View From Lodi, CA: On Veteran`s Day, Our Sad Sacrifice In Iraq

Since the Iraqi War began, I have
been a harsh critic of it and its leading architect,

President George W. Bush.

As early as May 2003, I unashamedly
called Bush

“dishonest.”

I take no pleasure in having
accurately predicted that the war is a doomed venture.
Even less enjoyable is how easily I saw through the
transparent and utterly useless Bush.

Bush`s failure has spelled nothing
but trouble for the nation—most especially for our
soldiers put unnecessarily into harm`s way by his
incompetence.

In various columns I wrote,

“the insurgency is unbowed
,”


“insurgents cannot be defeated on their own turf,

Bush`s war is

“filthy and futile
,”
and

“time has run out for Bush.”

I was wrong on one count, however.
Earlier this year I wrote that in Iraq, “one week is
pretty much the same as the next.”

But October, when ninety-six soldiers were killed—57
from roadside bombs—was one of the deadliest months on
record.

During the last week of October,
insurgent attacks on coalition troops averaged 80 a day.

Only two weeks ago, much was made
of the 2,000th American casualty.

(Military
Has Lost 2,000 in Iraq
,
Josh White and Ann Scott
Tyson, Washington Post, October 26, 2005.)

Now, on Veteran`s Day, the

death total
is

2,057
with an additional 16,000 wounded.

Taking my earlier observations one
by one, it`s still hard and unsatisfying to say, “I
told you so.”

  • First, the insurgency is not
    now and never will be quelled. Anyone who lived
    through the Vietnam War—as Bush did—should know
    this.

Even though U.S. and Iraqi fighters
have killed 1,300 insurgents and detained another 9,000,
those forces have immediately replenished themselves.

The Brookings Institute, a
Washington, D.C.-based research center, estimates that
as many as 50,000 insurgents in total have been killed.

Yet the total number of insurgent
forces active today remains at 20,000, the same as last
year according to Gen John Abizaid, the chief of U.S.
Central Command. [Insurgents`
Ranks Quickly Replenished, Expert Says
, Drew
Brown, Knight Ridder, November 4, 2005]

The invisible

Vice President Dick Cheney
may think that the
insurgency is in its

“last throes”
but he is about the only person
on the planet who does.

  • Second, to understand better
    the degree of near impossibility of bringing
    democracy to Iraq, consider the argument made by
    Johns Hopkins University professor

    Francis Fukuyama
    in his new book,

    State Building
    .
     

Fukuyama analyzes the conditions
necessary for "nation building." Among the most
important factors for creating a democratic state is a
broad middle class and an agreement to abide by the
legal and constitutional procedures called for in
secular law.

Since Iraq does not possess these
prerequisites for a democratic state, Fukuyama argues
that “nation building” in Iraq faces very long
odds.

  • Third, and perhaps of most
    importance to Americans, has time really run out on
    Bush? Can the country stagger through three more
    years of his incompetence?

According to Capitol Hill insiders,
influential Republicans have told Bush that he can still
salvage his presidency. But to do so, Bush will have to
move quickly and forcefully.

Among the steps Bush must take, say
GOP strategists, is to fire advisor Karl Rove. With Rove
out of the way, Bush should immediately retool his
cabinet by asking for the resignations of Secretary of
Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and Secretary of State

Condoleezza Rice.
White House Chief of Staff Andy
Card should also resign.

Once a new team is installed,
surmise party professionals, Bush must then go to the
nation and apologize for misleading it into Iraq.

Disgruntled Republicans predict
that if Bush ignores this advice, he would effectively
end his presidency.

In turn, that would lead the loss
of Congress in 2006 and the White House in 2008.

But others close to the White House
say that Bush has no intention of abandoning Rove. And
based on Bush`s recent comments that the Iraq War will
“will require more sacrifice, more time and more
resolve,"
an apology seems unlikely. [Bush:
Iraq War Will Require More Sacrifice
,
Will
Dunham, Reuters, October 25, 2005]

As scandals continue to surround
the White House, more indictments seem probable. Iraq is
poised to become more deadly. Can the government function
in this atmosphere?

The answer is “No,” says
retired Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, 31-year military
veteran, former director of the Marine Corps War College
and Secretary of State Colin Powell`s right-hand man.

Addressing a group of journalists
at the New America Foundation, Wilkerson said, “I`m
not sure the State Department even exists anymore. It,
like so many other things, has been destroyed by George
W. Bush`s `cowboyism.`”

As for Rice, Wilkerson called her
“extremely weak.” [Colonel
Finally Saw Whites of Their Eyes
, Dana Milbank,
Washington Post, October 20, 2005] 

But, of course, the country will
somehow or another stumble through Bush`s
misadventures. 

Unfortunately, we`ll be a long time
in cleaning up after him.

Joe Guzzardi [email
him], an instructor in English
at the Lodi Adult School, has been writing a weekly
column since 1988. It currently appears in the


Lodi News-Sentinel
.