The Day We Lost The War
and a tale of two scapegoats
By streiff Posted in War — Comments (102) / Email this page » / Leave a comment »
November 8, 2006. A decade or so from now when a rational post mortem on the Iraq War is written, rather than the noxious and counterfactual hit pieces churned out by the Washington Post’s allegedly unbiased reporters, this is the day that will be pegged as the day we lost the war. It’s amazing how easy it is to do this in hindsight. I think most historians would agree that June 22, 1941 was the day that Nazi Germany lost the war. Some might quibble and contend it was February 2, 1943. But you can’t get to Stalingrad without Operation BARBAROSSA. You can’t get to Midway or the atom bomb without passing through Pearl Harbor.
The sacking of Don Rumsfeld yesterday will become obvious in the days and weeks to come as the day on which President Bush decided that winning in Iraq was just too much work and the sacrifices made in blood and treasure in Iraq, when stacked up against the forlorn possibility of appeasing the new majorities in the House and Senate, simply do not matter. He decided that a fig leaf of respectability could be attained by replacing an active and loyal cabinet secretary with a gray little man, a creature of his father’s consigliore, who will offer political cover as we conduct a full-Murtha under the guise of the soon to be released “bi-partisan Iraq Study Group” report. Most likely a Murtha-plus because at some point the Democrats will discover that we no longer have basing rights in Okinawa and we’ll base the troops really “over the horizon” in the United States.
Make no mistake about it. The placement of Robert Gates as Secretary of Defense is nothing more that Bush completely repudiating his own national defense strategy and retreating to the era in which James Baker and his kindred souls on both sides of the aisle – Lee Hamilton, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Richard Lugar – worshipped at the false idol of “realism” and “stability.” An ideology that never met a despot it couldn’t do business with so long as that despot kept a tight grip on the political aspirations of those in his thrall. This is the policy that gave us the Shah in Iran. It has produced Hosni Mubarak. It is the policy that has kept North Korea propped up. It is the policy that has let the Saudis set our Middle East strategy for 40 years. It is the policy that has kept the Assad family in power. It is the policy attempted against the very tide of history to allow the Soviet Union to continue in existence for fear of instability.
I understand why President Bush is afraid of the coming two years and the non-stop issuance of subpoenas and convening of congressional investigations. He saw his father dragged through the Iran-Contra affair and the laughably silly October Surprise investigation brought on by the presciently named Gary Sick. No sane man would willingly go through this.
There is no doubt that dissatisfaction with the War in Iraq contributed to the electoral defeat on Tuesday, however that dissatisfaction is rooted an much in the feeling that we are not prosecuting the war vigorously enough as it is in the feeling that we should not be there at all. To say the War in Iraq was the cause and not the selling out of the conservative base, and Harriet Miers, and immigration amnesty, and pork barrel spending, and Bob Ney, and Jack Abramoff, and Mark Foley, and the near nonchalance in dealing with Hurricane Katrina, and the “rules don’t apply to me” attitude exemplified by Denny Hastert’s ludicrous defense of Rep. William Jefferson (D-Fridge), and on and on is simply to mark oneself as idiot. The war was not going well in 2004 and President Bush won a clear majority of the votes and we gained seats in the Congress.
I desperately hope that two years from now I can be called out to eat my words, but from where I stand today what President Bush did yesterday was as shameful a piece of political opportunism as I have witnessed in my adult life.
He is scapegoating a loyal public servant and a righteous military campaign as the causes for an electoral defeat. He is attempting to win some short term breathing spell for his Administration by abandoning the most significant US foreign policy venture since the onset of the Cold War, the eradication of islamofascist based terrorism.
He is substituting a clear American strategic defeat for the possibility of a clear American strategic victory.
And most of all he is breaking faith with the tens of thousands of young Americans who have served in Iraq and who will live with their own legacy of being forced to loose a war that they should be allowed to win.