With the Wednesday drop date of the Baker/Hamilton ISG report rolling up, the Administration is working overtime testing out new catchphrases to euphemize the quagmire in Iraq. On Sunday, National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley made the rounds with the morning Punditators promising the president would offer up a "new way forward" in the war, which directly contradicts "stay the course;" the Prez's previous sales pitch as the only means to "victory."
That the war is a lost cause - at least as far as our involvement - is and has been obvious for sometime. And while one expects obfuscation from the politicians, it's disappointing coming from the media. The networks' news bosses wrassle over using "it's a civil war/it's not a civil war" phraseology, but neither alters the fact it's a damn bloodbath, and the mainstream media needs to quit intellectualizing and just start saying so. I get the need to keep from sounding biased, but since when is the truth biased?
Gone are the days when a guy like Cronkite would take off his specs, give America his full regard through the unblinking electronic eye and tell the populace they're nose-deep in manure.
So, instead, the media's rolling out the newest non-direct way of saying the Iraq war is nothing but a pants-down spanking: "The US involvement in Iraq has surpassed its engagement in World War II." And I'll be honest, even as indirect indictments go, that's a blunt one.
On November 26th Operation Iraqi Freedom topped out WW II's 1,348 day grind from Pearl Harbor to VJ day. And we're still counting. As a stat, the pure numbers mean less than they seem. The US Civil War topped out at some 1504 days. Bloody, but worth it I would say.
What makes the WW II/Iraq comparison so telling is the harsh, stark contrast between how much was accomplished then versus how little's been accomplished now. Then, it was us getting into the game late, and after a good chunk of the Pacific fleet'd been jacked by the Japanese. There was war on two fronts. Sacrifice on the home front; taxes and rations and lost loved ones all around.
There was, if there can ever be anything good about war, stellar art and music and movies and literature which chronicled the era.
There were the Tuskegee airmen. Rosie the riveter.
And there was Midway and D-day. Island hopping in the Pacific. The race to cross the Rhine. There were heroes. Many, many heroes. Patton and Bradley and Nimitz and every single GI.
And in the end there was total victory over pure evil. The absolute vanquishing of fascism and totalitarianism and militarism by the big D. Democracy.
Yeah, that's the romantic version of WW II that I've learned from movies and history books: victory minus the reality of war dead and death marches. Fire bombings and atomic bombings and exec order 9066.
But 1,348 days after it started, the war ended with tangible victory.
What have we got to show for the same number of days and then some in Iraq? 2,889 American soldiers dead. Between 125,000 650,000 dead Iraqis.
Sometimes the electricity works in Baghdad.
And we've only been in the war less than half as long as Vietnam.
Which unfortunately might be the next "you know you're getting your ass kicked when..." phrase we've got to look forward too.