It is now clear that the proper name for the war going on in Mesopotamia is the "Republican War." Never before has a political party so decisively asserted ownership of a foreign war.
The Republicans refuse to share it with the Democrats, who, despite their many resolutions, have yet to call for a complete withdrawal of American forces. Democrats have not come close to proposing to cut off the war funding, which is the only way the war can be ended.
Yet Republicans act like jealous suitors and seem to want to keep the war as their very own. They have killed every single proposal to alter the strategy or the tactics. They even killed a bill that would have done nothing more than guarantee that American soldiers would get a rest period at home equal to the time spent in the war.
Killing that bill, which had nothing to do with withdrawal or timetables for withdrawal, clearly proves that Republicans do not support the troops. They support the war. There is a huge difference. Little Lindsey Graham, the Republican senator from South Carolina, has become so possessive of the war that he seems on the edge of hysteria.
He seems frightened to death of what will happen when Americans leave. In fact, nothing much will happen except that Iraqis will concentrate on killing each other rather than killing Americans and each other. Most normal people would consider that a positive development for us.
The Republicans and their shrinking number of warmonger supporters have long since forgotten that the Republican War is an illegal war, a war of aggression launched against a country that had not attacked us or ever threatened to attack us. They have conveniently forgotten how the Republican War was sold to the American people with outright lies. They ignore the fact that the war was bungled from Day One and that ordinary Americans have paid a terrible price for those blunders.
If ever there were a valid reason to shed the label "Republican," the nutty administration and its war-loving allies in the House and Senate have provided it. They seem to have lost their collective minds. They know darn well what their general du jour, David Petraeus, is going to say in September: "Gosh, fellows, things are looking up, but give us another five years. Or maybe 10."
That would be insanity to the third power. The Iraqis are killing us on the cheap with secondhand AK-47s, rifle grenades and homemade bombs created out of old artillery shells. We are using the most expensive weapons in the world, wielded by the most expensive army in the world, to kill them by the small handful. I don’t know what the insurgency has cost, but the Republican War has cost us half a trillion dollars, and all we have to show for it are 3,600 graves, several thousand wounded, a civil war and a corrupt, ineffective civilian government. The Iraqi supply line stretches around the corner; ours stretches 7,000 miles. The Iraqis know what their mission is; our soldiers don’t have the foggiest notion of why they are still there.
Even to put the best face on it, we replaced a dictatorship and allowed the Iraqis free elections and time to adopt a constitution. At that point, the president should have said: "We’ve done our part. Now you’re on your own. Goodbye." But no, he didn’t do that, because his intention is for the Republican War to never end and for our troops to become a permanent part of the Iraqi landscape.
George W. Bush is by no means the first Westerner to make a fool of himself by overestimating his powers and underestimating the determination of the people of the Middle East to rid themselves of foreign conquerors.
Charley Reese [send him mail] has been a journalist for 49 years.