Sunday, September 17, 2006

Frank Rich reveals what we wingnuts knew all along

A relative recently told me that I didn't know the whole story about what's going on in the world because I only read leftwing news. Despite the fact that I read three mainstream newspapers, I was a little stung by the remark. I probably should hold my nose and read more rightwing stuff.

Then along comes this article by Frank Rich, which I've excerpted below. The interesting thing is that everything he says in his article, I ALREADY KNEW. So did my leftie friends. We knew it when we marched against the war three times in early 2003. We knew that Saddam had no terrorist ties, and that indeed he was at odds with Islamic terrorists; that he had no nukes; that Al Zarqawi was in a part of Kurdistan Saddam had no control over and that our government at least twice declined to take him out when we had the opportunity.

The one area where I was fooled was in the matter of chemical weapons. Since everyone in the world was treating that as a given, I was disposed to agree with it. I just didn't see it as a reason to fear Iraq. Many countries, including the U.S., have chemical weapons. Of course, former weapons inspector Scott Ritter did say there were no chemical weapons in Iraq, but I distrusted him because he contradicted what he had said in 1998, and he seemed like a publicity-hunting hothead. Well, it turns out he was right.

But the most interesting thing about Rich's article is the part I've reprinted below. He asks the question, If Bush is so convinced that Iraq is as dire a threat as our enemies in World War II, why is he still trying to fight this war on the cheap?

The Longer the War, the Larger the Lies
by Frank Rich, New York Times
September 17, 2006

...On Monday night, for instance, Mr. Bush flatly declared that “the safety of America depends on the outcome of the battle in the streets of Baghdad.” He once again invoked Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman, asking, “Do we have the confidence to do in the Middle East what our fathers and grandfathers accomplished in Europe and Asia?”

Rather than tune this bluster out, as the country now does, let’s try a thought experiment. Let’s pretend everything Mr. Bush said is actually true and then hold him to his word. If the safety of America really depends on the outcome of the battle in the streets of Baghdad, then our safety is in grave peril because we are losing that battle. The security crackdown announced with great fanfare by Mr. Bush and Mr. Maliki in June is failing. Rosy American claims of dramatically falling murder rates are being. Perhaps most tellingly, the Pentagon has now stopped including in its own tally the large numbers of victims killed by car bombings and mortar attacks in sectarian warfare.

And that’s the good news. Another large slice of Iraq, Anbar Province (almost a third of the country), is slipping away so fast that a senior military official told NBC News last week that 50,000 to 60,000 additional ground forces were needed to secure it, despite our huge sacrifice in two savage battles for Falluja. The Iraqi troops “standing up” in Anbar are deserting at a rate as high as 40 percent.

“Even the most sanguine optimist cannot yet conclude we are winning,” John Lehman, the former Reagan Navy secretary, wrote of the Iraq war last month. So what do we do next? Given that the current course is a fiasco, and that the White House demonizes any plan or timetable for eventual withdrawal as “cut and run,” there’s only one immediate alternative: add more manpower, and fast. Last week two conservative war supporters, William Kristol and Rich Lowry, called for exactly that — “substantially more troops.” These pundits at least have the courage of Mr. Bush’s convictions. Shouldn’t Republicans in Congress as well?

After all, if what the president says is true about the stakes in Baghdad, it’s tantamount to treason if Bill Frist, Rick Santorum and John Boehner fail to rally their party’s Congressional majority to stave off defeat there. We can’t emulate our fathers and grandfathers and whip today’s Nazis and Communists with 145,000 troops. Roosevelt and Truman would have regarded those troop levels as defeatism.

Read the whole thing.


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