Saturday, May 22, 2004

Lagniappe: Losing Iraq - Anti-war liberals are always chided by pro-war conservatives for always seeming to emphasize the negatives in Iraq and overlooking the positives. There may be some justification in this charge; but I don't necessarily see it as something to be chided for. The positive outcomes are, in the end, what we expect to see, and so we don't fall all over ourselves and pat ourselves on the back when things go right. This, I think, is pretty much standard operating procedure in any type of performance context. Movie Reviews (or book reviews, for that matter) always mention whether or not the piece is good; but almost always, one can bet that even the few flaws in a very good movie or book will be the items that get undue attention in the reviews. And I don't necessarily think that is a bad thing. As we strive for perfection and success, we are always looking at the points where improvement can take place -- even when systems seem to operate very efficiently and productively. Likewise with the war in Iraq and with the post-war occupation. We NEED to emphasize the failures and the negatives and the weaknesses so that we can improve upon them and thus position ourselves better for a successful conclusion in the end. To focus on the positives, even equally, runs the rist of neutralizing the quest and push for improvement. I think such an attitude leads to complacency. So, it is necessary and right for all of us, anti-war liberals and pro-war conservatives alike, to highlight those improvement areas. I mention all of this because I think the post-war occupation situation is perilously close to failure, even in spite of the routine and day-to-day accomplishments that one can point to. The Coalition at the top of the administrative pyramid appears to be self-destructing. Iraqis are after their fellow Iraqis, US civilian and military officials are after not only internal breakdowns in order and command (i.e. Abu Ghraib) but also after Iraqis, both friendly (Chalabi) and unfriendly (Sadr). As the time for transition to an Iraqi government approaches in a few short weeks, the situation appears to be more chaotic as the date draws near. I place the blame squarely on the Bush Administration, which never ever found its footing in post-war management in Iraq. The Bush Administration seems to be functioning like a deer caught in the headlights of an oncoming 18-wheeler traveling well above the speed limit. There seems to be no sign that it can get its act together in time. And as the situation deteriorates, frustrated and bewildered conservatives and Bush supporters are frantically looking to blame anything and anyone EXCEPT the Bush Administratin for current events in Iraq. In fact, conservatives seem to be drawing their attention away from the Iraqi and muslim terrorists that are struggling on the battlefield and focusing more on the perceived "enemy within" by blaming liberal criticism of the war and liberal media coverage of events in Iraq as the decisive variable in the bleak situation we are witnessing there. I want my fellow Americans to know that the success of this venture in Iraq hinges on NOT avoiding the failures of those responsible for managing the situation, but on emphasizing them and attempting to correct them. To not do so runs the greater risk of losing this war than anything Teddy Kennedy or Michael Moore has to say about it. This is something die-hard conservative pro-war supporters, if they really want to win the war, would do well to keep in mind as they look objectively at the Bush Administration's deplorable record in Iraq to date.

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