July 07, 2003

Continued hubris in high places heightens risks for

No, these are not words from one of the Internet's
information rebellion sites, these words are from an
editorial in the Philadelphia Enquirer...Pennsylvania,
of course, is one of the battleground states won by
Gore in 2000, just like Michigan, Illinois, Minnesota
and Wisconsin....the majority of them went for
Gore...just as Fraudida did, in reality, of course, as
well as New York, New Jersey and California and all of
New England and the Northwest as well as New Mexico
and Iowa...This editorial, from the Philadelphia
Enquirer, is a healthy sign. Yes, there is a
disconnect between the Editorial pages and the Front
Pages, BUT this strong a statement is still a positive
omen...Enjoy it, and share it with others as proof
that you are not in the minority, you are indeed in
the majority. Remember the butchered truth of 2000,
Gore won a majority of the electoral college votes as
well as the popular vote nationwide in spite of a
heavy media bias against him and the Bush cabal's
overwhelming cash advantage and the cravenness of
Ralph Nada campaigning in Fraudida and other key
states in the final days of the process, delcaring as
he still does that there is no difference between Bush
and Gore...You are not alone...


Posted on Sun, Jul. 06, 2003

Editorial | Bring reality on
Continued hubris in high places heightens risks for
U.S. soldiers in Iraq.

"Bring 'em on"?

U.S. soldiers are dying and dodging guerrilla bullets
in a hot and hostile country and their
commander-in-chief says, "Bring 'em on"?

Mr. President, do you live in a play house or the
White House? No matter how Ari Fleischer tries to spin
it, childish taunts such as that are not the
calibrated words demanded of the United States
president at this turn of history's wheel.

Calibrated does not mean sterile or soft. But a
president's words have global impact. And these words
have people here and abroad scratching their heads
about this war that's supposedly over, but clearly

The President's macho quip rankles in particular
because American troops have been put at greater risk
by the awful U.S. planning for Iraq post-Saddam. From
the moment U.S. forces so ably captured the Iraqi
capital, it was the United States' legal and moral
obligation to act as provider and protector of the
Iraqi citizens with whom the President always said we
had no quarrel.

Instead, there's been as much chaos as calm, as much
pillaging as progress. As of Thursday afternoon,
combat deaths since the May 1 "end" of the war stood
at 25 American and 14 British soldiers.

The tumult has led the U.S. reconstruction chief in
Iraq, L. Paul Bremer, to request more troops and
civilian personnel.

That recommendation slammed headlong into a familiar
problem: the unwillingness of top administration
officials to let reality intrude on their hubris. In
fact, the President's quip came as he ridiculed those
who suggest more troops are needed to stabilize Iraq.

Vice President Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald
Rumsfeld and Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul
Wolfowitz assured America before the war that Iraqis
would gladly welcome U.S. troops. They assumed Iraqis
would gratefully accept the Iraqi exiles the Bush team
had handpicked as Saddam's replacements. They
predicted a smooth transition to democracy requiring
no help from individual nations or the United Nations,
and little investment of American dollars, thanks to
Iraqi oil riches.

The reality evolving on the ground is vastly different
from that gauzy picture. Yet those officials still
seem loathe to admit any mistakes.

So here are a few items, call it a get-real list, to
get the Bush team's head out of the clouds and into
the hot and hostile reality where U.S. soldiers
bravely toil on:

Get real about the number of U.S. troops needed to
establish and maintain order for months to come.
Retiring Army Chief of Staff Eric Shinseki estimates
that as many as 300,000 soldiers might be needed.
(Current troop size is about 158,000.)

Get real about the full scope of reconstructing Iraq -
its cost and duration. Repeating a sound bite - "As
long as it takes, and not a moment longer" - is no
answer. It's political camouflage. Americans don't
expect exact promises, just reasonable estimates. The
U.N. Development Program says reconstruction could
cost $30 billion over two-and-a-half years (not
including the tab for U.S. troops). The Council on
Foreign Relations projected $20 billion a year for at
least 10 years. Is that true? If so, then...

Get real about cutting taxes. The incumbent is the
only president in the nation's history to cut taxes in
the middle of a hot war. Now, the only thing soaring
higher than presidential rhetoric about freedom is the
country's deficit. And those tardy Iraqi oil revenues
have been spent several times over by U.S. planners.

Get real about spurning the value of the United
Nations. Responses from U.S. pleas for help from other
nations have been skimpy. Officials in India
reportedly want a "better understanding" of U.S. plans
for Iraqi civil order and democracy before committing.
Who can blame them?

Get real about the democratic aspirations you unwisely
inflated among the long-oppressed, divided Iraqi
population. Sure, it would have been smarter to get
electricity flowing, the streets safe, courts and
banks operating before launching into risky elections.
But now America has made promises. Reneging on them
only puts its troops at greater peril.

The trick here is to persuade people without jobs,
water or phones to be patient. One hint: Don't use
he-man colloquialisms that suggest you see the
situation as Americans vs. Iraqis.

Finally, get real about admitting mistakes, about
reliance on wildly optimistic scenarios. That's the
only path to effective remedies.

So much rides on this gamble. Not just the future of
Iraq, though that alone is vital. American
credibility. Middle East peace. The war on terror.

Despite the White House's hype and flim-flammery,
there were decent arguments to fight this war. The
initial battle was swiftly won. But America may now
stand on the edge of blunders of colossal scope.

At such moments, an American president needs to do
better, much better, than: "Bring 'em on."

Posted by richard at July 7, 2003 12:16 PM