It’s time we held someone at the Bush Administration at his word. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has promised that he would resign if he thought he could no longer be effective, and if the latest evidence of torture of Iraqi prisoners isn’t evidence that he can’t be “effective,” then would someone please define “effective”?
I was against this war from the first, as anyone who has followed this web site knows. But at this point, my opposition doesn’t matter. What’s happening in Iraq is a travesty, pure and simple, and if Donald Rumsfeld, or any of the Bushies, think they’ve been “effective” thus far, they’re delusional.
They spent more than a year building this up; you’d think that so much time would present them with an opportunity to plan it a hell of a lot better than they have. But this entire operation has been botched from the very beginning. Operation Shuck and Jive (Yeah, I know, they called it “Shock and Awe,” but no one has been awed by anything the Bushies have done and the only shock is that such self-proclaimed “great military minds” could foul this thing up so badly) was a disaster. Remember the first few nights? They thought they got Saddam and his henchmen the very first night, but they didn’t. And Iraqi troops turned out to be more formidable than they expected, and what was supposed to be wrapped up in a couple of weeks took six. But even then, when Bush announced the war over (see Mission Accomplished?), it was obvious to anyone who was paying attention that the war was anything but over.
And how “effective” can the Bushies say they’ve been with the Iraq War, anyway? They were told by experts that it would take approximately twice the number of troops as they ended up with, mostly because they lied and insulted most of the countries that would usually serve as our natural allies in such an endeavor. As discussed earlier, the Bushies have succeeded at nothing with this war, and they have made a mess of the situation, and in the process they have de-stabilized the Middle East to an even greater degree than before.
But the approach of the Bushies, especially Rummy, is more dangerous than previously advertised. Though they claim that they’re fighting terrorism with all of their might, their callous approach to foreign policy, their “ends justify the means” attitude toward intelligence gathering and “justice” actually threatens to create more terrorism and certainly more terrorists. We went into Iraq based on a lie, we took out the government and replaced it with a kangaroo court of Bush-chosen folks who had little or nothing to do with most people in Iraq. At the same time the Bushies were talking about a democratic Iraq, they were banning one of the main political parties. They have treated the Iraqis as serfs in their own little fiefdom.
Has anyone even noticed that the promised hordes of Iraqis greeting us as liberators never materialized? Has anyone noticed that terrorist attacks inside Iraq were practically unheard of before this war, especially after the first Gulf War but are now commonplace? Though a lot of folks seem to have the mistaken impression that we’re pulling out of Iraq on June 30, the fact is, there are plans to have masses of troops over there for years to come. Can anyone imagine the United States staying in an Iraqi-run Iraq and not becoming bigger and bigger targets as time goes on? The longer we stay there, the easier it will be for al Qaeda and other militant groups to recruit.
But no matter what’s gone on before, nothing puts us in greater danger of terrorist attack than the stories of torture and abuse that are making the news now. Like it or not, the view of most Muslims is that they have been exploited and abused by the West for years. Now, the most extreme terrorist elements in the Middle East have graphic evidence that the United States, which was supposed to be going in as a liberating force, to turn Iraq into a model of democracy for the rest of the region, is doing exactly what they’ve been claiming all along.
This should sicken us on many levels, and yet, I don’t get a sense that the populace in the United States is sickened enough just yet. If something like this had happened TO us during any other war, we would be rushing to the United Nations and demanding reparations. If this had happened during Nixon’s or Johnson’s watch during Vietnam, either one would have been in serious political trouble. And it’s possible that Bush might be in serious trouble because of this. But at this point, I don’t think most people understand the seriousness of what has happened in Iraq.
We are a nation that claims to believe in justice, yet there is nothing just in what has been done to the prisoners of this war. If the idea is to get intelligence from them, as some say, then how much can we count on the quality of the intelligence that comes from folks who are being tortured and humiliated? Isn’t it possible that they’ll say anything to get the torture to stop? And beyond that, since when is torture of a prisoner of war ever okay? At what point did we reenter the dark ages?
This is an absolute travesty, and not only because of the immorality of the acts themselves, but because of the reaction of those who see them. A lot of people who are on the fence about terrorism and suicide bombing will be sent over the wrong way on this issue. Bush did a lot of good right after 9-11, when he reached out to the Muslim community and tried to assure moderate Muslims that we didn’t blame them. But all of the good will the Bushies created at that moment is gone now. It started when they lied about Iraq so they could attack it. It continued when they showed the truly evil empire in North Korea greater deference than any government in the Middle East, despite the fact that it is a greater threat to the world than any country in the Arab world. It continued when he arrogantly locked Iraqis out of the rebuilding process after they bombed the hell out of them, and then secured nothing but the oil fields. It got worse when they installed Ahmad Chalabi into Iraq’s interim kangaroo government, despite the fact that the Iraqis didn’t want him there. And it became far worse when they pretty much assured Iraqis that only the government would change on June 30, and nothing else.
But the torture incidents have pretty much sealed our fate in the Middle East. We are in a foreign land that has little trust for Westerners in the first place. The aim of everything we do over there should be to engender trust. Besides the immorality of torture on its face, it was also a stupid thing to do, under any circumstances. Even without pictures, the stories would have come out, and they would have been embellished in any case. But with the pictures in the news, we now have a series of recruiting posters for al Qaeda to deal with.
I’m not sure what Rumsfeld means by being “effective,” but if he thinks of himself that way, he’s purely delusional. The war has been poorly planned and poorly managed, allies hate us, almost the entire Middle East hates us, just two and a half years after the incredible outpouring of appreciation for the fact that terrorism found its way to our country. But now, we’re really screwed, and there is little that the current administration can do to fix this problem, because almost everyone in the world thinks they’re responsible. And it’s hard to argue with that. This administration has practically advocated the use of torture in the interrogation of prisoners, they have dismissed the idea of due process when it comes to what they perceive as terrorists, and they either ordered the torture of Iraqi prisoners or sat by and let it happen. The Bushies and the United States now have zero credibility in the Muslim world, and that is a very serious situation.
If we’re going to stop terrorism, we have to realize that two things have to happen. It’s obvious that we have to round up as many current terrorists as possible. If some have to die in order to stop them, so be it. But the other goal must be to prevent new terrorists from coming along. We have to create an atmosphere in which those who would recruit terrorists can’t make their case. That is no longer possible, which means the Bushies have set the cause of stopping terrorism backward.
And that is not “effective.” Time for Rummy to go. Actually, it’s time for all of them to go, but we’ll have to wait a while for that. In the meantime, stop the bleeding and at least try to fix this.