God's Politics

Colin Powell says we are “losing” the “civil war” in Iraq. In a Sunday morning interview with Bob Schieffer on CBS’s Face The Nation, the former General, Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and George Bush’s first Secretary of State broke his silence and put himself at odds with his ex-boss. I watched it. Powell said, “I agree with the assessment of Mr. Baker and Mr. Hamilton,” referring to the co-chairs of the Iraq Study Group, that the situation in Iraq is “grave and deteriorating, and we’re not winning, we are losing. We haven’t lost. And this is the time, now, to start to put in place the kinds of strategies that will turn this situation around.”

And he clearly opposed the current White House idea of a “surge” in troops to try and secure Baghdad. The former General said that before such a decision, he would ask tough questions, “I’d want to have a clear understanding of what it is they’re going for, how long they’re going for. And let’s be clear about something else. . . . There really are no additional troops. All we would be doing is keeping some of the troops who were there, there longer and escalating or accelerating the arrival of other troops.” That means the troops already there would stay longer, and troops already going to come would come sooner. And all that means more tours of duty for already overextended soldiers, more stress for families left behind and, of course, more casualties. The President says he doesn’t want to rush a decision, but what more does he need to know? Every day we just keep doing what we are doing, more Americans will die and more Iraqis will die. One may or may not agree with every recommendation of the Baker/Hamilton Report, but at least the bi-partisan report told the truth about the situation in Iraq that is rapidly spinning out of control. And telling the truth is what the Bush Administration has never done since the beginning in Iraq. This is a war based on lies, made worse by incompetence, and is pursued in sheer arrogance.

When Dick Cheney called Donald Rumsfeld “the finest defense secretary this nation has ever had” at his Pentagon farewell ceremony, he epitomized this administration’s absolute defiance of reality about the war in Iraq. This morning, a report on NPR said that while just 2 months ago, President Bush declared we were winning in Iraq, the White House has now decided to no longer answer that question.

When all the generals, diplomats, and church leaders questioned this war or the way it was being conducted, Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld decided not to listen. When Secretary of State Colin Powell raised questions about the wisdom of going to war in Iraq, they didn’t even listen to him. And they are unlikely to listen now. Each day that goes by, it looks like the President isn’t going to pay much heed to the Iraq Study Group’s serious questions either. When it comes to Iraq, George Bush isn’t listening. And people will continue to die—because he just can’t hear. Just this morning, the Washington Post wrote that the quarterly Pentagon report on the war said violence in Iraq reached its highest level on record this fall, with a high of 959 attacks per week.

Asked about the judgment of history, Powell said, “It’s history that will judge the performance of all of us in this troubling time … and it is a history that I think will ultimately be written as a result of what happens in Iraq.” And then there is the judgment of God.

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