Sunday, October 08, 2006


Recently President Bush, Vice President Cheney, and Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, have all given speeches about how important it is to stay the course in Iraq, telling Americans that the battle being fought for control of the streets of Baghdad is the central front on the war against terror. They have compared the struggle against an amorphous enemy that they have labeled “Islamo Fascism” to the World War II battles against the Nazis. They have labeled opponents of the war as “cut and run defeatists” and “appeasers.”

Unfortunately for America, no one from the audience or the press asked any of them some obvious questions. In case a member of the press ever develops a backbone, here are some questions he or she might want to ask at the next presidential press conference:

MR. PRESIDENT, you have painted a picture of America having only two choices with regard to the military options in Iraq: (1) stay there with current troop levels indefinitely until Iraq somehow becomes a stable democracy, able to police itself, or (2) cut and run, leaving Iraq as an unstable breeding ground for terrorism and "Islamo-Fascism." My question is: why haven't you considered a third option? If it is so important to have troops there to keep the peace and fight the insurgency, why haven't you asked King Abdullah II of Jordan and President Mubarak of Egypt to contribute peacekeeping forces? Why not gradually replace Americans with Arabic speaking, Muslim peacekeepers? Why not take away the one, single, greatest provocation that allows radical Muslims to portray this as a holy war, of Christians against Muslims? Of outsiders against Arabs? Why allow the presence of Western, mostly Christian occupiers to inspire the insurgency and provide a fertile breeding ground for Islamic terrorists?

If defeating the insurgency is now your main goal in Iraq, then why not listen to your commanders there who have told you that it is the presence of Americans that provokes the insurgency- Americans who are Western, Christian, and who don't speak the Arabic language of the Iraqi people? Why not pay attention to the fact that our nation’s intelligence agencies have issued a report concluding that our military actions in Iraq have increased the numbers of Muslims who are willing to wage Holy War against the West? Why not listen to your military analysts in the field who have told you that for every insurgent you kill, you have created two or three more who want revenge?

MR. PRESIDENT, my second question is: you have now admitted publicly that Iraq and Saddam Hussein had "nothing" to do with the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. Your inspectors found no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and the inspection teams were disbanded almost two years ago. Your latest rationale for our invading Iraq is to bring democracy to the Iraqi people. Doesn’t democracy mean allowing the people to choose their own fate- to vote- instead of having it imposed on them by dictators or outsiders? Rather than us dictating to the Iraq people at the point of a gun, if we value democracy, then why not allow the Iraqi people to vote- up or down, stay or go- on whether American forces should stay indefinitely, build permanent military bases all over the country, or whether we should leave within a specific time and dismantle our bases?

Why not put our actions where our rhetoric is- our money where our mouths are- and trust the Iraqi people to vote. If they vote for us to leave, then they can fight for their own freedom the same way we did in 1776. And they will value it more if it was their own blood, sweat, and tears, which won their freedom, rather than having it handed to them by American troops whose invasion and occupation has directly or indirectly caused the deaths of tens of thousands of their countrymen.

One last question MR. PRESIDENT: in the runup to the 2006 Congressional elections, you, the Vice President, and Secretary Rumsfeld have gone around the country giving speeches in which you have painted our military operations in Iraq as the most important front in the world in our efforts to stop terrorism. You said the battle in the streets of Baghdad is the central battle Western civilization faces in the war against radical Muslims- “Islamo Fascists” is the phrase you used- who don't share our values. You have compared this battle to the fight against the Nazis in World War II.

Putting aside for the moment how it is that your administration managed to turn the streets of Baghdad into a breeding ground for terrorism- an area which before we invaded in 2003 had nothing to do with terrorism, a place where Iraqis could walk safely, without fear of being raped, kidnaped, tortured, and shot- putting that aside: if this military adventure in Iraq is so important, so essential, to our civilization, and our way of life, to safeguard America's safety and our future, then shouldn't you be able to convince your own flesh and blood- your children, Jenna and Barbara, now age 24, to enlist and serve in the fight for freedom, the same way that President Roosevelt’s children did during World War II?

President Franklin Roosevelt's four sons, James, Elliot, Franklin, Jr. and John all enlisted and risked their lives in combat. James Roosevelt joined the Marines in 1940 and was second-in-command of the 2nd Raider Battalion of the Marine Raiders, a commando unit which conducted guerrilla-style attacks behind enemy lines. Colonel Elliott Roosevelt was a pilot in the United States Army Air Force who flew a P-38 Lightning in the North African campaign of November 1942 and flew photo reconnaissance before the D-Day landings. Franklin Delano Roosevelt Jr. was a Naval officer decorated for bravery in the battle of Casablanca. John Roosevelt served as Navy Lieutenant with a carrier task group in the Pacific and received the Bronze Star. Your father, George H. W. Bush, scion of a prominent New England family, enlisted at age 18 and served as a carrier pilot during World War II. Numerous Congressmen and Senators and other prominent government officials had children who enlisted and fought- some died- in the war, including Joseph Kennedy and John F. Kennedy.

If this war really is the equivalent of World War II, shouldn’t you and every Congressman and Senator who voted to authorize you to militarily intervene in Iraq and voted to continue funding the occupation which has cost the lives of over 2,600 Americans with over 20,000 wounded- shouldn't you be able to convince those closest to you, who share your genes, your values, your lifestyle, to risk their lives and limbs to fight?

And if you can't get your own children to serve, if you can't persuade Senators and Congressman of your own party to resign and go fight in the war there, as many did during World War II, if you can't persuade the children of Congressmen or members of your cabinet, including your Vice President, to risk their lives by enlisting or even by driving supply trucks for civilian contractors in Iraq- then how can you honestly draw the comparison between the occupation of Iraq to the war against the Nazis?

And if this fight in Iraq is truly the equivalent of World War II, then why haven’t you raised taxes to the level they were in World War II? Why have you instead urged the repeal of the estate tax, so that millionaires and billionaires won’t have to help pay their fair share- after they die! If this is the equivalent of the fight against the Nazis, then why haven’t you persuaded your most ardent supporters- the right wing commentators on Fox, the talk radio patriots, the right wing columnists who are so certain that this war is worth being fought- to enlist in the military and go to Iraq and, or at the very least go into the field in Iraq and risk their lives to cover the story there, the way Ernie Pyle and so many other American correspondents did during World War II?

MR. PRESIDENT, at long last, can't you have the decency to tell the American people the truth? Your decision to invade Iraq was a mistake. Your failure to have an exit strategy was a mistake. It’s time to own up to your mistakes, and bring the troops home.


Blogger Len said...

Excellent post. Thanks.

6:39 PM  

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