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November 19, 2005: Who'da thunk that one year after Dubya M. Dee talked of spending his political capital said capital would have shrunk to the size of a savings stamp?

After last year's presidential race, liberal faces were long. Fascistracistreligiousfanatic red state fiends were riding high on the hog. The world was going to little "h" hell in a hand basket. I tried cheering my left leaning friends with a look back at the reversal of fortune suffered by Nixon. Pointing out that in politics, slips twixt cups & lips are natural law. And that wimpy-poo Kerry, along with the entire war waffling Democratic Party, would eventually thank their lucky stars they didn't get stuck with Iraq. But my buck-up efforts weren't very successful. Liberals just aren't optimists. Even if they do talk a good one when touting the bennies of intrusive, expensive and fraud ridden government programs.

As for Iraq, though the buck must certainly stop with the Commander-in-Chief, it took more than one man to change our name to Quagmire. After 9/11 the nation was understandably hot for revenge. Bush & crew rode that sentiment into Iraq. Using WMD as justification and implying strongly that Saddam and Osama bin Laden were joined at the hip. Relying on the public's ignorance re the political and religious differences of the Muslim world. Sweetening the deal with hints of unlimited access to oil.

Almost every single Republican and Democrat of note joined the Bush posse, as did the majority of the mainstream newsmedia. The latter throwing their free press responsibility to the wind. From the beginning there was a good deal of credible evidence, from sources to which political leaders and newsmedia had access, that the WMD story was based on questionable intelligence. Many of those who now clamor that Bush lied us into the war only do so because this Iraq excursion didn't go like the Gulf War and public support is waning.

If invading Iraq was about something other than WMD for the Bush administration, so was it for those who lip serviced the same rationales. For some, the motive was fear of being called unpatriotic. The mood of the nation was angry. Bush's poll numbers were astronomical. He and his supporters, in high and low places, were quick to characterize policy dissent as treason. (They still do, but with less of a public echo effect.) None the less, political leaders and media types who kept mum when truth got scary give rise to chuckles re the courage of their convictions.

One also shouldn't forget how the words "empire" and "hegemony" buzzed in elite circles. Combined with "American". Not only in neo conservative places, or on the traditional nationalistic right, but among neo liberals enamored of economic globalism. Many of whom hated Bush and believed he stole the 2000 election. And also suspected the WMD were a crock and knew there was no link between Iraq and 9/11. But they still wanted a president they saw as illegitimate to demagogue an ill informed and emotionally raw public into supporting a war that would expand our presence in the Middle East. Hoping that apres Iraq, Bush would keep going & going & going. No doubt some still cherish that dream of empire. Look for them to remind ya/of the mess Bush left behind him. And how we can't desert the "good" Iraqis or let Iraq, which under Saddam was a secular totalitarian state, slide toward becoming a theocratic totalitarian state.

Not that there isn't some validity to such concerns.

When we invaded Iraq, and particularly when the mission expanded into democratic nation building, we shouldered responsibility for the fate of the Iraqi people. Those who complain the Iraqis aren't doing enough to defend themselves against insurgency, and that the U.S. is carrying their water, forget our government volunteered to haul dem buckets. Even though the only invitation to do so came from manipulative shills like Ahmed Chalabi.

Post 9/11, the most valid reason for going to war was to get those responsible. It was a limited and reasonable objective. Unfortunately, Iraq was the wrong man.

Afghanistan on the other hand, was a true co-conspirator. And speaking of being wrong, I was re Afghanistan when that invasion was launched. If some mistakenly thought Iraq would be the Gulf War all over again, I made the error of viewing Afghanistan through the prism of Vietnam. And I was also unaware of the degree to which the Taliban were intertwined with al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden. No amount of diplomatic dealing or economic sanctions would have made the Taliban give up UBL.

Not that we have him now.

That the invasion of Afghanistan has produced only limited success can be measured by the non-capture of the individual most responsible for 9/11 and the way we dance around Pakistan. A country where support for al-Qaeda was far stronger, and more active, than it ever was in Iraq. Particularly among Pakistan's military elite and in its state security services, the ISI. By most accounts bin-Laden still lingers in the mountainous border area between Pakistan and Afghanistan. Where the terrain is just too tuff to take. If we hadn't spent so much political capital in the Muslim world via our Iraq adventure, or had more troops in Afghanistan, perhaps the Pakistani government might be more easily convinced mountain climbing is good for the health. And while it's nice that elections have been held in Afghanistan, it bugs me that their opium crop is popping, bigger and better than ever. Given how heroin, opium's end product, dirties up American streets.

What's done is done. We can only play the hand we hold. But it sure is a crappy one. Sitting in on the game has cost over 2000 young American men and women, plus myriad Iraqi non-combatants of all ages, their lives. And I suspect there is no fast, easy, or completely satisfactory way for us to step away from the table.

One last word. When dishing the doo on Iraq, save a little dis for the old rad crowd who recommissioned their giant puppets and dusted off dissertations re the inherent evil of all things Amerika. Including its half devil half child citizens. According to Screwtape (or was it Scooter Libby?) such divertisements were always welcome in the White House.

Carola Von Hoffmannstahl-Solomonoff

"There is no trap so deadly as the trap you set for yourself."

Raymond Chandler, The Long Goodbye, 1953

"Stay the course."

Dubya M. Dee, The Longer Goodbye, 2005

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Copyright (c) 2005 by Carola Von Hoffmannstahl-Solomonoff. This material may be freely distributed subject to the terms and conditions set forth in the Open Publication License. This license relieves the author of any liability or implication of warranty, grants others permission to use the Content in whole or in part, and insures that the original author will be properly credited when Content is used. It also grants others permission to modify and redistribute the Content if they clearly mark what changes have been made, when they were made, and who made them. Finally, the license insures that if someone else bases a work on this Content, that the resultant work will be made available under the Open Publication License as well.

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