Saturday, October 08, 2005

Three years ago today

At the time of this speech by George Bush I was keenly aware of two realities.

First, there was not a cause-and-effect connection between the attack of September 11 and Iraq or Saddam Hussein. Since that time it has been made clear that there may have been contacts between al-Qaeda and/or OBL and Saddam, but to suggest that there was any meaningful collusion of the two is simply not accurate.

Second, the aims and motivations of Osama and Saddam were/are as incompatible as oil and water. To imagine that the two could or would agree on anything other than their mutual hatred of the US is equally inaccurate.

It is accurate to paint both Saddam and Osama as enemies of the US, both of whom pose threats to our national security. But to couple the two as a pretext for a war in Iraq was and continues to be unconscionable. I was clear about that three years ago and nothing has occurred in the intervening three years to change my mind. This was the speech that I will always recall as a conscious, deliberately-orchestrated effort on the part of President Bush to whip the political will of the country into support for a preemptive war in Iraq.

What exactly was being "preempted" I don't know. There may yet be larger regional issues yet to be revealed that made it important that we start a war at that time. I don't have any knowledge about that. There could be behind the scenes events yet to be revealed over which the president had no control. Again, I cannot comment about that.

From all I can see and grasp, we have spent billions of money and thousands of lives on a war that is creating more problems than solutions in the Middle East. The "regime change" has occurred. Saddam is in custody. It's time to withdraw.

As recently as yesterday the president was still waving the bloody shirt of the World Trade Center attack by way of coupling the two. His rhetoric has become more nuanced but the effect on his audience has become more exact. I am reminded of the way Southern politicians use subtle language cues to signal to white voters that they are on the "right side of the issues." I have heard the same racist language applied to business in a corporate environment. As an old-fashioned white Southern Liberal I know what I am talking about, and it isn't pretty. I can tell when it's raining and when somebody is pissing on my leg.

My instinct is that we will be out of the war by this time next year. The language of politicians and military commanders leads me to believe that policy decision has been made. I find that thought reassuring. Like a train or heavily loaded truck in motion, a war cannot be stopped on a dime. But all the signals are that it is coming to an end. Thank God.

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