Staying the course

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 2, 2005

When I found out President Bush was making &uot;a major policy address&uot; on the war in Iraq, I was understandably (considering my obsession with this topic) intrigued.

My wife, Kim, can’t stomach hearing Bush speak, but she gave me the time I needed to watch our president deal with the important issues of war and peace.

I’ll bet the networks that interrupted their &uot;Sexy, Stupid Survivors Sticking Stilettos into their Sick Pals’ Spines&uot; shows for the speech were fuming mad. Not only did they lose 15 minutes of ad revenues, they lost 20 minutes of mindless programming designed to turn people into mental zombies with treacherous hearts.

Well, another day and time for scree about &uot;reality&uot; programs and the dumbing down of Americans. But wait. Now that I think about it, except for the lost ads, President Bush’s primetime Tuesday policy speech was the ultimate reality TV show. Not only did he manage to talk for more than a half-hour without saying anything new, he also managed to echo the misinformation and lies he and his team used to get our soldiers into the mess that is Iraq.

You saw that coming, didn’t you? I am, if nothing else, predictable when it comes to President Bush. This week, however, I’m going to do something many of you might not believe – I’m going to show support for our Commander in Chief.

No doubt, the speech was lame. He said nothing new at all unless you count the &uot;fly the flag on July Fourth to show support for our troops&uot; bit. I don’t count that as new because we should do that every Fourth of July and also because, if the conservatives in Congress get their way, we will all be Constitutionally obligated under threat of torture and perpetual imprisonment at Gitmo to genuflect before the flag three times a day.

The three &uot;new initiatives&uot; he spoke about have been in place for some time now, but he devoted most of his 33 minutes to reiterating the same old stuff about how turrabal them terrorists are and how the United States had to invade Iraq because of what they did on 9/11. The pronoun &uot;they&uot; in the previous sentence, if you’ll examine it, is intentionally vague, just as things were in Bush’s speech. Does that mean the terrorists or does it mean the Iraqis…or both?

Of course, we (if you read my columns and editorials from those years) knew back in 2001, 2002, 2003, and 2004 that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with the al Quada terrorists, that he had nothing to do with the 09/11/2001 attacks on the United States that killed 3,000 innocent people, and that his power to terrorize didn’t extend beyond his borders because of the very successful aerial siege the U.S., the UN, and NATO established around Iraq following the 1991 Gulf War.

Saddam was a toothless, clawless old tiger who was spending his golden years writing paperback thrillers for semi-literate Muslims, of the Sunni persuasion, living in Iraq. A very limited audience for his novels, but a very loyal one – kind of like the ardent supporters of a certain Dubya I write about way too often.

Okay, I’ll quit taking swipes at my president and get to my support for something the president said Tuesday night.

We should not cut and run. As Secretary of State, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Five-Star General Colin Powell told the president before the invasion of Iraq, &uot;If you break it, you own it.&uot;

Why was I so opposed to going to war in Iraq? Was it because I was afraid we might lose? (No.) Was it because I have a fondness for brutal, murderous dictators? (No.) Was it because I’m a peacenik? (No.)

The reason I expended so much ink to voicing opposition to the looming war in Iraq was because I feel the United States, the &uot;good guy&uot; nation, would be obliged to complete the job, which meant we would have to fix the country before we left. Military invasions tend to cause civil disorder and smash a lot of infrastructure.

So two years later, the infrastructure is still smashed, the terrorists have a new training ground and are trying to foment civil war, the Iraqi rebels are targeting American soldiers and trying to foment civil war, and the fledgling government is totally dependent upon the United States military for its very survival.

We could be like the hit & run driver who just ran over some innocent pedestrian; looking in his rearview mirror at the broken, bleeding body writhing in the highway and thinking only about getting the dent fixed and the blood washed off his bumper so he can get away with letting his victim die.

Or we can take responsibility for our actions. We can stop to give CPR to our victim, knowing full well we’re going to get into serious trouble for running the pedestrian down.

As a nation we must do the right thing. We broke it when we invaded Iraq. Now it is our ethical obligation to fix it. Even if that means we have to keep troops over there for 12 more years.