The Buck Stops Everywhere

I was working on another post, entitled, "How is the War in Iraq like
a Frontal Lobotomy?" (answer--false advertising), but really, I'm not
that interested in the history anymore. I'm more interested in the
"surge". I'm interested because the "surge" is a classic example of a
loser's strategy, and it is about to be put in place by a bunch of
losers. The "surge" is about saving face rather than achieving an
objective, and, let me say it right here, it's a guy thing. It's like
"going down fighting", except that those who are going to be going down
aren't going to be those who want to save face.

People always comment on how stubborn George W. Bush is, or how stupid
he is, or how ignorant he is, but what they don't comment on is how
selfish he is. Clearly, the face that is being saved in this probable
"surge" is his face, and that's how he wants it. He is willing to
sacrifice any number of troops (and we don't know what that number will
be, but it could be high) and any number of Iraqis (certainly a higher
number, because the American troops will throw off all restraint) in
order to say that---Well, what? What would be the expression? "We did
our best"? Well, no. The Bush administration didn't do their best,
because they never gave their post war strategy any thought. "We tried"?
Hardly. "We did everything we could"? But no. They gave the PR a shot
("weapons of mass destruction"), but in the end, they were indifferent
to everything about the war except George W. Bush's mood. When his mood
was good, they told him some nice things about Iraq, and when his mood
was bad, they kept the bad news from him so his mood wouldn't get
worse. Remember how the former British Ambassador was warned by Condi
Rice as he went into a meeting with Bush, "Don't make him angry"?

One thing I have always wondered about Bush, that I wonder even more
now, is what is the source of his power over these people, that come
hell (Iraq) or high water (Katrina), they do what he wants? Does he
throw things? Does he hold his breath and turn red in the face, so that
they worry he'll have a stroke? Does he hit people? Does he shout, "Off
with his head!"? Does he send high level dissenters to Gitmo? (I wish
he would, so that they could come to experience and understand
conditions there). Do they just defer to him because of the office of
the Presidency? (No one did that with Bill Clinton). Why would anyone
feel allegiance to George W. Bush? It's a mystery, and it's a mystery
that is killing people every day.

Back to the "surge". What the "surge" reminds me of is Pickett's
Charge. Let me quote Wikipedia, "Pickett's Charge was a disastrous
infantry assault ordered by Confederate General Robert E. Lee against
Major General George G. Meade's Union positions on Cemetery Ridge, on
July 3, 1863, the last day of the Battle of Gettysburg. It is by far
the most bloody single military attack in American history. Its
futility was predicted and, arguably, it was an avoidable mistake that
cut down the flower of the Confederacy's officer corps in the most
important theater of battle in the War and from which the Southern war
effort never fully psychologically recovered." I can see how, in the
heat of battle, not quite knowing what was taking place on the rest of
the battlefield and somewhat confused, Lee might have ordered his
soldiers to almost certain death. George W. Bush has no such excuse.
Studies have been done. He's had plenty of time to understand the
likely outcome of a "surge" in which American troops are outnumbered,
Iraqis are enduring a catastrophe, world and national opinion are
increasingly against him, AND Baghdad is surrounded by an Iraq that
will not be pacified. Come on, I'm not a general, but even I can see
that a "surge" is suicidal.

However, the unnecessary deaths of others never stopped little George
from having it his way. One of the words they use to characterize what
he cares about now is "honor", but in fact the Iraq War was never
"honorable". It was a sleazy, ill-planned act of arrogance, as much a
longshot as gambling your house on the 99 to 1 horse in the Kentucky
Derby. And without reading the Daily Racing Form.

So we are faced with the next step. The next step could be
simple--Bush could apologize, set up reparations for the Iraqis, and
tell the troops to come home. He's not going to do that of course--he's
going to take the hard way (for the troops and the Iraqis and the
taxpayers, that is). Little George is a proud man. You know, as in
"Pride goeth before a...."

I would like to hear some general say, "No, I'm not going to recruit
or train unwilling or unable bodies just because he wants to save
face." I'd like to hear Congress say, "No, we are not going to sit on
our hands while he waits out his term and guts the Constitution." I'd
like to hear some taxpayers request a return of that portion of their
taxes that goes to the war. I'd like to hear a few bureaucrats say,
"No, we aren't going to keep this whole sham moving any longer." I
would surely like to hear some nameless, faceless American say, "I'm
not going to fire that rocket or shell those people or throw that guy
in prison with no recourse." Because we have reached the stage in this
disintegrating war where the buck stops everywhere, and we will be
deeply sorry in the end when the face-saving surge fails. It took the
Confederate states nearly two years, tens of thousands of casualties,
and almost total destruction to accept defeat after Pickett's Charge.
Do we really want to turn around in four, six, or ten years and know
again, all the more bitterly, what we already know now?