There appears to be a pretty clear problem in Iraq due to the insipid, uninspired, and plain stupid leadership currently being exhibited by American leaders. One wonders if this is merely the regular result of imperialism gone awry or if this is truly – as I expect – the inevitable result of an imbecile-in-chief. A high rate of suicides on the part of American troops stationed in Iraq, a failure to identify what the U.S. long term role will be, and a continuing arrogance directed toward any other country who might otherwise have been an ally.
The deaths of 16 soldiers when their Chinook helicopter was shot down is not the sort of thing that signals any particular defect in leadership in Iraq. (see NY Times for coverage of the AP report; I like the Times because they have a lot of access, with a free subscription – compare that to the Wall $treet Journal who doesn’t, in my mind, have even comparable content and coverage). The whole point of having a military is to use them as a tool to achieve political goals of the nation. The fact that more citizens were killed when the World Trade Centers were destroyed than have been killed in Iraq shows, I think, how bloodless this war continues to be and how low our tolerance for pain has become.
The greater question, I think, is when will Bush and his cronies own up to the dire situation they have placed the military in. On the one hand, soldiers and sailors are being sent over with a short tour in mind. Once over, that tour is lengthened and, in most cases, not given a definite term. When you consider that many of the troops are not regular army but are taking time off from their day jobs, it’s not surprising to hear that suicides of troops are three times their normal rate. (I still haven’t seen this in the American press, although I have seen it now in two British publications).
It is foolish to quibble now about whether this war was “right” or not. The country’s elected leaders voted to abdicate responsibility and let one of the most retarded minds in the Western world lead us into a quagmire. Now that we are there, we need to determine how best to complete the work that was started. But that means helping the Iraqi’s help themselves and extricating our military from an unwinnable engagement. It doesn’t mean allowing American political leaders to loot their citizens for the benefit of US oil and gas interests. And Bush and Cheney should get out from behind their human shields – our troops – and face up to long-term devastation their actions will wreak on our country, and those with which we are so closely intertwined.