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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Executive Editor

“Factually Correct, Not
Politically Correct”




(CHICAGO)(July 11, 2007) World War I began with a flourish. There were bands and rallies and people thought the “Guns of August” would fall silent by Christmas. The war would be over. It dragged on for “four more years.”

We began our excursion in Iraq with similar delusions. The Bush administration expected to be down to fifty thousand troops by September, 2003. The war would be over, a “piece of cake” in one commentator’s colorful phrase. The “liberators” would simply pack up and go home.

I marched against the war and joined in demonstrations in New York and Washington in 2002 and early 2003. Chicago prevented antiwar marches until later in the conflict. I honestly never believed we would be so crazy as to invade.

And I ended up in Baghdad. Where I made George Bush’s unofficial enemies list because of my jaundiced analysis and reporting. As we used to say in the USAF ROTC PIO, “last to know, first to go.”

As a gubernatorial candidate in 2006 I ran a controversial ad across Illinois. The Chicago Tribune unleashed three reporters to check public files at my radio stations. I received scads of hate mail from extreme right-wing true believers. My crime? To say, “Mr. president, bring home our heroes.” Bush still was not listening to me and, as I told the right wing nutcakes, they could listen to me in the primary or listen to the Democrats in November. Maybe they are listening now.

Or maybe I am developing a complex, like the man in the Verizon Wireless commercials who constantly says “Can you hear me now.” Is anyone listening? What I have to say about the Middle East is usually unpleasant, to my friends and foes alike, because I call ‘em as I see ‘em and I have a record of seeing ‘em pretty clearly.

But this column is not a comprehensive analysis of the quagmire. The war has become to complex and contradictory. I start this series, however, with a “little snapper,” a clear cut view of a “desert delusion” that is rapidly gripping Congress: the “no combat role” fallback position for week-kneed politicians.

First, let me start with a brief statement. The war has indeed imposed hardship on our military. It has imposed horrible hardship, and the ultimate hardship on some families. For these brave patriots we must be eternally grateful, although I fear we are unworthy of their dedication and commitment to our Constitution. I also know the public has a short memory.

But it is not the troops who are losing faith; it is the politicians. On the ground, in the desert, you can understand just how fragile a situation we have created. And how difficult it is to extricate ourselves. No, the problem is not with the military. The problem is with our political leaders.

Politicians, of course, are wonderful at concocting solutions they hope will please everyone. Republicans are afraid to anger the president, and simultaneously afraid to incur the wrath of voters next year. Solution? Presto!

Simply pass law ending the “combat role” for our troops.

I am here to tell my future colleagues Senators Susan Collins and Ben Nelson that they are peddling a hopeless mirage.

To suggest our troops will no longer engage in “combat” (horrors!) and merely engage in “fighting terrorism” is sheer nonsense. That we will limit ourselves to “border security” and “training.” How wonderful.

But what if the enemy does not agree?

Because the enemy is not going to agree.

It is sheer delusion to suggest you can sit in the middle of a war zone and not engage in combat, because you have passed a law ending combat. Why doesn’t the Congress pass a law outlawing the insurgency? Or whatever? Better still, why not pass a law mandating that Iraqis become responsible citizens and mandate that they resolve their difference peacefully? Now there’s a statute that would have overwhelming support. And little chance of success. (Anyone remember President Nixon’s law mandating a “War on Cancer?” The dreaded disease is still with us, 35 years later.)

No one has been more caustic and critical of George Bush and his failed policy in Iraq than I have. But as I will state in a forthcoming column, Bush-the-broken-clock is belatedly and unfortunately telling the correct time.

There is no way out and no easy way out. In a story that is on the internet but apparently did not make it into the paper, even Senator Dick Durbin, he of soldiers-as-Nazis fame, admits there are no quick and easy solutions.

So where do we go from here? And why? That’s a comment and a column for another day.

In the meantime, when you hear the politicians saying we can simply end “combat,” remember that is a mirage, a desert delusion that is taking hold in Washington.

Chicago-based Internet journalist, broadcaster and media critic Andy Martin is the Executive Editor and publisher of © Copyright by Andy Martin 2007. Martin covers regional, national and world politics with forty years of personal experience. He is America's most respected independent foreign policy analyst. Andy has been traveling to the Middle East since 1970; he became involved with the study of revolutionary warfare under Professor Bernard Fall during the mid 1960’s, and later became a founder of the Revolutionary War Research Center, a consortium in Washington and New York. He served as a Baghdad Bureau Chief in 2003.

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