Repairing Iraq—got a plan?

Ed Schilling is a Vietnam-era veteran who teaches in the LEAD and English departments at Butte College

“If you break it, you fix it,” according to the News & Review [”Repairing Iraq,” editorial, Nov. 6]. That’s fine, if you’re talking about computers or car engines. This is about human lives in Iraq. Politicians from Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., to Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, say that Iraq in many ways is just like Vietnam. You can’t “fix it” if you don’t have a viable plan, or your plan, in the words of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, is simply to “slog” through it.

“The simple truth is that we do not have sufficient forces in Iraq to meet our military objectives,” said McCain last summer, in some modern-day echo of Vietnam troop escalation. Presidential hopeful Kucinich calls for the “immediate removal” of U.S. troops, stating that “it was wrong to go in, and wrong to stay in.” Kucinich would go to the UN for a new resolution that would “enable rotation of UN troops in and UN troops out.”

So, what’s the solution? More troops? Get the UN in and the U.S. out? One thing is for sure—before we resign ourselves to more casualties, as in “American soldiers are going to continue to die there” and “there is no choice,” (CN&R) shouldn’t we have a better game plan? Of course the president “needs to level with us,” but seriously, has he ever been on the level?

Bush lied about Iraqi links to Al Qaeda. There were no weapons of mass destruction, no “reconstituted” nuclear-weapons programs. The CIA has admitted that documents showing that Iraq tried to import uranium from Niger were forged. Biological weapons, which we originally supplied to Iraq in the Iran-Iraq War, were never found. And democracy continues to be a hard sell, especially when American companies like Bechtel and Halliburton reap all the profits.

Rumsfeld knows that doubling American troop strength, as McCain suggests, or bringing in the UN, as Kucinich wants, are not viable “political” options. So, he continues to “slog” and simply condemn American soldiers to die in increasing numbers. Meanwhile, as McCain has said, we continue to lose Iraqi hearts and minds.

It may be true that "progress" is being made in Iraq outside the "Sunni triangle," but according to Time magazine there are still roadside bandits, rising prices and 60 to 70 percent unemployment. American casualties are up; 34 Americans died in the first eight days of November. Our current strategy in Iraq is a disgrace and a shameful waste of young American lives, not to mention the 6,000 Iraqi civilians who died in our quest for their "liberation." So whether we listen to McCain and double troop strength or listen to Kucinich and "support our troops by bringing them safely home," one thing is certain. "Staying the course" is not a plan, but rather a death sentence for young Americans. And as it stands now, this administration not only doesn’t have a plan, it doesn’t even have a clue.