Iraq: Worse Than We Know
When you hear the name "John Murtha" your brain immediately and obediently brings up the associations planted there by a desperate right wing spin machine. It didn't take them long to denigrate his 37 years of military service, and reduce him to a terrorist-appeasing defeatist, did it?
Of course, the real impact of John Murtha's stand against our policy in Iraq, was to help turn Election 2006 to the Democrats and restore some accountability to what had been a rubber-stamping GOP majority in Congress. You could argue that the fate of our system of government - the checks and balances we at least seem to be returning to - could not have withstood another few years of King George. That would make John Murtha a bona fide American hero, except that he already was one. That's why when you think of him, you get a negative image. It was put there by the spin masters in charge.
That's also why the anguish in his voice about Iraq seems so compelling. He doesn't see his stand in a heroic way. In fact, he says he waited way too long, and he was just catching up to what the American People had already figured out. Isn't that refreshing? A politician actually playing down his accomplishments?
Yes, you could argue that he used his new fame to try and land a leadership position, but he is not overtly trying to paint himself as a hero here. He may be that rarest of things in Washington: Someone who actually cares about the troops more than about his political future.
That's in mark contrast to the Republican leaders. The Bush administration could be the most disingenuous group of low-lifes ever to slither upon this earth. I keep going back to President Bush's statement that if he doesn't get his way on spending, it will hurt the troops and force them to stay longer. He said that right before he ordered the troops to stay longer anyway.
Everything is politics and spin with these people. There is still a chance that the entire Iraq War was driven by how it would make President Bush look. At least on the Karl Rove side of the West Wing. We know why the Neo-Cons wanted in. These people like Rove always start with the spin and work backwards to the policy. It's very possible that to him Iraq wasn't about Iraq, and that winning in Iraq is more about being able to talk like you want to win, than actually winning. Rove probably figured a wartime president talking decisively would be the best possible image to win in 2004 and everything flowed backwards from that goal. I keep remembering an excerpt from one of Woodward's books where Rove tells George to be decisive because that plays better. Everything is fake with these clowns.
The surge is not really about the surge. It's about the appearance of a new plan, after the appearance of studying why the old plan wasn't working. If the President really felt that we had to win in iraq, he would have gone with the draft. This is all the proof you need that it's all marketing spin and politics. If President Bush really wanted to win, he would have poured troops into the country.
I am not saying that would have succeeded, but to respond to the failure in Iraq with the surge is not convincing. Most people knew the surge wouldn't work, and it hasn't, but the sad thing is that the surge's real mission was just to give these Bush cretins something to talk about. It's all about appearances and spin - moving forward just means framing the issue for another few months till its clear once again that the whole entire thing was a disaster. President Bush is now buying time with American blood.
Last night, I heard an interview with John Murtha and the anguish was obvious. He kept saying, "You have to think about the individual soldiers and the families." The burden on this small number of soldiers and national guard has simply not been fair. It's been extremely unjust and they will live with the consequences for the rest of their lives. If they live. This has also been the deadliest 4 months for the troops.
We are grinding these soldiers down to the breaking point and beyond. The estimated number Murtha mentioned that will come home with profound mental problems from these extended combat tours is currently 65,000. That's the number of soldiers who will return with post-traumatic stress. Murtha said these soldiers should probably only rotate into this mess for 9 months. Maybe even as little as 4. That's the level where the stress starts breaking them down and they start making bad decisions.
Instead, the Commander in Chief has just extended tours of duty to 15 months, rather than get more help. Why doesn't he want fresh troops? Even Murtha says we should go with a draft if this war is what we want to do. There's the proof. This thing has always been about how it will spin, and Karl Rove and company realize that calling for a draft would hurt their polling numbers.
Winning in Iraq was never about winning in Iraq. It's always been about playing Iraq to win elections. And the soldiers you destroy doing it? Not a problem. Just make a few more speeches about how much you support the troops.