Tuesday, May 25, 2004


Got a few minutes......

Computer's back up and working again. Guess I'll have to follow Jason's advice and take apart the box and check the connections.

I appreciate the feedback I've received on my George Bush post and, while I don't plan to respond to it yet, I will. I just planned to save the issues of faith-based leadership for last.

I want to spend a few minutes talking about Iraq.

It's interesting the things you learn in school. According to a fellow I met in my macroeconomics class, Desert Storm began a few months before the invasion. Apparently, the Kuwaitis had dug trenches and pipeline,with America's blessing, that diverted oil from fields that were Iraqi-owned, to Kuwait, whose leadership disputed Iraq's ownership of those fields. When Iraq complained to the U.N., they were essentially told to deal with it as they saw fit.

So, they invaded Kuwait.

I don't know how much truth there is to this story, but the fact is that the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait led to Desert Storm. Using the Powell doctrine, which dictated enormous troop presence in-theater, the coalition forces won the desert war handily, but opted not to venture into the house-to-house fighting they would likely face should they enter Baghdad.

Fast forward a decade (or so).

Following the success of the Afghanistan incursion using the Rumsfeld doctrine of fast, co-ordinated assaults emphasizing air superiority vs. ground presence, Bush decided, at the behest of some of the hawks on his team, to promote the invasion of Iraq. This time, however, he wanted to remove Hussein from power. La Resistance to Bush's grand plan immediately arose, as th public face of the argument was that Hussein a) financially supported Bin Laden and Al Qaeda (which has been proven) and b) had weapons of mass destruction at his disposal (a big difference from having the capability to produce WMD, at least in my eyes). End result, he must go as he is an enemy to all free people (excuse the heavy rhetoric).

I said to a co-worker shortly before the invasion began that the only way this turns out good is if one of two things happen:

1. They capture Hussein and have him admit guilt on all counts to a worldwide audience (halfway there on this one).
2. Have embedded press folks get shots of coalition troops standing in front of large caches of weaponized biologicals, plutonium, anything (no soup here).

Today, U.S. opinion polls say Bush is doing a poor job of handling Iraq and I agree. Despite his comments last night (and there's a LOT of focus on the destruction of Abu Ghraib versus the structure of the government July 1), Bush and his team have horribly bungled Hussein's capture as well as the post-invasion management of the country. Unfortunately, while Rummy's doctrine works on some levels (Shock and Awe was a powerful statement, as was the rapid movement of troops and supply lines with minimal casualties), it doesn't work once the opponent is backed into a corner. Bush needed to commit double the number of gorund troops in order to protect workers, deal with the small uprisings (that have now grown much larger) and give the people of Iraq a sense that they were on the way back from the very dark place they had learned to live in.

I liken it to someone who comes from an abused home. The cycle of abuse is all they know and it requires a tangible, concerted effort to deal with changing the abused person's mindset. Otherwise, they can be quite content to return to the place they came from (the devil you know vs. the one you don't). When coalition troops entered Baghdad, there were celebrations everywhere as people thought they were going to be freed from the tyranny of Hussein and the brutality of dictatorship. Instead, they have been treated to more of the same as the various Muslim factions demand supremacy at the table, terror attacks and suicide bombers remain prevalent and the lead story continues to be death and destruction nightly.

I keep thinking of Vietnam here and how Johnson and Nixon tried nation-building there, only to see it blow up in their faces.

I don't see a clean handover June 30, but they'd better make it happen. If they go past, I think Bush will see his chances for re-election dwindle down to nothing.

Next time, we go the economy.