Thursday, October 13, 2005

You know you're in trouble when...

You hold such a horrible photo-op like the White House did this morning. I mean, seriously, who dreamed up this gem? "Hey, I've got it! Let's have the President stand at a podium in a darkened room speaking to soldiers who are on a giant projection TV from Iraq! It'll rally the troops and make him look strong again!"


Typically, one does not lead from a podium in a darkened room. One does not lead by reading a (poorly written) script. One leads by doing things for the people he leads, things of substance, like putting more troops in Iraq from the start, like ending the tax cuts for those making over $500,000 a year when disaster strikes, like not leading us to financial ruin, like going back to Iraq and seeing things like they really are. LBJ went to Vietnam, despite the fact he ran that war stupidly, so why can't George go to Iraq?

Oh, yeah, here's another component of leadership....don't lie. "There are 80 trained battalions of Iraqi soldiers who can take on the insurgency," said the President, one day after his field commanders said that number was one, decreased from three last year. Um, this is South Vietnam all over again. The South Vietnamese kept deserting from the SVA, and their efficiency decreased the longer we were there and the more we added troops. Maybe it's time for the bold gesture. Maybe we should pull out by the end of the year and let them do this thing on their own. A year ago, I never would've said that. Hell, six months ago I wouldn't have said that.

The thing is, though, we cannot do much more for them. We've given it a helluva good shot, but you're telling me we have one trained, ready to work on its own battalion after almost three years? More Iraqis hate our presence every day, and even President Jalal Talabani said he feels our presence is a sore on the Iraqi psyche. At the same time, as long as we're there, they don't feel the need to get their shit together on the security side, and it's not like they aren't smart, because they are, and it's not like they aren't brave, because they are, but we give them an excuse. If we cut our force in half by the new year, that might be the incentive they need to get their shit together.

We can't sustain this commitment any longer in this fashion, not with the huge drop in enlistments, not with the need for us in Afghanistan still. We screwed this one up. It's become clear that we should've finished our work in Afghanistan before we got to Iraq. It could've waited, but it didn't, and now we are paying a stiff price, one we cannot afford to keep much longer.


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