02 May 2007

Retreat, Defeat, Cowardice and Treason

That's what friend Gator Bob (retired Navy) calls the US Democratic Party position on Iraq, as well as the not-so-well-named Global War on Terror (GWOT) in general. Perhaps he's being uncharitable. Perhaps not.

He points to the death rate among American soldiers and civilians in Iraq. Measured in deaths per hundred thousand, it is comparable to the murder rate in say, Washington, D.C. Perhaps the United States should pull out of Washington, he suggests.

But Right or Left, the emphasis on the death rate in Iraq is misplaced. Compared to previous wars (but not to previous occupations) it is low. What is high is the rate of serious and permanent injuries, the number of our young men and women coming home with pieces of their bodies or brains missing in action. But a national debate centered on that subject would be expensive. We might have to take care of them, so best not to mention them unless we can use them to sack a general.

The dead are already taken care of. They are comparatively cheap, like the talk on the Left and Right that obsesses about them, not for moral reasons, but for political ones. Unlike the wounded, the dead can be trusted not to contradict to whatever claims politicians and activists might make in their names.

Leaving the dead to their graves, and the wounded to their fates, let us move on to the future. Both the Left and the Right seem to be staring at their toes, and thinking that whatever way their toes are pointing is forward. The Right says "Stay the Course," without articulating what that course is and where it will lead. The Left says, "We aren't getting anywhere, so let's get out fast," without hazarding a guess as to what will happen next, either to the Iraqis, the Middle East, Islam, or even us.

That is to say, there is no strategic thinking in evidence from either side. I'm not asking for much, here. I'm thinking of a game of pool, in which a player who's any good tries to hit the cue ball not just to knock another ball into a pocket, but to then position the cue ball so as to be able to make the next shot. What I want to know from both the Democrats and the Republicans is: (1) What position will we (all of us, the entire world) be in if we take your shot, (2) what is your next shot, and (3) how will your first shot line us up to make the next one?

So far, all I've seen and heard is spokespersons for either side looking at their toes and whining. I used to do that, too, when I was three years old.

No comments: