Holding Fire

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Secretary of State Colin Powell tells us, "Those who are so critical of the administration might want to hold their fire…” He said this in the context of his recent trip to Iraq and the "hope" he saw there. One hears a faint murmur of parley in Washington.

Powell is echoing Rumsfeld’s suggestion last week that "those who have been critical of the administration’s handling of the war in Iraq and its aftermath might be encouraging enemies of the United States to believe that it might one day walk away from the effort, as it has in past conflicts." Considering Rummy’s vast personal experience fighting in such conflicts in Vietnam, Beirut and Somalia — adventures we walked into stupidly and away from too late — one is left to wonder only whether Rumsfeld is simply ignorant or willfully ignorant.

The administration seems to have hat in hand, as it awaits the rubber stamping of the second installment of nearly ninety BILLION dollars for more soldiers, more treads for the Bradley’s, more Kevlar, and more bullets for Iraq, and fully funded contracts for select U.S. conglomerates. Last time — only a few months ago — it was $71 or so billion, today it is $87 billion. But there’s more! Tricky Dick Cheney made a rare public appearance this weekend to tell us this won’t be the last government payment for the neoconservative cabal’s lies, feints and an expensive ideology that confuses the idea of human liberty with neocon freedom to remake the world as they see fit.

I’ll tell you what. I’ll consider holding fire, after I get a better look at that white flag the administration seems to be waving.

Is that flicker of white the letter Dubya has sent to the Pentagon asking for the post-haste resignation of Messieurs Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Feith and Perle? Removing these un-elected desert pirates disguised as advisors to the President is basic justice given their massive and willful failure to properly utilize the trillion dollar U.S. taxpayer investment in intelligence and warfighting capability, thus causing gratuitous death, destruction and dismay for all involved. Firing Rummy, Wolfie, Dougie and Richie would also tip the scales towards practical solutions by instantly removing the two-legged roadblocks to bringing the rest of the world on board in cleaning up the neocon’s mess in Iraq. Immediately returning these ideologues to the private sector, as requested by Representative David Obey, would be the most, and to date the only, salient indicator that we are moving towards real Iraqi self-government.

Or is the flicker of white the rolled eye of a nervous horse, stamping and agitating about something its rider doesn’t see? I’d like to see a little white-eyed nervousness and stamping feet and agitation in the White House and Congress over the approval of this additional funding.

Instead of the mantra that "…this time we are going to make the President tell us how he is going to spend it, really we are…," I’d like to hear the kind of thing I tell my kids when they ask me for money. After they tell me what, when, why and how (and as with Bush the Younger, the rationale will predictably include equal measures of elaboration and pretense), I communicate my sincerest sympathy. Then, like Nancy Reagan, I usually just say no.

George Bush and the neocons will whine and cry and say I don’t understand, just like my own kids do. But the Rolling Stones told us true, you can’t always get what you want, but if you try, you just might get what you need. Work, creativity, patience, a change of plans — all of these things come into play. Bushco can figure out a way to drop their costs in Iraq and bring back our troops, or else the neocons can raise the cash and troops on their own. I am certainly willing to purchase a couple of uniforms for Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz, to allow them report in style for guard duty in Najaf or Fallujah. They’ve earned that, and nothing else.

What we have here is far more than a failure to communicate. We have a broken contract. We were promised an oil-funded rebuilding of a free Iraq and a bunch of dangerous WMDs off the street. We got a United Fruit Company modeled oil monopoly in a serf-filled Iraq that, ENRON-like, exhibits only grandiose futuristic and imaginary accounts and assets. We have no WMDs, no nuclear or biological programs. David Kaye, for all of his posturing last year, is now embarrassed to submit the big report on the WMDs he couldn’t find. Who says Don Rumsfeld is a demanding old sea captain? He didn’t even ask David about the WMDs when they last met, saying he assumes "[David will] tell me if he’s got something that he thinks I need to know."

In the case of a broken contract, the normal thing to do is stop payment on any uncashed checks, and call the credit company. The Congress will be quite proud of itself for negotiating and nitpicking the $87 billion, even though the majority of Americans have ALREADY SAID NO to Bush’s request. What Congress needs to do is what we all do in the case of a broken contract. Stop further transactions and call the lawyer. Period.

The administration is asking me and millions of others to hold our fire. I am looking for a white flag and I’ve identified suitable substitutes I’m willing to accept. I haven’t asked for a mea culpa from 1600 Pennsylvania, and I don’t need groveling. But is Bush sending his arrogant and foolish advisors back to the dock? Is the White House and Congress exhibiting the slightest concern about the debts I and my children, and grandchildren will have to pay so that a U.S. cabal can manage global oil flows through well-armed brutality, military garrisons and puppet governments instead of through the free market?

Bush says America is safer now, and now we have the "real" pirates on the run. All evidence points otherwise, yet Captain George W. Kidd still insists the rest of us pay for his profiteering adventures. Like the famous privateer Kidd, a mission that started out as "a unique legal opportunity to steal from pirates and from the hated French" ended up with the poor Captain dishonored, landlocked and unable to find volunteers to crew his ship.

Bush and his administration of ne’er do wells have not invoked the right of parley. They have not presented a flash of white to help me understand their intentions. Therefore, I am left with no choice but to pull up broadside, and sink their ship.

Karen Kwiatkowski [send her mail] is a recently retired USAF lieutenant colonel, who spent her final four and a half years in uniform working at the Pentagon. She now lives with her freedom-loving family in the Shenandoah Valley.

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