A war of words with grave consequences
Frank Rich of the New York Times has a very well-done piece posted at Truth Out on just how dangerous President Bush has become on Iraq. Rich correctly notes that President Bush will never be able to solve the problems or even change the strategy in Iraq since he seems totally unaware of what the problems really are...
The most startling example was his insistence that Al Qaeda is primarily responsible for the country's spiraling violence. Only a week before Mr. Bush said this, the American military spokesman on the scene, Maj. Gen. William Caldwell, called Al Qaeda "extremely disorganized" in Iraq, adding that "I would question at this point how effective they are at all at the state level." Military intelligence estimates that Al Qaeda makes up only 2 percent to 3 percent of the enemy forces in Iraq, according to Jim Miklaszewski of NBC News. The bottom line: America has a commander in chief who can't even identify some 97 percent to 98 percent of the combatants in a war that has gone on longer than our involvement in World War II.The Bush Administration has done tortuous twists of words to avoid saying anything that would suggest we are even considering anything close to withdrawal or anything short of "winning" - even though no one can identify what winning would mean. Unfortunately, unless they watch The Daily Show, many Americans haven't really noticed.
In the case of "civil war," it fell to a morning television anchor, Matt Lauer, to officially bless the term before the "Today" show moved on to such regular fare as an update on the Olsen twins. That juxtaposition of Iraq and post-pubescent eroticism was only too accurate a gauge of how much the word "war" itself has been drained of its meaning in America after years of waging a war that required no shared sacrifice. Whatever you want to label what's happening in Iraq, it has never impeded our freedom to dote on the Olsen twins.
Preoccupation with other "news" items has allowed situations like the following to develop with little coverage:
Tell that to the Americans in Anbar Province. Back in August the chief of intelligence for the Marines filed a secret report - uncovered by Thomas Ricks of The Washington Post - concluding that American troops "are no longer capable of militarily defeating the insurgency in al-Anbar." That finding was confirmed in an intelligence update last month. Yet American troops are still being tossed into that maw, and at least 90 have been killed there since Labor Day, including five marines, ages 19 to 24, around Thanksgiving.
Civil war? Sectarian violence? A phase? This much is certain: The dead in Iraq don't give a damn what we call it.
How many more young soldiers will have to die before President Bush and his team change more than the terms used to describe what is happening in Iraq?
You can find the rest here.