IRAQ, 2007

        The debate over the war in Iraq goes on and on and on and on and... I'm sure you've noticed, so I needn't go on and on and...

        Hmmpf. Sorry 'bout that.

        Frankly, the war's a mess, I think just about everybody agrees on that point. The disagreement is on what to do about it. At one extreme are those who say a relatively modest increase in the number of troops sent to Iraq will bring about peace and a stable government. At the other are those who say the war in Iraq is totally a lost cause and we should simply pull out and leave the Iraqis to their own devices.

        Both extremes are wrong.

        So what to do?

        Realistically? Damfino. Well, I do know what to do. Unfortunately, my time machine is on the blink, so we can't go back four or five years to correct the absolutely bone-headed mistakes made by the fools who set the war up and refused to do any planning whatsoever for what to do once Saddam Hussein and his army were defeated. They seemed to have the notion that once the dictator was overthrown, the Iraqi people would rise up on their hind legs, automatically turn to democracy, move to the suburbs, and vote Republican.

        Har-di-har! Lots'a luck, fella. News flash: Democracy is hard, people! Nobody has ever gotten it right out of the starting gate.

        Soon after the fall of Baghdad, I heard one brief news report that the Marines were going to do the same thing in Iraq that they did in Vietnam with the Combined Action Program. My response was, "Good." Unfortunately, that didn't come to pass. I was appalled time and again by the images I saw of American troops standing by, doing nothing, while looters ran wild in the streets of Baghdad, and by reports of American troops doing nothing when the reprisal killings began.

        As for those who say we should just pull out, do they really think that if we do, the bad guys--and make no mistake about it, there are a lot of very bad guys over there--will stop murdering innocent people in numbers that Saddam Hussein could only envy? Do they really believe that al Queda or Iran won't move into the resulting power-vacuum and turn Iraq into another Talaban-style Afghanistan? Do they really believe a Talaban-style Iraq won't destabilize the Middle East and the rest of Southwest Asia and the adjacent areas? Do they really believe that the religious fanatics and America-haters will suddenly put their weapons and bombs away and start to play nice?

        If they do, it begs the question: What are they smoking?

        If/when we pull out, if there isn't a government and army in Iraq strong enough to fight and defeat the "insurgents," I believe there will be a blood-bath and the country will be taken over by Iran or al Queda--or others of their hate-filled ilk.

        It's a damn bloody (and I mean that "bloody" literally) shame that duffus L. Paul Bremer ordered the disbandment of the Iraqi army and banned all members of the Baathist party from government jobs when he took over as the head of the provisional government. Not only did he abruptly dump millions of people onto the streets without jobs, he caused massive alienation among those millions. Hey, not all the Baathists in government jobs were Saddamites. Most of them were simply government bureaucrats, the very people you need to make a government run. Just like, until the Civil Service laws were passed in this country, government workers here often needed to be registered members of whatever political party was in power in order to keep their jobs.

        Forgive me, I'm ranting again. I can't help it, my gorge rises to overflowing every time I think about the unbelievably stupid mistakes our leaders made when we went into Iraq, beginning with not having enough troops to provide order and security to the country.

        The 21,000 (or is it 30,000? the number keeps changing) additional troops being sent to Iraq aren't enough to secure the country. They'll have trouble just locking down Baghdad. And when they do lock down Baghdad? You see it on the news every day now; the insurgents simply move outside the capital city and raise their unholy hell elsewhere. You can bet the mortgage on it that once Baghdad is quieted and the troops move on to other places, the baddies will return to Baghdad, and it will be as though we'd never bothered to secure the city in the first place.

        So what's our poor country to do? A couple of things. Possibly three.

        1) Stop pretending that all tax cuts are necessarily good and all tax increases necessarily bad. We're at war, folks, and wars cost money--a lot of money. Roll back the tax cuts that almost exclusively benefit the wealthy and, as a side effect, increase the disparity between the incomes of the wealthy and everybody else. (Okay, okay, that's editorializing, but these are my opinions and you don't have to agree with them if you'd rather keep your head in the sand.)
        2) Double the number of troops in Iraq. And if that isn't enough, send in more.
        3) This is where I get in trouble; reinstate the draft, 'cause you know we won't get enough volunteers to beef up the military by as much as will be needed.

        Oh, yeah. 4) Stop insisting that Iraq be a Little America. That cost South Vietnam its freedom. Damn, we're supposed to learn from our mistakes.

        Are we going to do any of those things? Will they even work? I don't see any other way of "winning" in Iraq, and I don't see anyone in the current administration or among the manifold contenders for next year's elections with the guts to take the necessary steps.

        Unless Iraq somehow manages to come up with a George Washington, things are only going to get worse.