Friday, June 24, 2005

America’s Iraq War in June 2005

David Brooks in NYT on June 23, 2005 says that “…But right now, this [Iraq war] isn't about your [those who opposed to start this war] personal vindication.” ( It is not easy to disagree with what David says here. When one faces tragic events like massacre of American soldiers in the mess hall during Christmas of 2004; one fully unites with the goal of completing the Iraq war even if one had opposed to start with. It is like a vase which is already broken into pieces, what is left to us is to collect these glass pieces so that it does not hurt others.

However, keeping aside the question of vindication does not translate into a blanket support to the administration’s Iraq policy. Generally public needs to convince itself that the Iraq war is a right solution for a right problem America needs to solve at present. But as long this Administration wants to sell Iraq war as America’s response to 9/11 or War on Terrorism; the disconnect between reality and Administration’s perception is hard for American public to ignore. This disconnect will continue to propel the slide in public’s backing for this war. People have come to understand that the basis on which it was argued that Iraq liberation is a part of larger War on Terrorism, that basis no longer holds. Hence, effectively Iraq war is not the pivotal aspect of what America in the end needs to do to address the original problem of Terrorism. Unfortunately, it just happens that America is not in the position to keep aside this messy business and simply jump on the right road of Terrorism Eradication as if we happened to take some minor detour. America does not have that luxury. People understand that the issue of reasons of starting the war and current necessity of conducting the war are two different things. But the administration is intend on mixing these issues and do not want to come forthrightly to express this distinction.

Otherwise what else to make of Karl Rove’s comments like Liberals simply wanted to provide ‘counseling’ to terrorists? The Administration’s line is that the Iraq war is a necessary step in the War on Terrorism, President Bush has got it right and no one else has any idea about how this war is to be fought. If Karl Rove and President Bush expect Americans to back this war by telling them that they are ‘fools’ when they do not buy the damaged goods of Iraq war reasoning; then one is ashamed of the Political naivety and arrogance of this Administration. Such rhetoric is okay when one is fighting the election. But after getting elected, the administration needs to level with American people at some stage. There is no more need to be defensive about any mistakes here. We are all past the stage when one exclaims ‘who broke it?’ The contract between American public and Presidency is wide open to give such room to the President. American people accept that.

But our Vice President is shamelessly lying day after day on TV that insurgency is on the last leg in Iraq when CIA is coming out with the internal assessment that Iraq will be the breeding ground of experienced terrorists in days to come and General Abizaid says in Senate hearing that there is no perceptible difference in insurgency in last six months. Despite this we expect Americans to trust blindly this Administration. How is it possible? It is not about anyone’s conviction. Americans are neither after ‘bragging rights’ nor any apologies from anyone. But Americans expect that they are not fooled. This administration is simply trying to cheat America. As long as that happens, Americans will be hesitant in supporting the Iraq war.

President Bush does need to address this credibility gap. Let us keep aside for a minute that he made a mistake in starting the war. But as the Commander in Chief, can he avoid telling people that – “ Folks, for the ultimate goal of winning the War on Terrorism following are the steps needed. We happened to have missed the road when we got into Iraq. Tough part is we can not go away from there; but we will not let the larger context of overall War on Terrorism to go away for which we intend to take so and so steps.” Why, why it is not right for Americans to expect such an honest assessment from their elected president? And this even after when Americans are ready to discount the fact there can be some mistakes while conducting the overall War on Terrorism. The lack of popular support to the war is not be about ‘I told you so …’ one up game; but it is about avoiding getting fooled by some misguided folks who are currently occupying White House. Further more, manifestation of such lack of support could be the only workable political mean to help this administration to come on the right track eventually.

Umesh Patil
San Jose, CA
June 24, 2005.

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