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

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

December 08, 2016
John W. Whitehead
Power to the People: John Lennon’s Legacy Lives On
Mike Whitney
Rolling Back the Empire: Washington’s Proxy-Army Faces Decisive Defeat in Aleppo
Ellen Brown
“We’ll Look at Everything:” More Thoughts on Trump’s $1 Trillion Infrastructure Plan
John Stauber
The Rise and Fall of Obamacare: Will the Inside Story Ever be Told?
Ted Rall
Ameri-Splaining
Michael J. Sainato
Mainstream Media Continues Absolving Itself From Clinton, Trump Election Failures
Ralph Nader – Mark Green
Divest or Face Impeachment: an Open Letter to Donald Trump
Gareth Porter
US Airstrikes on Syrian Troops: Report Data Undermine Claim of “Mistake”
Martha Burke
What Trumponomics Means for Women
Ramzy Baroud
Fatah, Hold Your Applause: Palestinian Body Politic Rotten to the Core
Steve Horn
Jeff Sessions, Trump’s Attorney General Pick, Introduced First Bill Exempting Fracking from Drinking Water Rules
Joe Ware
The Big Shift: Why Banks Need to Stop Investing Our Money Into Fossil Fuels
Juliana Barnet
On the Ground at Standing Rock
Franklin Lamb
Aleppo Update: An Inspiring Return to the Bombed Out National Museum
Steve Kelly
Hidden Harmony: on the Perfection of Forests
December 07, 2016
Michael Schwalbe
What We Talk About When We Talk About Class
Karl Grossman
The Next Frontier: Trump and Space Weapons
Kenneth Surin
On Being Caught Speeding in Rural America
Chris Floyd
In Like Flynn: Blowback for Filth-Peddling Fascists
Serge Halimi
Trump, the Know-Nothing Victor
Paul DeRienzo
Flynn Flam: Neocon Ex-General to Be Trump’s National Security Advisor
Binoy Kampmark
Troubled Waters: Trump, Taiwan and Beijing
Tom Clifford
Trump and China: a Note From Beijing
Arnold August
Fidel’s Legacy to the World on Theory and Practice
Dave Lindorff
Is Trump’s Idea To Fix a ‘Rigged System’ by Appointing Crooks Who’ve Played It?
John Kirk
Cuba After Fidel
Jess Guh
Repeal of Affordable Care Act is Politics Playing with the Wellbeing of Americans
Eric Sommer
Team Trump: a Government of Generals and Billionaires
Lawrence Davidson
U.S. Reactions to the Death of Fidel Castro
John Garvey - Noel Ignatiev
Abolitionism: a Study Guide
Clancy Sigal
Caution: Conspiracy Theory Ahead!
December 06, 2016
Anthony DiMaggio
Post-Fact Politics: Reviewing the History of Fake News and Propaganda
Richard Moser
Standing Rock: Challenge to the Establishment, School for the Social Movements
Behrooz Ghamari Tabrizi
Warmongering 99 – Common Sense 0: the Senate’s Unanimous Renewal of Iran Sanctions Act
Norman Solomon
Media Complicity is Key to Blacklisting Websites
Michael J. Sainato
Elizabeth Warren’s Shameful Exploitation of Standing Rock Victory
David Rosen
State Power and Terror: From Wounded Knee to Standing Rock
Kim Ives
Deconstructing Another Right-Wing Victory in Haiti
Nile Bowie
South Korea’s Presidency On A Knife-Edge
Mateo Pimentel
Some Notes and a Song for Standing Rock
CJ Hopkins
Manufacturing Normality
Bill Fletcher Jr – Bob Wing
Fighting Back Against the White Revolt of 2016
Peter Lee
Is America Ready for a War on White Privilege?
Pepe Escobar
The Rules of the (Trump) Game
W. T. Whitney
No Peace Yet in Colombia Despite War’s End
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail