Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Round the bend

By John R. Bomar

When the Secretary of Defense writes an Op-Ed piece in the Washington Post trying to defend the indefensible, you know things must be desperate. When the house of cards you construct begins to tumble down around your ears -- a house built on sand -- happy-talk and self-delusion no longer work. When cruel reality dispels delusion and pops every PR trial balloon before it gets off the ground, its wake-up time. With the latest developments in Iraq it must be a sobering moment for the Department of Defense and Mr. Rumsfeld.

When a national leader can no longer speak freely to a mixed assembly but is reduced to pep talks to select groups of “vetted” participants like VFW super patriots, members of the Armed Forces or ideologues of his own stripe, things must surely be going poorly. When that same leader’s foreign travel engenders hoards of hundreds-of-thousands to protest his very presence in their country things are surely amiss.

When a nation feeds upon a constant diet of fear, exaggerated by media and leaders who excel in fear mongering, things eventually go a bit balmy…crackers…around the bend. And such exaggerations have a way of becoming self-fulfilling. When leaders are caught in a lie to justify a preemptive (first strike) war, and choose to continue to lie to cover the first, they steer a nation down a dark path indeed: The world becomes George Orwell’s playground: funny sounding words creep into the lexicon and twisted contortions of rationales are used to justify “staying the course.” For a while the voices of reason seem lost. For a while the liars and fear mongers seem to hold sway. For a while the architects of such a tragic calamity hold off their just deserts.

Eventually, though, as always, truth will be out. Eventually, people catch on. Eventually, a light will shine on the darkness, and eventually the deception and the clever cunning is exposed. Thanks be to God, the Light always breaks through.

The emerging catastrophe that is Iraq today is of our own making. Saddam Hussein had neither weapons of mass destruction nor links to Osama Bin Laden. We were played for fools and took the bait hook, line and sinker, with nary a dissenting voice to be heard.

Two evils never make goodness and two wrongs never make right. Bad seed eventually withers the vine and flowery words that drift off into the void are no substitute for wholesome fruit. It is by our actions and their effect that we are known.

What is now apparent to most of us is that the fruits of this misadventure into Iraq are poisonous indeed. We are now stuck up to our axles in a stinking mudhole of our own making. Our military forces are demoralized and retreated to isolated enclaves, islands, behind blast wall barriers and concertina wire; to once in a while make foray that creates only more hatred and resentment toward them. Politically, we are like Capt. Lawrence standing alone amidst the chaos, confusion and screaming among the tribes of Arabia, to eventually stand in an empty tent. We are the bullyboy that rampaged the China shop and there ain’t no glue in sight.

Perhaps we will be surprised. Perhaps some good can eventually come of the destruction and carnage, the slaughter. Perhaps an Iraqi government can form. But even at its best the question will always remain, at what price?

No, the lessons we will have learned from this most magnificent of blunders is that we cannot be boss of the world, and disregarding the world and its opinions is to one’s own peril. Exaggerated fear mongering does indeed make mountains of molehills and strengthens ones enemies in the process. How easy we made it for Mr. Bush and company to pull the right strings that played on our fears -- leading to this debacle. For, most assuredly, those who have never smelled or tasted war rush quickest to its rotting banquet, and stay longest at the feast.

John R. Bomar


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