Sunday, April 22, 2007

Iraq War: It can't be 'won'


For a week or so, the Bush administration had the spin cycle whirring at top speed. Oh, the troop surge is already working. Baghdad is much safer. Americans can walk around freely. Sectarian violence is way down. Iraqis are coming home. Their bloggers are thrilled. Rejoice.

Only ... not so much.

The body count keeps rising. In one day last week, some 200 people were killed in a series of car bomb attacks, after which American and Iraqi forces at the scene of one of the explosions were faced with crowds shouting, "Where is the security plan?" Even their bosses can't answer that question.

The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that even the State Department and the Pentagon can't seem to agree on how to "rebuild" Iraq.

The State Department wants Iraqis to have a more active role in reconstructing the country ("Here -- we broke it, now you fix it,") whereas the Pentagon wants the effort to be controlled by Americans. And we know that that means: Billions of dollars disappearing into the pockets of favored contractors, as reports produced by the Government Accountability Office prove.

So we're losing a war we should have never fought and we can't even figure out how to fix what we ought never to have broken.

Iraqis continue to stream out of the country in record numbers. According to United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, about 50,000 Iraqis leave their country each month and 1.8 million are currently displaced within Iraq. Two million have already sought refuge in nearby countries.

Does that sound like a success to anyone? Not to Iraqis it doesn't, and it seems most Americans are catching on. A recent poll by ABC News and The Washington Post indicated that more than half of us no longer believe that the U.S. can "win" this war, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is among them. The House finally voted 215-199 to uphold legislation ordering troops out of Iraq next year, and out of a war two-thirds of Americans say wasn't worth fighting.

President Bush, who in the same poll has an approval rating of 35 percent, has promised to veto the legislation. And why not? It's not like he worries about public opinion. Last week, he told an Ohio audience that he's "been in politics long enough to know that polls just go 'poof' at times." Where does he think Iraq and its thousands of dead and millions of refugee will go?

"Poof"? Unlikely.

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