Reality check

By the time this issue hits the recycling bin, the third anniversary of the War on Iraq will have passed.

It’s cold comfort that a somnambulant American population is finally waking up to the fact that it was a morally bankrupt administration that put our soldiers in harm’s way.

Does the authoritarian policy of questioning dissenters’ patriotism become clear? In retrospect, don’t the “stop making sense” arguments and accusations of “aid and comfort to the enemy” made by the war’s hawks seem somewhat transparent?

It’s pretty obvious that terrorists in Iraq have figured out a short-term strategy to get the occupiers out of their country: civil war.

If civil war breaks out in Iraq, Iraqi security forces will fight it, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld told Congress earlier this month. Some threat, “If you start killing each other, we’re going to leave,” not that the insurrectionists haven’t been killing Iraqi innocents for three years now. And there you have it: the administration’s exit plan.

The region is destabilized, with sectarian violence running amok, religious hatred flaring, Iran on the verge of becoming a real security threat, weapons of mass destruction are nonexistent and democracy unfounded. The United States is a laughingstock and a rogue nation in world opinion—with every single ostensible reason for being over there—finances, security, religion, humanitarianism, diplomacy, empire-building—hanging by the thread of “If you go to war, we’ll leave.” Rational people everywhere have got to begin to wonder about our leaders’ sanity. Really.

This isn’t about supporting the troops. We support the troops, we support the families of the troops, we support the children of the troops. We also recognize that as time has passed, the percentage of troops who enlisted specifically to fight in Iraq has increased. These are no longer just soldiers who got caught up in world events when they were trying to figure out a way to pay for college. These are young men and women who joined up to give the Iraqis some payback for what they did on Sept. 11, 2001—a view this administration has falsely promoted. These are brave men and women who joined up with the highest aspirations of helping the Iraqis achieve the liberties and freedoms they, themselves, enjoyed at home.

And still the president, when faced with his own hypocrisy of promoting an insecure homeland border security system for our country by supporting giving Dubai the control of several of our seaports, says we are sending the wrong message to the world.

Let’s get one thing straight: This whole war has sent the wrong damned message to the world. Real Americans don’t support torture. Real Americans don’t give away their liberties. Real Americans don’t support paranoid spying on their innocent fellow citizens. Real Americans don’t misrepresent facts to support a hidden agenda. Real Americans don’t abandon a fight—if they went into it with eyes wide open and for the right reasons when their leaders were honest with them.

Real Americans shouldn’t get lied into war.

This war isn’t going to end just because a page gets torn off the calendar, just as it didn’t end when three zeros turned over on the flag-draped-coffin index—again. There’s an election coming up, and politicians like to show how tough they are.

This election, instead of showing how tough we are, maybe we should show how smart we are.