Wealthy Frenchman

Friday, March 23, 2007

Americans have lost patience with Bush

Marilou Johanek

THE pre-emptive war to pre-empt the world of Saddam Hussein's perceived threat to humanity grinds into its fifth year with no end in sight. The anniversary was marked with an eight-minute speech from the Roosevelt Room of the White House - and bombings as usual in Baghdad.

The President called for patience. Critics countered that patience is not a strategy. And more 20-something Americans joined the military casualty list from Iraq. That's how the day went.

When the next anniversary of Washington's invasion of Iraq rolls around on March 20, 2008, chances are there will be another White House speech, more reaction (ratcheted up by presidential hopefuls) and more names of young Americans killed by roadside bombs. But what must change in the interim is the tolerance level among U.S. citizens for incessant "cut-and-run" spin and partisan parrying.

Forget the worthless war rhetoric. We need strategic and diplomatic goals in Iraq that produce results in months, not years. Because, while politicians study polls to support their posturing on the war, the toll in Baghdad is rising.

For almost five years people have been dying, lives have been destroyed, resources drained, and resentment deepened over lost treasure and trust. Going on five years Americans have patiently listened to political talk that goes nowhere and does nothing to lessen the misery.

Enough of the numbing, pointless arguments and counter-arguments about the imploding Iraq. It's time for deadlines and benchmarks and exit strategies in a four-year war that began as a months-long mission to get rid of Saddam Hussein and leave Iraq liberated.

The crusade the White House couldn't wait to wage in Baghdad has turned into a deadly policing assignment for a military trained to fight, not walk a beat, in a war zone. A rapidly escalating number of U.S. troops find themselves on foot patrol in the middle of raging ethnic and sectarian violence.

Much as many would like to have the White House culprits responsible for the wholly unfounded war impeached for catastrophic crimes in high office, more energy needs to be devoted to salvaging America's wayward agenda at home and abroad.

On the fourth anniversary of the Bush War, two-thirds of the country understands how deception, manipulation, and ulterior motives played defining roles in perpetuating the Iraqi train wreck.

After years of steadily damning revelations about how the Bush Administration schemed to manufacture a crisis worthy of war, Americans know too well about the lies that led them to a dead end in Iraq.

There never were weapons of mass destruction. Iraqis never did welcome the invading army as liberators. And Iraq's oil fields never have offset the U.S. cost of occupation. We were tragically duped.

Regime change in Baghdad was the easy "shock and awe" part. If Americans had known about the impossible part to follow they would never have bought the administration's sales pitch to invade Iraq without provocation.

Why, in God's name, would the U.S. ever sacrifice more than 3,200 troops, sustain tens of thousands of wounded, stretch its military to the ultimate breaking point, and spend half a trillion dollars on a bogged-down nation-building experiment in a hostile environment? It wouldn't.

But on false pretenses it would launch an impressive pre-emptive combat mission that a President with visible swagger would declare accomplished two months later. Yet years later the widely publicized photo-op of the commander in chief smugly donning a flight suit aboard an aircraft carrier has been replaced by a subdued George W. Bush pleading for patience from the American people.

"Prevailing in Iraq is not going to be easy," he said, acknowledging the obvious. His new plan to send nearly 30,000 additional troops to secure Baghdad and the western Anbar province "will need more time to take effect," he added.

By more time the President meant "months, not days or weeks." Perhaps 22 months would be enough time for Mr. Bush to safely pass the baton of unending battle to the succeeding administration. Then he and his corrupt cronies can quietly slip into opulent oblivion.

He broke it, we bought it, he's outta here. But not before he escalates American troop commitment in a bloody civil war beyond their control.

Patience to watch more horrific fallout from failed policy while Mr. Bush counts down the days toward his retirement?


Marilou Johanek is a Toledo Blade commentary writer.


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