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Winning A War with Smoke & Mirrors

The Other Side of the Tracks: A Socially Speaking commentary

August 3, 2010

By Perry Redd

Could it be, is it true?  Did the contemporary magician, David Copperfield actually make the World Trade Center disappear?  Well…I did see it with my own eyes—didn’t I?  Well, the same way you believed that illusion, you can believe President Obama’s claim: “Combat operations in Iraq have ended.” Now, we can claim victory in Iraq…surely, you jest.  No, it’s a president’s slight of hand.

Just in time for the November elections, the idealist campaign candidate-turned pragmatist president has pulled an illusion comparable to President George W. Bush’s “Mission Accomplished” banner.  Declaring victory before there is one seems to be “just what president’s do.”  If I believe that, then I’ll believe the economy’s back.

The President said in his speech in Atlanta yesterday:

Now, one of those chapters is nearing an end.  As a candidate for President, I pledged to bring the war in Iraq to a responsible end.  Shortly after taking office, I announced our new strategy for Iraq and for a transition to full Iraqi responsibility.  And I made it clear that by August 31st, 2010, America’s combat mission in Iraq would end.  And that is exactly what we are doing — as promised and on schedule. 

As a taxpaying American, I think that’s a good thing.  We lost 4,413 American lives—43 this year; we currently spend $12billion a month and quickly approaching $3 trillion dollars.  What’s worse is that Iraqis are still killing one another and their parliament has still not chosen a government after their last elections.  On July 18th, a suicide bomber ripped through a line of anti-al-Qaeda Sunni fighters waiting to collect their paychecks near an Iraqi military base as 48 people were killed in violence west of Baghdad.  On July 27th four people were killed in separate car-bombings at the offices of a Saudi-owned television network in Baghdad.  Peace, democracy and stability has yet to come to Iraq.  Doesn’t sound like the elements for claiming victory to me.

According to the Brookings Institute Iraq Index the U.S. has lost or unaccounted for $9 billion of US taxpayers’ money and $549.7 milion in spare parts shipped in 2004 to US contractors. Also, per ABC News, lost 190,000 guns, including 110,000 AK-47 rifles.   It’s been reported we’re missing $1 billion in tractor trailers, tank recovery vehicles, machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades and other equipment and services provided to the Iraqi security forces. (per CBS News on Dec 6, 2007.)   It’s also now known that we’ve mismanaged & wasted $10 billion in Iraq, per Feb 2007 Congressional hearings and that Halliburton’s overcharges classified by the Pentagon as “Unreasonable and Unsupported”: $1.4 billion.

Former President Bush played a historically proportioned “boo game” with us…got us all scared and galvanized a majority to elect for war on people who had no car bombings prior to our entry.  My point is this: though President Obama is selling us victory in Iraq—without saying “victory”, hank you—we’ve not won a damned thing.  We’ve lost; lost money, lives and respect, not to mention, a war.  The number of Iraqi casualties cannot be accurately counted.  There’s nothing moral about that.  Moreover, though we’re “pulling out” tens of thousands of American troops will still be in Iraq come September 1st…and January 2011.

It may look like we’ve pulled out of Iraq, but only in word, not in deed.  It’ some hell of an illusion…and like a good magician, it’s all smoke & mirrors.


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