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Some Impressions on the War on Terrorism

Most reasonable accounts and analysis see Iraq, now, as a slogging, painful, impossible sort of conflict in which the U.S. can't possibly win. It has changed so starkly that one has to step back a bit and try to understand why things could have changed so quickly.

We aren't quite sure that is the long-term prospect but we do know a few things.

We are convinced, for instance, that George W. Bush is not the leader needed in this war. As we said on the day of his inauguration we weren't sure whether he was Herbert Hoover or James Buchanan but he was one of them. That is, a President who can't deal with the crisis in front of him and must be succeeded by a superior leader. And we are fast reaching a point of crisis which will result in either a very large-scale war in the Middle-East region or the complete isolation of the United States, creating the infamous vacuum that nature abhors.

There is no doubt this is a crisis period made even more stark by the apparent complacency of the people

If we call on history a bit to give us that perspective we note two things. First, the trouble the North got into when it believed it would easily defeat the rebels at Bull Run. And, secondly, the painful defeats at Pearl Harbor, the Philippines, up to the decisive battle of Midway. As Condi Rice said yesterday, America is never prepared for war, never prepared for the worst scenario but it can respond under the right leadership.

The Bush Administration has, on the one hand, a disengaged President and on the other a kind of Ahab like mentality on the part of the senior staff who argue and bicker between themselves but who never saw the difficulties of dealing with the scenarios that are developing in Iraq today.

The one interesting figure in all of this is Saddam Hussein who is still alive, in the hands of the Americans, and who could be used any number of imaginative ways to help stabilize things.

As we said on the first day of fighting one year ago, we know of no nation or people who welcomes a foreign occupation, under a different religious belief and language.

And the rightness of invading Iraq could be argued many times over but one thing is abundantly clear. Unless you have authentic leadership the policy will fail.

How difficult is it to build a constitutional government with bullets flying? Would the Constitutional Convention been held in 1787 if bands of English sympathizers burnt towns and shot at the framers coming into Philadelphia? It is not likely. And the bullets will fly for years because you are dealing with people who had the patience and self-discipline to plan the New York attacks for years, keeping the whole thing secret, and executing the plan flawlessly. The presence of American military does not demoralize them, it enflames them. This has all been said before but it is the truth that the Bush Administration is failing to grasp.

And now, the leader has thrown things over to the U.N. And with that the pretense of leadership falls. The President wants to cut and run and claim as his legacy the ousting of Hussein. He doesn't grasp the implications of anything that he has done in this area.

It is likely that Iraq will become an Islamic state with no official ties to the terrorists but a lot of hatred for Israel. And beyond that is something fearful t contemplate because the U.S. does have one obligation in the area and that is the keep the oil flowing out of the Persian Gulf. How is it going to do is if the policy in Iraq is a complete failure?

Posted April 17, 2004

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Previous impressions on the war on Terrorism:

"If you are a poet, a madman even, certainly a thinking person, the last place you want to be is in the backwaters of history."
"We are patriots and for the good that America can produce..."
"We are neither fear-mongers or prophets..."
"Dissent is one thing that keeps free people honest..."
"The first question to ask is, "Is it worth the killing?"
"The core issue still remains this: How real is the threat of terrorism?"
"Can a good citizen agonize over the policy but love the country and still believe in its future?"
"President Bush's credibility wanes for some simple, clear-cut reasons..."
"The idea that the U.S. can "rule the world," is an absurd notion..."
"Common intuition says that the U.S. is at a cross-roads, a threshold point..."
"The most fascinating and awful thing to confront is this..."
"Our fears did not start in September of 2001..."
"In foreign affairs, the citizen is sucked into the final drop of calculation the state is capable of..."
"The loyal opposition of the Democrats may have disintegrated in Iraq..."
"Listening to the good, heart-felt discussion about diversity and affirmative action..."
"We have two perspectives..."

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David Eide
copyright 2003
March 27, 2003