We went to the theater tonight and saw, “How to lose a guy in ten days.“ It was not the best movie I have ever seen. You might enjoy it more than I especially if you like “chick flicks”. I am predisposed by gender to be a hard sell. When I see an unending array of ulterior transactions, what Eric Berne would call game like behavior, I start to wince. When I started seeing it as an analogy to the current political dilemma that we are facing, I started enjoying it a lot more.

A very tragic aspect of the war against Iraq is that the administration has convinced so many good people to help him do this terrible thing by telling them that it is necessary and good for America, good for Iraq, and good for the world. More and more people are asking themselves if the purpose of this war is to protect our freedoms or to support Bush’s re-election.

Look at what we have lost even if the military succeeds in all the objectives they have set for themselves. The cost in billions of dollars that could have been used to improve education, rebuild highways provide health care and job training can never be recouped. The damage done to our international relations and our image in the world as a proponent of freedom cannot be easily or quickly undone. The erosion of our faith in elected leaders, even when they are not the ones that we voted for will not return any time soon after we have been offered a smorgasbord of ever changing justification that have too often been shown to be contrived, erroneous or unjustified.

With less than two weeks behind us, we have seen long time allies forsake us and allegiances formed that we would never have though possible because we are their common enemy. North Korea is using the precedent we have set in Iraq to justify refusing inspections of nuclear weapons development facilities. China and Russia who were once warming their relationship to America are now showing an ever increasing concern with military preparedness. This does not bode well for our future.

Fairly impartial countries in the Arab world are growing increasingly distrustful of the stories coming from the coalition as they are repeatedly shown to be lacking in truth. Those who once despised Saddam Hussein are starting to see him as the heroic opposition to American aggression.

Over confidence, Impatience and Bad Communications

The current spat between Donald Rumsfeld and General Tommy Franks over whether to attack Baghdad immediately or to stop to rest and re-group has brought to the forefront aspects of the administration strategy to conduct a hi-tech war with reduced reliance on ground troops. Rumsfeld started the war too soon, before all of the troops were in place and their equipment had been delivered to Iraq, against the advice of the military. Bush wanted his war despite the advice of the military, his own intelligence agencies, friendly governments, and even his own father! What we are seeing is a logic impaired leadership that is determined to maintain its own myopic path, regardless of the cost to our future.

One of the reason for the impatience is practical, if the war lasts into the summer heat will greatly impede the progress of the coalition. A more compelling reason may be that the justification for the war was disintegrating. In early March, the story that the Iraqis had purchased tones of uranium ore from Niger was rapidly falling apart, and the claim that aluminum tube they had purchased were intended for a centrifuge device had also been debunked. That left the story about gassing the Kurds, which was refuted around 1990 as the primary justification, along with an array of unverifiable antidotal evidence. In addition, the invasion would pre-empt any further UN weapons inspections which had not bolstered the case for war, and had only exonerated the Iraqis. Bait and switch

Contrary to the claims by the administration, a quick review shows that the comments the Vice President made a few days before the start of the war were directly contradicted almost as soon as the war started by Cheney himself. Estimates varied widely as to the cost and the number of troops required, the actual figures will exceed the high end. The over optimism was obviously to sell the war knowing all the time that there would be no way to turn back once committed. Once the commitment was made, the President started saying the war might be long and costly.

Lost already?

Wars are not games, so applying game terminology to them is inappropriate. They either succeed in improving the status of the country in some relevant respect or they make things worse. In the long run, the damage this war will do to us outweighs anything that we can reasonably expect to gain. When you look back and ask yourself, “Why did we ever get involved in that situation?” you can reasonably consider it a loss. After a week and a half, I don’t see any other way that this conflict will be regarded in the future, and the situation is getting worse. Copyright C.S. Fairbanks, Jr. 2003