11/25/2004

Daily Kos :: Will Anyone Ask the President?

Daily KosWill Anyone Ask the President?
by Tom Schaller

Add Jabala to Fallujah and Mosul as the third city against which the U.S., er, coalition forces (is that a Brits over there?) have launched a counter-attack against insurgent strongholds in less than a month. We've lost 106 American servicemen and women thus far this month, almost five per day, which puts November on pace to eclipse last April as the deadliest month of the war (and, in terms of the daily fatality rate, second-deadliest only to the opening partial month of March 2003 during the invasion).

Though I opposed going to Iraq, given that we are there now, overall I believe these three operations are exactly what was needed in Iraq. Ah, but the emphasis here is decidedly on was. Better late than never, sure; but these offensives would have been better (and more easily) conducted when they were initially necessary and appropriate, instead of waiting. Indeed, these offensives are tougher now precisely because the insurgents have been left to fester, to become emboldened, for months.

And yet, I hear almost no tough questions and few, if any, criticisms from the Big Media. Any reasonable member of the national chattering class who praises these November offensives should rightly pause, even for a moment or two, to ask the president, his Defense Department, or their spokespersons, the following questions:

1. If these insurgent strongholds needed to be defused/suppressed, why were these offensives not conducted much, much earlier?

2. Which brings us to a second question: Using April 2004 as the cut-point, what do we say to the 387 Americans who died and the 4,066 Americans who were wounded during the months between May and October 2004?
Bush dared not spend a nickel of his election-year capital to ratchet up the counter-offensives

3. Looking ahead, are there any circumstances under which elections should not be held on January 30?

4. Though there are signs that we will increase troop counts in Iraq for the short term, will troop counts be reduced after January 30 -- regardless of the outcome of those elections?

Maybe, amid all the post-election hype about values voters and Bush's second honeymoon and Tom Delay's antics, I'm overlooking an entire national conversation underway. But there are major military operations happening on the ground in Iraq, and it seems to me that nobody is asking questions about what they signify, past or present or future."

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