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Confronting the "Cut and Run" Slander of Bush's Praetorian Guard

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With elections but little more than a month away, President Bush's do-nothing Republican majority in both houses of Congress is up for grabs. And, thus, so is a genuine investigation into the Bush administration's lies, deceit and crimes concerning Iraq -- especially its "Chicken Little" clamoring about weapons of mass destruction and ties to al Qaeda that, as we would learn later, didn't actually exist.

Also requiring investigation, however, is the extraordinary military incompetence at the strategic level - at the Rumsfeld level -- that allowed an illusory "Mission Accomplished" to degenerate into: (1) widespread looting and infrastructure destruction, (2) an ever- flourishing and now unbeatable insurgency, (3) torture by American soldiers in violation of the Geneva Conventions, (4) tens of thousands upon tens of thousands of unnecessary civilian fatalities as well as untold massive and needless suffering, (5) growing Iranian influence, (6) the outbreak of civil war resulting in (7) torture that renders Saddam's tame by comparison (8) more than 2,700 dead American soldiers, (9) more than 20,400 wounded, (10) the gradual destruction of the U.S. Army and (11) the most profound military defeat in U. S. history.

Yes, that's the deal - what former U.S. Army Colonel and present-day scholar, Andrew Bacevich, calls "an American failure of immense proportions." Moreover, as Thomas Ricks amply demonstrated, in his book Fiasco, many senior military leaders, both active duty and retired, opposed either the very invasion of Iraq or its proposed execution - or both. Unfortunately, few of the many Americans who were so enthusiastic to "support the troops" were aware of this significant opposition by the troops' very military leaders. They're still unaware.

Rather than listen to the Bush administration's self-serving, deceitful propaganda about America's so-called successes in Iraq, I quickly turned to reputable military leaders for the truth. Moreover, because active duty leaders must mute their criticisms, for fear of destroying their careers, I turned to the retired military leaders, to whom the current generation of leaders once reported and still confide. Among the most prominent and respected -- both as a military leader and a scholar -- is retired General William Odom (a well-known conservative and normally a darling among conservatives and Republicans).

It was General Odom, as early as September 2004, who noted the extreme tension existing between the Bush administration and America's senior military leaders, due to Bush's decision to invade Iraq. According to Odom: "There's a significant majority believing this is a disaster."

Moreover, as reported by Sidney Blumenthal in The Guardian, General Odom added: "Bush hasn't found the WMD, Al-Qaida, it's worse, he's lost on that front. That he's going to achieve democracy there? That goal is lost, too. It's lost." Then Odom added: Right now, the course we're on, we're achieving Bin Laden's ends." ["Far Graver than Vietnam," Sept. 16, 2004]

In fact, General Odom had the courage to confront the slimy, tough-talking Republicans -- most of whom never served their country in the military -- who implied that opponents of the war were cowards who simply sought to "cut and run." In his article titled, "Cut and Run? You Bet," , published in the May/June 2006 issue of Foreign Policy, Odom disposes of all the tough-talking arguments for staying the course by these chicken-hawks.

In addition, Odom notes that: (1) Invading Iraq was not in the interests of the United States. It was in the interests of Iran and al Qaeda," and (2) "the war has paralyzed the United States in the world diplomatically and strategically." He concludes by observing: "In fact, getting out now may be our only chance of setting things right in Iraq."

Odom's article, "Cut and Run? You Bet," was written before Americans learned in September about the April 2006 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) that concluded that Bush's invasion of Iraq has sparked the proliferation of global Islamic terrorism and exacerbated the overall terrorist threat since the September 11 attacks. Thus, the NIE exposed yet another lie propagated by the Bush administration, the lie that Americans are safer, thanks to his its invasion of Iraq.

Odom's article also was written prior to the publication of a poll which found that: "Majorities in all regions [of Iraq] except Kurdish areas state that the Multi-National Force-Iraq (MNF-I) [essentially the U.S. and Britain] should withdraw immediately, adding that the MNF-I's departure would make them feel safer and decrease violence." ["Most Iraqis Favor Immediate US Pullout, Polls Show," Washington Post, 27 September 2006]

Do you get it, President Bush? Do you get it, conservative Republicans? Iraqis would feel safer if we left! In fact, they despise your invasion and occupation so much that six in ten Iraqis approve of attacks on American forces. Tell me again, which of you clowns said that we'd be greeted as liberators? Yet, having lost all of your credibility, you still have the gall to attempt to make political capital out of the phrase "cutting and running!"

Odom's article about cutting and running also was written before Bob Woodward's latest revelations. Woodward claims that the Bush administration "has not told the truth regarding the level of violence, especially against U.S. troops in Iraq." According to Woodward, "insurgent attacks on coalition troops occur, on average, every 15 minutes." More than 100 attacks per day! Such information also suggests that the mainstream news media has once again dropped the ball.

Woodward also claims that "the assessment by intelligence experts is that next year, 2007, is going to get worse." But, "you have the president and you have the Pentagon [saying], 'Oh, no, things are going to get better." ["Reporter Bob Woodward Says Bush Misleads on Iraq." CBS, 9/28/06]

Finally, Odom's article appeared before the September 2006 poll by Harris interactive, which found that only 20 percent of Americans "are confident that U.S. policies in Iraq will be successful." ["Confidence in Iraq Policies Drops to 20% in U.S." Angus Reid global Monitor: Polls & Research, Sept. 28, 2006]

So there you have it. Lies got us into a war. Strategic incompetence guaranteed our defeat. Lies keep us there, as do smears about cutting and running. Yet, if one follows the implication of the NIE, staying in Iraq strengthens international terrorism and renders the United States less secure. And, now, all but 20% now see through Bush's act.

Unfortunately, as Bob Woodward also has revealed, President Bush is so obsessed with Iraq that he has told key Republicans: "I will not withdraw, even if Laura and Barney are the only ones supporting me." Thus, Americans have no recourse, but to remove him from office, before he completely ruins our country. But to do that, we first must confront the Republican's "Chicken Little" cut and run alarmism -- by removing Bush's chicken-hawk congressional Praetorian Guard from office this November.
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Walter C. Uhler is an independent scholar and freelance writer whose work has been published in numerous publications, including The Nation, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the Journal of Military History, the Moscow Times and the San (more...)
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