There is no one who can predict with even the longest odds what the conditions may be in Iraq if we begin to pull our forces out of that country today, or six months or six years from now. No one, period! Thus, it is way long past time to get real, to be honest, to think clearly, and without reference to emotions, or what any of us might like to believe is happening or that might happen. Any other perspective is without the first whiff of moral reference.
What is deniable to no one, however is that Iraq is a place on a map without a functioning government, that it is a place that was artificially etched on a map without the first regard for the cultures and ethnicities and religions and histories of those who would compose the various populations within those artificial boundaries. Beyond tribal hatreds and feuds and bloody wars that stretch back more than a millennia there may be nothing else that is common to those who inhabit the area.
Also denied by no one is there exists not a single plan or strategy with a genuinely estimable level of likelihood of bringing Iraq’s disparate and warring factions to any level of acceptance on any matter. Walter Jones is the Republican US Representative whose district includes Camp Lejeune, the Marine Corps base on North Carolina’s Atlantic Ocean seaboard. During today’s (September 10, 2007) House inquiry of General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker, Representative Jones asked both gentlemen about the chances Iraq’s factions might at some point be able to reconcile their differences sufficient to govern, and when that time might be. Neither were able to testify such a time would occur, if ever. The best either was able to suggest was that “there are signs of progress,” though pointing to any specific and likely lasting evidence was beyond their ken.
August 6, the Crandall Canyon Mine in Utah suffered a collapse that trapped 6 miners 1,500 below the earth, 3.4 miles from the mine’s entrance. On August 16, a seismic “jolt,” or “bump” resulted in the injury of six rescuers and the death of three. Rather than risk the injury and death of more rescuers, the effort was halted.
No one who was at all in a position of responsibility there spoke in terms of “victory” or the dire consequences that would accrue due to “defeat.” No one saw what had transpired there, or was transpiring in sports’ terminology.
I am angry. I am pissed to near catatonic rage whenever I hear anyone using the terms “victory” or “defeat” when speaking about the situation in Iraq, and what ought to be done. “The United States can’t afford to lose” is a phrase that infuriates me. This is not some damn game! The mere suggestion that those speakers are entitled to not lose some element of vicarious pride, and that they are so entitled to their pride that the expenditure of human lives and intact physiognomies and healthy psyches, American and Iraqis, can even enter the equation rakes the conscience raw.
George Bush, who ran as hard and as fast as he could from the peril of military duty, recently had the gall to suggest that the 58,000+ names on the Vietnam Wall were insufficient, that the US “pulled out too soon.”. Oh that if only his father had “pulled out” prematurely a million or so who are now dead, a million and more who are now permanently physically and/or emotionally mutilated might now be alive and intact.
George Bush has reported that he sleeps well, that he doesn’t lose sleep over the moral calamity for which he and a gaggle of others and those who voted for him are wholly responsible. Drawing on Joseph Welch’s beseeching inquiry of Senator Joe McCarthy, I too ask of all who now contend for more time, more lives, more money, “At long last, have you left no sense of decency?” The authorities at the Crandall mine held that enough had been lost and enough had been spent. But my last question concerning an Iraq that has neither a prospect nor a plan in the offing, how much more blood and how much more of our treasure will it take to sate your gluttonous, fragile pride?— Ed Tubbs