Just when it seemed that prospects for an early departure from Iraq couldn’t get any more remote, the month of July ended with indications that, come September, General Patraeus will report to the president and Congress that things are looking up there and maybe in another year or two Iraqis will be able to hold their own against a home-grown insurgency, incursions from neighboring countries and a small, but well-trained Al Qaeda presence.
On the domestic front some Republicans continue to make transparent excuses supporting Attorney General Gonzales in attempts to defray the negative image of a Justice Department run amok, with a leader ill-equipped intellectually to deal with the demands of his office, whose ‘truthiness’ has been seriously challenged by testimony that insults the intelligence of most observers. Once again Tony Snow in his role as Press Secretary lays out the administration’s talking points regarding a nocturnal visit to John Ashcroft’s hospital bedside where he was pressured by Gonzales and others to sign off on aspects of the government surveillance program to which he objected, something he ultimately refused to do.
According to Snow Gonzales wasn’t lying when he made contradictory statements to the Senate Judiciary Committee. He simply couldn’t be forthcoming because his conversations with Ashcroft were highly classified – – not simply about warrant-less wire tapping but other “top secret” matters. Apparently, this White House, so cavalier in its habit of classifying and de-classifying information to suit its political whims, expects the American people to believe that, although Gonzales may have appeared to be lying, he was just guarding secrets that stand as a bulwark against enemies of the homeland. Oh the security of it all.
As this drama plays out, Harriet Miers still refuses to respond to a congressional subpoena. That anyone in a leadership position would consider this acceptable is astonishing; that she was so instructed by the president is further evidence that our executive branch has assumed extra-constitutional powers. How ludicrous in the midst of all this, that the Bush administration has subpoenaed Michael Moore regarding his trip to Cuba. Did the Bush people think this would take the heat off a floundering Justice Department or distract us from the war in Iraq? Have those vaunted political geniuses in the White House at long last over-stepped the range of their talent and fallen prey to The Peter Principle? In addition to more serious shortcomings, haven’t they begun to look just a little ridiculous?
None of this is simply silly however. It is all rather distressing as the administration toys with us here at home and struts upon the world stage with equal disdain for the history and sensibilities of other nations and their populations. The president has taken to naming Al Qaeda as the central source of conflict in Iraq, that is when he isn’t blaming Iran’s “meddling” or incursions from Syria, and elsewhere. Even though the latest intelligence report states that Al Qaeda is a small but deadly force, Mr. Bush insists it is the major problem and the same folks who attacked us on 9/11.
Similarly on Sunday’s Washington Journal, Major General Rick Lynch, commander of the Third Infantry Division in Iraq, said that Al Qaeda forces were about 70% of the problem troops faced in his “battle space” – – a pronouncement strangely at odds with the latest intelligence reports. He spoke of the great success he has had with local groups who want to be assured the US will stay long enough to provide lasting security. His men, Lynch said, were committed to their mission, and he repeated over and over the familiar mantra about protecting our freedoms by “fighting them over there” instead of “over here”. Yet in describing the task before him and the confusing face of the enemy he said it was like “playing a three-dimensional chess game in the dark with people shooting at you” – – not exactly the clear-cut sense of purpose he had been describing.
There is no question that our troops shoulder an enormous burden at terrible risk and with great bravery. But to what end and for how long? If Al Qaeda is so easily identified as the main enemy, they should be hunted down and destroyed. But if they have become simply a convenient political talking point clouding the multi-dimensional nature of the problems in Iraq we are engaged in a fool’s errand. What seems to be forgotten with the repetition of the rallying cry about fighting them “over there” instead of here is that “they” were here already, “they” lived here, “they” trained here, and “they” attacked here. Their presence and purpose were obvious enough if our leaders had been paying attention; “over there” becomes less of a selling point given the reality of what already occurred on our soil.
Too often empty rhetoric fills the vacuum left when logic and common sense are abandoned. Somehow this White House thought it could go on forever getting the American people to swallow improbable rationales about everything from the war to domestic policy, engineered by partisans whose credentials turned out to be mostly their partisanship. Surely the time has come for “the way forward” to be buttressed by some logical underpinnings.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *