Or, Changing the Debate on Iraqi
Unless the shape of the debate changes soon, it looks like the earliest our troops will realistically be allowed to hope for getting out of the mistake known as Iraq is the day Bush is removed from office or whatever day the amoebas in Congress finally grow a spine. Unfortunately, the Democrats have allowed themselves to be foolishly boxed into a “debate” defending against the assertion that anything ending the fiasco is somehow not “supporting” the troops.
Bush and his NeoCons have once again conned the nation into a non sequitur. What the anti-Iraq quagmire activists need to do is change the question. How to do that? Are there any challenges or demands that can be made (besides the obviously useful impeachment alternative) that might assist? Actually there are several in which Bush’s own rhetoric can be successfully used against him. How about:
ALTERNATIVE 1: LET’S VOTE.
Yeah. I know. We thought we already did last November. But, apparently it was not explicit enough on the question of Iraq. If so, it would be pretty easy to organize a special election, a national plebiscite solely on the subject whether to (a) leave now or (b) stay until our soldiers run out of blood or our treasury runs out of money, whichever comes first. Consider it as a national No Confidence Vote which European nations have turned into a proud and useful tradition. Let’s ask Bush and Cheney to resign if they cannot persuade a majority of the voters that Western Civilization itself is riding on us staying in Iraq forever. If he truly has confidence in what he is telling us, ask him why not put it to a vote?
Of course, since we already know Bush is totally opposed to democracy here in the States and is too cowardly to really debate the subject, that will never happen. (In fact, it might even prove counterproductive given how Bush’s minions like the owner of the Diebold voting machines seem to magically achieve voting totals which defy logic and evidence when there is no paper trail to check against.) BUT, Bush does loudly and frequently claim he’s at least for spreading “democracy” in the Middle East. So, let’s let the Iraqis give us the purple finger as to whether they want us to remain.
Why should Bush consider agreeing? He can continue pouring our assets down that rat hole until the end of his term assuming he is not removed by impeachment. On the other hand, he seems to be starting to worry both about his “legacy” and has good cause to worry about post term investigations. Frankly, it’s a perfect solution for him. If the Iraqis vote to keep us as their guards, he wins the debate and can blunt criticism of him. If they vote for us to get out, he then has cover to pretend whatever later disaster happens is all the Iraqis’ fault, not his own massive bungling.
If Bush won’t consider an Iraqi vote or if the civil warring factions there would not allow it, how about demanding a UN General Assembly vote in which we agree not to exercise a veto and to abide by the result? Once again, Bush who surely knows he has already lost the war assuming he can read the reports from his own generals, can shrug his shoulders and say “Well, I would have won, but I wasn’t allowed to do so.” Legacy saved, at least in his own mind.
ALTERNATIVE TWO: MAKE IT ALL VOLUNTEER TROOPS.
Bush claims he “supports the troops” and touts the “all volunteer” army with which he likes to play toy general. While it is not true if almost everything learned about missing armor, extended tours, poor vet care, rotten salaries, and literal rotten food, etc. is accurate, nevertheless, let’s insist he make Iraq an “all volunteer” mission. It used to be a tradition that when you sent troops on suicide or dangerous missions, volunteers were called for. If Bush believes so much in the mission, he can truly “support the troops” by saying they don’t have to go to Iraq unless they feel the same way.
Normally, in a real war, that would not be a good idea, but most of our other wars have been fought for valid reasons in which there was a real and present danger from something other than tin pot dictators we had put in power ourselves or a covetous desire for resources like oil. Consequently, let’s give our boys and girls a choice as to whether they want to die in Iraq for Bush’s ego, particularly when they are being asked to do so at a salary one-fifth what the Bush and Cheney are paying Blackwater private mercenaries to do the same thing.
No doubt it will cost substantially more to bump soldier salaries sufficiently high enough to persuade them putting Iraq oil in Halliburton pockets is worth dying for. At the same time, wouldn’t a significant increase in enlisted man compensation finally show some genuine “support” for the troops instead for the empty words Bush has been so fond of mouthing?
Better yet, how about initiating a draft of all those who voted in favor of the Iraq war starting with Bush’s military age offspring? That way, we would not even have to raise salaries. They wanted the war, they get it.
Naturally, Bush will fight such a proposal, but in doing so it once again exposes him for the utter hypocrite he is and shifts the focus on which the issue is presently stuck.
ALTERNATIVE THREE: MAKE IT ALL VOLUNTEER FUNDING.
Don’t cut off the funds for the troops, but perhaps insist instead that they be paid for by those who want the war. Perhaps a line could be added to the income tax returns in which citizens and companies could specify how much they would voluntarily add to their tax burdens to fund the Iraq war. Bush could use those earmarked funds, but only those funds.
Oops, the big companies like Cheney’s Halliburton don’t pay much taxes. In fact, they are leaving for places like Dubai so they can pay even less. But, since the war is being really fought to supply them with oil revenue (plus a lot of easy war profiteering), they may have to be assessed some new taxes if the Republicans want to continue in their “Crusade” as Bush used to characterize it. Let them be asked to give back some of the billions they have stolen in graft, corruption, overcharging, insider trading and “bad accounting.”
If that does not supply enough money due to the public finally wising up or the corporations being too cheap to give back some of their obscene profits and obscene CEO obscene salaries, perhaps Bush can hold a telethon or use some of the campaign contribution bribery and lobbying funds he has stashed away. The bottom line is let those who want the war foot the bills for it. If they don’t, then use against them the same “unpatriotic traitor” mantra they call everyone else.
ALTERNATIVE FOUR: ELIMINATE THE NEED FOR OIL
Basically demand the Prez prove that this is not really all about Oil by eliminating its consumption for fuel in this country. Demand immediate genuine progress be accomplished by launching, say, a massive Manhattan Project or first Lunar Mission urgency to end dependency before his Presidency ends. Ask that at least as much be spent on a useful alternative energy goal as has been spent on Bush’s military adventurism. Perhaps a 100% tax on gasoline at the pump, a surtax on oil company profits, mandatory gas rationing as occurred in WWII, elimination of restrictions on wind, wave, solar and other non-oil construction such as the suburban zoning height restrictions preventing home wind generator towers plus a huge research and development project on fuel cells and other hopeful methods.
This only indirectly would be an impetus for getting the troops out, but it would finally require the rest of the country to share some of the burden and sacrifice. Bringing that sacrifice home would remind the heads in the sand public that something is going on for which they too have a responsibility. It broadens the debate.
ALTERNATIVE FIVE: DEMAND STANDARDS BE SET FOR WHEN WE KNOW WE HAVE FINALLY “WON” SO WE KNOW WHEN WE CAN FINALLY LEAVE.
For instance, have we "won" and can get out if the death toll is dropped to, say, 25% of what it was last year? How about when the electricity operation is on for at least 50% of the day at least six days a week? How about if the daily death toll and utility service availability is at least the same as the average for, say, Mexico, East Timor or Algeria? Those are not very high standards to achieve. How about when reporters can report from anywhere and only, say, 25 a year are killed attempting to do so.
If we cannot achieve even those very low standards, then we will never achieve higher ones and it is better to demand we get out now while we still have the shirt on our backs.
No standards - no continuing.
ALTERNATIVE SIX: DECLARE PEACE, NOT WAR.
Although Bush rejects international law, signed treaties, precedent, tradition, the words of his oath of office and most of the Constitution, Bush did seek a “war resolution” to allow him to use force in Iraq. Repeal that resolution or alternatively recognize that the Constitution requires Congress, and Congress alone, to declare war. Read it sometime.
If there is no legal authorization for the troops being in Iraq, then leaving them there would be an illegal activity for which Bush could be impeached.
As to cutting off the funds for the war, Bush attempts to characterize that as an attempt to harm the troops. In fact, it is the opposite. If Bush insists on leaving them there, then he and he alone is responsible for whatever happens next. In fact, by military law, troops are required to refuse to obey illegal orders which they would be if Bush ignores a demand for removal of the troops.
Cutting off the funds was necessary to finally end the war in Vietnam. Few now believe that troops were harmed as a result and that proved to really be the only way to bring them home. To continue the war would be an utter waste.
ALTERNATIVE SEVEN: MOVE THE WHITE HOUSE TO THE “GREEN ZONE” IN BAGHDAD.
Bush is always trying to show us how macho he is cutting brush, riding bikes, wearing flight suits. How about if he will not agree to any of the foregoing, double dog dare him to move his personal base of operations along with his VP, senior staff and Attorney General to Iraq. Ask him to show his own personal courage for once rather than the yellow streak he showed in the Vietnam War. He should be asked to show the troops he is behind them just a few miles away, not an entire hemisphere. Legacy-wise, Bush would be asked to put up or shut up.
If he inspires the troops like Custer did, great at least for him. He can go down in history as being proved right – far right. If he gets killed there, no big loss and perhaps the Smithsonian, which is too close to the White House when someone finally does try a nuke, might be saved.
Bush can be reminded that if God is truly on his side as Bush proclaims, surely He will protect Bush. If not, then Bush can be happy he gets to go to his eternal reward even sooner.
One thing is for certain. We can do without Bush and his crew here for the next two years.
And if he doesn’t want to discuss one of the alternatives above, we can always seek to truncate the tumor consuming the White House by reconsidering the great ALTERNATIVE EIGHT: IMPEACHMENT. Overtly rejecting all these other seven alternatives would prove Bush (once again) to be the Hypocrite-in-Chief and might be just the miracle growth tonic those in Congress need to either grow a backbone or conclude they will lose their cushy job next time around.
It is time to break out of the box if we are going to ever break out of Iraq.