Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Guest Columnist - Meridian Star

Alawine: Get heads out of sand By BO ALAWINE / guest columnist Meridian Star, Wednesday, October 19, 2005

OCEAN SPRINGS - On a recent visit to my hometown of Meridian, I had the occasion to peruse The Meridian Star. Craig Ziemba's Oct. 9 column, “Defining success in war on terror,” was of most interest to me as a primer on how easy it is to bury our heads in the sand and deny the obvious.Mr. Ziemba claimed, as well-established fact, that “our troops are attacking them over there and disrupting their ability to wage war over here.” His proof? “We've not had another terrorist attack on the United States since Sept. 11.”
Based on this type of reasoning, I can confidently claim my cat Whiskers has been successful at preventing the field mice in the pasture next door from stealing my truck. How can I make that claim? Well, Whiskers is hunting the field mice next door, keeping them tied up, thus not allowing them time to put into action any of their nefarious plans. Plus, my truck is still in the driveway.Mission accomplished!What Mr. Ziemba is trying to pull here is a sleight-of-hand. The original case for military action in Iraq was based on the now refuted certainty that Saddam Hussein possessed vast quantities of weapons of mass destruction, presenting a clear and immediate danger to the United States. In fact, the American people and the rest of the world were told that use of these biological, chemical and nuclear weapons was imminent, either through the state action of Iraq or through surrogate actors like al-Qaida. Thus, the Bush policy of pre-emption.As the Iraqi conflict has continued (long past the “Mission Accomplished” photo op), the justifications for the Iraqi war have changed. A partial list of these changing reasons are:
  • 1. WMD (Not found)
  • 2. Association with and/or sponsorship of al-Qaida and other terrorist organizations (Not true)
  • 3. “Saddam was a very bad man.” (Duh!)
  • 4. Restoring human rights and spreading democracy (specious at best)
  • 5. Global War on Terror (which became the Struggle Against Global Extremism)
  • 6. “Fight them over there so we don't have to fight them here.”
  • 7. Stay the course; i.e., we can't cut and run. (Vietnam syndrome)

Suffice it to say the reason we are in Iraq now is not the original reason we were told we needed to be there. In essence, someone either lied or really screwed up. For example, does anyone remember how we were going to pay for this war? Give yourself an A-plus if you answered, “By pumping lots of Iraqi oil.”I am often amazed by the naivete, ignorance or downright intellectual dishonesty displayed by those of Mr. Ziemba's ilk concerning war in Iraq. Mr. Ziemba fails to understand (or refuses to admit) there is nothing cowardly about the calls to stop sacrificing the lives of some of our best and brightest for a policy of “staying the course.” I would go even further by demanding to know if it is even moral. Exactly what is this “noble cause” for which our parents, spouses, children and friends are fighting, being maimed and dying?Critically questioning our leaders is not unpatriotic; in fact, it is perhaps the best type of support we can provide for our troops: holding our leaders accountable for the decisions to send our citizens to war in the first place.The war in Afghanistan was justified but incomplete. The war in Iraq is a mistake and never-ending.To argue otherwise is burying your head in the sand.

Bo Alawine, a Meridian native and 1983 graduate of Clarkdale Attendance Center who currently lives in Ocean Springs, is a computer programmer/systems engineer for a defense contractor

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