Saturday, November 18, 2006

"We'll succeed unless we quit."

Most every blogger I read talking about that statement pretty much noted the irony of the President saying that in Vietnam, which marks the first time he's ever gone there, by the way. The men he defeated in 2000 and 2004 saw it through a gunsight. Anyways....

There's a bigger issue I have with that statement. Where he said it is irrelevant. The fact it was spoken in Vietnam just means that the Rove machine screwed up again, which is understandable coming right after a crushing defeat and six years of spinning everything. Clinton survived because he rotated out the spinners. Bush hasn't even handled that right, and it's costing him now.

The big issue with the statement, though, is the continued stubbornness it displays. The President is declaring that if only we stay forever, we'll win at some undetermined point in the future with victory defined by some vague statement. He might as well wish for a unicorn to appear in the Rose Garden.

America's problem with this war is largely stemming from the fact that he is so incredibly vague when asked to define victory and success. Standing down as they stand up sounds like musical chairs, not a victory plan. America voted for change in this election, largely based on Iraq. It was the same reason that Nixon won in 1968. America was sick of the LBJ undefined victory plan that never came to fruition. Bush hasn't put forth anything better than LBJ in 1967.

I've written often about the similarities between the two presidents, and this is just one of many. I don't think you'll find an American who doesn't want us to win in Iraq, but we all have different ideas of winning, and this president, who has put himself forth as the strong, decisive leader, has not given America anything solid to coalesce around. The president has constantly shifted ground on why we should be fighting in Iraq, with his only consistent explaination being the straw man argument about Saddam and al-Qaida.

The President had a great chance after the 2004 election to give us a clear strategy, a clear objective, a rallying point in Iraq. He failed that task miserably, and as the news out of Iraq got worse, support for the war plummeted. Bush has hit a 31% approval rating overall and on Iraq. That's territory he shouldn't want to be probing right now, and if he'd done his job two years ago, he wouldn't be here now.

And the "now," as it is, means working with his political enemies. It means trying to fix this thing instead of being a coward and handing it off to his successor. It means he stops acting like a politician and starts acting like a real leader. It means dropping the soundbites and speaking in plain language, telling us the whole truth, telling us what's gone wrong, what's gone right, and what victory really means. All we've gotten is hollow words. America said on November 7th that those words aren't enough anymore. They want actions. Is the President going to do it, or is he going to just wait this out, let more soldiers die, and hand it off to the next guy? I hope he understands this, but it's a dim hope. Six years has taught me that doing the right thing has too often been lost on this administration.


Blogger RoseCovered Glasses said...

You make many good points in your article. I would like to supplement them with some information:

I am a 2 tour Vietnam Veteran who recently retired after 36 years of working in the Defense Industrial Complex on many of the weapons systems being used by our forces as we speak.

If you are interested in a view of the inside of the Pentagon procurement process from Vietnam to Iraq please check the posting at my blog entitled, “Odyssey of Armements”

The Pentagon is a giant, incredibly complex establishment,budgeted in excess of $500B per year. The Rumsfelds, the Adminisitrations and the Congressmen come and go but the real machinery of policy and procurement keeps grinding away, presenting the politicos who arrive with detail and alternatives slanted to perpetuate itself.

How can any newcomer, be he a President, a Congressman or even the Sec. Def. to be - Mr. Gates- understand such complexity, particulary if heretofore he has not had the clearance to get the full details?

Answer- he can’t. Therefor he accepts the alternatives provided by the career establishment that never goes away and he hopes he makes the right choices. Or he is influenced by a lobbyist or two representing companies in his district or special interest groups.

From a practical standpoint, policy and war decisions are made far below the levels of the talking heads who take the heat or the credit for the results.

This situation is unfortunate but it is ablsolute fact. Take it from one who has been to war and worked in the establishment.

This giant policy making and war machine will eventually come apart and have to be put back together to operate smaller, leaner and on less fuel. But that won’t happen unitil it hits a brick wall at high speed.

We will then have to run a Volkswagon instead of a Caddy and get along somehow. We better start practicing now and get off our high horse. Our golden aura in the world is beginning to dull from arrogance.

10:56 AM  

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