Time to get obsessed

For months now, I have refused to get obsessed with the war. This is partly because I’m a nasty old cynic and am thoroughly disgusted with the American electorate. Thirteen months ago, the worst president in the history of this nation promised to supply more lies, more senseless slaughter, coupled with the gradual economic ruin of the nation. And the voters said, “O please, do it to us again!” So I thought, very well. You’re getting what you asked for.

But it’s time for me to stop sulking. Last week it became very clear that if Georgie B ever had a grasp on reality, it has slipped from his fingers. Our president, apparently made aware that two-thirds of the public now oppose his war, presented a 35-page “National Strategy for Victory in Iraq.”

The only small flaw in the plan is that it, well, contains no national strategy for victory in Iraq. Other, that is, than chucklehead’s flamboyant declaration, “I will settle for nothing less than complete victory.” Right. That’s what der Führer said when he refused to withdraw the troops from Stalingrad.

The Iraqi insurgents responded by killing 10 U.S. Marines with one roadside bomb, pushing our death toll well beyond 2,100. On Friday, The New York Times published its most significant story yet on the nature of the insurgency. What is still the nation’s best newspaper reported that American and Iraqi forces all agree “it consists not of a few groups but of dozens, possibly as many as 100.” Nor is the insurgency coherent, or directed by leadership at the top.

Instead, all these little groups have their own leadership and act on their own. There are some umbrella organizations that provide money, general direction and technical advice when asked, but otherwise, this is truly a grass- or tumbleweed-roots mass guerrilla movement of people who want us gone.

That means that we have exactly two strategies open to us: 1) Kill everybody in Iraq, all 25 million people, or 2) leave as soon as possible.

Actually, even many of those who do not oppose the war believe Washington is making a terrible mistake by not setting an exact timetable for withdrawal. Christopher Preble of the conservative Cato Institute told the Voice of America that U.S. troops weren’t helping to make the place more secure. He thinks we should set a deadline, tell the Iraqis, and stick to it.

“I would prefer it be in a year or so from whenever we announce it ... and then [we] say to them in that intervening year-long period, ‘We will work together to transition security responsibilities with the understanding that within one year’s time, you will have a genuine sovereignty over your country.”

Why doesn’t George W. Bush want to do that? My guess is that he has learned something about Vietnam, the war he worked so hard to avoid serving in. In that war, we had a similar policy of “Vietnamization,” gradually turning the war over to South Vietnamese troops. That worked fine until we left, the North Vietnamese launched a full-scale attack, and the forces we trained folded up like a limp accordion.

Perhaps Dubya subconsciously believes that would happen again. And he’s probably right, though some experts think there may be a greater chance that the present Iraq government can keep control if we leave, and leave soon.

The insurgency, after all, is by and large directed against us, the infidels who are occupying their land. We thought insurgency was a great thing, by the way, back when the French were doing it to the Germans who were occupying their country during World War II. People don’t like occupying armies, period.

The longer this war goes on, the worse it will get. For we who keep losing soldiers and running up deficits; for the Iraqis, tens of thousands of whom have died horribly; and for our image around the world.

So you should be doing whatever you can to stop it. The Nation magazine, in many ways the conscience of this country, says it will endorse no candidate for any office who supports this war. That’s a place to start. But you need to do more — demonstrate, educate, write letters, march when it makes sense.

This administration is destroying this country and what it’s supposed to stand for. Here’s a sample of how the rest of the world sees our benevolent leader, from Joey Slinger’s column in the Toronto Star. Bear in mind, this is from a mainstream newspaper from our closest international partner.

“Who knows what motivates him? [George Bush] Stupidity? Blind fundamentalism? Pathological greed? An inability to tell the truth? An inability to recognize the truth? It could be he’s crazy.

“It’s a very peculiar leader who, in the midst of waging a war, comes up with a new excuse every couple of weeks,” for why the war has to go on.

That, more or less, is how most of the civilized world sees our glorious adventure in Iraq. Time to punt. So, ladies and gentlemen, homeys, comrades, fellow citizens, if you love your country, or care about its future and your own, do whatever you can to stop the war. Thank you.


Lansing follies: You may recall my past complaint that our self-serving politicians in Lansing have been unwilling to tackle our state’s real problems, like the crisis in education funding and the perpetual state budget deficit.

Well, that hasn’t changed. But the Michigan Legislature did swing into action with blinding speed last week to accomplish ... kicking people off welfare. Within a single day, both houses passed a new package of laws to deny “able-bodied” welfare recipients any cash assistance after four years.

This would affect only about 8,100 cases out of the 212,000 now on welfare, but when you count their kids, about 20,000 people will be affected.

That won’t save all that much money. Even some sensible Republicans, like State Sen. Shirley Johnson, of Royal Oak, were dubious; as she noted, the state will end up paying for them anyway. That’s because some will wind up freezing on the streets, or end up in prison.

But that’s politics. Say, do you suppose the governor took a strong and principled stand? Well, she didn’t say whether she would sign it, but she did allow a spokesman to say this: “The governor believes Michigan’s welfare system should help individuals gain financial independence so they can contribute to the growth of Michigan’s economy. It should also provide a strong safety net for the state’s most vulnerable citizens.”

Next week, she will consider taking a position on washing our hands before dinner.


Animal Rescue Update: Back on Oct. 26, I wrote about SASHA Farm, the sanctuary west of Ann Arbor where abused animals can live out their days in happiness and dignity. Dorothy Davies, the saint who runs the place, has been rescuing dogs from the Katrina hurricane. She has reunited many with their owners or found them new homes, but she reports “there are still 21 dogs and puppies here who need homes or a warm place to live.”

So she’s raising money to build them a barn. There will be a fund-raising dinner — vegan, naturally — at Ann Arbor’s Studio 4 Club Monday night. There will even be dancing, though I don’t know about the fox-trot. This might just be a better way to spend your cash, if you can’t get an X-Box 360. For details, e-mail [email protected].

Jack Lessenberry opines weekly for Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected]. Hear him weekdays at 1 p.m. on WUOM (91.7 FM or
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