|RANT FROM JULY 2004
"How to Get out of Iraq"
It's not as hard as the pundits say it is, and not as unthinkable as the neo-cons and the politicians say it is. "Failure is not an option," they keep repeating. The similarity to Vietnam, for those of us old enough to remember it, becomes impossible not to notice. Sometimes failure happens. Often failure is predictable, as in both of these cases.|
So -- we get out of Iraq by driving the troopships up to the wharf, marching the troops on board with or without bands blaring, raising up the gangplank, and driving the troops back home to the good old U.S. of A. We could use some helicopters, too, as we did in Saigon. Bring them home and learn the lessons, which we have not yet mastered from the miserable experience in Vietnam.
Keep your troops at home henceforth. They don't do any good, no matter what your objectives are. The kinds of problems you say you are tackling, like "democratization," cannot be solved militarily. Learn that. Seek some other way of attaining your objectives. It would be a start if you called off your war against the poor people of the world. Feed the hungry. Clothe the naked, if they are cold. Allow for the dignity of each and all. Make sure your objectives do no harm to anyone.
Eschew the use of the euphemism, "defense." Notice how seldom in recent decades what you're doing with the troops could really properly be called "defense." Name an incident since Gettysburg that really was defense of the homeland and not of some recently acquired military base, like Hawaii.
An old proverb says that "the best defense is an irresistible offense." It is false. Offense is not defense. Learn from judo -- let the opponent make the first move, and use his energy to overthrow him. Pre-emptive strikes are offense, not defense, and do not turn out well. Ask Adolf Hitler.
It would help also to define the enemy. In Vietnam it was "communism," which is an abstraction, and became simply "gooks," which was comprehensible to the grunts, but wrong. In Iraq it's "terrorism," which is a para-military tactic, but the grunts are quickly changing it to "all Muslims," and even "everything that moves." The task becomes impossible.
The "war on terror" slogan is not at all helpful. It is in fact nonsensical. One cannot go to war against a tactic, which all combatants use, including us. A five-hundred-pound bomb exploding in a city is terrorism. The slogan, in fact, is being used as an excuse for full-time and permanent war mobilization and war budgets, shutting down political discussion, dissent and analysis. In the long run it won't work.
We need to be clear about our objectives in the Middle East. "Democratization" has nothing to do with it. The one bit of new information that we spotted in Michael Moore's marvelous movie, Fahrenheit 911, was the story of the visit of Taliban leaders to Bush's ranch in Texas, before 9/11, setting up plans for a pipeline from the Caspian Sea through Afghanistan to the Indian Ocean coast of Pakistan. In Iraq, as well, "It's about oil, Stupid!" Keep your eye on the oil and the oil money.
Meanwhile, we'll have to get out of Iraq. From my point of view, sooner would be better than later. Removing the 500-pound bombs will result in fewer dead people. Pundits ask, "Well, how is Kerry's plan any better than Bush's?" I think Kerry should say very little about Iraq. Bush got us into it -- let him stew in his own juice. All of Bush's lies are Bush's problem, not Kerry's. Kerry doesn't need an alternative policy for Iraq. [Mine, which is "get out now," would hinder his election chances because of all those lies, I suspect.] He needs to continue to make clear, and make it clearer, that Bush's gross incompetence is the real issue. Bush is too inexperienced, too lacking in knowledge, in history, in human psychology, in military tactics, too unintelligent, too saddled with preconceived assumptions, too dependent on shallow or downright wicked advisers, too caught up in half-baked religion -- "don't get me starrrrted!"