29 September 2003

Is Bush's War in Iraq A "Brain Fart"?

Do you think Zinni is angry over the war? He did get worked up as he ended his speech:

'We should be...extremely proud of what our people did out there....It kills me when I hear of the continuing casualties and the sacrifice that's being made. It also kills me when I hear someone say that, well, each one of those is a personal tragedy, but in the overall scheme of things, they're insignificant statistically.' (Perhaps he had in mind the comment Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld made in June, when he played down attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq by saying, 'You've got to remember that if Washington, D.C., were the size of Baghdad, we would be having something like 215 murders a month; there's going to be violence in a big city.') Zinni continued: 'When we put [our enlisted men and women] in harm's way, it had better count for something, It can't be because some policy wonk back here has a brain fart of an idea of a strategy that isn't thought out.'

Brain fart? That's not quite a military term. But those are fighting words. And Zinni practically counseled his audience to rebel against the Bush administration. U.S. troops, he said, 'should never be put on a battlefield without a strategic plan, not only for the fighting--our generals will take care of that--but for the aftermath and winning that war. Where are we, the American people, if we accept this, if we accept this level of sacrifice without that level of planning? Almost everyone in this room, of my contemporaries--our feelings and our sensitivities were forged on the battlefields of Vietnam, where we heard the garbage and lies, and we saw the sacrifice. We swore never again would we do that. We swore never again would we allow it to happen. And I ask you, is it happening again? And you're going to have to answer that question, just like the American people are.'

Brain fart. Garbage and lies. Never again. This was harsher rhetoric than Zinni deployed on Nightline, though his message was essentially the same. With such talk, he is in sync with Senator Ted Kennedy, who was blasted by Republicans for calling the war a 'fraud.' Note to Kennedy and other critics of the war: Fire away. If a Republican counter-attacks, you can always reply, at least I didn't say Bush is asking Americans to give their lives for a war based on mental flatulence.

It's a lovely phrase, but I think it should be roundly condemned as inaccurate. The phrase is dependent for its force on the dubious proposition that those responsible for this war have a brain between them.

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