Thursday, August 16, 2007

On What Grounds?

Prior to the Rogers Masters’ men’s tennis final this past Sunday, I spoke to my friend Kevin on what the final could be like. The following exchange took place.

Kevin: I'm sure Federer is going to own that guy that beat Nadal. I mean really, a weekend in which you beat Nadal and Federer - you wish.

Novak Djokovic has been a man possessed as of late. Really, just because he's been playing loosey goosey. As this year has been his break out year, for the Serb.

Kevin: He ain't winning today's match.

Me: I won't go that far.

For those that are not aware of the outcome of the match, Djokovic won.

Kevin is by no means a tennis expert, nor does his knowledge of the sport come close to mine due in no small part to my love of the game and keeping track of the professionals. But yet, Kevin disregarded what I was saying, and went with his position. This is much the same protocol that actually got us in Iraq and keeps us there.

Sure, the personal and global situations are a stretch to compare, but what is so different concerning the mindset? The answer: not much. In both cases, we have someone of a higher knowledge of the subject having his warnings totally dismissed. And what has made our steps in Iraq all the more worrisome is that the decisions made to go to war seem as nonchalant as picking Federer to always win a match.

Of course the U.S. military is the best, but no one made the public aware of the important caveats and intricacies of Middle East cultural rifts, sectarian strife, and cultural divides. Much of our own Generals’ advice was not heeded. General Shinseki noted:

Beware the 12-division strategy for a 10-division Army. Our soldiers and families bear the risk and the hardship of carrying a mission load that exceeds what force capabilities we can sustain, so we must alleviate risk and hardship by our willingness to resource the mission requirements.

I must catch myself however; someone did mention all the caveats of action in the Middle East. That man was Dick Cheney in 1994:

Once you got to Iraq and took it over, took down Saddam Hussein's government, then what are you going to put in its place? That's a very volatile part of the world, and if you take down the central government of Iraq, you could very easily end up seeing pieces of Iraq fly off. . . .

It's a quagmire if you go that far and try to take over Iraq.

The other thing was casualties. Everyone was impressed with the fact we were able to do our job with as few casualties as we had. But for the 146 Americans killed in action, and for their families -- it wasn't a cheap war. And the question for the president, in terms of whether or not we went on to Baghdad, took additional casualties in an effort to get Saddam Hussein, was how many additional dead Americans is Saddam worth?

Our judgment was, not very many, and I think we got it right.

For those people who most likely do not watch The Daily Show, Jon Stewart confronted Stephen Hayes about Cheney’s past comments and how 9/11 didn’t change the consequences of invading Iraq.

What we end up seeing at the end of this is that the media is rewarding us to take strong stances. Whether the opinions are wrong or right is irrelevant, what matters is the unwavering expression of the opinion.

In fact, look no further than to Hillary Clinton, who still sees no point in thoughtfully addressing her votes for many authorizations of which Bush has asked pertaining to unwarranted surveillance, or authorization for the war in Iraq. Many other presidential candidates refuse to answer the question of going to war in Iraq “knowing what they know now” because, “the question is based on a hypothetical.” On the other hand, the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq were just as hypothetical.
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