Sunday, January 30, 2005

A Salute to Iraq

I was submerged in teaching and programming during the actual elections, which were more like on Saturday given the difference in time zones. I'm just now coming up for air and spouting some words on this topic.

The news reports look promising. Iraqis risked life and limb en masse, in a good faith show of support for that bright democratic future they've been repeatedly promised. "Are we there yet?" I'm hearing them ask. Of course there's still a long row to hoe, but let's put the swords away and do it with ploughshares shall we? Such is the fond hope.

So now all eyes turn to the US military. Looking out from my control room, I've seen many promising signs that the exit strategy is in place, awaiting the signal. I've seen the commercials, the positive reviews from the field. Iraqi security personnel are ready to deal with the criminal element. The Marines think so too. Even the Navy has shown a willingness to defy conventional wisdom and get with the program (too bad about that sub by the way).

Of course some clueless neocons and arm chair retirees think they have the inside scoop: the secret strategy is for the military to pump up its muscles in the Iraqi gym, while the USAF grids Iranian air defenses and gets ready to soften targets. It'll be Operation Preemptive Thunder Part 2. General Custer will sound the battle cry, like Howard Dean on steroids, and we'll crush those Iranian heathen under the hooves of our awesome cavalry. And if we're really lucky, the promised Apocalypse will soon follow (anyone seen the Antichrist yet?).

But we've always had crazies in the Pentagon (like, what big bureaucracy is immune: witness Dilbert). What changed after 911 is they got out of the box and ran with the ball. Osama freed them. So the State Department was sidelined, and the CIA was told to put its propaganda machine into overdrive (which, ever the obedient servant, it dutifully did).

But that was then and this is now. The chain of command is in no mood to be dictated to, what with the commander in chief feeling galvanized and encouraged, free and independent. If there's to be another fight against terrorism, it'll be quick and to the point, and at a time and place of our own choosing.

In the meantime, there's lots of domestic dry rot that needs attention. The infrastructure is failing (schools included). Children are getting left behind, everywhere you look. Uncle Sam wants to show us the ropes in the stock market, but hasn't a dime to bet with (like any wise investor, he uses other people's money).

Both the USA and Iraq need rebuilding. That'll take a lot of civilian smarts and savvy, a lot of management know-how. So what better time to be friends with a diverse and thriving society living in the cradle of civilization? May we learn from one another's experience, what real democracy is all about. Let's keep it a two way street, live long and prosper.