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Stuck in quicksand

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POSTED: October 3, 2007 5:04 a.m.

Don’t kid yourself. We’re stuck in Iraq. If not in it, then somewhere around it.

Fifty years from now, we’ll still be there. We can’t get out.

Thank George W. Bush for that. And thank Democrats and Republicans alike who bought his baloney and applauded his invasion.

Every day that we remain in Iraq, here is what happens to us and our society:

- At least two Americans are killed.

- An average of 15 are wounded or otherwise injured.

- Our government spends $300 million on the war. Each day’s expenditure is the equivalent of two months of Georgia’s total state budget.

These numbers came from the government, so they may be too low.

Iraq is the Germany and Japan of the 21st century, except that we had good reason to make war and occupy those countries in which we still maintain combat troops as paying "guests."

I bring this up because I happened to run across my old Army of Occupation ribbon, which I last wore in Germany more than half a century ago. It made me remember.

I knew why we were in Germany, and I knew we planned to stay a long, long time.

Does the Pentagon hand out occupation ribbons for Iraq? Of course not. It would make us sound like we’re throwing our weight around, even if we are. We had a saying back in Europe: "If we don’t keep the Germans at our feet, they’ll be at our throats again." I believed that then.

Do the young American troopers in Iraq know - really know - why they are occupying Iraq? Do the horribly wounded men and women in military and VA hospitals understand why their lives were blown apart?

Do they know that House GOP leader John Boehner said just last week that their sacrifice is "a small price if we’re able to stop al-Qaeda"? How many gold-star moms believe that? How many once-bright men and women whose brains were scrambled in Baghdad blasts accept that?

Do the GIs and Marines understand what the Democrats have done - those who took control of Congress on promises to end the Iraq war? Answer: They have done nothing but shiver and whine.

The simple truth: The Democrats lied to you too. There is nothing they can do. We are trapped.

An old friend - an Arabic speaker who has spent much of his career hanging around with desert royalty - says this:

"We can’t leave now. Our friends [meaning his Arab pals] certainly don’t want us to go. We must remain to protect the region from the inevitable catastrophe in Iraq - a bloody civil war and genocide, the likes of which we haven’t seen since World War II. We must be there to contain the violence, to keep it from spreading through the region." He also mentioned oil several times.

Another close friend - a devout Jew and ardent supporter of Israel - says much the same thing but from different perspective:

"Israel will be in a state of war for the foreseeable future because of Bush. Perhaps I should support Bush because of his pro-Israel policy. But he has made a total mess of things, and he has no idea of how to get out of it. Israel needs the American presence in the Middle East for protection and for containment of violence. A lasting peace seems out of the question now. Why don’t you say a good word about Jimmy Carter?" This buddy emphasized that he was speaking only for himself.

How does all this affect us back here in Georgia’s green hills and plains? It saps our strength and our ability to move forward. The billions in tax dollars that go into the sands of Iraq and the pockets of war profiteers could be spent on transportation and health care and education in Georgia. Without Iraq, our National Guard could be up to strength and ready to rescue us if a Katrina-like calamity strikes our coast. As it is, we would be at nature’s mercy. A devastating hurricane in Georgia might make Katrina in Louisiana seem a rehearsal. We wouldn’t have the manpower to deal with it.

The late Gov. Lester Maddox once said Georgia could upgrade its prison system if we only had a better class of prisoners.

He might have said the same thing about our government and a better class of politician. The trouble is, it’s getting mighty late in the game to start practicing quality control in the White House.

 

You can reach Bill Shipp at P.O. Box 2520, Kennesaw, GA 30156, or e-mail: shipp1@bellsouth.net.

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