Wednesday, March 26, 2008

My professional take: ‘Apathy’ and ‘frustration’ the watchwords on Iraq

Note: This is selected from my weekly newspaper column for March 27. — SocraticGadfly

Five years on from March 19, 2003, “apathy” seems to me to be the watchword for the war against Iraq.

When you have Congressional leaders from both parties who, as of a year ago, still didn’t know the difference between Sunni and Shi’a Muslims, did not know that al-Qaida was specifically Sunni-affiliated, and in some cases, still try to claim that a religious fundamentalist movement of a minority religion in that country was affiliated with the secularist government of Saddam Hussein, one can hardly blame much of the American public for apathy about Iraq five years on. When you know these same attitudes and lack of historical and religious knowledge are held in spades in the executive branch, apathy about Iraq is almost excusable.

After all, the White House continued the “guns and butter” approach to Iraq that LBJ did with Vietnam, and with even less public criticism, even as inflation started taking its inevitable bite in the last year or two. Of course, LBJ couldn’t outsource either U.S. debt or electronic entertainment manufacturing to China 40 years ago.

When you have a president who won’t admit the fact that the truth is, this war has cost $3 trillion right now, and that’s why we’re getting further and further in debt to Chinese buyers of U.S. Treasury securities, and you have a Congress which continues to vote for on- and off-budget spending bills for Iraq, and won’t admit that they know the cost of the war is $3 trillion and growing, apathy should be no surprise.

When none of our elected officials will come clean about how our alleged ally and oil best buddy Saudi Arabia is behind much of the world’s Sunni Muslim terrorism, because we are addicted to oil but refuse to do anything serious about it, apathy of people who think gas is pricey at $3 a gallon and would have heart attacks over $5/gallon gas is to be expected.

More below the fold.

When much of the terrorism in the Middle East is connected, directly or indirectly, to Israel, and none of our leaders want to discuss this 800-pound gorilla, even when it hurts, not helps, our own (and not Israel’s) national security for fears of being called anti-Semitic, or losing Jewish votes in elections, or votes of Israel-first conservative Christians, apathy is probably normal.

Above all, when none of the current major-party presidential candidates, Democratic or Republican, are willing to admit that the ultimate truth is that we’ve probably already “lost” Iraq, as ex-CIA agent Michael Scheuer says in his new book, “Marching toward Hell,” apathy, mixed with frustration from people who do know that truth, is no surprise at all.

As someone who was against this war before it was launched, and who knew the difference between Sunnis and Shi’as, and secularist and Islamist governments in the Middle East, at that time, the watchword is that undercurrent of “frustration” much more than apathy.

A Democratic Party that regained control of Congress in 2006 elections, in large part because of vague promises to “do something” about Iraq which were followed by doing almost nothing about Iraq, is a big frustration-inducer.

Too many Congressional Democrats who have been complicit in, or at least accepting of, the folding, spindling and mutilation of our civil liberties shouldn’t be surprised about this frustration.

Purportedly anti-war people who believe we have to stay in Iraq until it becomes a stable state, not asking if we can even do that with only about 50,000 or so actual combat troops among our 150,000 in Iraq, can be frustration-inducing. So, too, can a belief that last year’s troop “surge” accomplished, or will accomplish, anything in the Iraq political world.

Frustration-inducing, too, can be people who don’t want to know more about the Muslim world, who want to stereotype it, who don’t want to learn about something like Peak Oil, who want to believe that technology will save the U.S. military effort, or who believe that the U.S. will always and inevitably come out on the right side of such things,

Well, there are no such guarantees. The words “United States” are nowhere in the Bible as the subject of prophecy of guaranteed victories or permanence. Nor is the phrase “American exceptionalism” found in our Constitution.

How much of that $3 trillion ultimate war bill are you, or we, willing to pay? How much less gasoline are you willing to use? Are you looking for a more economical car? Are you trying to learn more about what the Middle East is really about than accept words of political leaders?