Friday, August 19, 2005

Cheney Defends Iraq War; Hagel Calls It Another Vietnam

So Dick Cheney's idea for addressing the bloody mess called Iraq is to "hunt down insurgents 'one at a time if necessary'. ..." As fast as our occupation forces can create them, apparently.

You could drown in the flood of cliches about the war coming out of Cheney's mouth. It's the same empty rhetoric he and his boy in the White House have been spouting for two and a half years now. It doesn't change or evolve as conditions on the ground change. Reality has absolutely no impact on the Bush administration's thinking about Iraq.

"Victory in Iraq is critical to the future security of the U.S."

"They believe that America will lose our nerve and let down our guard. ... They are sorely mistaken."

Of course, if there had been no insurgency, or if the insurgency had been defeated by now, Cheney and Bush would be saying it was because we "stayed the course." But in the fantasy world the Bushies inhabit, exactly the opposite conditions -- a raging insurgency that is getting worse, thousands of Americans killed and disabled, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis dead, and Iraq on the brink of civil war -- are also evidence that the U.S. has to "stay the course."

But Chuck Hagel thinks that Iraq is becoming more like Vietnam all the time. Back in June, Hagel said that the Bush administration was "completely disconnected from reality" in its cheery assessment of progress in Iraq.

Iraq and Vietnam still have more differences than similarities, he said, but "there is a parallel emerging."

"The longer we stay in Iraq, the more similarities will start to develop, meaning essentially that we are getting more and more bogged down, taking more and more casualties, more and more heated dissension and debate in the United States," Hagel said.

The Omaha World-Herald wrote in late June that Hagel told a group of veterans that the U.S. is losing the war in Iraq, and that the consequences of that loss could be worse than Vietnam. The article is behind a subscription wall, but kos quoted the entire piece in the June 26 edition of Daily Kos.

What I find most offensive about Cheney's comments (and other Bushies have made the same or very similar comments) is the way they're so carefully parsed to omit any calls for shared sacrifice. CNN quotes Cheney telling the 73rd National Convention of the Military Order of the Purple Heart in Springfield, Missouri, that:

"Iraq is a critical front in the war on terror, and victory there is critical to the future security of the U.S. ... Every man and woman who fights and sacrifices in this war is serving a just and noble cause. ..."

First of all, Iraq was never presented as any kind of a "front in the war on terror" before the invasion. It was presented as a singular and unique threat to U.S. national security because of the man who headed its government. Americans were told that Saddam Hussein was a brutal dictator who tortured and killed and oppressed his own people, and that in addition Hussein had dangerous weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons, which he wanted to use against his neighbors and against the U.S. As we all know, Iraq had no WMDs of any kind, and his brutality has been matched, to say the least, by the brutality of the war, occupation, and insurgency that the Bush administration's actions have spawned.

That said, since we are now being told that Iraq is a "critical front in the war on terror" and that "victory there is critical to the future security of the U.S.," then why is it that the war is still being fought by an all-volunteer army and that no sacrifices are being asked of anyone in this country except the small minority of men and women who are in Iraq and their loved ones? No one can convince me that leaving Iraq or losing the war there would be disastrous for the safety of all Americans when Americans are allowed to live as if no war is going on at all. If you're not military or connected to someone who is, you don't have to think about the war, cope with the effects of the war, or even be aware that there is a war. You don't have to give up anything, do without any conveniences or luxuries, worry about your personal safety or the safety of your family, sacrifice economically or in any other way. That was not the case in the Vietnam war, or the Korean war, or World Wars I or II, or the Civil War, or the American Revolution, which Dick Cheney so dishonestly and disingenuously compared to the war in Iraq.

So tell us, Dick Cheney: If Iraq is such a "critical front" in the war against terror, why is it that the only people who have to give up anything to win it are the soldiers and their families?

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