Thursday, January 26, 2006

Responsibility for the mess in Iraq rests at the feet of the Bush Administration

It's hard to march in lock step when you're running scared.

U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum usually steps out to President Bush's cadences, so it was no surprise that a few days after Bush warned Democratic critics of his Iraq policy to watch what they say or risk giving "comfort to our adversaries" and suffering at the ballot box that the Pennsylvania Republican, who faces a tough challenge in his bid for re-election this year, turned his guns on the liberals and the media.

As has become standard operating procedure for Republicans of the bubble-boy persuasion, Santorum made his remarks before a safe audience, in this case cadets at the Valley Forge Military Academy.

Santorum said public support for the war has been difficult to maintain because of "biased coverage of the war and the political left demagoguery of the war."

In other words, the nationalist/populist election-year line that has become standard for Bush and his supporters when it comes to those who challenge their divine right to rule: vilify, terrify and lie.

Let's start with the brutal truth: A first-class military organization is being ground up in Iraq because of this administration's combination of hubris and incompetence.

Our men and women in the military are being killed and wounded, often horribly, because they have inadequate or no personal armor to protect them.

They are being killed and wounded because they are denied armored vehicles by the Rumsfeld Pentagon, which has deemed tanks and other light and heavy armor as unnecessary for the occupation.

They face an almost impossible mission because the Bush White House refused to heed warnings that far more troops would be required to pacify Iraq than would be needed to successfully invade it.

They are being asked to carry out a nation-building mission for which they are not suited or trained.

For the record, we have opposed calls to withdraw troops from Iraq. However, we believe U.S. forces in Iraq need the personnel, material and training to carry out their mission.

We also believe that our nation's commitment in Iraq, by necessity, must be long-term if we are to bring democracy and stability to the Middle East.

But that does not require us or anyone else to march in lock step to the Bush administration.

If the United States is weaker today and Iraq has the potential to become a haven for terrorists, as Santorum maintains, the blame rests with the Bush administration.

┬ęBeaver County Times Allegheny Times 2006