Commander in Chief

George Bush, our present commander in chief who has never seen combat, believes that combat-veteran John Kerry is unfit to be commander in chief. Well, let’s look at Mad George’s record.

In August 2001, he was warned that al-Qaida wanted to attack the United States in our own territory. He did nothing. His claim that he is excused since he did not know the time or place or manner of attack is bull. He should have alerted the airports and airlines, as well as the immigration people, to tighten up and keep a sharp watch. Instead, he thought about Iraq.

Pursuing his obsession with Iraq, he disdained all the warnings from people who know the area. He did indeed deliberately mislead the American people in regard to weapons of mass destruction. When you censor all the caveats and disagreements that were present in the intelligence briefings and instead state as undeniable facts that not only were there weapons but we knew exactly where they were, then you are misleading people. You are misleading people when you cleverly juxtapose talk about Saddam Hussein with the attack on Sept. 11. He had nothing to do with that, and the Bush administration knew it.

So, he takes us to war anyway, without waiting for the U.N. inspectors to complete their work. That’s why he lost the support of France, Germany and Russia. Bush’s position was absurd. He gets a U.N. resolution demanding inspections. Iraq agrees. Inspectors start their work. Then, Mad George says, "Stop, I want to go to war."

So, he takes us to war, but how well did this commander in chief perform? Damned poorly. He disregarded advice that we needed more troops. He was confident, according to his big Christian buddy Pat Robertson, that the United States would suffer no casualties. They now stand at 1,103 dead and 8,000 wounded.

When the American forces reached Baghdad, they didn’t know what to do. They had to stand around and watch an orgy of looting. No plans for the aftermath had been made. Then Bush put in an occupation czar, Paul Bremer, who committed blunder after blunder. He disbanded the Iraqi army; he disbanded the police force; he fired all the Baathists who knew how to run the government; he holed up inside the Green Zone, a heavily fortified former Saddam palace, and couldn’t go out without a heavy guard.

So there’s Bremer, stuck with the results of his commander in chief’s bad decisions. He doesn’t have enough U.S. troops to provide security, much less secure Iraq’s borders. He has fired and alienated all the Iraqis who could have helped. Then the Central Command’s top brass start committing their own blunders.

They publicly announced that we were going to go into Fallujah and take out the "terrorists." After several days of heavy fighting, we stopped and backed off. We publicly boasted that we would arrest or kill the firebrand cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. Well, Muqtada al-Sadr is still alive and free. In a combat situation, when you say you are going to do something and then fail to do it, you send a message to the enemy that you are weak. A competent commander in chief would never do that.

Then, because of further incompetence of the top brass, we have the scandal of Abu Ghraib prison. The damage this has done to America’s image in the Muslim world is incalculable.

The big contractors with their no-bid contracts were too busy raping the American taxpayers to rebuild the electricity, water and sewer systems that we had destroyed. To this day, those systems are not fully functional.

Trying to use front-line forces whose training is destruction and killing as police units resulted in the alienation of the Iraqi people. Iraqi civilian deaths, that famous "collateral damage," are now estimated between 13,000 and 15,000 human beings, many of them women and children. In that culture, every death requires vengeance.

Meanwhile, our incompetent commander in chief opposed the creation of the Homeland Security Department, opposed the creation of the 9/11 Commission, refused to testify under formal conditions and failed to hold a single human being responsible for anything. At the present time, a CIA inspector general’s report is being withheld, presumably until after the election.

If George Bush is your idea of a competent commander in chief, then God help America.

Charley Reese [send him mail] has been a journalist for 49 years, reporting on everything from sports to politics. From 1969—71, he worked as a campaign staffer for gubernatorial, senatorial and congressional races in several states. He was an editor, assistant to the publisher, and columnist for the Orlando Sentinel from 1971 to 2001. He now writes a syndicated column which is carried on Reese served two years active duty in the U.S. Army as a tank gunner. Write to Charley Reese at P.O. Box 2446, Orlando, FL 32802.