Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Richard Cohen Nails Military Leadership with Award for Truly Dumb Statements

Richard Cohen has a must-read column today -- Civil War? What Civil War? -- which analyzes recent testimony by Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Gen. John P. Abizaid, who is in charge of everything in Iraq. Both appeared with Rumsfeld at last week's Senate Hearing. He reminds us just how politicized the military has been under this administration, how complicit the military have been in conveying and promoting this lying administration's politicization of the Iraq War. Excerpt:
Can these high-ranking military officers possibly mean what they said? Even before the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the term "civil war" was being bruited about. This was because even a casual viewer of the Discovery Channel or some such thing knew that Iraq was an artificial creation of Britain -- Gertrude Bell, Winston Churchill, et al. The casual viewer also knew that a minority of Sunnis had governed a majority of Shiites through the application of violence and a not inconsiderable amount of torture. Why this country would hold together once the locks were clipped is a question whose answer we are now seeing: It's not.

The high-ranking officers cited above are neither stupid nor ignorant of Iraq's history. I can only conclude, therefore, that like countless others before them they feel compelled to say things that fit the political ideology and delusions of their civilian bosses in the Bush administration. The official line there, of course, is that Iraq is not and will not and could not descend into civil war because, well, that would aid the evildoers.

Whatever the case, we now have to understand that uttering the word "Iraq" does to Bush administration officials what a touch of tequila does to Mel Gibson. I could spend the rest of this column quoting Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and others on what would happen when GI Joe got to Baghdad or why the war had to be fought in the first place. The collected quotes are funny in one context, sad and infuriating in another: the playing of taps, the folding of the flag and the required lie about "a hero's death."

I dutifully read the news about Iraq. But I recognize most administration statements as lies or, if by accident the actual truth, a mere snapshot of a moment that will change over time. More troops one day, fewer the next. We have this town one day, we don't the next. Iraqi troops are up to snuff; oops, no they're not. This is the babble of chaos, the telltale rhetoric of defeat.

As an interesting supplement to Cohen's piece, the NYTimes has an op-ed entitled "Our Veterans' Missing Medals" which discusses why "the Pentagon top brass don't feel that our heroes in Iraq and Afghanistan are especially meritorious. President Bush has yet to award a single Medal of Honor to a living veteran of combat in either place. (Only one has been given posthumously.)"
During the Vietnam War, 245 Medals of Honor were awarded. If President Bush awarded the medals at roughly the same rate for service in Iraq and Afghanistan, more than two dozen would have been bestowed by now.
Cohen's WaPo column, here, explains the genesis Oveta Culp Hobby Award (she was part of the Eisenhower administration). PS: I think it should be awarded, not for "a truly dumb statement" but for a truly disingenuous one (or more).

When you read the quote which serves as the basis for the award, I think it will probably sound eerily familiar. That's because numerous iterations of it have been repeated ad nauseum on a regular basis by not only the generals above, but by all key members and representatives of this administration ever since 9/11.


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