24 January 2007

If we do attain 'success' someday in Iraq, how will we know?

I was very domestic last night, working on cleaning the kitchen after turning down an earlier craving for french fries on the way home from work. So while I toiled on a complete and thorough scouring of the fridge, I reckoned I'd tune into The Decider's great State of the Union speech last night and see what 'new' things I'd been missing. I keep hoping he'll 'get it' somewhat before he leaves office, because I refuse to believe half this country would vote for him...twice...if he's as bad as I tend to always believe he is. Sadly, I don't think he ever will.

In my heart, I knew I shouldn't have tuned in, and after watching, I was further convinced of that belief. (WR is very smart about these things and has refused to watch for a couple of years now, I think.) However, listening to the post-SOTU Democratic commentary with Senator Webb, and then the MSNBC review with their lineup of Keith Olbermann, Chris Matthews, Brian Williams and Tim Russert (the latter I handled a few times when I still did travel reservations...a class act all the way) made it all worthwhile. Tis a shame this speech is about 2 years too late for most of us, and while it was a relatively good speech...for Dubya, anyway...things have deteriorated so much psychologically with my fellow Americans I have to really wonder how many care, let alone believe, what George Jr. says anymore. It's something akin to watching The Dream Season of "Dallas", except with far more dangerous ramifications. You just want to be like Pam Ewing, and wake up one morning to joyfully find it's all been a bad dream.

However, when he finally made it around to Iraq, his speech brought out questions I've been asking since before we went to war in the first place...when do we know when/if we've succeeded on this 'war on terror'? Or when we've 'stabilized Iraq'? Or 'stopped the threat to us' from Iran? I grant fully that almost all of us now concede we're failing and it's a very unsafe place for everyone there, especially American and Allied troops. I get that 'failure is not an option'. But I counter with, since we obviously don't know how to succeed there, either, have we eliminated all our other options in the process??

From the Commander-in-Chief's speech (from DrudgeReport):
The people of Iraq want to live in peace, and now is the time for their government to act. Iraq’s leaders know that our commitment is not open ended. They have promised to deploy more of their own troops to secure Baghdad – and they must do so. They have pledged that they will confront violent radicals of any faction or political party. They need to follow through, and lift needless restrictions on Iraqi and Coalition forces, so these troops can achieve their mission of bringing security to all of the people of Baghdad. Iraq’s leaders have committed themselves to a series of benchmarks to achieve reconciliation – to share oil revenues among all of Iraq’s citizens ... to put the wealth of Iraq into the rebuilding of Iraq ... to allow more Iraqis to re-enter their nation's civic life ... to hold local elections ... and to take responsibility for security in every Iraqi province. But for all of this to happen, Baghdad must be secured. And our plan will help the Iraqi government take back its capital and make good on its commitments.

My fellow citizens, our military commanders and I have carefully weighed the options. We discussed every possible approach. In the end, I chose this course of action because it provides the best chance of success. Many in this chamber understand that America must not fail in Iraq – because you understand that the consequences of failure would be grievous and far reaching.

If American forces step back before Baghdad is secure, the Iraqi government would be overrun by extremists on all sides. We could expect an epic battle between Shia extremists backed by Iran, and Sunni extremists aided by al Qaeda and supporters of the old regime. A contagion of violence could spill out across the country – and in time the entire region could be drawn into the conflict.

For America, this is a nightmare scenario. For the enemy, this is the objective. Chaos is their greatest ally in this struggle. And out of chaos in Iraq, would emerge an emboldened enemy with new safe havens... new recruits ... new resources ... and an even greater determination to harm America. To allow this to happen would be to ignore the lessons of September 11th and invite tragedy. And ladies and gentlemen, nothing is more important at this moment in our history than for America to succeed in the Middle East ... to succeed in Iraq ... and to spare the American people from this danger.

This is where matters stand tonight, in the here and now. I have spoken with many of you in person. I respect you and the arguments you have made. We went into this largely united – in our assumptions, and in our convictions. And whatever you voted for, you did not vote for failure. Our country is pursuing a new strategy in Iraq – and I ask you to give it a chance to work. And I ask you to support our troops in the field – and those on their way.

You know, I don't know if it's 'war fatigue' exactly I have (in addition to just complete and utter dismay that we have, and never have had, a clue about what we're doing there), or just 'fear fatigue'. I'm tired of being afraid, and even more tired to feel even more so with each and every speech given by my President. I swear to God he only defeats his own objectives by making everyone else feel overwhelmed and totally depressed. Scaremongering only goes so far...as long as the 'intelligence' supports the purported findings. Thank God he wasn't in charge during WWII, but one has to now worry if he's not laying the ground work for WWIII.

So, somebody please explain it the 'dumb' girl here: what exactly is success in the War in Iraq? The War on Terror? And, more importantly, can we ever hope to have it??

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