Will Iraqis defend themselves?
Time to start bringing American troops home from Iraq. If the Bush administration is going to continue to fumble the prosecution of this war – which the president thinks ended in the spring of 2003, more than 1,500 deaths ago; which the vice president thinks is still a cakewalk – then Americans men and women should stop contributing to the consistently rising death toll. Donald Rumsfeld should resign and John McCain, Colin Powell, or whoever can be swiftly approved by Congress to take his place, should start setting some deadlines for pulling out – 10,000 troops come home immediately, 40,000 on Jan. 1, 2006, another 40,000 on June 1, 2006. Everyone should be home a year from this Christmas. Let Halliburton and its subsidiaries fight the battle for the economic spoils. Let the Iraqis install democracy in their own country. If they can’t or won’t, there’s no point for American troops to remain in the line of fire and roadside bombs. Our troops are better used fighting genocide in Sudan or just resting, training and re-arming at their bases in the homeland for the next conflict. Hopefully, the next military adventure isn’t a president’s vanity war or a political ploy to distract Americans from the aimless “struggle against extremism” or soaring gas prices or stagnant wages or the decaying environment. Hopefully, the next time troops are deployed, it won’t be a sham launched by a lie fueled by fear. The sham is that by toppling Saddam, W. is keeping Americans safe from suicide bombers. The lie is that Saddam was threatening Americans with nukes, chemical weapons or alliances with al-Qaida. The fear was the flag-waving paranoia the administration has kept at a steady boil since Sept. 11.It’s Iran and North Korea who have the nukes, it’s Pakistan and Saudi Arabia that are churning out the terrorists, and it’s the weather that’s heating up, too. To use a cheap sports cliche, the fight in Iraq is now about who wants it more – the forces trying to write a constitution or the insurgents whose aims are hard to determine but who seem to have enough support and enough weapons to keep the most powerful military on red alert. The insurgents are not a trained military force – some of them probably got some rudimentary tips from veterans of the Russian fiasco in Afghanistan, which was the last time a world power bumbled imperialistically into a Muslim country and left behind a Woodstock for terrorism and extremism. The insurgents are guerillas, thugs, opportunists, swindlers, religious fanatics, nihilists, homicidal maniacs. They’re not the Green Berets or the Navy SEALs or the infantry. If the Iraqis are as determined as W. and Condie say they are to bring democracy to Baghdad, we should be having more success training them to stifle the forces of chaos. If they so thankful for the freedom we’ve supposedly brought there, the Iraqis should be rushing to the front lines to found their own republic. The specters of civil war and Vietnam loom more ominously over the desert every day. Chances are a civil war could occur next week or by the end of decade, the earliest date some military commanders say significant reductions in troops could be made. What’s so tragic about a civil war in a country that’s nothing more than the fancy of early 20th century diplomats, who turned the Middle East into their own Etch-A-Sketch pad after World War I and completely forgot to give the Kurds a homeland. The country called Iraq was created to implode, and the tragedy would be repeating the mistake of defending people who won’t or don’t want to defend themselves.City Editor Matt Zalaznick can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 606, or email@example.com. This column, as with all personal columns, does not necessarily reflect the views of the Vail Daily.Vail, Colorado
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VAIL — The lift operator in the maze at Vail Village’s Gondola One tilts his head back and hollers: “Masks up please!”