The snow that piled up here on Monday is melting away almost as quickly as it fell, and V-formations of tundra swans are squawking overhead on their way north. I should be outside basking in the warmth of this delayed bit of spring, but no. Here I sit, powerless over my need to know. My need to know what the hell's going on out there, the big out there, the frickin' political out there. As with most addictions, after the high of knowing comes the crash of --knowing.
Take today’s New York Times lead story: U.S. Cites Planning Gaps In Iraqi Assault on Basra. It describes all that went wrong with the recent Iraqi-led attack on the “insurgents” (aka, residents) of Basra, which was pretty much everything. Prime Minister Nuri Kamal a-Maliki is credited with the loss, impulsively leading an ill-prepared and ultimately bungled invasion, resulting in a cease-fire brokered by Iran, and further damaging his government's credibility and world-standing.
According to the Times, “Mr. Maliki overestimated his military’s abilities and underestimated the scale of the resistance. The Iraqi prime minister also displayed an impulsive leadership style that did not give his forces or that of his most powerful allies, the American and British military, time to prepare.
Sound familiar? There’s more.
"‘He went in with a stick and he poked a hornet’s nest, and the resistance he got was a little bit more than he bargained for,’ said one official in the multinational force in Baghdad who requested anonymity. ‘They went in with 70 percent of a plan. Sometimes that’s enough. This time it wasn’t.’”
Sort of like going to war with the army you have, not the army you want?
“In Baghdad, Mr. [Ambassador] Crocker lobbied senior officials in the Iraqi government, who complained that they had been excluded from Mr. Maliki’s decision-making on Basra, to back the prime minister’s effort there. ‘It was a unilateral decision by Maliki,’ said an American official familiar with the session. ‘It was a fait accompli.’”
Hmmm. Crocker as Colin Powell? And is that a Dick Cheney sort of fait accompli?
“But if Mr. Maliki was determined to act, General Petraeus advised him not to rush into a fight without carefully sizing up the situation and making adequate preparations, the official said.
Gen. Petraeus steps in to the Gen. Shinseki role?
“‘We strongly encouraged him to use his most substantial weapon, which is money, to announce major jobs programs, Basra cleanup, whatnot,’ Mr. Crocker said.”
Whatnot indeed. Imagine if Mr. Crocker and Bush/Cheney/Rummy/Condi had thought of this before spending billions in Iraq on the bombing and killing sort of whatnot.
If we want to win nations to our side, why not just go in and paper their country with greenbacks without bombing them first? Build them schools and hospitals and roads and give them all jobs, but leave the guns at home. Imagine what could have been done with $12 billion a month.
Come to think of it, imagine what could be done at home with $12 billion a month dedicated to winning our own people back to our side? To give them a government they can trust, a healthcare system that works, schools that teach more than test, bridges that hold up, jobs that provide more than a scrape-by wage. And leave the weapons out of that plan as well.
And if money is our most substantial weapon, why are the tax-averse Republicans so intent on not using any of it at home? Isn't that the ultimate home security?
I'm going to go out and listen to the tundra swans. At least some things in this country are headed in the right direction.