As a youth, I voted Republican because I believed Democrats were starry-eyed dreamers, disconnected from reality, wanting ‘everything for everybody’. My view of Republicans used to be just the opposite: they were the hard-headed realists, the accountants, the CEOs, the scientists, the ones who could be depended upon to make sound decisions based on facts. I cast my first vote for Ronald Reagan in 1984.
Over the years, my views have changed significantly; Republicans have lost any claim they may have had in the past to being realists. Partly I changed my view based on the number of religious fanatics housed in the GOP. Today, my view is mostly based on the feel good talk about Iraq that can be heard on right-wing web sites like Free Republic.
The Republican Party line on President Bush’s war strategy reads like a fantasy novel: the “surge” of U.S. troops begun in 2007 has stemmed the violence in Iraq. Therefore, Bush’s war policies are vindicated. We were right to go into Iraq.
A simple analogy will show the fallacy of the right-wing argument. This analogy is called, Two Boys, a Cave and A Bear.
Two boys, George and John, are standing near the entrance to a cave, debating whether to go inside. John fears a bear lurks inside and begs George not to enter. George scoffs at his companion and enters the cave. Upon entering, a bear leaps from the shadows and bites off George’s arm. The stump that was his arm bleeds and bleeds, draining him near dry. Finally, John helps George to make a tourniquet and tie it around the stump to stem the flow. The bleeding slows, but does not stop. Before John can pick George up to carry him to the hospital, George looks at John and grins, “The bleeding is slowing. You see, I made the right decision to go into the cave.”
This is essentially what is happening when Republicans foolishly chortle and boast about the success of the recent slowing in Iraq violence. Regardless of the fact that America’s army is bleeding less than it has been in the past, two points need to be kept in mind:
Point one is that it is clear that it was unnecessary to invade Iraq in the first place, so all the blood, lives and money lost up to this point has been mostly for nothing. Just in case there are any Republicans reading this piece, I’ll repeat what most non-Republicans already know: Sadaam Hussein’s Iraq was no threat to the U.S., either in terms of WMD or in terms of ties to terrorism. (In my analogy, neither was there a reason for the boy named George to enter the cave, for the bear was only a threat if his lair was intruded upon.) More importantly, point two is that stemming the bleeding does not heal the wound. It is simply the first step to getting the patient to the hospital, where hopefully the wound can be healed someday.
And that is exactly where we stand with the so-called “surge”. The bleeding has been stemmed for the moment. However, it is unclear if the U.S. will be able to heal all the wounds or even prevent the wound from opening and bleeding again. We still have a Sunni-Shiite split and a problem with Kurdistan and Turkey, among many other seemingly intractable problems. Will Iraq remain one nation or will it split into many parts? Will it become allied with Iran? Will Turkey invade Kurdistan? These issues will take years and billions more in U.S. expenditures to resolve, and it is not clear that there will be any resolution that reflects favorably on the U.S.
What really grates right-wing bloggers and the Republican Party is that the American people understand this depressing reality. The polls show no desire to hold a parade for Bush. Simultaneously, the U.S. is bleeding in Afghanistan, a country Americans were falsely told was under control several years again. Essentially, despite the advertisement of ‘surge’ success, the U.S. is still bogged down in not one, but two quagmires.
All of us should be praying for the success of Patreus plan, but only if it is merged with a strategy for quick withdrawal of U.S. troops. And no matter what the outcome, we should not reward the GOP at the ballot box this November. Iraq was has not been worth the cost in squandered lives and lost resources. We should never have gone in. No amount of spin from conservative pundits and bloggers will ever change that.