At what point can a well-meaning American like myself criticize this disastrous war in Iraq without being accused of being a terrorist-loving, pinko communist? The answer is probably never and so I won't wait to express my utter sorrow at the George War. Make no mistake about it. This is not America's war, it is George Bush's war. If this war ever had merit, which I don't believe it did, the time has long passed that it has any merit now.
November was one of the bloodiest for American soldiers who are bearing the bulk of the burden of fighting this no-win, ego-driven war. The latest figures show that 1,253 American soldiers have died, 1,116 of whom died after George Bush declared that the mission had been accomplished. Officially, the wounded and ill soldiers is put at more than 9,300, but some estimates say it could really be up to 15,000. As far as Iraqis, one estimate puts it at 5,000 but skeptics say that figure could only be half of the real number.
American soldiers are fighting as bravely and enduring as much agony as in any war we have ever fought in. Just like Vietnam, they are fighting a war where there are no traditional battle lines or traditional soldiers, a war in which some innocent looking person approaching you could be carrying food to take home to the family or a deadly bomb that could in a split second claim your life. This psychological pressure just adds to the horror of having to fight this visible-invisible enemy.
Now word comes from the front-line officers who say that the Iraqi soldiers and police are a mess. They desert, they may even be working with the other side, they are not prepared, they are constantly afraid of dying.
Imagine fighting beside someone who could turn and run just when you need them.
In World War II, you amassed your troops outside Berlin and when you captured the heart of Nazi Germany you secured it and the war was closer to being over. But in Iraq as in Vietnam, you capture a territory and the enemy flees to another city and you have in effect captured nothing. You are no closer to a victory than when you started.
Americans like myself from the home state of Francis Marion, the great Swamp Fox, know that some of the tactics that made us a nation are now being used against us. An enemy you can't see picks off some of our troops, blends back into the population and then waits for another time to strike again.
One thing is clear. The "troops" we are fighting have a strategy. It consists of wearing us down by piling up more casualties. Americans think in terms of months and years. They think in terms of decades. It also includes undermining any effort to get the Iraqis to step up to the plate. You may make a few hundred dollars a month by signing on with the Americans. But you also might lose your life since you are being targeted. As they continue their counter-attack, they hope for any misstep from us. If we rely on one faction to fight with us, it enflames the other factions and makes it easier to recruit. If we damage a mosque it helps their side by showing we are not concerned about their traditions. Added to this strategy is a plan to attack oil production, bleeding off any money that could be used to rebuild the nation or stabilize the country.
We went into this war without an exit strategy. Loosely it is Iraqui-izing the Iraqis. Does this sound familiar? We had a Vietnamization plan that ultimately was to slowly turn their country back over to them. But it failed.
Now some Iraqi leaders are saying privately if we want to assure success we may have to stay there another decade.
I can't stand the thought of Christmas approaching and some little kid being told that his dad died in Iraq on Christmas morning fighting George's War while Bush is home stuffing himself with turkey and bragging about his "mandate" to do what he darn well pleases about this war.
Bob Paslay is assistant managing editor for the News Daily and Daily Herald. He can be reached at (770) 478-5753 Ext. 257.