Taking stock at mid year one finds one self ruminating on a variety of issues plaguing not only our country and society, but also the world.
At this writing the New York Times is reporting American and Iraqi forces have been able to "protect the population" and "maintain physical influence over" in only 146 of the 457 Baghdad neighborhoods -- fewer than one-third of Baghdad's neighborhoods -- despite thousands of extra troops nearly four months into a security crackdown.
"We have stated all along that this was going to be harder before it gets easier," military spokesman Lt. Col. Christopher Garver said. "It's going to be a tough fight over the summer and the plan is just in its beginning stages."
When Gen. David Petraeus, the US commander in Iraq, is due to report on the result of the latest surge, that more, not less, troops will be on the wish list.
As columnist Robert Scheer alarmingly notes, "not that the media or the Democrats made much of it, but the White House's admission that President Bush is modeling America's presence in Iraq upon the 54-year-old stationing of US troops in South Korea is as outlandish as it is alarming. Outlandish, when the president of what is still presumably a representative democracy willfully ignores voters' demands that the occupation be brought to a timely end; alarming, because Bush has clearly not understood that it is the US occupation that feeds the nationalist and religious frenzy roiling Iraq, and the entire Middle East."
Compounding this sectarian Sunni-Shi'ite war are rumblings, also largely ignored by the media, that while the US military is trying to quell fighting in Baghdad, the Arabs and Kurds conflict in the north is intensifying. Sunni militants, reinforced by insurgents fleeing the security plan in Baghdad, are trying to rid Mosul of its Kurdish population through violence and intimidation, Kurdish officials claim.
Yet with the US death toll growing each day and more and more Iraqis fleeing their country every day the chief US policy makers seem ever more determined to stand our ground -- "support our troops" -- with each passing day.
Nothing rings as hollow as those who claim we should "support our troops" and yet we are not only putting them in harm's way on an hourly basis, but are treating those who have become disabled by the war in such a shoddy manner in their attempt to integrate themselves back into everyday life.
In addition, not even our dead are getting the respect that is due to them as individuals who have paid the supreme price. In my home state of Washington, Fort Lewis, which in recent months has suffered the worst numbers of causalities of the war, will no longer conduct individual memorial ceremonies for soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Instead, the post will hold one ceremony for all soldiers killed each month. Fort Lewis' acting commanding general, Brig. Gen. William Troy, notified his commanders and staff recently, "as much as we would like to think otherwise, I am afraid that with the number of soldiers we now have in harm's way, our losses will preclude us from continuing to do individual memorial ceremonies."
One cannot help stating the obvious in reading the commander's memo -- remove those soldiers from harm's way and you'll no doubt "preclude" having so many of them to bury.
The Democratic Party has become the masters at snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Certainly that is becoming the hallmark of Congressional Democrats when it comes to the war in Iraq.
They have practically ignored, except for giving repeated lip service to the fact that what power they have currently have in the House and Senate is due to the majority of the American public's desire to see us out of Iraq and for the killing to stop.
Yet when it comes time take a moral stand, the Democrats opt, as have the Republicans during the Bush reign, for the political stand. Democratic Presidential candidate John Edwards got it right, after apologizing for his vote in the Senate to authorize the original money to fight Iraq, in admonishing his fellow Democrats for authorizing the 2007 supplemental without a timetable.
He stressed they should have kept sending Bush the same bill with the timetable and even as he kept vetoing such bill make sure every American knew who was authentically "supporting our troops" by removing them from harm's way.
A perfect example of the Democrats playing political softball with the supplemental Iraq funding could be seen in the Senate vote. Once it became clear that the bill without the timetable for withdrawal provisions was going to pass the two self-styled premier Party presidential candidates -- Clinton and Obama -- made their appearance on the Senate floor and voted "Nay." Only Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut, among the Democratic presidential hopefuls, voted "Nay" when the vote count was still undecided.
And while the Democrats were exhibiting little if any profiles in courage the Republicans have been showing only the merest of spine in directly confronting their president. It is only recently that the latter have started seeking, by way of self-preservation, to separate themselves from George W. Bush.
A.V. Krebs publishes the online newsletter, The Agribusiness Examiner, email firstname.lastname@example.org. He is author of The Corporate Reapers: The Book of Agribusiness.
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