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Baghdad Bob versus Bubba Bush

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May 2004
Baghdad Bob versus Bubba Bush

Baghdad Bob versus Bubba Bush

Back in May 2003 when the Saddam Hussein regime had just fallen and images of Iraqis dancing around his toppled statue in Firdous Square were hogging the TV screens, I had conceded in this space that the opponents of the preemptive strike on Iraq, including myself, were wrong about at least one scenario that was offered by the Bush administration ? that Iraqis would welcome us as liberators and dance with joy. It indeed appeared that the hawks in the administration were right.

However, it turns out, those images were fleeting ? even if never fully representative of the masses of Iraqis. Today, Fallujah and much of rest of Iraq rings a different tune. There is, depending on who you listen to, "pockets of resistance" or a country "dangerously close to a civil war". In either case, there certainly doesn't appear to be an overt welcome of Americans as liberators.

Yet, you won't find either the Bush administration or its PR wing, including the hosts of right wing radio talking heads, conceding anything. That is the difference between the black-and-white world of ideologues and special interests versus the rest of us who are interested in seeking comprehension. This doesn't make us always right or them always wrong, but it certainly places them in the camps of Baghdad Bob, the infamous Iraqi information minister.

It is the same Baghdad Bob brand of position that had us declare a "victory" in Vietnam even as we ran out with our tails between our legs, after having wasted over 50,000 American lives there ? with nothing to show for it but heartaches and mayhem.���

Now that Iraq is closer to the "quagmire" that was predicted by many, the administration is into criticizing its critics. They say, "Bush is damned if he does, and damned if he doesn't" ? referring to how he is criticized for the preemptive action in Iraq while at the same time for also not doing anything about Sept 11 in the face of many warnings.

However, that is the nature of the beast that is modern American politics. No president can escape criticism and dissection of his key policies. The question therefore is not whether critics will be fair and balanced; they will not. The question, rather, is "Which action of the president would have been in the best interest of America?" A preemptive vigilance (along with whatever criticism-prone action it may have called for) was needed before Sept 11; a preemptive and unilateral military strike on a nation as complex as Iraq on mere probable cause was not.

More so, when the monumental costs of this action are factored in: (i) a price-tag which may well approach close to half-a-trillion dollars by the time this is over. (ii) 10,000 (and counting) civilian deaths (iii) Close to 700 (and counting) fatalities of America's finest (iii) An increase, not a decrease, in the threat of terrorism against the U.S. (iv) An unprecedented loss of American credibility internationally ? which further hampers our coordinated intelligence efforts to fight terrorism.

- Parthiv N. Parekh


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