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Iraq Spinning Out Of Control
November 4, 2003
By Sheila Samples

The more than 60 soldiers who crowded into two mammoth, 10-ton Chinook helicopters early last Sunday had to be breathing a collective sigh of relief.

After surviving what had been the toughest, bloodiest week in Iraq's escalating anti-American insurgency, they were finally headed for some well-deserved, desperately-needed rest and relaxation (R&R). Their hearts had to be beating in concert with the powerful copter rotors' throbbing mantra, "Next Stop...Baghdad Airport...Next Stop...Home...Home...Home...!

They never made it.

A single strike from a shoulder-fired missile brought down one of the Chinooks, killing 15 and wounding 21, according to the U.S. military command. Another soldier was killed in an ambush in Baghdad just after midnight, and two coalition civilian contractors were killed on Sunday in a separate incident near Fallujah...

The toll of U.S. troops killed in Iraq has burgeoned to 378 and, unfortunately, some - if not most - of the 21 wounded in the Chinook, which was completely destroyed in the crash, can be expected to die.

Does the Bush administration have a plan that deals with stemming the flow of U.S. blood - the daily slaughter of American soldiers and marines? If we are to believe the president's weekly radio mantra, everything is going according to plan. On Saturday, Bush defended his "work" in Iraq by saying the upsurge in violence would have "no effect" on America leaving Iraq prematurely.

"The terrorists and the Ba'athists loyal to the old regime will fail because America and our allies have a strategy," he announced, "and our strategy is working."

Smoke the cold-blooded killers out. Bring 'em to justice. Yep. Sounds like a plan to me.

All we have to do is kill every Iraqi who hates the freedom we are "providing" for them - raid their homes, encircle their villages with concertina wire, seize their weapons and money and resources. After we kill all the terrorists who are drawn to the region to fight the freedom occupation, we can "transfer sovereignty and authority" of the remaining rubble to the few remaining freedom-loving Iraqis. Then - and only then - will our "work" in Iraq be finished. We'll be home free. Or - better yet - we can get on with the business of delivering freedom to other evil regimes in the region.

Upon learning of the tragedy, CNN went directly to the Crawford ranch, where Bush was relaxing after a gruelling campaign jaunt through Kentucky and Mississipi. However, the CNN reporter on the ground advised that Bush had no reaction to Sunday's unbearable loss of American life because he was still "being updated." The vice president, as is his wont, was also silent on the matter.

U.S. occupation chief Paul Bremer repeated the administration mantra on both FOX and CNN that those at fault were "enemies of freedom who will stop at nothing." Bremer, appearing a bit pale and startled, revealed that the battle in Iraq "is a universal battle. Nothing will stop us in our work," he said robotically. "We are not going to be deterred..."

So, a defiant Donald Rumsfeld, our zany secretary of defense, was charged with taking center stage, and repeating his surreal mantra on every single Sunday morning squawk show. If broken-hearted Americans turned on Sunday to the administration or to its enabling corporate media for comfort - for some viable explanation that would justify the stuffing into body bags of yet 16 more of our cherished husbands, sons and brothers - they were disappointed. They were left to drown in their own tears; to be crushed under the weight of their collective anguish.

"It's a tragic day for those people who were killed or wounded," Rumsfeld told FOX News' Tony Snow. "But this is a war. There are going to be days like that."

Snow nodded his head wisely, and asked, "But are we killing as many of them as they are of us?"

"Oh, my goodness, yes!" Rumsfeld sputtered. "We are killing many more of them! Why - on any given day we capture or kill many more of them than they do of us. But, by golly," he grinned, "there are good things going on in Iraq, too. Bad news always drives out the good..."

Rumsfeld reminded viewers of FOX News Sunday, NBC's Meet the Press, ABC's This Week, and CNN's Late Edition that they should remember the video clips aired round-the-clock last week of Saddam "cutting off heads, hands, tongues, and fingers of his subjects." He suggested that we should all go back and watch Saddam throw people off three-story buildings.

"It's tragic," he said, "but in a war, we are going to have days like this. We are fortunate that there are so many wonderful young men and women who are willing to fight the global war on terror," Rumsfeld said. "We can't hunker down and wait for terrorists to attack. We have to go get them."

It didn't take long for Rumsfeld to descend into incomprehensible clatter-babble. "We know why they are doing it," he said. "They will do anything for money. And remember, they cut off people's hands, heads, tongues and fingers. Don't forget that."

Rumsfeld then went into his familiar Q&A routine - "Is our presence in Iraq helping the recruitment of terrorists? Probably. Is Saddam still a threat? No. Is it a threat that we haven't found Saddam yet? Maybe. Will the threat subside if we get Saddam? We just don't know. Maybe - maybe not."

Among other things that appeared to bewilder him, Rumsfeld said he "didn't know" if we underestimated the strength of the Iraqi resistance. "There are many things we don't know," he said. "There are questions that aren't answerable because the answers are unknowable. But," he concluded breezily, "our goal is to continue doing what we're doing."

Our goal? Continuing to keep our young men and women in harm's way in a deadly shooting gallery from which there is no escape, and to lose more and more of them on a daily basis is not my goal. Nor is it the goal of the majority of the American people, especially those who continue to receive their loved ones home in body bags under a tightly-controlled media blackout.

I submit that the answer to why we are in Iraq is knowable, but those who know full well that the answer is "greed" are standing admidst the mangled body parts of our young men and women, and dare not speak its name.

George W. Bush must step forward and present to a grieving world something more substantial for the loss of American lives than ridding the world of evil - of getting cold-blooded killers on the run and bringing them to justice. If he cannot - or will not - do this, then the administration's "Operation Iraqi Mantra" madness must come to a screeching halt.

Because it is becoming increasingly "knowable" that, as long as Bush's "work" continues in Iraq, Americans will be forced to accept a steady flow of blood-stained body bags.

Sheila Samples is an Oklahoma freelance writer, a former US Army Public Information Officer and contributing editor.

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