Fresh Out of Weapons... Would You Like Another Vietnam Instead?
By Brad Odland
Review the ads in your Sunday paper and you will find a cornucopia
of great deals. Top brand home theatre systems and drastically
reduced prices, sofa sets at unheard of prices. But when you
get the store the clerk tells you, "Sorry, the last one sold
not fifteen minutes ago." You shrug and promise yourself to
be more diligent next time and then you proceed to look at
the more expensive items still available.
This method has been used and abused by retailers for years.
The idea is to get people through the door - once there you
can then use pure salesmanship and personality to "up-sell"
to an item with higher profit margins. We all understand this
and accept it as part of the discount retail game. Do we like
it? No, of course we don't.
George W. Bush has taken this to new level. Bush advertised
the invasion of Iraq as a way of keeping us and the middle
east safe from an attack by the evil regime of Saddam Hussein.
The attack was imminent. Nuclear weapons were only months
away. Saddam's invasion plans were ready to roll. His missiles
were lined up and ready to fire. His stealthy drone aircraft
were awaiting the order to begin dropping deadly anthrax spores
on unsuspecting Israelis.
Many in America walked right into George Bush's store and
were willing to accept that the world was in grave danger
from an evil man bent on global domination. But now it seems
that what we went into the store for is no longer there. So
now we are nonchalantly told that Iraq is out of stock on
WMDs - would we be interested in accepting another Vietnam
It has become clear that the administration selected intelligence
information that promoted the claim of existence of viable
ongoing weapons programs with the direct purpose to sway public
opinion. The administration assumed that weapons were probably
going to be found once invasion began. So it began and it
"finished" in a few short weeks with the proclamation by George
W. Bush on the deck of the most powerful naval vessel in the
world that "major military operations in Iraq have concluded."
Now the real war has begun. The one hidden from view.
Yes, there is still a war going on in Iraq, and so is the
bait and switch sales pitch. We now realize that a new phase
of war has begun - guerilla war. Just like that coveted TV
in the Sunday ads, the Iraq war was supposed to be quick,
easy and inexpensive. Did we really think that we would actually
get that? What we have now, after we've brought the box home,
is a big screen behemoth with huge monthly payments stretched
out over an indefinite period. Comparable to what Secretary
of Defense Donald Rumfeld said as the realization of a longer
engagement unfolded, "forces will remain in Iraq for as long
as it takes..."
I am sure our young men and women are overjoyed with the
prospect of an extended tour in Iraq. Patrolling in armored
vehicles, scanning the fields for signs of enemy activity,
dropping into hot LZ's, evacuating wounded from the most recent
operation to sustain peace in the region. At no point does
one feel safe. Any moment you could see your buddy next to
you take a bullet in the face or have a full metal jacketed
round punch a clean hole through your Kevlar vest and chest.
What could be more honorable than to be killed by a bullet
fired by a 12-year-old in an unnecessary war? Sound familiar?
Have we forgotten?
"Regime change in Iraq," "Saddam must disarm," "Remember
September 11th," "United We Stand," "God Bless America" -
all slogans used to win the hearts and minds of the American
people. It worked. But then it doesn't take much to win shallow
hearts and narrow minds.
George W. Bush sold the American people an Iraq war for
increased security and world peace. Now we have a sustained,
open-ended war and a world that is anything but peaceful.
But that doesn't really matter to Bush. What matters is that
he surpassed his sales quota and will get a nice bonus from
"Thank you so much...would you like to purchase an extended
warranty too? It's good through 2008!"
Brad Odland is a concerned citizen and Unitarian Universalist
in Waukesha, Wisconsin.