Thursday, September 8, 2011

President Bush’s War in Iraq Becoming His Folly -- published 09/11/2003

I rarely watch television during the summer because reruns far outnumber fresh shows. Of course, I make exceptions; especially for a Yankee game or a promising first-run PBS documentary, like the absorbing one Monday night covering the history of the World Trade Center from conception to destruction.
In fact, the majority of original shows that have debuted during the summer months the last few years have been those annoying, inane reality shows.
That’s why, last Sunday, I was looking forward to the sequel to "Dubya Does Iraq," starring President George W. Bush in a solo performance.
Remember last spring when he appeared in the original production informing the nation that major combat operations in Iraq had ended after landing a combat jet on the deck of an aircraft carrier and strutting around in a flight suit? At this point, it isn’t likely Bush’ll have the chutzpah to force feed that "Top Gun" image during next year’s second-term presidential campaign.
Four months later, it seems Dubya was dubious or deceitful because the war is far from over. In fact, more American soldiers have died since the president declared the war over than did during the weeks after the late March invasion. Aside from the colossal economic cost, which amounts to billions every month, the combined toll of American lives lost is fast approaching 300.
While we’re not yet in a Vietnam-like quagmire, unless there’s a turnaround in Iraq before year’s end, Bush could face the same dilemma that challenged presidents Johnson and Nixon more than 30 years ago.
For the first third of the 15-minute speech, the president simply recapped what had happened so far, as if many Americans forgot. He also conveniently excluded any reference to his primary motive for invading Iraq in the first place — weapons of mass destruction, for which nary a trace has been discovered — or our dismal failure to capture the September 11 instigator, Osama bin Laden.
We may have ousted Saddam Hussein, Iraq’s tyrannical leader, from power, but his fanatical, loyal minions are still inflicting death and casualties for our troops, who will now have their tours of duty extended beyond initial expectations.
Bogged down in recurrent firefights against an enemy employing frustrating guerilla tactics, the president and his top advisors have reverted to the diplomatic effort they foolishly abandoned nearly a year ago. Methinks it’s too little too late.
Bush’s rethinking about UN assistance appears to be woulda, shoulda, coulda. Allies that once may gradually have come on board had we continued to pursue diplomacy, are now anxiously awaiting generous handouts of cash and/or oil deposits.
When I served in Korea 30 years ago, I became aware that under the U.N. sanction, our occupation of that divided nation had to be supplemented by at least one other nation, which was Thailand. During my 12-month tour of duty I discovered that Thai soldiers were virtually being paid thrice — by their own country, the South Korean government and, of course, Uncle Sam. To the best of my recollection, a Thai private pocketed as much as an American junior officer.
It’s obvious the mistakes of our recent past have not been rectified, as we are once again willing to dole out major bucks for other nations to help us make the world a little safer.
Two years down the road, we are plausibly a more secure nation. But the harsh reality is that though we won a relatively easy war against a convenient scapegoat that had little, if any, connection to the September 11 attacks, our leaders refuse to admit their failure to effectively defeat the elusive forces of evil responsible for the terror that maimed the resilient American psyche.