A clean, well-lit place to vent
Please feel free to contribute to this frequently-updated forum, which posts selected commentary on our favorite comic strip. If you'd like your critique to be posted, please note that civility, if not approbation, counts. Click here to submit a comment.
NOT QUITE THE SAME
The two events are not quite the same, but metaphors seldom are. The images that remain with me from 1975 were the faces of terrified civilians unable to get on the last helos out. This time, the faces of the natives are ungrateful and angry, as if to say: "Don't let the door of your Hummer hit you on your backside as you leave."
WHERE I WAS
Today's strip set off an unexpected flow of tears. I know where I was in 1975, and I know many of us (wives, sweethearts, mothers) as well as soldiers will never get over it. To those who were in Vietnam and those who were at home waiting, please know you are not forgotten. Thank you and Merry Christmas.
In terms of the future B.D. refers to in today's strip, what I dread developing is a situation with corporate contractors and mercenaries being captured by one of the Iraqi factions, or becoming snared in the legal system of Iraq for their actions. While I will support the extraction of all our men and women in uniform from Iraq, i firmly believe that the corporate employees have no right to expect such support from the U.S. government. Halliburton and the latest Blackwater manifestation are responsible for cleaning up that mess.
The quote in the first panel of today's strip comes from "Faith, Certainty and the Presidency of George W. Bush," Ron Suskind's terrifying article in the NYT Magazine of October 17, 2004. Here's the full quote, which reveals just how delusional that administration was: "In the summer of 2002, after I had written an article in Esquire that the White House didn't like about Bush's former communications director, Karen Hughes, I had a meeting with a senior adviser to Bush. He expressed the White House's displeasure, and then he told me something that at the time I didn't fully comprehend -- but which I now believe gets to the very heart of the Bush presidency. The aide said that guys like me were 'in what we call the reality-based community,' which he defined as people who 'believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.' I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. 'That's not the way the world really works anymore,' he continued. 'We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.'" My guess is that the senior aide was Karl Rove, but who knows? They were all crazy.
Saddam was the enemy of our enemy in the 80s and that was good enough for us to look the other way then when it served our purpose. Make no mistake; when Bush mentioned "imminent threat" in 2003, he was setting in motion something all the war architects in his administration had been planning in one way or another for a long time.
Why wasn't Colin Powell on the list?
THE WAR IN IRAQ
The war in Iraq was a huge waste of time, resources, and most importantly lives. There is absolutely no evidence that Saddam had any intent to make war beyond his borders, barring interference from the US. Our youth has no responsibility to be corporate muscle for oil companies. nor do we have the duty to sacrifice our people for some politician's goals, or perceived threats. Saddam was our ally up until a short time before he (stupidly) invaded Kuwait. His actions and policies did not magically change in that time frame.
NAMING THE NAMES
Today's strip is excellent in naming the names that must be remembered for the travesty of the Iraq war. Thank you. Where is the Wall of Shame in Washington, DC? Never forget. Never forget.
RE "WORTH IT"
The Iraq invasion was in my opinion a colossal mistake that cost over 4,500 American lives and untold wealth. The terrorist organization known as al-Qaeda, led by the late and unlamented Saudi Arabian thug Osama bin Laden, attacked us on that fateful September day. The Taliban regime in Afghanistan supported and protected them. These were the people we should have tracked down and killed instead of getting sidetracked into launching an ill-advised military adventure into Iraq.
Bin Laden was and al-Qaeda continues to be the real threat to us and our allies, as evidenced by the attacks from London to Bali, from Mindanao to Yemen, and from Somalia to Mumbai. Saddam was an obnoxious tyrant that was an irritant to the Bush/Cheney administration but was no immediate threat to us, except to hurl empty threats that our intelligence people suspected were hollow. The President and the Pentagon civilian leadership ignored the intelligence community's recommendations and advice, depending upon what they later claimed to be "faulty intelligence" to justify launching the war.
Iraq's neighboring countries of Iran, Syria, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, all of them hostile to him, had Saddam completely contained. He had lost most of his army in a long bloody war with Iran. He had lost almost all of his air power and most of his armored forces in the disastrous foray into Kuwait.
The Bush administration however considered him to be an ongoing threat. Vice President Cheney continued to try to conflate Saddam with the al-Qaida organization, all the while playing on the unreasoning fear and paranoia that had many Americans willing to support almost anything thay thought might keep them safe from harm. What a pitiful display of cowardice. This war was a disaster foisted on the American people by a group in Washington that was more concerned with their own political prospects than the welfare of the country.
No matter what kind of thug Saddam Hussein was and what kind of insanity he probably planned, the true destabilization of the Middle East is yet to come. Iran has been rattling more than sabres for a long while now, but the backing they have from both Russia and China makes them far more a threat on a much larger scale than Hussein ever was. As for placing responsibility for the current fiasco and those that will inevitably come out of our adventure in Iraq, thanks for reminding us where that really lies. Now if one or, dare I whisper it, all of them, would just "man up" and take the rap...Nah! It'll never happen.
I don't see anyone in the strip questioning the idea that the US invasion of Iraq was "the biggest foreign policy disaster," so I'm pushed to believe that Garry Trudeau thinks it's a worse disaster than: US involvement in the coup against Mohammad Mosaddegh, popularly elected Prime Minister of Iran; any of the times our policy was "We'll support baby-eaters so long as they're anti-communist," as if that were the only choice; failure to uphold treaties with Native Americans, thus consigning them to generational poverty and robbing all of their productive potential; invading Canada, in two wars, and failing miserably; the Hawley-Smoot Tariff, by which we played a part in ensuring a tariff war and worldwide depression and providing fertile, desperate ground for the rise of fascism; isolationism in face of that same rise of fascism; failure to prevent the communist takeover of China (the most polluted country on Earth), probably by uncritically backing a corrupt Chiang, as if that were the only alternative. Maybe Garry is too close to the problem, having reached out, in genuine respect, to the troops who see all the ugly details. I suggest stepping back and getting a broader perspective.
I had no problems with airport security; I took off my shoes like they asked. That's when I got in trouble with the EPA.
You forgot George Tenant and Colin Powell in your list of those responsible for the Iraq invasion.
OFF THE LIST
Today's comment on the architects of the Iraq war left Colin Powell off the list. Given his embarrassing and career-ending speech to the UN in 2003 that served as justification for invasion, he must be included, lest we forget that people perceived as good can be co-opted to cover wrongs.
The biggest foreign policy disaster in history? At a cost of over 4,000 American lives, a sadistic, ruthless dictator was overthrown and replaced with a democratic government. Compare that with a cost of over 50,000 American lives for which we accomplished nothing and left Vietnam to a communist regime. And that's just in my lifetime, not all of American history. You might consider the war in Iraq a mistake, I do not. But if you think it was a bigger mistake than Vietnam then your Bush hating has gone way overboard. I'll even give you another in my lifetime that was a tremendous foreign policy disaster: President Kennedy supported an invasion of Cuba, promising military intervention as needed. Instead, he left the invaders to die on the beach at the Bay of Pigs.
WE SHOULD NOT
It's tough to look Iraq war vets in the eye and tell them that they went to war honorably (as so many did, including actual military volunteers along with thousands and thousands of National Guard troops who were serving in the supposedly home-based military to help pay their own bills, go to school, and protect their home communities, but were suddenly pressed into our "undeclared draft" to fill the country's war needs -- a group that included grandparents, for crying out loud!) while still saying the war was not necessary nor worth their sacrifice and the sacrifices of those who died (not to mention the Iraqi deaths in such huge numbers). I was from the start against this war (there had to be another way to get rid of Saddam), but feel so terrible lookiing an honorable soldier in the eye and saying, "We should not have sent you people. We should not have caused the loss of life there."
Yes, professor, the war in Iraq was worth it, and the reasons go far beyond bean counting and public opinion polls. I first heard about Saddam Hussein as a threat during an intel briefing in 1976. The briefer said, "Saddam Hussein -- remember that name, because you're going to be hearing it again." Alan Greenspan, former Chairman of the Federal Reserve, made the points in a TV interview that Hussein was clearly trying to get control of the Middle East oil fields, he was within about five years of being able to do so, and if he had succeeded, oil might now be $500 a barrel.
Hussein himself told our interrogators that he did not have weapons of mass destruction, but he kept the minds and skills to make them. The U.S. investigators did not find weapons of mass destruction, but they found "fertilizer factories" designed to mill product at .02 microns. Fertilizer is not milled at .02 microns, but weaponized anthrax is. Our investigators also found drone aircraft that could spray "fertilizer."
Saddam Hussein and his regime were a grave threat to stability in the Middle East and possibly the world. We can certainly argue about the way that we conducted the war in Iraq, but there is no doubt that the world is safer because we did.
"They hate the TSA as much as we do." True that! When I referred to it as "the gates of hell," my brother and his equally well-traveled friend nearly fell of their seats laughing. Many of us would rather take the train.