[My computer was tied up with a large system download yesterday so that I could not make an instant response to the Bush speech, etc. (which struck me as typically bushwah, to use an expression that my grandmother used to use in moments of exasperation more than half a century back).

The time gap has obliged me to try to think through all the implications of where we now stand in Iraq. Pretty obviously the Bushies launched their illegal war to command oil in the region. We were attacking a vicious individual who had made his people suffer through two brutal wars and who might have tried at some future date to repeat his crimes against humanity. But having said that, it was Hussein, not the Iraqi people at large, who was our enemy. And we have made those people suffer terribly since the first Gulf war ended with sanctions and killing uncontrained. We are now the guilty ones who owe the Iraqis — not the other way around.

So where do we go from here. As we all know and as Bob Herbert details, the elite that might reconstruct Iraq and nurture Iraqis has been driven into exile. To quote a snippet from his column:

“The Iraq Ministry of Health reported that 102 doctors and 164 nurses were killed from April 2003 to May 2006. It is believed that nearly half of Iraq’s doctors have fled. The exodus of health care professionals in a country hemorrhaging from the worst kinds of violence pretty much qualifies as nightmarish.”

It looks to me as though we owe the Iraqis support and funding for the reconstruction of their devastated society.

Needless to say the oil motives are still strongly at work in this country. Krugman points out that the Kurds’ deal with Bush friends, Hunt Oil Company of Dallas, has blown the agreement to share the goodies with the Sunnis.

Petraeus and Crocket more or less sketched a ‘divide and conquer’ scenario in their testimonies — Sunnis in Anbar versus the Shias in Baghdad. Reconciliation is far from a guaranteed program for either faction or the sub factions of the now widely fractured groupings among the 25 odd million Iraqis of which 2 million of the middle class (doctors, teachers, business people and former governmental officials) have left the country and another 2 million have been ethnically cleansed out of their home neighborhoods.

I guess I have to go with Hillary Clinton in expressing some disbelief at the Petraeus and Crocker limited optimism suggesting that Humpty Dumpty may possibly be glued back together again.

The bottom line question here is what should we do next? We can play national cops and try to keep people from shooting and blowing each other up. Al qaeda looks to be on the run. But what a waste of monies and lives — $10 billion a month to maintain our military there with lives and military readiness being sacrificed? Pretty big price tag for what? A hoped for light at the end of the tunnel?

I guess, since I can’t make a difference, that I and our Democratic politicians will be forced to go along with at least a temporary extension of the security blanket which Petraeus claims that he can provide. We shall be watching and waiting. I would like to be in D.C. today protesting, but the last time we did that in NYC where the cops prevented us from assembling at a central location, our protest was stifled and came to naught. This will, then, be a time to correct the record and to expose the greedies who have been using the ‘war’ in Iraq to profit. I am for all sorts of Congressional investigations into the crookery spawned by the Republicans from stealing elections to violating civil rights and robbing our tax revenues for corporate and private profit.

And it looks to me as though we owe the Iraqis all the help we can give them to restore the infrastructures that we have so devastated, too. Perhaps we can get some of the humanitarian nations and agencies to help us with that?

All of the above is somewhat tentative. But it is where I stand today — or should I say, sit at my computer. Ed Kent]


A Surge, and Then a Stab
President Bush’s actions have been what you’d expect from a
man whose plan is to keep up appearances for the next 16

(Available only to TimesSelect subscribers)

The Nightmare Is Here
More than four years into the war in Iraq, huge numbers of
Iraqi children are finding themselves orphaned, homeless
and malnourished.

(Available only to TimesSelect subscribers)

“A war is just if there is no alternative, and the resort to arms is legitimate if they represent your last hope.” (Livy cited by Machiavelli)

Ed Kent 212-665-8535 (voice mail only) [blind copies]

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