We Ain't Playin'
By Dennis Jones
Fellow liberals, we are under attack from the right, both
near and far. We're accused of playing politics with judicial
nominations, political contributions, the environment, healthcare,
the deficit, welfare, religion, social security, motherhood
and apple pie. We are veeeeerrry bad people who stand in the
way of the Judeo-Christian utopia that the founding fathers
wanted for us all. And to top it all off, we are aiding the
enemy by playing politics with the war on terror and national
security. The only reason that we are not in jail for treason
is probably because St. Ashcroft hasn't been able to build
enough prisons to hold us all.
The sanctimonious right airily dismisses our arguments as
hatred of President Bush, John Ashcroft, Dick Cheney, Donald
Rumsfeld et al. We are gaming the conversation to steal power.
Should we succeed, civilization as we know it would end and
we would be at the mercy of terrorists and atheists. Friends,
this is a giant load of bullshit! Our friends on the right
should realize that we mean them no harm. They should also
know that WE AIN'T PLAYIN'! We mean business! We are not happy
with George W. Bush or his team and we intend to win!
People my age (57) used to have a childlike belief in the
presidency too. Growing up I couldn't imagine Ike or JFK deceiving
me. However by the time Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon finished
with us we learned to question what we were told, especially
with regard to war and peace. To this day large numbers of
conservatives still believe that liberals prevented victory
by questioning that war and the way that it was waged. Sadly,
history has shown that we were right. We demanded that people
in charge be held accountable. Lyndon Johnson, facing imminent
defeat at the polls, decided to head back to the Johnson ranch
on his own. Facing impeachment, certain conviction and probably
jail Nixon slunk off to his ignominious place in history.
Lies were told, mistakes were made and people were held accountable.
It is hard to imagine a more stupid or more dangerous
way of making decisions than by putting those decisions
in the hands of people who pay no price for being wrong.
- Thomas Sowell
May I humbly say that the reason that politics is rearing
its ugly head in the national security issue is precisely
because we think that mistakes have been made and that someone
needs to pay the price? We know that Mr. Bush will not quietly
return to Crawford on his own. It is doubtful that he has
committed an impeachable offense and even if he had it would
be too much to expect that Republican lackeys in the House
would vote the charges. The ballot box is the sole remedy
left to us in this situation and we mean to use it. Therein
lays the problem. The warriors of the right say that we don't
love our country because we won't support the war in Iraq.
They insist that this is just a power grab at the expense
of the nation. They argue they we are aiding the enemy and
weakening the efforts of our soldiers in the field. We are
weak and unworthy of the title 'citizen.'
Look, there is one statement that bothers me more
than anything else. And that's the idea that when the troops
are in combat, everybody has to shut up. Imagine if we put
troops in combat with a faulty rifle, and that rifle was
malfunctioning, and troops were dying as a result. I can't
think anyone would allow that to happen, that would not
speak up. Well, what's the difference between a faulty plan
and strategy that's getting just as many troops killed?
- Marine General Anthony Zinni
It is our patriotic duty to speak out when egregiously
flawed policies and strategies needlessly cost American
lives. - Marine Major General William A. Whitlow
I assume that these two generals, no lowly liberals they,
are not traitors. I assume that they love their country just
as much as the rightest of righties. So for the sake of an
intelligent discussion could we just once abandon all of the
hyperbole? That means from the left and the right. I won't
claim that anyone in the administration is a liar and I won't
attribute an almost complete lack of intelligence to the president.
In return maybe the mealy mouths of the Bush Brigade could
stop saying that single-handedly liberals are going to lose
the war, destroy the military and hurl our country into a
pit of despair.
I am not a dove in the sense that I would not ever use the
power of the military in the defense of my country. In the
aftermath of 9-11 I agreed with the strike against the Taliban
and al Qaeda in Afghanistan. According to all of the polls
most Americans supported that action. I remember no serious
opposition, especially from the Congress. The support of our
nation around the world was also almost universal. Even to
this day most of the important nations of the world are steadfast
at our side in our struggle against terrorists. France, Germany
and Canada among others all have troops in Afghanistan. Flags
flew in front of liberal homes as well as conservative. While
there may have been small disagreements about the conduct
of the war, they were minor and inconsequential.
Mr. Bush's problems with support started when he turned
his attention to Iraq. Very serious opposition in the U.S.
and overwhelmingly huge opposition everywhere else in the
world seemed not to bother him at all. Significant numbers
of Americans including many with much knowledge about the
Middle East opposed that war but were dismissed as dovish
Machiavellis whose motives for crass political gain were to
stand in the way of a valiant leader. I will buy that there
probably was some of that - there almost always is. But it
might also be said that there were those in the administration
whose motives were also not pure.
Nevertheless, the president took the almost universal support
that he had in the war against terror and squandered it in
what I believe was a very dubious effort in Iraq. Those of
us who opposed him were told that politics were supposed to
"stop at the water's edge." Excuse me Mr. President, but the
burden for support rests upon your shoulders, not on ours.
It is your job to persuade us that the action which you propose
is wise and necessary. The fact that you did not is your fault,
not ours. In all your self-righteousness you proceeded and
when things started to go wrong and questions started to be
asked you and your minions claimed that it was just "playing
politics." May I humbly suggest sir that on the contrary,
we are asking for accountability and we do not intend to allow
you to besmirch our character or lay your failures at our
Devon Largio, a student at the University of Illinois, has
done a wonderful paper on the reasons cited for going to war
in her Senior Honors Thesis. After compiling the utterances
of all of the key players in the administration she found
that 27 reasons had been advanced at one time or another.
Of those, six seemed to be in the forefront. They were: lack
of inspectors; prevention of proliferation of weapons of mass
destruction; Saddam is evil; the war on terror; liberation
of the Iraqi people; and regime change. Secondary reasons
were: because we can; unfinished business; disarmament; connections
to al Qaeda; and the safety of the world. There were many
others such as a war for oil, revenge, the relevance of the
United Nations and for the sake of history. By the time she
finished Ms. Largio concluded that it was almost impossible
to discern exactly what the real reason was for going to war
with Iraq. Imagine that! Who was playing politics then?
Lack of inspectors obviously fell by the wayside early on
because we did have inspectors in the country. They took the
information that we gave them and they found nothing. We were
told that they would be useless because it was too big a country
and Saddam would never cooperate with them anyway. After the
fact, of course, we have still found nothing of any significance.
I don't consider this that big a deal. The President correctly
points out that Bill Clinton, the French and German governments,
indeed most of the world thought that he had WMDs. I thought
that he had them. By itself, I don't think this is particularly
damning of the administration but it doesn't speak too well
of the CIA. However, when the argument about WMDs is combined
with others put forth it becomes much more dangerous.
That Saddam was evil, there is no doubt. But only a moron
would argue that that was sufficient for taking the country
to war. By combining that fact with a supposed connection
to al Qaeda we were asked to believe that we were imperiled
and that a mushroom cloud over one of our cities might be
the result of our inaction. May I say that this argument was
crap, is crap and always will be crap? There was no real connection
to al Qaeda and if anyone in the administration seriously
believed that they should be relieved of command immediately.
But it was a great selling point.
The garbage about the liberation of the Iraqi people and
the gift of a democratic government to the Middle East has
only come to the forefront because all of the other reasons
have proven to be bogus. Those of us who opposed the war are
constantly asked if we would rather that Saddam still be in
power. Because the obvious answer is that we would not we
are airily dismissed as weak and partisan for our arguments.
As grand a goal as liberation and democracy might be, does
anyone really believe that the mess in Iraq was really worth
it for Iraqi liberation especially at a time when we are under
attack by real terrorists? Only the sycophants of the right
continue to buy it.
I believe that the real reason we went to war with Iraq
is a combination of three: because we can; regime change;
and the war on terror. Hardliners in the administration believed
that it wouldn't be too difficult to overthrow Saddam and
that the noble aspiration of a democratic government would
be welcomed by the people of Iraq with open arms. By removing
the obviously evil dictator and affecting regime change in
an easy war our great leader would be shown as strong and
decisive in the war on terror. They pushed Iraq into that
war to make George Bush look good. Predictably because it
proved to be a much more dubious prospect we are left with
the democracy in Iraq argument.
Fellow players, this is the reason that 6000 casualties
and hundreds of billions of dollars have been expended in
this awful war. Mr. Bush has alienated most of the rest of
the world at a time when we need them in the real war on terror.
His lieutenants have disparaged France and Germany for opposing
his folly. They have derided Mexico and Canada for not meekly
falling in behind. Canada for God's sake! If you thought about
it forever you wouldn't be able to come up with a better neighbor
than Canada. He has polarized the American people at a time
when we should not be and then blamed it on our lust for power.
He has arrogantly asked that we overlook the obvious mistakes
in this folly and return him to office to continue with the
Politics it may be, but there is no play here. George W.
Bush has shown that he doesn't have the good judgment to be
president. He has gotten us into a conflict that we must not
lose and we may very well not win. We desperately need to
start working with our partners around the world instead of
demonizing them. Regime change in America is the remedy. Politics
is the only way that we have of holding him accountable for
his incredible ineptitude.