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  xWednesday, July 02, 2003

bush dares iraqis to kill more soldiers


Let's face it -- part of Bush's appeal is his so-called "decisiveness," the notion that he's combative, or that he's somehow uniquely willing to fight. Whether this carefully presented image jibes with Bush's record is a matter of debate.

But Bush's recent challenge to the forces that have been attacking and killing our fighting forces in Iraq is a disgusting display dwarfed in the dimension of despicableness only by its degree of deludedness.
"There are some who feel like that, you know, the conditions are such that they can attack us there. My answer is, bring'em on!," he said. "We've got the force necessary to deal with the security situation."

"There are some who feel like that if they attack us that we may decide to leave prematurely. They don't understand what they're talking about, if that's the case," he said in firm, almost angry tones.

"We've got plenty tough force there right now to make sure the situation is secure," he said, brushing aside critics who say the Pentagon underestimated the number of troops needed to rebuild Iraq and set it on track for a prosperous and democratic future.


Bush's belligerence has all the earmarks of a drunken bully who, upon picking a fight in a bar and getting smacked down, dazedly double-dares his opponent to do it again. And the next stage in this sorry screenplay is the bully looking around for backup, only to find that his friends have long since slunk away in embarrassment at the miscreant's appalling antics.

Bush would have a right to gloat if any rational observer could conclude that the present US force is, indeed, sufficient to stabilize Iraq, but current events suggest otherwise. There are indeed "some who feel like that, you know, the conditions are such that they can attack us there," feel perfectly willing to "bring it on,", and our soldiers and Marines continue to pay the price. And the Administration's response is to deny that the Pentagon's own official definition of "guerilla war" applies -- a ludicrous display enchoed today by Bush's own reality-challenged bluster.

If Bush wants to play the strutting tough guy with macho rhetoric on a personal level, fine. But how dare he explicitly invite attacks on our military -- many of whom have already paid the ultimate price for Bush's grand adventure, and many more of whom are at risk and demoralized due to his Administration's abject incompetence in planning for a postwar Iraq.

As the Washington Post noted, since the situation in Iraq appears to be getting worse, not better, it behhoves the US to adopt a more humble stance and seek the outside help that many observers feel is necessary to bolster the present coalition force, currently stretched thin and growing weary. Yet the President offers not humilty, but hubris; not reconciliation, but recklessness -- all the while knowing he's personally safe, should the Iraqi resistance answer his challenge to "bring it on."

Ironically, I happen to agree -- indeed, I've felt all along -- that the occupation of Iraq will be a long and costly process that the US simply can't afford to abandon. That likelihood -- predicted by many in the first Gulf War -- was one of my reasons to oppose the war. But now that we're stuck there and our people are getting blown up in the Iraqi summer heat, we should demand more from our leaders than chest-pounding rabble-rousing. Regardless of one's stance on the war, Americans should all demand reason to believe that this Administration is following a coherent plan to safeguard the security of all Americans, and not just making it up as they go along.

As a candidate, Bush sought the vote of moderates by professing support for a humble foreign policy. Now, presiding over a crisis situation that did as much damage to the United States's international credibility and support as it did to Saddam's regime, Bush waves the red cape of bluter that's sure to prove red meat to his aggression-addled base but is equally likely to prove counterporductive to the US's prestige, once again.

Perhaps Bush wishes to encourage the perception -- despite all evidence to the contrary -- that the US is in control of events in Iraq. Yet it beggars belief that Bush would put American fighting men and women at risk with his reprehensible taunting. In the runup to the war, it was often suggested that not supporting Bush's political motives or dishonest rhetoric was tantamount to not supporting the troops.

I submit that the concept of "supporting the troops" in no way embraces offering them up as live bait to well-armed, well-prepared resistance forces that have proved adept at striking hard and fading away. Bush's chest-thumping bellicosity will be little comfort to the families of the service members who fall victim to those who will be only too happy to accept Bush's feeble, yet outrageous, challenge.





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