THE BLOG

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Rep. Jim McDermott Headshot

Democracy or Occupation?

Posted: Updated:

When it comes to Iraq, the President and his Administration continue to act like cowboys in a western movie. When will we learn? Until we do, there will be no solution in Iraq.

The President stampeded the American people into a flawed, futile and fatal war, and this Administration keeps applying B-movie mentality to real life suffering. We have taken sides in a war torn nation, inadvertently backing the Kurds and Shiites- to the detriment of the Sunnis. This is not some clan fight on a movie set that will get solved with a new sheriff riding into town, proclaiming peace and progress, but that’s the Administration’s current strategy.

Despite demands by Iraqi Sunni leaders that American forces stop new military operations, the fighting continues unabated. And like Vietnam, the latest Administration tactic is to announce body counts, as if that will promote confidence among the American people. That’s the same tactic that was used during Vietnam. It didn’t work then and it won’t work now in Iraq. If anything, this latest tactic will only deepen American resentment to this war, because the American people know they are only being told part of the story.

The Rumsfeld command is happy to announce the number of insurgents killed or captured. But they don’t talk much about the innocent Iraqi civilians killed or wounded. They’re not announcing those numbers every day. Why not? If they killed or captured 80 insurgents, how many civilians were killed or wounded in the process? Why don’t they tell us the whole story?

Iraq is urban guerilla warfare and our brave soldiers should not be fighting a house-to-house war that puts them in maximum danger all the time. There is no war front in Iraq because every road is the front, every house is the front, and every footstep is along the front line. There is no safe haven for our soldiers. Danger is everywhere, no matter where they sleep, no matter where they eat, no matter how they try to forget about this war for even a moment.

And the Administration calls this progress. The American people see it as a paralysis of leadership. The President stampeded the Congress into a do or die scenario, and now our soldiers keep dying in the wrong place, at the wrong time, and for the wrong reason. When was the last time the President even mentioned Osama bin Laden, the terrorist we’re supposed to be looking for?

The White House has built an underground bunker to keep out reality. The truth cannot penetrate these walls of denial, fortified with Presidential speeches to carefully selected audiences.

Now the President is beginning to say that he is not responsible for the war in Iraq. The record is clear. This war was started by this President and his war cabinet. They got what they wanted. They got more than they can handle. And every new pronouncement from the White House bunker widens the gulf between Administration rhetoric and Iraqi reality. Reality may be missing in action at the White House, but reality is front and center with the American people. Another Presidential speech, with yet another spin on why the President launched this war, won’t do anything to stabilize Iraq, promote peace, or create Democracy.

We’re just learning about the latest catastrophe. Now, American soldiers have to launch operations to uncover hundreds of Sunnis abused, tortured and malnourished in a prison run by the people we put in power. Imposing our will is a prescription for civil war and ethnic scandals in Iraq. Imposing a western blueprint on an eastern culture will undermine any attempt at real peace. Iraq needs the benefit of a Mideast solution, a cultural process that has worked for thousands of years. Many in the Mideast know this. Many have tried to tell us, but we’re not listening. Their will --not ours -- will define Democracy in Iraq.

If we’re serious about an election in Iraq, we have to stop our provocations. America is at a crossroads: Stability or occupation in Iraq? The Rumsfeld command now admits American soldiers could be there for a decade or more. That’s occupation, and nobody outside the Administration favors it. Ten more years of house-to-house guerilla warfare is a failed mission. And a guarantee of more U.S. lives lost.
Two thousand and 56 flags…draped over two thousand and 56 coffins; two thousand and 56 honor guards and two thousand and 56 grieving families paying the respects of a grateful nation.

And counting.

There’s a difference in a President leading the nation through a time of crisis and this President misleading the nation into precipitating a crisis. We have a crisis. We need a leader. We need a plan to return U.S. soldiers to U.S. soil, not a decade from now, but right now.