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Politics of Blocking Bush's Ambitions in Iraq

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Message Ron Fullwood

"In politics people give you what they think you deserve and deny you what they think you want." --Parkinson

The leader of the republican party -- who also happens to be the leader of the nation -- wants Americans to regard his every action toward Iraq as vital and void of any political motive as he insists Democrats who seek to end his increased occupation could only be motivated by craven politics as they oppose him.

"The stakes in Iraq are too high and the consequences too grave for our security here at home to allow politics to harm the mission of our men and women in uniform," Bush said Friday after meeting with his war chiefs in a transparent effort to make it appear that he's open to any suggestion outside of his stated intention to press forward with his increasingly unpopular aggression against Iraq no matter what recommendations are presented by his cabal.

If there's any genuine concern about politics affecting the debate on Iraq from Bush, he needs to account for his own administration's politicking behind their obstinacy in the face of the overwhelming opposition to their occupation expressed during the last congressional campaigns and elections. Americans still have the images and words fresh in their minds from that political cycle as the president and his White House minions flew frantically around the country labeling everyone who disagreed with the course and consequence of their four-year occupation as traitors, cowards, and terrorist sympathizers.

Americans tolerated the lecturing from Bush, then responded when it was their turn to vote; weighing in on his reckless intentions for our nation's beleaguered defenses and our overburdened defenders. Every aspect of Bush's Iraq argument was overwhelmingly rejected by those who voted - and rejected by those who'd been polled before, during, and after the elections. Bush's approval rating has been hovering around 30% since before the midterm congressional elections, so it's not as if there's some hidden mass of Americans somewhere giving his presidency a silent mandate to continue. Bush's enabling republican majority was replaced by voters in that election with Democrats pledged to end the occupation.

It's the product of that democratic process that Bush is railing against when he complains about 'politics' interfering with his determination to expend our soldiers in Iraq like the millions of dollars he's been gifted with and carelessly squandered over his lifetime. In the face of objections from the majority of Americans -- expressed by several legislative rebukes advanced in this Congress and from his own generals in the field when he first broached possibility of escalating his Iraq occupation (Casey) -- Bush decided anyway to deploy more troops into the middle of the Iraqi civil war.

Bush was reported at the time to be 'skeptical of his own military commanders' who told him they didn't need any more troops. Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki told Bush when the two met in Jordan that he didn't want any more American soldiers in Iraq. Still, Bush was said to be confident of his own 'judgment', so, he ignored Maliki, replaced the dissenting generals with agreeing ones, and pressed on with his escalation.

There is no other means for the American people to confront Bush's refusal to heed the message they sent with their votes last November, except through the actions of those legislators they sent to Washington to represent them. Outside of Bush's own demonstratively flawed judgment and his unwillingness to accept any advice which contradicts his own obstinate course, there is no substitute for the will of the American people expressed through the legislation their senators and representatives advance into action or law with their votes in Congress as he sets the course of our nation's defenders.

There is, perhaps, no more important representation of the will of our citizens, outside of our elections and the actions of our national legislature, than the concerns expressed through our nation's governors. In addition to their increasing concern that their states are one disaster away from suffering from the loss of so many of their Reserve and National Guard troops to Iraq, the nation's governors are now forced to question the strategy of sending so many of their state's soldiers into a battle zone unprepared, along with their continuing concern about leaving their states vulnerable to the after-effects of a natural disaster.

It's amazing for Bush to continue to insist that he's ordained to use our nation's defenses to prop up the dubious foreign regime in Iraq. The Iraq mission's complete betrayal of our nation's constitution or conscience makes every new obstinacy by Bush - every new escalation - a betrayal of the trust which was inherent in every vote cast in November. It's that betrayal which is highlighted by his arrogant insistence that he "doesn't listen to the polls." It's one thing for Bush to ignore the colloquial expressions of the will of Americans in the last election; it's another to swagger beyond the legislative will of the representatives and senators they sent to Washington to hold him accountable. Where then does Bush get his sense of where the country wants to go?

In a 2006 interview with ABC's Elizabeth Vargas, Bush admitted that he would feel unnecessarily restrained if he was made to actually take heed and follow the will of the people. "You know, if I made decisions based upon polls, I guess I would be hamstrung," Bush told Vargas. "I make decisions based upon how to protect the American people and how to do my job and how to work with others to spread liberty and democracy no matter how hard it is," he said.

Bush, in January, explained why he decided to escalate his occupation in Iraq instead of bring it to an end as voters demanded:

"I made the decisions after -- to reinforce," Bush explained. "But I didn't do it in a vacuum. I called in our military commanders and experts, and I listened to a lot of opinions -- and there's a lot of opinions in Washington, D.C., in case you hadn't noticed," he said.

Bush made clear which voices he valued the most as he 'decided' to continue his occupation beyond the expressed will of a majority of Americans. "The opinions that matter a lot to me are what our military folks think," he said. "After all, this is a military operation, and as the Commander-in-Chief, you must listen to your military and trust their judgment on military matters. And that's what I did."

Bush also listened to al-Qaeda, who he says convinced him that Iraq was the center of his ideological war. "It's important that we listen to the enemy," Bush declared in a speech at before the American Legion. He warned that the "al-Qaeda in Iraq" (which his occupation was given credit by his intelligence agencies for fueling and increasing), "wants to turn that country into a terrorist base from which to launch an ideological war in the Middle East and attacks on the United States of America."

If Bush and his generals were listening to the American people, they'd find them more concerned about the original terror suspects who've enjoyed five years of 'safe haven' from the U.S. pursuit in Afghanistan -- taunting the U.S. and encouraging others who would do our nation and our interests harm by the mere example of their freedom from prosecution since Bush turned his back on the "hunt" and diverted the bulk of our nation's defenses to Iraq -- than they are about splinter groups who Bush, himself yesterday, described as a "minorities" in Iraq.

If Bush and his generals were listening to the American people, instead of al-Qaeda, they wouldn't have been so quick to escalate the troops in Iraq ahead of the inevitable congressional action in opposition. They wouldn't be demanding another blank-check from Congress and rejecting all entreaties from legislators to pull back from their disastrous mission. If they were listening to the American people, the administration wouldn't be stealing from our defense resources allocated to address basic needs in support of the troops already in harm's way and those here at home in reserve positions, just to feed Bush's unsupported fiasco.

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Ron Fullwood, is an activist from Columbia, Md. and the author of the book 'Power of Mischief' : Military Industry Executives are Making Bush Policy and the Country is Paying the Price
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