Unbelievably great op-ed in the Washington Post this morning. Following in the footsteps of their comrades who wrote for the New York Times a few months back, 12 former Army captains submitted an opinion piece outlining what they observed in their time in Iraq. Strangely, it’s a bit different from what their superior officers have been telling Congress.
What does Iraq look like on the ground? It’s certainly far from being a modern, self-sustaining country. Many roads, bridges, schools and hospitals are in deplorable condition. Fewer people have access to drinking water or sewage systems than before the war. And Baghdad is averaging less than eight hours of electricity a day.
It’s the way they conclude their piece, though, that’s most worthy of note:
There is one way we might be able to succeed in Iraq. To continue an operation of this intensity and duration, we would have to abandon our volunteer military for compulsory service. Short of that, our best option is to leave Iraq immediately. A scaled withdrawal will not prevent a civil war, and it will spend more blood and treasure on a losing proposition.
This brings up one of the things that’s bugged me about the Iraq war (and for that matter the whole “Global War on Terror” concept) for a long time now. The Administration keeps telling us that the security of our nation depends on beating the terrorists, and on creating a stable, democratic Iraq. But they clearly don’t mean it.
If we’re in a war for our very survival, then where’s the $2-a-gallon tax on gasoline to finance increased security measures and shut off the flow of oil money to autocratic, terrorist-breeding governments in the Middle East? Where are the draft notices going out to conscript an Army big enough to actually secure a stable Iraq? Where’s the recruitment drive by the CIA to find American citizens who understand Middle Eastern languages and culture? Where’s the grand alliance of Western nations banding together against a common threat? Why didn’t any of this happen?
It’s certainly not because the country wasn’t willing. Hell, right after 9/11 people were practically falling over each other trying to figure out ways to band together and help out. So why the hell didn’t the Administration use that energy, that desire, and try to unite the country in solving this difficult problem?
Because they’re not interested in solving problems. Anytime a problem comes up, the modern GOP is interested in two things: (to quote one of Aaron Sorkin’s finer pieces) making you afraid of it, and telling you who’s to blame for it. “Sure, we could tap into one of our nation’s greatest strengths, its diverse immigrant population, and hire citizens of Arab descent to help our intelligence agencies, but instead, let’s just arrest a bunch of them for no reason. That way, we look like we’re rounding up terrorists, and when the Democrats protest, we can say they’re coddling bin Laden! It’s win-win!”
Alright, I think that should get a bit of cynicism out of my system for a while. In the meantime, this special is going to air tonight on PBS at 9 EDT, and then it’ll be online at www.pbs.org/frontline:
Once I catch it, I’ll definitely be posting about it. I have a feeling you’ll be reading a lot about Cheney and the “Unitary Executive Theory” around here in the next week.