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Trial Balloons

A number of months ago I seriously considered sitting down and grinding out an essay advocating an unconditional and unequivocal withdrawal of U.S. forces, from Iraq. As I pondered and wavered, we were making the transition from former Bush Treasury Secretary John P. O’Neill reprising the role of John Dean, into the Rovevian Inquisition of Richard Clarke.

There was still a solid majority of support for the war at the time, with an equal number of Americans still giving the administration the benefit of the doubt of finding WMDs. Abu Gharib was just on the horizon, yet for some of us, the worrisome signs of a deteriorating and possibly untenable situation, were already starkly apparent.

It was not fear of vitriolic comments and accusations of being anti-American that gave me pause, it was unease over being premature and not being taken seriously. However, do not assume that such a declaration was all I had to offer. On the contrary, I had devised a post-pullout scenario, mixing pragmatic diplomacy and savvy political maneuvering with strategic propaganda (think Tom Friedman meets Dick Morris) - but only successful with the aid and support of a contrite and patient American public. It was a plan, requiring this nation it supplant its ego and suspend infallibility, for a greater and lasting victory within our reach.

Yet even now, there is still a vast majority of Americans - Blue States, Red States, Bush Majority, and Kerry Minority - that still cannot accept an unconditional withdrawal from Iraq. That is a harsh defeat, a bitter pill indeed.

Hindered by an American media affixed with a Fox News-type silencer, you have to encourage the reasonable American to go searching for the truth about Iraq, or you'll have more than the 47% percent who still believe a stable government is likely in Iraq. An MSNBC promo tease actually got me to tune in to Scarborough Country, anxious to hear about Bush's 'bold new plan for Iraq', that already had 'growing support'. Could it have been the idea to guarantee the Sunnis' a number of seats in the new coalition government? Hope not, seeing that Colin Powell shot down that idea earlier in the day, as the elections shall be the only determinant for acquiring seats. Instead, the low-rated O'Reilly clone went on a blame rant, utilizing selective 'real news out of Iraq' polling to accuse the Mainstream (Liberal!!) Media, with smiling soldiers and happy Iraqi children in split-screen!

So, when I read about USA Today's founder Al Neuharth's editorial advocating an Iraqi withdrawal, and the firestorm of reaction in response, I was anxious to gauge where we stood as a nation, at this critical juncture.

As I read a sampling of the letters the editorial received, I was encouraged by the clarity of those who thoughtfully articulated their agreement with Neuharth's call. Yet, I was equally dismayed (but not surprised) at the ignorance and bile of personal attacks from most of those opposed, with only a few offering a respectful dissenting opinion.

I firmly believe that a prideful American public is willing to accept the legitimacy of any possible election result and subsequent Iraqi government, regardless of the violent and brutal process from which it is rendered. And ironically, it is Donald Rumsfeld who is laying the groundwork for the 'worst case scenario rationale', which doubles as the emergence of the first real 'exit strategy' from the Bush administration. Passing the buck, Rummy explained '...and the time has come for ordinary Iraqis to realize that they - not the Americans - will ultimately decide who prevails in this conflict'. This is what a frustrated Bernard Kerik must've witnessed, forcing him to bail halfway through a six month contract to train 145,000 Iraqi policemen to protect Baghdad.

Not surprisingly, the 'Blame Iraq' mantra is on a test run around the Conservative Echo Chamber presently, giving credence to the continued demonization of all who practice their faith as 'Islamofacists', courtesy of the Limbaugh radio crowd. With one simple call from the White House, Roger Ailes and Fox News could pull the trigger on the next, Christmas Under Attack!

You see, in the CEC, there is no such thing as 'trial balloons'.

Posted by Bert M. Caradine at January 4, 2005 1:44 AM