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With Debate in the House, Thoughts on Iraq and the So-Called WOT


The Republican Party is rolling the dice and hoping for a seven on the "steadfastness and clarity" line, no matter how unpopular President Bush and his poorly planned war of choice in Iraq may be.  And they would be correct to say that thus far, Democrats haven’t exactly been speaking with one voice on the war, the fight against terrorism and extremist ideology and the way forward in Iraq, in Afghanistan and elsewhere.

They are betting on the fact that this is a huge series of complex issues and that Democrats aren’t dishonest enough to lie to the American public with false hope and empty PR slogans like "War on Terror."

But they weren’t betting on Matt O., who has come up with a brilliant — and I mean BRILLIANT — slogan that I’m bringing to the foreground this morning. 

It’s time for America to get real.

Isn’t that head and shoulders above that "doing better together" crap or whatever it was?  Simple, to the point, and absolutely spot on.  Imagine the commercials and press events that could be built around that:  REAL security for a change.  REAL government, open and honest and accountable to the American public.  REAL solutions to the problems that citizens have. 

Real national security.
Real health care.
Real oversight.
Real leadership.

REAL government.  Not the faux sham of a PR campaign under which we have been living the last five years, but REAL work.  It exposes the lie that has been the Bush Administration for exactly what it is: all hat, no cattle, and a whole lot of hot air and fancy backdrops and hand-picked fawning audiences.  And nothing of substance in the mix, just a lot of obfuscation and manipulation and bullshit.

Speaking of PR campaigns and bullshit, the Rubber Stamp Republicans in the House are pulling yet another stunt today.  And The Hill is falling for it hook, line and sinker:

Republicans have criticized Democratic opposition to this debate as a sign of their splintered membership and “cut and run” approach.

“If you look at the dynamics of this debate, it was inevitable,” Boehner spokesman Kevin Madden said. “If there is any rancor on this, it’s because the Democrats have had trouble coming to an agreement on this.”

House and Senate leaders from both parties were invited to discuss the war with Bush yesterday afternoon.

“Why Democrats would choose to ignore America’s commitment to fight the global war on terror is beyond us,” one senior GOP leadership aide said. “It’s important that Congress stands with our troops who are fighting terrorism around the world so that we don’t have to on American streets.”

Well, now that is just so much crap — talking points spewed out without any question being asked as to their basis in fact, the veracity of the claims made therein, or even any countervailing viewpoint on how this is a PR slogan and has no real merit with any serious analyst on global terrorism’s causes or preventative measures.

And people wonder why we gripe about the shallow end of the gene pool that flits into media work on occasion…in case you are wondering, this was the very end of the article.  Go read the whole thing (and someone tell BobbyG to take his blood pressure meds before he clicks the link…), and tell me it’s not just a PR article stunt planted by Boehner and company on the eve of their "no politics involved, we swear" pre-election PR festival.

You want to read some thoughts by someone who has put their life on the line, over and over again, in service to this nation?  Try Ret. Lt. Gen. William Odom and his thoughts on why getting out of Iraq is in this country’s best interest.  Or Alex Rossmiller, a former DoD DIA officer who resigned in protest because he was being asked to bend his analysis and thoughts on Iraq and elsewhere to fit into the Administration’s pre-set narrative.

The central foreign policy issue for Americans in at least the next two elections is clearly the war in Iraq. I spent over six months in Iraq last year, and many more months working the issue at the Pentagon, and it is beyond my comprehension how a reasonable observer could believe anything but the fact that the Iraq war has made the U.S. less safe. It has overstretched our forces, created a lawless area for terrorists to learn their deadly craft, established a constant source of recruiting for militant Islamists across the globe, and destabilized a region on which we depend for economic well-being. Stay the course is a ridiculous notion when the course is wrong. All real Democrats can embrace a single message on Iraq: Change the course. Change the course.

Iraq is an issue that resonates very powerfully at both national and local levels. Further, the broad foreign policy campaign message is a simple one: Do you want this administration to screw up anything else like it’s screwed up Iraq? We cannot trust these deciders on Iran. We cannot trust them on North Korea. We cannot trust them on trade, or intelligence, or defense. In 2006 we can establish oversight in Congress, and in 2008 we can elect a president who understands that freedom isn’t on the march if you’re marching in combat boots.

The fundamental goal of foreign policy is to use international relations to advance American interests. These interests are primarily twofold: security, and economic, or business. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, there was no overarching framework in U.S. foreign policy, and for a while we were mostly reactive, relying on pragmatism to advance our interests. After 9/11, however, anti-democratic forces were once again viewed as a significant threat, and the so-called global war on terror began. The idea was to combine democracy promotion with forceful defense and aggressive action against transnational terrorists. The Bush administration, however, has betrayed this ideal – and this nation – by pursuing bad policy after bad policy, including the epic mistake of Iraq.

I met Alex at YearlyKos, and continued talking with him about national security matters at the Take Back America Conference earlier this week. He’s impressive, not the least of which because it so clearly pains him not to be doing the job that he felt called to do in helping to protect our nation. That I have spoken with so many others who are having the same difficulties — to choose to stay and work for an Administration that asks you to bend the truth to suit its end game needs or to stop working for them out of your own personal integrity needs, thereby leaving the analysis and intel gathering to people who may be willing to bend the truth to suit their own desire for job advancement. That this is the point to which we have sunk is beyond painful, isn’t it?

What can any of us do?  Well, I can tell you one thing that we can all do today:  phone your elected representatives and tell them how you feel about Iraq and the Bush Administration’s failed policies.  And tell them you expect oversight, accountability, and a better job for all those troops we have risking their lives right now overseas for a war that Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney wanted to prove we could do on the cheap.  You can call the Congressional switchboard toll free at:  1-888-355-3588.

Our soldiers deserve better than to be treated as pawns in a grand social and economic experiment for the neocons.  We deserve REAL government for a change — and it’s about time everyone in Washington knew we expect it.

(Photo via The Age from Australia.  It’s an amazing visual, and pretty much sums up my mood this morning.  By the way, the American casualty number topped 2,500 today.)

UPDATE:  Here’s a great reality check on how things are in Iraq.  And both a heartbreaking and heartwarming story at the same time.  Good read.

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Christy Hardin Smith

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy is a "recovering" attorney, who earned her undergraduate degree at Smith College, in American Studies and Government, concentrating in American Foreign Policy. She then went on to graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania in the field of political science and international relations/security studies, before attending law school at the College of Law at West Virginia University, where she was Associate Editor of the Law Review. Christy was a partner in her own firm for several years, where she practiced in a number of areas including criminal defense, child abuse and neglect representation, domestic law, civil litigation, and she was an attorney for a small municipality, before switching hats to become a state prosecutor. Christy has extensive trial experience, and has worked for years both in and out of the court system to improve the lives of at risk children.

Email: reddhedd AT firedoglake DOT com