I got up this morning and went to breakfast. I sat and ate eggs and half of a grapefruit, while the tv news helped Sen. Reid tell me I'm a failure. The surge is not working, the newest current strategy is not working, and the war is lost. I gathered via the internet today that he later stepped back from some of his harsher statements- I don't know for sure whether that is true or not. If so, it only adds to my disgust. I also learned that Congress approved a resolution forcing a troop withdrawal to begin within 120 days, down to a "minimal number" by April 2008. The resolution does not specify what Congress considers a "minimal number", which appears to leave the interpretation up to the President. Good job, Washington! Way to send a message! Is there perhaps a reason that your approval rating is lower than our beleaguered president? Those who are both opposed to the Iraq war and in a position to do something about it, our elected leaders, are too scared to act on their beliefs. That is an insult that cannot even be applied to our enemies- in fact, it applies to them least of all, for they are involved in a mortal struggle over their beliefs.
It is an individual decision to support or oppose the war- and once made, that decision is worthless unless backed up with action. It is impossible to make a worthwhile decision without becoming properly informed, and that is the source of another rant in and of itself:
Some news outlets report the facts- sometimes grudgingly, and sometimes with a negative opinion following, but they still manage to report facts. Some "news" sources neglect facts altogether, and attempt to sway opinion through some sort of delusional haunted-house fairy tale, filtering current events through the ugly memories of past failures.
Take the following as an example:
On June 17th, the Village Voice published a warning of the deteriorating situation in Falluja, decrying the mistreatment of aid workers by US forces, as well as the punishing curfew imposed on the city, and implying that we were bombing hospitals in Falluja. The article also predicted a repeat of the Nov. 2004 assault on the city.
Almost one month later, the assault has still failed to materialize. This seeming lapse in the warmaking decision process cannot be due to the lack of resistance in Falluja. After all, violence is up, hospitals are being bombed, and legitimate residents of the city are fleeing the city in fear. IEDs are being found in record numbers, and the torture houses are open for business again.
The preceding paragraph is of course sarcasm, albeit sarcasm that the Village Voice would likely prefer to believe. When I was a child, my father used to sarcastically tell me that "If the facts aren't on your side, speak louder and pound the table".
The Village Voice fails to mention the reason for the vehicle curfew in the city of Falluja- it was a decision made by the mayor of Falluja. Iraqi Security Forces maintain responsibility for the city of Falluja, and they have done a good enough job that the main threat in the city became strikes by VBIEDs brought in from outside the city. VBIEDs strike soft targets like tribal gatherings, traffic checkpoints packed with civilians- anywhere thorough vehicle checks are hard to perform. From Febuary through late May, when the vehicle ban began, Falluja was rocked multiple times by VBIEDs that killed civilians and police, and shredded the downtown area that Iraqis have worked hard to rebuild. The logical response was to ban intra-city vehicle traffic until a solution could be found.
Vehicle traffic inside the city persists at a much lower level- most civilian vehicles do not cross the city boundary, buses roam the city to serve the population, and heavy goods are moved by bongo truck (the unmistakable middle eastern version of the pick-up truck) or young boys selling handcart services. The city officials have taken the opportunity afforded by decreased traffic, and formed work crews to clean the streets- a job that badly needed done.
I do not sense the nasty undercurrent to the city that the Village Voice alleges is there. Lest anyone say that the people would restrain their opinion in the presence of men with guns, I would encourage you to ask an OIF or OEF veteran whether he or she could tell when the people didn't want you there. The people will glare, shoo their children inside, and move away as you pass. They won't wave, they won't answer to a simple "as salaam alaikum". What I see in Falluja is quite different. Today, for instance, I saw a thing I had never seen before in Iraq- a woman on a cell phone. The terrorists have taken to blowing up cell towers, because they fear the people having an instant connection to security forces more than they value the utility of a cell-phone detonated IED. Women hold their babies up to see us wave to them. Children play soccer in the streets and wave as we drive by. The markets have people, and relative to others I have seen, they are well stocked. I can't speak with authority on the subject of electricity because I have never spent a complete 24 hours in the city and watched the blackouts roll, but I'm sure that the new power plant under construction will help.
I could keep ranting, and I may, at a later time. I'll stop now, with a final message that all of you should already know: don't believe everything you hear.