went from the green zone to Iraqi government offices and departments-- of energy, education, etc.
My esteem for him dropped. He was making a fortune, doing pretty much the same thing our soldiers do, but he had the safest Hummers and he was getting paid five or ten times what they were, though they were risking their lives more than him.
Then, another passenger in the van asked him what he thought of Bush's troop increase.
His reply was so full of sh*t it was hard to imagine he believed it, but I think he did.
He echoed the line of Bush, that the extra troops would enable the military to more completely cover areas where "bad guYs" hide, so they could get them.
This is pretty much what Bush claims to be the core of his new "victory" strategy.
I don't buy it.
"But, won't the insurgents just fade away into the desert, while the extra troops are there?" I asked.
"Yeah. The lower level guys will run away, but the mid and upper level bosses will still be there." he replied.
We'd been waiting in line at the hotel check-in desk. The desk manager was ready for me. Good thing. It is not smart to tell a six foot four security mercenary that he is full of sh*t or stupid.
Hmmm. what an archetypal line-- "full of sh*t or stupid." Too bad our policy doesn't allow cursing in titles. It would be a natural to describe sooo many stupid white men (of course, I'm referring to those described by Michael Moore's classic book.)
So.... the dumb, easily manipulated, suicide bomber types will smartly escape from the high risk zone, and the smart leaders of the insurrection and sectarian clashes will stay, eagerly awaiting being captured or shot on sight by American Soldiers who grew up shooting at targets in video games for hours every day of their teen life.
This is REALITY for Bush and his supporters. Every Iraqi captured is a high level member of Al Qaeda. "Victory," whatever that is-- more democracy, better flow of oil, more well behaved Iraqis-- at least in this iteration of Bush world, is just around the corner.
I'm sorry. It is time for the congress to put its foot down. It could do a number of things. For example, they could pass bills taxing all the war profiteers-- munitions manufacturers, private contractors, Cheney companies-- not small taxes-- massive taxes on gross proceeds. These taxes would put the editors of the Wall Street Journal into fits of apoplexy. It would give Republican congressmen... a huge backlog of phone calls from frustrated, angry, impotent lobbyists.
If the congress, and that includes the Republicans who are not totally sold out, who still care about America, could pass all kinds of crazy bills that would piss off corporate America. They could cut off funding to parts of the mlitary that are all about power and not at all about the troops.
If the congress wants to, and it will take ten Republicans in the senate to make it happen, it can stop this war. It can bring the troops home. It can prevent sociopaths Bush and Cheney from starting another insane, stupid, ill planned conflict with Iran.
They can do it. They must do it. They must be bold and brave. They must do what has never been done before-- more aggressively taking on the president and the presidency than history has previously seen.
Let me be clear-- the steps congress may have to take will be punitive and divisive. They will bring an outcry. But perhaps it will take causing corporate pain and outrage for the troops to come home.
Or they will fail in their meeting their responsibility to America and the American people... and most likely, they will doom America to sliding down a slope that will lead to the marginalization of the US as a major power. It would be sad if the pandering, cowardly Joe Liebermans and John McCains of the congress succeed. Their vision of our future will surely lead to failure. Fortunately, they are, more and more, being seen for what they are.