Published on Monday, July 17, 2006 by CommonDreams.org
Running From Cut and Run: Snatching Defeat from the Jaws of Victory
by John Atcheson
Watching the Democrats cringe in the face of Karl Rove’s latest Iraqi sound bite tells us all we need to know about why Dems have been losing elections.
Imagine this: the Party that presided over epic struggles in World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Cuban missile crisis, and Kosovo has been branded as the party of "cut and run," while the Party that presided over our desperate flight from Vietnam, that abandoned Beirut after losing hundreds of marines, and currently happens to be run by a collection of draft dodgers, an AWOL guardsman, and assorted other chicken hawks is the "stay the course" tough guys.
In what world could such a fantasy stand?
Only in a world in which the Dems are unwitting accomplices to upholding this fairy tail and the press is more interested in maintaining access and being "balanced" than reporting truths.
Consider: the Democrats, under Roosevelt, completely revamped the United States’s industrial base, revitalized the military, created from scratch the Air Force, then won a real global war involving real super powers all in the space of less than four years.
In about the same amount of time, Bush has yet to get the body armor right, or deliver enough blood clotting bandages to save the lives of American soldiers, and America’s best hope in Iraq is to trade a secular despot for a theocratic fundamentalist state, although more likely, he’s created a failed state that will be mired in civil strife for decades.
The plain fact is, when it comes to national defense, Democrats have stood strong in the breach throughout the last century, and they’ve been successful.
Republicans, on the other hand, have been long on bluster, short on success, and quick to fold the tent and skedaddle, and now that we should do exactly that, they won’t.
So how does Rove get away with his BS?
Simple. The only thing that would allow Rove’s phony charges to stick would be for the Party of strength to behave like cowards. And of course, that’s exactly what the poll-pandering, triangulating, equivocating branch of the Democratic Party has been doing for decades, and is doing now. Instead of ducking for cover, the Dems oughta be lining up behind Jack Murtha and speaking with passion, convinction, and principle about the debacle that is Iraq.
In any debate, if one side refuses to articulate their position and point out the weaknesses of their opponent’s assertions, they will lose, no matter how absurd the opposition’s position might be.
And when it comes to absurd, there’s simply nothing more so than this administration’s notion that a slogan – "stay the course" – can be a substitute for a rational policy. Unless it’s their contention that the press isn’t reporting all the "good news" from Iraq.
Let’s take a look at this "course" and some of the "good news."
Bottom line on Bush’s course? We’re not fighting a war of liberation; we’re not fighting terrorism. We’re occupying a foreign country whose people don’t want us there. Basically we’re in a deep hole in Iraq, and his solution seems to be: dig faster and deeper.
For example, the US military estimates that fewer than 300 foreign insurgents were in Iraq prior to the invasion, but since our liberation turned into an occupation, their estimates have climbed to as many as 2,000. Overall, the number of insurgents in Iraq – foreign and domestic – has increased from about 3,000 in January of 2004 to more than 20,000 today.
There’s also less oil being produced; less potable water available; less sewage treatment capacity; fewer doctors; more terrorist strikes, more deaths and wholesale destruction of infrastructure; continued torture and imprisonment of Iraqis without civil review (only now we’re the one’s doing it) ... Yes sir, that’s certainly good news.
The best news of all – and certainly the liberal press has failed to give Bush the appropriate credit for this – is that fundamentalists are now running around Iraq harassing and killing women who wear western style clothes, men who wear shorts or jeans, anyone who drinks, or consorts with Americans ... Sounds sort of like the Taliban, doesn’t it? Good news, eh? Yes sir this here’s a course worth staying on, right?
By the way, the source of that last bit of "good news" is not the leftist liberal media. It comes straight from the US Embassy in Iraq, in the form of a 23 point cable detailing Iraq’s descent into a state of fundamentalist zealotry.
It gets better. More than 80% of Arabs in Iraq view us as occupiers; nearly half say it’s OK to bomb or otherwise kill US soldiers; and the Iraqi government is proposing amnesty for Iraqis who have attacked and killed members of the US military.
Meanwhile, our soldiers are doing two and three tours in what amounts to a hostile occupation of a country and Bush has yet to articulate a plan or even offer a viable justification. And our military, stretched to the limit in this war of error, is lowering recruiting standards and enlisting men and women who would have been rejected on moral, legal, or intellectual grounds just two years ago. Lower standards, an untenable situation on the ground, no clear plan, no clear mission, and no end in sight – no wonder we’re seeing a spike in incidents in which the US soldiers commit crimes against Iraqis.
And when they come home, their health benefits have been cut. You can slap all the ribbons you want on your petro-terrorist funding vehicle (aka SUV) but if you support this course, you don’t support the US military or our soldiers.
Stay this course? Globally, Bush has done for terrorists what Henry Ford did for car manufacturing. He’s created an assembly line that cranks out thousands of them at a time. Instead of defeating terrorism, his policies are causing their numbers to explode. Before Bush cranked up his assembly line, there were less than a couple of thousand trained terrorists worldwide and relatively few sympathizers. Now there are tens of thousands of highly skilled, battle-hardened terrorists, and they’ve been increasingly busy. In 2003, there were a total of 208 terrorist attacks worldwide; in 2004, there were 2,800; and in 2005 there were 11,111. That’s some course.
And does anyone remember bin Laden? Certainly not the CIA, where they just disbanded the task force charged with hunting him down. Yes sir, that’s some course.
And has the "flowering of democracy" improved things in the Mideast as promised? Ask Israel, Lebanon, or Palestine. Or check on Iran’s progress towards a nuclear weapon. Or examine how despotic regimes like Saudi Arabia have used their astounding profits from extortionary oil prices to strengthen their stranglehold on their people. Check with Egyptian dissidents who are being rounded up and jailed. Or note how Hamas, Hezbollah, and Syria act with impudence now that the US is tied down, Gulliver-like, by the Lilliputians. Finally, examine how Afghanistan is descending into anarchy as a resurgent Taliban adopts the tactics and strategies learned in Iraq against our forces there.
How about the homeland? Now that we’ve frustrated at least two terrorist plots on US soil can we finally stop saying "We’re fightin’ ‘em there, so we don’t have to fight them here?" Please? And is anyone aware that more than 50,000 containers still enter our country every day and only about 5% are inspected? Or that there’s still enough lose nuclear material in the world to make 40,000 Hiroshima-sized nuclear devices? Or that each day millions of tons of commercial cargo gets loaded onto the same planes we have to get inspected, detected, and neglected to board, and it gets nary a glance? Or that our bridges, tunnels, ferries, schools, power plants, and chemical plants remain vulnerable (although the nation’s supply of Amish popcorn is safe and sound). Oh yes, that’s some course.
So, after spending more than $350 billion, after more than 2500 American soldiers have died and more than 18,000 more have been wounded, and more than 50,000 Iraqis killed, this is what we have to show for it: in Iraq, a once secure secular state is transforming into either a despotic Islamic theocracy or a splintered and failed state; at home, a less secure homeland open to sabotage of our ports, industrial and power infrastructure, transportation systems, and schools; Globally, a recruiting bonanza for al Qaeda; a US military that is broken; and a USA that has lost the world’s trust, squandered our prestige, and weakened our position with many of our allies. Stay this course? You’d have to be an idiot, insane, or both. This course makes the Katrina response look like a well-oiled machine.
But instead of pointing this out, Dems are running from cut and run sloganeering, led by the likes of Lieberman and Hillary-have-it-both-ways Clinton.
This kind of calculated equivocation is morally reprehensible and cowardly; but it’s also bad politics.
Cut and Run, vs. Stay the Course. That’s the narrative according to Rove and it will stay that way until the Dems decide to take the Iraqi debacle on and talk straight to the American people. Not only about what they would do differently, but about what’s been done to us all by Bush’s lies, spins, distortions, and outright incompetence. The press is neither able or willing to do anything but mindlessly repeat what each side says, as if "balance" were the sine qua non of journalism, and there were no such thing as truth, reality, or facts.
In their effort to escape the charge of being the party of "cut and run" Democrats confirm in the voter's mind that they are guilty as charged. By cutting and running from the charge of cut and run, they give it credence.
The Hilary have-it-both-ways Clinton arm of the Democratic party needs to just shut up. The public is tired of poll-pandering and focus-group-spinning. They want leadership. They want integrity. They want success. They want competence. And they want the truth.
Standing up to the Roves of the world on the issue of Iraq is simply the right thing to do, and we should do it whether it brings votes or not. But it just so happens to be the politically smart thing to do as well.