Bush once thought he had a legacy of which to be proud

Published 3:29 pm Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Once upon a time, a country was attacked out of the blue by a bunch of terrorists and the president of that country talked tough and appeared to act tough. He attacked the country from which the terrorists had based their operations.

Almost immediately the strategy used to retaliate and to try to destroy the terrorist plotters showed serious flaws.

The president and his defense secretary decided they didn’t want to commit very many American troops to the fight. They sent in a very minimal number and contracted with local warlords, or mercenaries if you wish, to carry the fight.

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The mercenaries apparently weren’t too anxious to capture or kill the leader of the terrorists and let him and his entourage escape to a place of safety.

In his determination to cover up the flaws in his strategy, this president and his defense secretary cooked up an excuse to attack another small country, figuring a quick victory there would take his citizens minds off the failure to capture the real enemy elsewhere.

Again, he and his defense secretary didn’t want to commit the number of troops that it would take to do the job and even ridiculed their top general after he gave them advice they didn’t want to hear.

The government of the small country fell quickly, but its people didn’t and four years later the president has a new defense secretary and is bogged down in a war he can’t seem to win — and the citizens of his country, or at least two-thirds of them, have caught on to what is happening and want out of the quagmire into which their president has lead them.

If that sounds familiar, it should, for it is about the initial failure in Afghanistan that big talk made sound like a victory and the failure in Iraq that all the big talk can no longer disguise.

President George Bush’s chickens are definitely beginning to come home to roost and they are a tattered flock and their feathers and droppings are falling all over him and his administration, and not just over Iraq and Afghanistan.

So far the American public remains behind and very sympathetic for the American servicemen and servicewomen who have all volunteered to try to extricate their country from the quagmire into which Bush lead it. I pray that support continues, but I fear that at some point even the only lesson learned this nation apparently learned from another failed war — Vietnam — will be forgotten.

The American public, or at least a significant and vocal portion of it, deserted American soldiers back then, blaming them along with the presidents they served for the war. Back then, most of the soldiers weren’t volunteers either. They had no choice. They were drafted and forced to go off to war.

After Vietnam was over, many Americans apparently reassessed how they had treated the men and women who fought, bled and died in that war, both the patriotic volunteers and the equally patriotic draftees.

Today, there is a monument to those servicemen and women on the Mall in Washington, one of the most breath-taking of monuments on that area set aside for them. Ironically, or maybe such was the shame over which the Vietnam veterans had been treated, it was conceived and erected for the Vietnam fallen long before one was conceived and erected for their fathers who had won a war — World War II.

I think many people don’t realize that connection between World War II and Vietnam, but it is there. The great majority of the men who fought in Vietnam were the children of parents of the World War II era.

Perhaps the lesson learned from Vietnam, as in whom to blame for a failed war and whom not to blame, is due to the fact that many of the servicemen and women fighting this war are the children of those who fought in Vietnam. They don’t want to see what happened to them happening to their children, or anyone else’s children for that matter.

This president and his vice presiden don’t seem to understand what is happening. They want to equate support for the soldiers with support for the war, and the American public has made it extremely clear that those are separate issues — at least so far.

Genie and I are friends with a couple with a short-timer’s calendar on their refrigerator. It is a calendar for how much longer we will have to suffer under the current president and his failed administration.

I haven’t the heart to tell them that regardless of whom is elected to replace the failure now occuplying the White House, wars are a lot easier to get into than to get out of, and I fear this war is going to drag on even longer than Vietnam. I just hope the American public’s support for the servicemen and women survives to the day we reach that distant shore and step up out of this needless, meaningless quagmire called the War in Iraq.