Ross Mackenzie

So, in military lingo, a “situation report” (SITREP): Regarding Iraq, the past months have brought these developments. . .

  • Deterioration of conditions on the ground — no question. And more (emphatically too many) deaths of Iraqis and of the American expeditionary troops in-country to assist in the Iraqis’ protection.
  • Lopsided Democratic success in the November elections, putting into narrow congressional control many individuals who no longer support the American Iraqi enterprise, and testifying that on the war President Bush has lost his political base.
  • The departure of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
  • The 79 findings of the Iraq Study Group (ISG), which resemble perhaps nothing quite so much as refried tapioca — and the ISG itself recalling perhaps nothing quite so much as the late-1960s Senior Advisory Group on Vietnam that advised President Johnson how to resolve a war resulting by the mid-1970s in a defeat for liberty and the United States. The essential recommendation of both groups: Pack it in and bring home the troops.
  • Testimonies from Iraq — by American generals down to privates — that either a withdrawal or diminution of forces there would lead to chaos.
  • Poll findings that more than half of American adults think the U.S. is losing the war.
  • OK. What to do?

    We have this July 8, 2005, observation by al-Qaida’s second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahiri: “We are in a battle, and more than half this battle is in the (U.S.) media.” That was the circumstance during Vietnam, as well, when U.S. battlefield victories (e.g., Tet) were written as defeats, and when American reporting emphasized body counts, failure and alleged free Vietnamese lack of determination to fight.

    Today, as then, we hear the government we are there to help — indeed, helped create — is inept, the locals’ have no heart, the U.S. military has the wrong equipment and the wrong tactics in the wrong sort of engagement, and we have no legitimate business in what is, let’s face it, a civil war. Already, as we instigated repeatedly in Vietnam — even including the murder of President Ngo Dinh Diem — there is talk of the compelling need in Iraq for regime-change if the American enterprise is to persist.

    In the face of all this, let us remember a few things:

  • The press, or media, may not like the U.S. presence in Iraq, but they are neither making U.S. policy nor running the war.

  • Ross Mackenzie

    Ross Mackenzie lives with his wife and Labrador retriever in the woods west of Richmond, Virginia. They have two grown sons, both Naval officers.

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