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QUOTATION: People often say that, in a democracy, decisions are made by a majority of the people. Of course, that is not true. Decisions are made by a majority of those who make themselves heard and who vote - a very different thing. - Walter H. Judd

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2004-09-18 - 7:16 p.m.

Is the continuing presence of US military forces in Iraq part of the solution or part of the problem?

I think everyone supports the troops over there. They’re not only fighting, they’re rebuilding schools and infrastructure. But in my own not so quiet way, I believe that supporting the troops has to mean more than flying a flag in front of my house or from the aerial on my car. Even praying that they come home safely is not enough. I listen to Jim Lehrer every night and watch silently the photos of the mostly young men who have died and ask myself, “Am I feeling any safer? Do I think we can win this war through the arrogance of Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld?” The Republican convention touted Bush’s strength and resoluteness – what I look at as arrogance. Arrogance is different than strength. Admittedly strength implies fortitude and tenacity, but it also includes reliability, trustworthiness, efficacy. Bush’s sense of self-importance, his high-handed “you’re either with us or you’re against us” bluster and swagger (which he says in Texas they call “walking”) fits the arrogance description, not strength. It has alienated many of our former allies and at least half of the country.

Is it supporting the troops to send them in to “liberate” a country by “shocking and awing” them, expecting the recipients of this liberation to throw roses at their feet, without first understanding the culture and dynamics of their beliefs? Is it supporting the troops to visit at Thanksgiving, dish up the mashed potatoes and gravy, and then be so resolute that he does not have the strength to change his mind and admit he just may have made a mistake. Who is supporting the troops?

An article from The Financial Times on Iraq Occupation Watch suggests it's time to withdraw and tells of the military disaster that has been created.

The aftermath of a war won so quickly has been so utterly bungled, moreover, that the US is down to the last vestiges of its always exiguous allied support, at the time when Iraq needs every bit of help it can get. The occupation has lost control of big swathes of the country. Having decided that all those who lived and worked in Iraq under Saddam Hussein bore some degree of collective guilt, Washington's viceroys purged the country's armed forces, civil service and institutions to a degree that broke the back of the state, marginalised internal political forces, sidelined many with the skills to rebuild Iraq's services and utilities and, of course, fuelled an insurgency US forces have yet to identify accurately, let alone get to grips with.

Is the continuing presence of US military forces in Iraq part of the solution or part of the problem?

I think everyone supports the troops over there. They’re not only fighting, they’re rebuilding schools and infrastructure. But in my own not so quiet way, I believe that supporting the troops has to mean more than flying a flag in front of my house or from the aerial on my car. Even praying that they come home safely is not enough. I listen to Jim Lehrer every night and watch silently the photos of the mostly young men who have died and ask myself, “Am I feeling any safer? Do I think we can win this war through the arrogance of Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld?” The Republican convention touted Bush’s strength and resoluteness – what I look at as arrogance. Arrogance is different than strength. Admittedly strength implies fortitude and tenacity, but it also includes reliability, trustworthiness, efficacy. Bush’s sense of self-importance, his high--handed “you’re either with us or you’re against us” bluster and swagger (which he says in Texas they call “walking”) fits the arrogance description, not strength. It has alienated many of our former allies and at least half of the country. Is it supporting the troops to send them in to “liberate” a country by “shocking and awing” them, expecting the recipients of this liberation to throw roses at their feet, without first understanding the culture and dynamics of their beliefs? Is it supporting the troops to visit at Thanksgiving, dish up the mashed potatoes and gravy, and then be so resolute that he does not have the strength to change his mind and admit he just may have made a mistake. Who is supporting the troops? An article from The Financial Timeson Iraq Occupation Watch tells of the military disaster that has been created.
The aftermath of a war won so quickly has been so utterly bungled, moreover, that the US is down to the last vestiges of its always exiguous allied support, at the time when Iraq needs every bit of help it can get. The occupation has lost control of big swathes of the country. Having decided that all those who lived and worked in Iraq under Saddam Hussein bore some degree of collective guilt, Washington's viceroys purged the country's armed forces, civil service and institutions to a degree that broke the back of the state, marginalised internal political forces, sidelined many with the skills to rebuild Iraq's services and utilities and, of course, fuelled an insurgency US forces have yet to identify accurately, let alone get to grips with. There are signs that US officials are beginning to "get it" - in the phrase Donald Rumsfeld, US defence secretary, patronisingly used this week to characterise Iraqis' grasp of the security situation. But if they are increasingly aware that what they have created in Iraq is a disaster, they seem at a loss to know what to do about it. The Unwinnable War >blockquote> Thinking of ourselves as only motivated by good intentions, we cannot fathom the possibility that we have demonized an innocent people, that what we are doing is murder on a vast scale. There is the single most troubling aspect of the war in Iraq. We launched it against the wicked Saddam Hussein, yet the majority of so-called "insurgents" against whom our forces are arrayed hated Hussein more than we did. We are killing people by the thousands who threaten absolutely nothing of ours. The boys in the Iraqi resistance are not terrorists. They are not Ba'athists. They are not jihadists -- or they weren't until we gave them reason to be. Whatever the justifications for the invasion of Iraq were a year and a half ago, why are we in this war today? And as President Bush might ask, how in the world do we "win" it?
He’s right. This war against terror may not be winnable – especially with the way he is approaching it.

There are signs that US officials are beginning to "get it" - in the phrase Donald Rumsfeld, US defence secretary, patronisingly used this week to characterise Iraqis' grasp of the security situation. But if they are increasingly aware that what they have created in Iraq is a disaster, they seem at a loss to know what to do about it.

James Carroll of the Boston Globe calls it murder on a vast scale in The Unwinnable War

Thinking of ourselves as only motivated by good intentions, we cannot fathom the possibility that we have demonized an innocent people, that what we are doing is murder on a vast scale.

There is the single most troubling aspect of the war in Iraq. We launched it against the wicked Saddam Hussein, yet the majority of so-called "insurgents" against whom our forces are arrayed hated Hussein more than we did. We are killing people by the thousands who threaten absolutely nothing of ours.

The boys in the Iraqi resistance are not terrorists. They are not Ba'athists. They are not jihadists -- or they weren't until we gave them reason to be. Whatever the justifications for the invasion of Iraq were a year and a half ago, why are we in this war today? And as President Bush might ask, how in the world do we "win" it?

This woman cries: "What have we done to deserve this?"

He’s right. This war against terror may not be winnable – anymore winnable than the war on drugs has been -- especially with the way he is approaching it.

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