FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Like a Soldier

by STEPHEN FLEISCHMAN

When you’re wounded and left on Afghanistan’s plains,
And the women come out to cut up what remains,
Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains

An’ go to your Gawd like a soldier.

Kipling

Rudyard Kipling knew what he was talking about when he wrote that verse. As a chronicler of the British Empire in its declining years, he foreshadowed the coming of America’s Empire in his advice to the British soldier. But we know that a better way to support our troops is to bring them home now. Who would want to be the last soldier to die in the Iraq war?

It seems that the Bush Administration is beginning to admit what we have known for some time-that the war in Iraq is already lost. So should we continue to “blow out our brains” as the British did on Afghanistan’s plains, or should we cut and run as we did in Vietnam, although a bit too late.

The Bush war party is being gored by the horns of a dilemma. Some members of the establishment are calling for a reduction of forces, maybe 30 thousand or so, to ward off stinging defeat in the upcoming Congressional elections. Other factions in the Administration, mainly the neo-cons, are calling for the addition of more troops to do what some say should have been done in the first place-send in overwhelming force and do what Colin Powell so graphically described in the first Gulf War, “surround the enemy, cut it off and kill it.” Unfortunately for him (and for us) he didn’t take his own advice and went along with the Rumsfeld concept of doing this war “on the cheap”.

Not quite so cheap, as it turned out. The theft of 18 billion dollars, here and there, doesn’t seem like much compared with the 1 trillion or 2 trillion the war has cost our hardy taxpayers thus far, depending on who’s calculating the damage. How many school lunches or health insurance policies would that buy?

When will we get out of Iraq? Not until we’re kicked out, it seems. This is getting more and more like déjà vu all over again. Bush has given up his mantra “stay the course” but he has not quit his other bright saying, “When the Iraqis stand up, we’ll stand down”. The estimates change almost daily. “Now the Iraqis are standing upnow they’re standing down now they’re being decimated by the insurgents well, some of them are standing up, noI mean standing down

Meanwhile, judging from the nightly news clips, our troops seem to be running around in circles in the most dangerous place in the world-busting into people’s houses, intimidating children, terrorizing women, and harassing their men, killing some of them, looking for terrorists and insurgents. A great way to win the hearts and minds of the people; a cliché they still talk about. But the resistance goes on, the way it did in Algiers when Algeria finally dumped the French.

“Take up the White Man’s burden–Send forth the best ye breed ” said Kipling. That’s what Bush thought he was doing when he sent young men like Cindy Sheehan’s son, Casey, into battle in Iraq in order to bring freedom and free enterprise (not for the Iraqis but for Halliburton, Bechtel and Boeing) into this Saddam-ized country.

Now that Bush’s military adventurism is falling apart, the news of it is busting out all over. Even the popular German news magazine, Der Spiegel, heralded the US loss of the Iraq War, this week, under a banner headline “Power and Lies”.

Now, even Republicans are beginning to speak up. Pennsylvania Congressman Curt Weldon, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, once a hawk, is now asking for a timetable to bring the troops home. Other dissident Republicans are following suit. Rep. Christopher Shays of Connecticut favors a timeline for troop withdrawals, New Jersey’s Tom Kean, Jr., running for the Senate called for Rumsfeld’s resignation and said Bush had made “horrendous mistakes”, Pat Tiberi of Ohio called for new leadership at the Pentagon, Sen. Lindsey Graham called Iraq “a mess”, and so it goes. They all want to put some distance between George Bush and their candidacy. A looming election has magical powers.

To distract his right-wing constituency from the truth, Bush has given the so-called Iraqi government a “timeline for benchmarks”-a series of tasks for establishing security that they must complete in a period of time before the occupying troops can leave. Another gimmick. If they haven’t been able to accomplish these tasks before having a timeline, they’re not going to be any better off with one.

What are we going to think of next? Major General J.D. Thurman, senior commander of US forces in Baghdad came up with a good answer-do what’s right for the country. Right now, the Iraqis are so splintered, it would be harder to get them back together again than it would be to get Humpty Dumpty back on the wall. So why not let them fight it out and if they decide to split into three regions, Sunni, Shia and Kurds, so be it.

Meanwhile, the resistance grows. Everyone waits expectantly for that tipping point when Grand Ayatollah al Sistani tips his turban and the Shia join the Sunni insurgency against the occupiers-the end of the beginning.

If it can be said that Osama bin Laden was the “Gunga Din” of 9/11 (carrying water for al Qaeda), there will come a time when George W. Bush will have to say to Osama, “You’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din”.

STEPHEN FLEISCHMAN, television writer-director-producer, spent thirty years in Network News at CBS and ABC, starting in 1953. In 1959, he participated in the formation of the renowned Murrow-Friendly “CBS Reports” series. In 1983, Fleischman won the prestigious Columbia University-Dupont Television Journalism Award. In 2004, he wrote his memoir. See: www.ARedintheHouse.com, E-mail: stevefl@comcast.ne

 

 

 

STEPHEN FLEISCHMAN, writer-producer-director of documentaries, spent thirty years in Network News at CBS and ABC. His memoir is now in print. See www.amahchewahwah.com, e-mail stevefl@ca.rr.com

February 10, 2016
Eoin Higgins
Clinton and the Democratic Establishment: the Ties That Bind
Fred Nagel
The Role of Legitimacy in Social Change
Mike Whitney
Putin’s Aleppo Gamble Pays Off
Chris Martenson
The Return of Crisis: Everywhere Banks are in Deep Trouble
Ramzy Baroud
Next Onslaught in Gaza: Why the Status Quo Is a Precursor for War
Jeffrey St. Clair
Why Bernie Still Won’t Win
Sheldon Richman
End, Don’t Extend, Draft Registration
Benjamin Willis
Obama in Havana
Jack Smith
Obama Intensifies Wars and Threats of War
Rob Hager
How Hillary Clinton Co-opted the Term “Progressive”
Mark Boothroyd
Syria: Peace Talks Collapse, Aleppo Encircled, Disaster Looms
Lawrence Ware
If You Hate Cam Newton, It’s Probably Because He’s Black
Jesse Jackson
Starving Government Creates Disasters Like Flint
Bill Laurance
A Last Chance for the World’s Forests?
Gary Corseri
ABC’s of the US Empire
Frances Madeson
The Pain of the Earth: an Interview With Duane “Chili” Yazzie
Binoy Kampmark
The New Hampshire Distortion: The Primaries Begin
Andrew Raposa
Portugal: Europe’s Weak Link?
Wahid Azal
Dugin’s Occult Fascism and the Hijacking of Left Anti-Imperialism and Muslim Anti-Salafism
February 09, 2016
Andrew Levine
Hillary Says the Darndest Things
Paul Street
Kill King Capital
Ben Burgis
Lesser Evil Voting and Hillary Clinton’s War on the Poor
Paul Craig Roberts
Are the Payroll Jobs Reports Merely Propaganda Statements?
Fran Quigley
How Corporations Killed Medicine
Ted Rall
How Bernie Can Pay for His Agenda: Slash the Military
Neve Gordon
Israeli Labor Party Adopts the Apartheid Mantra
Kristin Kolb
The “Great” Bear Rainforest Agreement? A Love Affair, Deferred
Joseph Natoli
Politics and Techno-Consciousness
Hrishikesh Joshi
Selective Attention to Diversity: the Case of Cruz and Rubio
Stavros Mavroudeas
Why Syriza is Sinking in Greece
David Macaray
Attention Peyton Manning: Leave Football and Concentrate on Pizza
Arvin Paranjpe
Opening Your Heart
Kathleen Wallace
Boys, Hell, and the Politics of Vagina Voting
Brian Foley
Interview With a Bernie Broad: We Need to Start Focusing on Positions and Stop Relying on Sexism
February 08, 2016
Paul Craig Roberts – Michael Hudson
Privatization: the Atlanticist Tactic to Attack Russia
Mumia Abu-Jamal
Water War Against the Poor: Flint and the Crimes of Capital
John V. Walsh
Did Hillary’s Machine Rig Iowa? The Highly Improbable Iowa Coin Tosses
Vincent Emanuele
The Curse and Failure of Identity Politics
Eliza A. Webb
Hillary Clinton’s Populist Charade
Uri Avnery
Optimism of the Will
Roy Eidelson Trudy Bond, Stephen Soldz, Steven Reisner, Jean Maria Arrigo, Brad Olson, and Bryant Welch
Preserve Do-No-Harm for Military Psychologists: Coalition Responds to Department of Defense Letter to the APA
Patrick Cockburn
Oil Prices and ISIS Ruin Kurdish Dreams of Riches
Binoy Kampmark
Julian Assange, the UN and Meanings of Arbitrary Detention
Shamus Cooke
The Labor Movement’s Pearl Harbor Moment
W. T. Whitney
Cuba, War and Ana Belen Montes
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail