I vividly remember from my youth, the morbid routine of watching Walter Cronkite on the CBS evening news, and seeing the daily casualty count from the Vietnam War. This is the type of nostalgia I can live without.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Ten U.S. Marines conducting a foot patrol outside the Iraqi city of Falluja were killed in the explosion of an insurgent bomb on Thursday, the U.S. military announced on Friday.
In a statement released in Falluja, the military said another 11 Marines were wounded in the blast caused by an “improvised explosive device” fashioned from several large artillery shells.
The attack is one of the worst single incidents to hit U.S. Marines in the war.
It would be overly simplistic to draw too many parallels between the Vietnam and Iraq wars, but one of those long drawn by the president’s defenders is embodied in the not-so-subtle attack on the media and war opponents, implicit in the warning against “losing the war at home.” No doubt, had I merely posted the clip above without editorializing, I would have generated numerous angry comments in the thread, assailing my patriotism, my courage, my morality, and my motives. (No doubt, I still will.)
But in all the recent chatter over strategies for either victory or exit, and the growing realization by the American people that the rationale with which our President sold us a preemptive war, was largely based on a relentless campaign of lies, the Bush apologists fail to understand the true cause of the steady decline in support for the war. The public’s growing discomfort with this war is not primarily due to propaganda coming from either side of the debate, but rather is an inevitable result of the White House’s biggest pre-invasion lie of all: that the war would be quick, painless, and decisive.
The American people were told that our troops would be greeted in Baghdad with flowers and candy, much like the victorious GI’s marching through the joyous streets of liberated Paris. Yes, American soldiers would die bringing freedom and democracy to Iraq, but we were promised that the cost in both blood and treasure would be relatively inexpensive… that reconstruction would be financed by Iraqi oil revenues, and that American forces would quickly bring order to a nation grown tired of conflict and oppression. This naive optimism was confirmed and reinforced mere months after the invasion, when the President proudly proclaimed “mission accomplished.”
Two and a half years later, the violence not only continues, it is escalating, and there is no end in sight. Now a new generation of children is growing up watching TV reports of other family’s sons and daughters dying in a far off war, financed by an enormous national debt that they themselves will be burdened with repaying. As the Iraq war drags on beyond expectations, is it any wonder that support at home would decline?
Fifteen years ago the President’s father promised a quick and decisive war in Iraq, and pragmatically delivered by controversially claiming victory short of Baghdad. Perhaps the second President Bush actually believed the pre-war fantasy he foisted on the nation — perhaps he still believes it. But if he loses the war at home the blame cannot be placed on the intrigues of his domestic enemies, but rather on his own failure to prepare the American people for a long, expensive, and drawn out struggle.