Tuesday, November 15, 2005

To Not Question Your Government…..

Today if JFK was there in the opposition, he would have probably said what Sen. Chuk Hagel thundered “To question your government is not unpatriotic -- to not question your government is unpatriotic”. How right and appropriate at this moment! No doubt a bumper line and worthy quote from Sen. Hagel for his possible presidential campaign.

Now that officially we are in the third presidential campaign of President Bush where he is trying to salvage what is left of his remaining term; as expected Iraq war is assuming the centrality it deserves. Let us start with the simple part – President Bush is on attack trying to sale yet again his failed policy of Iraq. The more he tries, more it looks like Social Security Reform fiasco or Harriet Miers candidacy. More and more documents will come out and this means more and more provocative information pieces and political bobby traps are going to open in days to come. This much is sure and meanwhile President Bush will keep on singing his Iraq song of ‘stay the course’. How will it end? Congress is showing some life by putting some constraints by way of ‘war limiting resolutions’. That is one ugly route where Congress will force President Bush to wind up the war. The other route is after December election in Iraq President Bush calls it a victory and starts winding down - politically may not be a fulfilling route for President after so long continuing to argue about staying the course.

The two ends of Iraq policy spectrum are – one extreme is just get out now and hell with Iraq where as the other extreme is put more forces in Iraq, increase the footprint, do whatever is needed even if it means more cost (life and dollars). Americans do not believe in President Bush to take the second route since effectively he short changed or undersold them the initial cost and oversold the benefits. The first option, President Bush won’t take it easily. This means for America the problem of Iraq will be fundamentally addressed only when she gets new leadership apart from President Bush to collect the broken pieces. It is not only that Iraq problem will be solvable in Sunni and Iraqi eyes when American forces are not there; it will be solvable in American eyes only when new players apart from President Bush emerge. In other words at this point Americans are more likely to rally behind someone else apart from President Bush who will articulate a solution. Americans did not opt for Sen. Kerry last November, but today are more open to consider alternatives to President Bush and his policies. Needless to say, such a policy formulation and it’s selling to America will be at the core of Presidential aspirations and realization potential for many hopefuls.

Who are the players and where do they stand? You have Sen. McCain and Sen. Clinton on one pole - to increase the forces and complete the war regardless of whatever it needs. On the other hand you have Sen. Hagel and Sen. Finegold more towards let us reduce the footprint first before we can think anything long term. Considering the fact Americans feel that they paid more than what have they got so far in the Iraq war; the line of upfront paying more in terms of life and dollars is a tough sale. In fact, the political tide is loaded against Sen. McCain and Sen. Clinton way of thinking here. It is sad to see Sen. McCain bit off line here when otherwise he is hitting rightly and so strongly on all cylinders of the contemporary political debate. On the other hand, winds are extremely strong in favor of Hagel-Finegold approach at this moment. Sen. Hagel approach is more in tune with what is humming in America’s mind and more likely to materialize.

Sen. Hagel needs to keep on pounding the table, America needs that.

Umesh Patil
San Jose, CA 95111
November 16, 2005.

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