Editorials

Iraq: Situation only worsens

WHAT NEXT? 

Iraq situation only worsens


Who do we believe—Jessica Lynch or the Pentagon?

With the television special about her rescue now history and with her new book on the shelves, Pvt. Lynch is telling the world that her misadventure in Iraq wasn’t at all like the Pentagon portrayal.

She says she wasn’t a brave female Rambo who fought off the enemy until she ran out of ammo, suffering multiple bullet wounds and beatings by the enemy. That’s not what happened, she says, and she doesn’t like to be used by the government.

Instead, she was part of an exhausted patrol that took some wrong turns and ended up in an ambush in which 11 American soldiers died. She never picked up a weapon as she stumbled from her wrecked Humvee, she was treated well by her captors and the hospital staff, and there were no enemy troops nearby when she was removed from the hospital. It was wrong, she said.

The Lynch affair is something of a microcosm of the Iraq war—Washington trying to sell the American public on something that just isn’t there. Why can’t we get the honest story? Is it too disturbing to hear?

The disconnect with reality coming from the White House is astounding. American troops are killed and the President responds by saying that it proves we’re succeeding. That’s a version of “success” that our soldiers can’t possibly welcome.

Some claim the President isn’t at all dishonest about his lead-up to war and his ongoing reports of progress. They say he’s merely using the information given by his advisors. It’s highly unlikely he’s being kept that far out of the loop, but there’s a remote possibility. He did admit last summer that he largely ignores the news and relies on his aides for information.

If only he would open up some newspapers, particularly the foreign press, he would learn that Iraq is not largely at peace, as he claims—not even in the supposedly safe south. He would learn that Americans are still dying in Afghanistan where we went to fight terrorists, before sidetracking for regime change in Iraq.

He would learn that the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people are not being won. When his troops bulldoze precious date palm and citrus groves in retribution, such as an incident in October, dozens of new enemies are created.

When Muslim women are bound and removed at gun point for refusing to implicate their husbands and sons, new insurgents are born. And it keeps getting worse. The latest action resulted in the destruction of 15 homes that belonged to suspected terrorists, a move reminiscent of Israeli tactics in Palestine.

It’s obviously going to get much worse before it gets better.

Better? Perhaps there is no “better” in this mess. We can’t afford to lose and we probably can’t afford to win.

The only hint of optimism is knowing that an election year is coming and changes must be made. But will the changes be for the better? Can those who got us into this predicament get us back out? Poor planning and wishful thinking won’t do it.

    - DGG, Nov. 19, 2003