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Realism, Not Pessimism

I’m a pessimist. At least that’s what they tell me.

Truth is, I’m actually a bit of an optimist. I still believe we can win this war. That takes an awful lot of optimism if you’re actually paying attention to the news. Some don’t choose to do that, they choose to believe that reconstruction efforts are going fine, and that any day, the citizens of Iraq will realize how grateful they should be, and stop shooting at us.

Or maybe this administration will get realistic about what’s going on in the country. Could happen.

Actually, if there's one thing I'm pessimistic about, it's the administration. Call it low expectation brought about by consistently poor performance.

For example, they said that violence would wane after the handover of sovereignty. According to the casualty reports, In June, we saw 42 soldiers killed. In July, 54. In August, 66. So far this month, the two thirds point not even reached, we've lost 52 soldiers.

In terms of wounded, it goes like this: In June, we had 589 wounded. July, 533. In August, 1,112. Not quite as smooth of an upward curve, but it's there. The projection the site gives should be rather chilling to anybody with sympathy for our soldiers: Over fifteen hundred. I hope the project turns out not to be the case.

I'm sure by this point that Conservatives will be chiming in to say that we must stick with it, that we must fight the Iraq war to the bitter end. Well, I agree.

But right now, I think the attitude that persistence alone will change things, can be likened to the notion that persistence in hitting one's head against the wall will cure one of a headache. Things are getting worse. Let's just face that. Optimism doesn't come to us by denial of what's there, it comes to us by means of hope for the future, hope that there's a way to stem the tide of violence, and improve the situation.

But I fear for what happens if Bush comes back for another four years. He is not a man who learns from his own mistakes, or better still the mistakes of others first. He is a man who will persist in browbeating us about how great his leadership is in the War on Terrorism, even as the casualties from his greatest mistake in it mount at an accelerating rate. He has told us, time and again that we turning a corner and that things will get better. He's told us this for months.

Well, there is a phrase for what happens when you turn a corner all the time without getting anywhere: it's called going in circles. Bush's War on Terrorism has taken us through the looking glass, and we are living in a fantasy world of George Bush's spin.

It's time to step back into the real world, to finally turn a corner that gets us somewhere. It's time to base our optimism on more than just wishes and fantasies. It's time to choose hope for the future over denial of the past.

Posted by Stephen Daugherty at September 18, 2004 10:27 AM