Thursday, November 10, 2005

What Now?

Steve Chapman weighs in on Iraq again this morning in the Trib -- once again the voice of reason, destined to be ignored:
Republicans, of course, refuse to consider the possibility that their president has made a hopeless mess of the war. And while many Democrats say it was a mistake to go into Iraq, very few have the nerve to say it's also a mistake to stay. The two parties are fighting about how the war began so they don't have to talk about how it will end.
The position of the Bush administration is that we are building democracy and training Iraqi police and soldiers to take over the fight against the insurgents. But our efforts have yielded no progress in the war.
Recent weeks mark a new low by almost any measure. Last month, American fatalities totaled 93, the most since January. Insurgents carried out an average of 100 attacks per day, the most furious pace of the entire war. Iraqi civilian and security personnel have been dying at double the rate earlier this year.
Supporters of the war complain that the news media fail to report all the good news about Iraq. But Fox News didn't report much good news from London when terrorists set off bombs in the subway last summer, killing 52 people. Iraq suffers the equivalent of a London subway bombing every day.
We've made steps toward constitutional government in Iraq, but establishing democracy in a country racked with such turmoil is like planting pine seedlings during a forest fire--it's not likely to succeed, and you may get killed trying.
So what should we do instead? My preference is to acknowledge that we don't know how to win the war and bring our troops home, say, week after next. That makes far more sense than persisting for another year, or two, or three, at the cost of hundreds of American lives, before we finally recognize the inevitable.
Bob Herbert in the New York Times discusses the effects on the military itself of being mired in such a hopeless situation, with no realistic expectation of relief:

... the problems of the military go far beyond the casualty figures coming out of the war zone. The Army, for example, has been stretched so taut since the Sept. 11 attacks, especially by the fiasco in Iraq, that it's become like a rubber band that may snap at any moment.

President Bush and Donald Rumsfeld convinced themselves that they could win the war in Iraq on the cheap. They never sent enough troops to do the job. Now the burden of trying to fight a long and bitter war with too few troops is taking a terrible toll on the men and women in uniform.

Last December, the top general in the Army Reserve warned that his organization was "rapidly degenerating into a 'broken' force" because of the Pentagon's "dysfunctional" policies and demands placed on the Reserve by the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

As one of my colleagues at The Times, David Unger of the editorial board, wrote, "The Army's commitments have dangerously and rapidly expanded, while recruitment has plunged."

Soldiers are being sent into the crucible of Iraq for three and even four tours, a form of Russian roulette that is unconscionable.

"They feel like they're the only ones sacrificing," said Paul Rieckhoff, a former Army lieutenant who served in Iraq and is now the executive director of Operation Truth, an advocacy group for service members and veterans.

"They're starting to look around and say, 'You know, it's me and my buddies over and over again, and everybody else is living life uninterrupted.' "


Post a Comment

<< Home