But this “leveling” will be just the latest spin.
What they won’t tell you are these two other hard truths:
First, whatever lies ahead in the Iraq War, the
outcome is almost certain to be far worse for Iraqis and Americans than
it would have been if the U.S.-led invasion had never happened. Despite
the uplifting political rhetoric about democracy and peace, the smart
money is on a staggering death toll, a grisly civil war, possibly even
genocide, with Sunnis killing Shiites and Shiites killing Sunnis.
CIA analysts also have concluded that Iraq is
emerging as a far more effective training ground for Islamic terrorists
than Afghanistan ever was. Iraq is both more central to the Arab world
and provides hands-on experience in bomb-making, kidnapping,
assassination and conventional attacks on military targets. [Reuters,
June 22, 2005]
If the Iraq insurgency ever ends, these
battle-hardened terrorists also would be freed up to turn their skills
on American targets around the world or on pro-U.S. governments in the
Middle East, such as Saudi Arabia and Jordan., according to an internal
CIA analysis written in May 2005.
A drawn-out Iraq War also is certain to damage
America’s volunteer military, with some of the nation’s best warriors
killed, wounded or embittered after repeated tours in Iraq. Recruiters
have struggled to meet quotas, and many current GIs have stayed in the
military only because the Bush administration has invoked so-called
“stop-loss” orders that prevent soldiers from leaving when their tours
of duty are up.
Another sign of how poorly “Operation Iraqi
Freedom” is going is that one of the mission’s chief goals now is a
major expansion of Iraq’s prison system. In other words, the expectation
is that Saddam Hussein’s old police state will be succeeded by a
government that will lock up even more people.
The second hard truth is that the American people
have only two choices on what to do next: they can continue to send
their young soldiers into the Iraqi death trap for at least the next
several years and hope for the best, or they can build a movement for
impeaching George W. Bush and other administration officials – and then
try to make the best of a bad situation in Iraq.
Although the realistic prospects for electing a
Congress in 2006 that would act against Bush may appear slim, an
impeachment movement would create at least a focus for a national
political campaign, much like the Republicans used the Contract with
America to gain their congressional majorities in 1994.
An impeachment strategy would have two other
benefits: it would create the framework for an official investigation
into the deceptions that led the nation to war in 2002-2003 (as well as
into the incompetence with which the war was fought) and it would offer
a legal structure for achieving some accountability.
No accountability means that a precedent has been
set for future presidents misleading the nation into other aggressive
wars of choice and paying no price.
While many liberals and Democrats reject an
impeachment strategy – fearing that it would be too confrontational and
carry too many political risks – there are dangers, too, in again trying
to finesse the Iraq War, as Democrats did in the disastrous elections of
2002 and 2004.
Arguably, the Democrats would be no worse off – and
might actually be in control of the government – if they had stood up to
Bush’s war hysteria in 2002 and made the case in 2004 that the war must
be brought to a swift conclusion. If Election 2006 is a reprise of the
past two elections, the Republicans might actually gain ground against a
demoralized Democratic base.
But these two “hard truths” – the recognition that
the Iraq War fails any reasonable cost-benefit analysis and the
realization that only extraordinary political courage can force a change
of course – are sure not to be part of Bush’s new PR push on Iraq, even
as the politicians and the pundits say they’re finally “leveling” with
the American people.
[To read the speech that George W. Bush would have
to give if he really wanted to “level” about how and why the United
States is bogged down in Iraq, click here.]