Reading the newspapers and listening to Wisconsin Public Radio, "Democracy Now" and Air America radio is scary.
Given the new appointments to the Cabinet, the bad guys are clearly in control.
I recall a column last summer by former Labor Secretary Robert Reich, who said, "If you don't like the Bush team now, wait until you see the next four years." He was right on target. The only voice of "moderation," Colin Powell, is going. Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney will decide our fate - unless challenged.
Every day we read about the enemy called "insurgents" in Iraq. Like in Vietnam, we hear the unconfirmed number of dead insurgents. The dictionary defines insurgent as "one who rises in forcible opposition to lawful authority; one who engages in armed resistance to a government."
Who or what is the "lawful authority" in Iraq? Would that be Ayad Allawi or us? Are we legally in Iraq? Is the enemy an insurgent or does he see himself as a patriot? Are insurgents a small band of foreign-led crazies or do they represent the feelings of the Iraqi people?
An administration that took polls every day for the past four years to determine the attitudes of American voters never discusses the views of the people in Iraq who now shoot to kill our soldiers. Does the White House take polls in Iraq? You bet, but we will find out what the polls contain only if there is positive information. So don't expect any poll results soon.
Do the majority of Iraqis favor elections in January, privatization of their oil and withdrawal of the U.S. occupiers? Has anyone asked the famous Reagan question, paraphrased: "Are you better off today than you were two years ago?" Or the one all national pollsters ask in this country, "Is our country (state) headed in the right or wrong direction?"
I don't know about you, but I would like to know what the Iraqi people want. If the overwhelming majority wants us to leave, we could move toward an exit strategy.
When does an Iraqi citizen who opposes the occupation become an "insurgent"? One seriously injured Marine was asked, "Who were you fighting?" He looked up at the questioner and slowly said, "I don't know."
Shades of Vietnam. When our soldiers can't recognize the enemy, bad things happen. Innocent civilians look just like the "insurgents," and when a 20 year-old with an automatic weapon thinks for a split second that the person might have a weapon, look out.
I was in officer's basic training at Fort Gordon, Ga., as Vietnam was escalating. Nearly all of my fellow officers were begging to go there to advance their careers as we were told that "you must have battlefield experience to move up in the Army."
Few had any clue about the enemy, the purpose for our engagement, or the complicated reasons we were there in the first place. They fought for career, flag and God. The same is undoubtedly true today. If you and I cannot figure out why we are in Iraq, how can we expect a 20-year-old Marine to understand? We have more than 1,215 dead soldiers, and, according to "60 Minutes" last Sunday, between 20,000 and 30,000 casualties of this invasion.
But let's quickly switch to the next potential war, with Iran. To quote Yogi Berra, it is "deja vu all over again." This time Colin Powell is sounding the alarm about Iran but instead of holding a vial of powder for the cameras, he now claims Iran is just about ready to launch nuclear missiles.
Sound like pre-Iraq rhetoric? I can hardly wait for the next State of the Union address to hear about new intelligence compelling us to attack Iran.
Given the over-extension of our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, would any rational person consider an invasion of Iran? Who says rational minds will decide?
It would take our focus off the disaster in Iraq, the anti-Bush demonstrations in Chile, the lack of real progress in Afghanistan, and the tens of billions needed to rebuild cities we are now destroying. (The estimate to rebuild Fallujah is $500 million.)
Perpetual foreign wars take our gaze from rising interest rates, inadequate health care, incredible deficits, and a little problem with the cost of heating our homes as winter descends.
This could get downright depressing, but a friend shared an upbeat thought from historian Howard Zinn: "To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage and kindness."
Let us hope a J.W. Fulbright or a Gene McCarthy steps forward to stop the madness of an empire run amok. Let us remain hopeful and fight for peace. Our children and theirs deserve it.
Ed Garvey, the Democratic nominee for governor in 1998, is a Madison lawyer and the editor of the fightingbob.com E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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