A Very Bad Year

There will be at least three sides to the Iraq war story. Mr. Bush's, the progressive argument that won out in November 2006, and history's truth.
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"There are three sides to every story: my side, your side, and the truth. And no one is lying. Memories shared serve each one differently." - Robert Evans

If I were to write my personal reflections on the year I have had this would be a very different story. However, doing what I do, that is writing, talking and analyzing politics, foreign policy and military issues, I can hardly write about how much we as a people and country have accomplished. I can't think about 2006 without being bombarded by pictures of soldiers hung out to dry in Iraq. The hanging of Saddam Hussein doesn't make the scenario play out any brighter either, no matter that he was a murderous thug of a man. All I can come up with is, Where is Osama bin Laden? Followed by something that haunts me, Will we still be in Iraq this time next year? And I'm not talking a protection force, which will be needed for many years to come, but troops in the tens of thousands. The only answer that follows is yes. It fills me with dread that the Congress we just elected won't have the courage to do what we must. Get out of Iraq. The obvious follows: Will We the People provide the courage Congress lacks? Many thought the November elections did just that, but Mr. Bush, still the commander in chief, has a mandate all of his own.

As Mr. Bush winds down his presidency, one thing is very clear. It's now about his legacy, which means only one thing. Hanging on in Iraq long enough to pass his Iraqi plan of preemption on to the next president, so he can say the fight is righteous and goes on. That's where Robert Evans' quote comes in. Mr. Bush will have "liberated the Iraqis," captured Saddam Hussein and allowed "justice to be done" through the Iraqi's new judicial system, as well as given rise to a new "democracy" in the Middle East.

Memories shared serve each of us differently.

Historians will eventually write their side of the Iraq story; no doubt, with some capitulating to Mr. Bush's purpose.

It remains to be seen what our part in this tale will be, which will manifest through the Congress we elected. Our tale is their tale. We are inextricably linked. The only thing standing between our commander in chief and the desert abyss is a wilful Congress that has the courage to do whatever it takes to end the war in Iraq and our enabling of it. But again, it's We the People who stand behind and make the will of Congress manifest.

There will be at least three sides to the Iraq war story. Mr. Bush's, the progressive argument that won out in November 2006, and history's truth. It's not about lying, that is, not until the investigations roll out and we find what a fraud our mission was from the start. But that also depends on the will of Congress to do their job. The chapter of this plot right now is about serving Mr. Bush's legacy. Otherwise, why would we be waiting around for his foreign policy paralysis to unfreeze and unfold out on to a new plan, which is sounding more and more like "stay the course," with escalation on the side, as our military are once again drafted into more calamity at the U.S. commander in chief's hand? Our part in this play is simple. It all revolves around our fearlessness to buck the ghosts of Vietnam and refuse to believe that getting out of Iraq shows weakness. It will take tremendous strength, purpose and courage to turn the United States around. What we do starting in January 2007 will illustrate if we are a nation of cowards or have the courage of our Founders. Historians will write the rest.

In the end, our memories may serve us and salve our souls differently, as well as protect the American fiction on preemption, but the truth of Iraq will be there to haunt us forever.


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