STAYING THE COURSE

Every American essayist prays for a week like this one – even atheists, the Dunkers, and the non-believers ask the One Great Intelligent Designer to give them a week where preachers and politician-preachers become so bollixed up that the whole world shakes its head in puzzlement. The only thing missing is for Charley, the Prince of Wales to screw up, but he has been missing in action since Mrs. Camilla Parker Bowles became his new mama.

On August 23rd of this year, the Right Reverend Pat Robertson announced on his 700 Club television show that Hugo Chavez, the President of Venezuela should be assassinated, presumably by agents of the sweet smelling American counter intelligence forces.

Old preacher Pat, a former contender for the Republican presidential nomination, said assassination of Chavez would save the cost of a war against Venezuela. Presumably, Pat was spilling some plans that the Administration was keeping quiet about Venezuela. Bush and Robertson usually march in lockstep.

Does the fact that Iraq and Venezuela are two countries that sell us oil have something to do with Robertson’s belligerence? Don’t know, but good old Pat wants to save us the cost of another invasion as was done in Iraq. Very holy of him.

The response from the Un-Intelligent Design leaders in the Administration was muted in the extreme. Rumsfeld said that Americans don’t do assassinations. That, of course, is a knee-slapper. We do it but we try to cover it by spin. Karen Hughes, Bush’s long time girl friend, has been appointed Undersecretary of State expressly for the purpose of spinning stories which make all American Republican politicians look like heroes.

In any case, the world saw no response from the bravest of the brave, our Commander in Chief and Chief Executive. The rest of the civilized world is aghast that a preacher can make American foreign policy – but all we have is Rumsfeld saying, “Oh we wouldn’t do such a thing.”

When the next day arrived, Pat started out by claiming that the Associated Press had misinterpreted his outburst – and then he repeated it. So the state of our relations with the sovereign country of Venezuela seems to be that we want to kill its elected president. The honorable Evangelical Methodist, Mr. Bush, is so busy vacationing and making speeches to the heroes of the VFW and the Idaho National Guard and putting down Cindy Sheehan, that he has no time to tell the world that we don’t really want to kill President Chavez. To do so might injure his relations with his political base, and we certainly can’t have that. Robertson now claims that he has apologized, but the words come out again, “Assassinate Chavez” and no Administration official has told the world that Pat doesn’t do foreign policy. Or, does he?

On Monday, August 22nd and Wednesday, our hero president spoke to VFW conventioneers in Salt Lake City and to the Idaho National Guardsmen in Idaho. On Tuesday he rode his bike and visited a recreation area in Idaho. He seemed not to mind as the violence in Iraq went on because he needed to balance his life.

For the record, your old illiterate author has never been tempted to join the American Legion or the Veterans of Foreign Wars. My interests are not in beer drinking and retelling real or imagined stories of Army life. Those outfits are not my cup of tea.

In his speech to the VFW on August 22nd, which was largely repeated two days later, our Commander in Chief who never saw service in the Army, Navy or the Air Force, and certainly never overseas, said repeatedly, that the nation owed it to the more than 2000 Americans killed not to end their mission prematurely. He went on to say, “Each of these heroes left a legacy that will allow generations of their fellow Americans to enjoy the blessings of liberty. We owe them something. We will finish the task they gave their lives for.”

Let’s see how the promise that “we owe them something….We will finish the task they gave their lives for” works out. For rational people, it does not parse. Not at all.

If we have lost more than 2000 people in Iraq and Afghanistan, why do we owe those dead heroes another batch of American soldiers killed as we “stay the course” as Bush demands? This is spending the lives of our soldiers foolishly. This is the time to cut our losses – not to pile up more casualties.

If we “owe” anything to anyone, it is to get out before a sectarian civil war breaks out in Iraq. In that event, we will have 3,000 or 4,000 or 5,000 casualties before this Administration comes to its senses and finally concludes that the Iraq invasion was one of its monumental blunders.

It is an irony of the first order to memorialize our dead soldiers by condemning other soldiers to the same fate. That’s what “staying the course” in an ill-gotten war has brought us.

It is a particularly ill fitting tribute to the dead Americans when our representatives, who are pressuring the Iraqis who are attempting to write a constitution, have now conceded that one, Islam will have a major role in the new government and two, that women may be worse off than they were under Saddam Hussein.

We want desperately to get a constitution for Iraq in place so that prior to the 2006 elections, the Bush Administration can bring some troops home. It doesn’t matter if there is an Islamic theocracy or whether women are subdued by the law of Sharia. The important thing is the American election of 2006.

The invasion of Iraq was, from its beginning, a complete disaster which George H.W. Bush warned against. But W said he listened to a “higher father.” Unfortunately, the higher father apparently told young Bush how to invade Iraq but not how to pacify it or how to get out.

No matter how you cut it, sending more soldiers to die is not a tribute to the soldiers who have lost their lives in Iraq. It is not a tribute ever; it is a treasonable act.

There is a paragraph from the August 23, 2005 New York Times Editorial about Iraq. It reads:

“Americans continue dying in Iraq, but their mission creeps steadily downward. The nonexistent weapons of mass destruction dropped out of the picture long ago. Now the United States seems ready to walk away from its fine words about helping the Iraqis create a beacon of freedom, harmony and democracy for the Middle East. All that remains to be seen is whether the White House has become so desperate for an excuse to declare victory that it will settle for an Iranian-style Shiite theocracy.”

This, my friends, is sobering stuff. The sooner we cut our losses, the better off we will be. Staying the course means more deaths and it becomes a matter of self perpetuation. If more deaths occur in our tribute to the fallen, Iraq will become even more of an American tragedy.

When Bush says we owe the fallen soldiers “something,” it certainly is not more dead soldiers which will be the inevitable price for “staying the course.”

E. E. CARR
August 25, 2005

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Pop has expressed this opinion several times over the course of these essays, so I don’t have much to add. I also feel like I’ve been talking about Trump too much here lately, so I’ll spare everybody the Russia discussion.