Not so long ago, we treated liars differently
By Kirk Adcock • Guest Columnist
I would first like to thank Gen. Geoffrey Higgenbotham (“Playing politics at the expense of our soldiers,” Nov. 30, Smoky Mountain News) for his long and distinguished service to our country. I very much respect the sacrifices he has made so that our country can remain free. I would also like to thank the general for clearly helping me to grasp and understand why the founding fathers wanted our country governed by ordinary citizens, with our commander in chief being the president rather than an Army officer.
With so much being on the line, it would be dangerous — or, in fact, suicide — for a soldier to question a mission. The very nature of warfare requires that those who are doing the fighting suspend the question of why they are doing it in the first place. It is only after a long time that some former soldiers are ever able to look at a situation and see the political aspects rather than the military. That would apply to Rep. John Murtha, D-Pennsylvania. Some are never able to do it and I believe that applies to the general.
The general wrote a very eloquent piece, but he was mistaken in a number of his assertions, beginning with the assertion that the Bush administration never intentionally deceived the American public. We now know that not only did they deceive us, but the vice president’s office deliberately outed a CIA agent in the process. It is a fact that when Ambassador Wilson returned from his trip to Niger and reported that there was no evidence to suggest Saddam Hussein was trying to buy yellow cake uranium, it put a damper on the administration’s case for going to war. When Wilson wrote his op-ed piece in the New York Times disputing the administrations assertions of the threat Saddam posed to the world, the vice president’s office (being either Chaney, Libby, or both) told at least two reporters that his wife was a CIA agent. Then they engaged in a campaign to discredit Wilson and his wife.
Why? Because they only wanted to cherry pick information that would make their case for going to war. That by any other name is deception, sir. Bush then used the yellow cake uranium story in his State of the Union Address as a reason for going to war, all the while knowing that at the very least the information was suspect. Then Colin Powell went before the United Nations and once again used the yellow cake uranium story as justification for going to war? By that time they knew no such incident ever took place. Please, general, don’t try to tell us we weren’t deceived. Flat-out lied to is more like it.
The general goes on to tell us what a great success the war has been because of the elimination of Saddam Hussein. Now who would argue with that? Not me. Of course the world is better off, but once again the general has missed the point. First, that’s not the reason we went to war. Remember people? We went because Saddam posed an imminent threat to the world. Remember that sell-out Colin Powell at the United Nations telling the world that within minutes Saddam had the capacity to strike almost anywhere. Oh, yeah, and there was that yellow cake uranium thing again.
It was only after no weapons of mass destruction turned up that Bush’s very good public relations team came up with the evil dictator justification. That was never a reason for going to war in the lead up. I mean, they had to come with something right? They found nothing. They looked like fools before the whole world, so the first thing they did was discredit the intelligence community when in fact the United Nations and the Atomic Energy commission both said Saddam didn’t have weapons of mass destruction.
The problem is that it was a bit confusing, and the American public didn’t quite know what to make of it. So the administration needed a very simple answer. The evil dictator story sounded good, it was a nice transition and a majority of the American people bought it. Why didn’t the Bush administration just tell us that to start with that we were going to get rid of Saddam because he was an evil dictator? Because they knew it wouldn’t sell. There are over 50 dictators in the world, not including communist China, which just happens to be the biggest human rights violator of them all. If we went into Iraq because Saddam was an evil dictator who oppressed his subjects, then why aren’t we in China, Sudan, North Korea, or a score of other countries? Because we can’t fight the whole world, and based on the evil dictator logic, that’s exactly what we would have to do. Even the most right-wing neocon knows better than that.
The general goes on to tell us that without our presence in Iraq there would be a civil war. He asserts we are holding the country together. Maybe he’s right about holding the country together. I mean the Shiites haven’t had to fight for their freedom yet. We’re doing it for them. As far as preventing a civil war, they’re already having a civil war. Anyone who doesn’t know that a civil war is taking place in Iraq right now is either delusional or just very uninformed. Come on general, you know better. That’s just one of those administration talking points they like to put out. I say let’s get on with it. It must be done sooner or later. Let them fight it out. You’re either going to get the Sunnis aligned with radical Saudi Arabia or you’re gong to get the Shiites aligned with radical Iran. Neither of them cares much for us. Remember, the reason we put Saddam in power to start with in 1979 was to counter the Ayatollah. Once again, we are just trading one fanatical group for another.
We will never be able to impose our value system upon the citizens of Iraq. They’ll end up being what they’re going to be despite what we try to force on them. We spent 20 years, more than 50,000 American lives and untold billions of dollars trying to get the South Vietnamese to win a war they weren’t willing to win themselves. They were never going to win. And was it such a bad thing they lost? We’ve normalized relations with them, their country is a trading partner and we’re even shipping American jobs to the former communist country. And guess what? The domino effect never happened or really mattered. If we’ve trained 212,000 Iraqi troops, then what’s the hold up? We only have 160,000 American troops doing the job now.
As for the general’s opinion about Rep. Murtha calling for the removal of our troops being a political stunt, the Republicans turned it into a political stunt by calling for a vote for an immediate withdrawal. Rep. Murtha never suggested that we immediately withdraw at that moment, and that’s why he voted against the measure in Congress. It was nothing more than a public relations stunt created to make Rep. Murtha look bad for speaking out about how this administration is mishandling the war. Just another tactic the White House uses to combat anyone who has a differing opinion. I mean, they couldn’t very well discredit him, which is their favorite tactic. They tried, but after Rep. Murtha mentioned Vice President Dick Cheney getting five deferments so he wouldn’t have to serve in Vietnam, the administration started talking about what an honorable man he is and that we should actually have a debate about how the war is being conducted. That one backfired on them.
In response to the general’s opinion that Iraq will become a haven for terrorists, the truth is that the terrorists are in Iraq because of us. There were no terrorists when Saddam was ruling. He saw to that.
If the country does become a haven for terrorists, I have a novel idea. Turn Saddam loose. That’s right. If that is a legitimate concern and a real threat to our country’s security, then put him back in power. Who’s more important, the Iraqi people or the American people? There is nothing more effective in getting rid of terrorists than a mad dictator. That’s why there were no terrorists in Iraq before we invaded. I think it’s evident that our national security really isn’t in that much danger. It’s just another administration talking point.
The general’s assertion that the war has been a success because the Iraqis came out and voted is intriguing. The Shiites are the ones who actually voted. They had the most to gain from it. We’ve put them in total power and they want to look legitimate to the world. Of course, they voted.
Then it appears the general is concerned that no one seems to be reporting the good things going on in Iraq. I guess he’s never watched Fox or Sinclair Broadcasting. The general seems to suggest that it’s somehow wrong for the media to be preoccupied with the death of someone’s loved one. Why should we even report how many soldiers or civilians are dying? Who cares, stay the course. I guess he wants us to report about how many new bridges or new schools Haliburton and all the other no contract bidders are ripping off the American taxpayer to build. That’s just nice PR fluff and keeps everyone from thinking about the human toll of war. Sorry general, but a lot of us want to know how our friends and fellow citizens are faring. The Bush administration doesn’t even give the fallen soldier a hero’s welcome when returning home. They prefer instead to hide the deceased behind barbed wire and security. We should all be ashamed for allowing that to happen.
Finally, the general is outraged because a fellow comrade in arms (Rep. Murtha) is speaking out about the ineptness of this administration’s handling of the war. That’s just plain laughable. What do you say to that kind of logic? First, Rep. Murtha is no longer part of the military establishment; he’s a representative for the people of Pennsylvania. It’s his duty to speak out on behalf of his constituents. Secondly, terrorists could care less what some congressman says. They’re going to continue to do what they’re gong to do regardless of what someone says. If my memory is correct, no one was debating a war in Iraq when terrorists crashed two planes into the World Trade Center. They did it anyway, and the reasons are more complex than I have space to go into in this piece. However, it had nothing do with what someone said or didn’t say.
I would like to remind the general that he is now retired and no longer needs to be a propaganda mouthpiece for the Bush administration. We all support our troops and we all support our military and the job they’re doing under impossible circumstances. We just don’t like being lied to. When I was a kid and was caught telling a lie, I got a spanking. If I tried to deny that I lied, then I got a really good, hard spanking. The American public needs to take the Bush Administration behind the woodshed and give them all a good hard spanking. And we should start with George. Anyone want to bend him over their knee?
(Kirk Adcock is a marketing and public relations consultant from Waynesville. He is a graduate of the University of Tennessee and works out of Asheville. His father and some of his closest friends were Green Berets and served with the Special Forces during the Vietnam era.)