Here is Chris Matthews
interviewing Senator Mark Dayton (D-MN) on Hardball Tuesday: “[You] can look
at a map of the world and see where Iraq is, Senator. And any Senator who
voted for this war must have known it was going to cost a lot of money, and
lives, to convince an Arab country, which has been radical, to move to the
center, to move to a more moderate stance. Where is the surprise here? Doesn’t
anybody study history up there?” In other words, Anyone over the age
of 16 with even a casual knowledge of the Middle East knew Iraq was an ideological
basket case and a difficult prospect for reconstruction; what did anyone
in opposition to the war think was going to happen once Hussein was removed?
That the same people who walked through Baghdad streets in mid-April cutting
their heads and bleeding from head to toe in display of religious fervor
were going to come right out for moderate self-government? Or anything
But those in dissent get all the attention, because whatever is positive
is not as interesting as car bombings (or cement truck bombings). To
stay with the British parlance, it is better for the opposition to sex up
the terrorist resistance because it gives the illusion of an Iraq completely
out of control, as opposed to an Iraq where steady progress is being made,
“steady progress” apparently being the problem. We are the United States,
after all – whatever cannot be prepared and delivered with the equivalent
of fast food efficiency loses not only our passion but our interest.
By and large, America is not frustrated because its soldiers are being targeted
and killed; the people understand soldiers are going to die when they fight
wars and occupy the enemy’s land. It is frustrated because the story
just will not go away. No one understands how difficult the task of
Iraqi reconstruction will be, just that they are tired of hearing “Iraq”
and “$87 billion” every day.
problem is common perception. What people see is a president who, nine
months ago, tiptoed through the United Nations in order to keep up appearances,
but who had decided to go about things on his own schedule, never mind the
UN. Fast forward to last Sunday and the president’s address to the
nation. No matter the actual intent “all along,” the perception is
that when things started to get hairy, the international community was suddenly
they are not even all that relevant now. The idea of asking outside
concerns to stick their noses in Iraqi reconstruction is flawed only because
of who we are asking to help: Russia cannot handle a theatre full of its
own people being taken hostage without killing 130 in the process.
France is so damned unorganized it cannot properly handle a heat wave, to
the tune of 15,000 dead over the course of the summer. Germany is …
well, they are Germany, and something about them suggests they are genetically
incapable of taking the right side on something that matters. Still,
if the question is whether to surrender to the United Nations – an anti-American
and anti-Semitic organization with so little interest in a properly functioning
world it put a Hussein-controlled Iraq in charge of its disarmament efforts
– control of the reconstruction in the name of saving some money and some
soldiers, you will forgive me for saying I would rather forego the lives
and the cost if it means not having to bomb Baghdad again in 10 years (or
$87 billion request is bothersome, though, in the sense that we are being
asked to donate to Iraq a tremendous amount of resources we are not only
not asking be returned, but that we are not offering to our own country.
For example, $5 billion of the proposed $87 billion would go toward strengthening
the borders around Iraq, to make sure no more terrorists make their way in,
which in theory will reduce the incidents of terrorist attacks. Fine,
but where is the $5 billion earmarked for strengthening the Mexican and Canadian
borders, over which we let countless potential terrorists, murderers and
thieves cross, unabated, every year?
Bush will get his $87 billion, because Congress is the town pump; “no” is
not anywhere in its vocabulary. But now is not an unreasonable time
to wonder how much will be repaid by the new Iraq, lest we be confused with
the International Monetary Fund.
Brian Wise is the lead columnist for IntellectualConservative.com.