Monday, June 05, 2006

Alternative Views on Frank Rich's "Supporting Our Troops Over A Cliff"

In the Sunday New York Times, columnist Frank Rich wrote a piece called Supporting Our Troops Over A Cliff, and if you haven’t read it yet, give it a shot, it’s well worth a read. In the Op Ed, Rich points out that while the Bush administration may not be carrying out a successful campaign in Iraq, they have shown true talent in their rhetoric campaign, and I agree with his sentiments while disagreeing with many of his points.

Rich compares the two campaigns, that being the campaign in Iraq and the campaign for public acceptance of the Bush administration, and the author is correct that we’re doing a whole lot better in the second campaign then we are in the first, more important campaign.   And the victims are our young men and women serving as soldiers in the war in Iraq.

I, like the author, am a huge supporter of our troops, but not a fan of the war. I see the dangers of disturbing greatly the fragile balance that has kept the Middle East in check for so many years.  I worry about participation in a war where we have no exit strategy, and where, as in Beirut 23 years ago, we have become “just one more militia lost in the anarchy”, as commented by Nir Rosen in the Washington Post last week.

Rich points to the policy of “As the Iraqis stand up, we stand down” as clearly not working.  He notes that many more Iraqis, some 263,000, are now standing up, yet we are sending more troops to Iraq all the time.  The sentiment is right, but I believe the numbers are wrong, that we have fewer troops in Iraq today than we did a year. But the truth still remains that Iraqi troop deployments are not being offset by US troop removals.

Rich and I also view the situation in Tal Afar as a time where the government pushed the media to portray a set image that would inspire support for the war. As you can see, Rich sees Tal Afar as a disaster covered up:

There was another plan for victory, too, you may recall. On the third anniversary of the invasion, in March, the president celebrated the new strategy of "clear, hold and build" by citing the example of Tal Afar, "today a free city that gives reason for hope for a free Iraq." Last month 17 people were killed by a suicide bomber in an outdoor market there. The Tal Afar mayor has told The Los Angeles Times it will be at least three years before Iraqi security forces can secure his city of 150,000 without American help.

I agree that Tal Afar was spouted as a successful project city, and that the US has not necessarily reported on the city as they are embarrassed by the terrorist attacks there. But terrorism was much worse in Tal Afar, with consecutive daily attacks before this plan took effect, and I believe what we’ve done there to date is an example of positive steps by the US.  We need to report it accurately, yes, but to learn from it, not to shame the Bush administration.

In general, I have a different view of the events than Mr. Rich, perhaps it’s the perspectives of a Nomad shining through, as my Middle Eastern history tells me that the most successful projects are the first attacked as resistance to change attempts to threaten these projects particularly.

But while Mr. Rich and I may come to different views on specific incidents, we come to the same conclusion: that by trying to divert the public’s attention or misrepresent the facts of the war, the Bush administration is doing a disservice to our men and women in uniform in Iraq. And that is indeed a tragedy.

technorati tags: , , , , ,

Posted by Scottage at 4:49 PM / | |