Notes on the Atrocities
Like a 100-watt radio station, broadcasting to the dozens...

Friday, April 11, 2003  

Well. The war is over, but the spin is just beginning. If the fog of war was dense, then the fog of mop-up (and occupation) is impenetrable. In the fight to write history, we're hearing just about every possible opinion on the war--most of them in perfect, balanced opposition. For example, either: the war was a brilliant success or a catastrophe of poor planning that took 20 days longer than it should have; the Iraqis love Americans and greeted them as liberators or, except for a handful of dissenters who posed for the cameras, Iraqis despise the Americans and oppose the occupation; the war was a surgical example of targeted warfare, or the war was a bloody mess. And so it goes.

The truth? There is no truth, exactly, just spin. We'll never be able to know whether the war could have been a 100-hour job because we can't re-fight it using the Powell Doctrine instead of the Rummy Hypothesis. We'll never know if the Iraqis would have welcomed us as liberators had we not jammed the war down the world's throat. We may never know how many civilians were lost--and certainly won't have accurate numbers about dead soldiers.

The spin is pure politics.

The administration has made a huge gamble. It's betting that the resolution to this war will outweigh all the negatives--the aggressive diplomacy, the lies, and the faulty excuses it offered for invading. It's betting that it can impose democracy on a country divided by violent history, race, and creed. It's betting the war will ultimately lower passions, not raise them, in the region. It's betting other "evil" regimes will fear invasion and stand down. It's betting the American public will have the stomach to spend 20 billion dollars a years to rebuild the country. And it's betting that the rest of the world will look at what happened in Iraq and change their views about American foreign policy.

The spin is all about buying themselves time to see how the gamble turns out. My hope? At this point, now that there are thousands who have paid with their lives for this venture, I desperately hope the administration's right. I would love nothing more than to see the country flourish--after all, it's not the Iraqis who initiated this debacle. Sometimes the right things happen for the wrong reasons. I pray they do here. But I'll tell you, I look at the odds against it, and then I look at the resources of the administration who's attempting to make it happen, and I don't see how it can be done. Enforcing democracy? Enforcing democracy when in the US the administration is systematically trying to dismantle it? Navigating the extremely troubled waters of negotiation and diplomacy between Sunnis, Kurds, and Shias within the country and an angry world outside is difficult in any case, but this administration?

From where I sit, Bush has a better chance of winning the lottery than achieving his objectives in Iraq. No matter how good the spin.

posted by Jeff | 11:21 AM |
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