America in Iraq; Bull in China Shop

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“Bull in China Shop” Art By Vic Roschkov [Canadian Editorial Cartoonist]

copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert

Americans are five years into a battle gone awry.  Citizens of the United States cry out, “too much blood has been spilled, too many lives and limbs were lost,” we the people want to, “Bring the troops home.”  Hence, Congress holds hearings.  The inquiry is intended to help define the future.  For many it is time to exit Iraq and end a futile war.  The people have questions; when and how will we complete a failed mission.  On April 8, 2008, the Senior Commander of multinational forces in Iraq, General David Petraeus, and Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker, American envoy to Baghdad, spoke to United states Senators and attempted to address the public’s concerns.

General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker described an Iraq torn and in turmoil.  Each official spoke of the significant, although still-tenuous political progress.  The civil servants assured the United States Senators, Iraq is more stable and secure than it was a mere seven months earlier.  However, they state improvement is “uneven.”  

Senators, who supposedly speak on behalf of the people, proposed there must be a plan.  Several said America needs to make a correction.  A few pronounced the course must be stayed.  All agreed; Americans must have a strategy if Iraq is to ever be a successful, sovereign nation.  These thoughts have been expressed for years, and little truly changes.  A near million [or more] innocent Iraqis have lost their lives and many millions more have no home.  For refugees and residents, employment is but a vision from eras long passed.  Electricity and essentials are not part of daily life.  Nonetheless, reports are progress has been made.

The rhetoric rises high up into the halls of the Capitol.  As the world listens, people cannot help but be reminded of a bull in a china shoppe.

In a boutique, filled with fragile leaded crystal, porcelain wares of superior quality, sumptuous silver, fine figurines, and cherished collectibles, a beast, unfamiliar with the etiquette or elegance in this setting, enters and effectively destroys what once was beautiful.  

Initially, the bovine is attracted to the glimmers of light.  Refracted beams glow as the bull observes the glorious finery.  The shiny surfaces are hypnotic for the animal.  In a stupor, the bull moves towards what attracts him.

The bovine is as Americans.  Citizens of this country are drawn to the radiance of black gold.  Those who depend on petroleum products are mesmerized when they think of a place where the supply seems as endless as their demand.  People who  profit from the sale of fuel are also charmed.  Indeed, those who have the means are more enamored.  The oil-rich know that they can profit from the sale of the substance.  Two of these tycoons work in the White house.

George W. Bush and Dick Cheney are the biggest bulls man has seen for some time.  These leaders of the herd were spellbound as they gazed upon fields of oil.  Moneyed moguls who work within the Executive Branch of government led the herd into a crystal palace, or a nation State known as Iraq.  

The two oilmen elected to office, bullies that they are, had smiled at the mere mention of Texas Tea in the fields of Iraq long before they ever claimed to have reason to invade the symbolic china shoppe.  The aggressive cattle, also known as the Bush Administration, may have appeared clumsy in their calculations.  However, these cows planned their entrance into the specialty store.  The tycoons expected to shock the shopkeepers, and awe their fellow Americans.  The bulls thought they would quickly clean up the mess they made.  Then, they would exit triumphantly with treasures in hand.  The bovine projected that they would accomplish their mission just as suddenly as they crossed the threshold.

However, the livestock did not understand; boutique proprietors and patrons might not welcome the destruction of valuable property.  

Raging bulls rarely contemplate how a perilous circumstance would effect any sane storeowner, shopper, or sovereign nation.  A charging bovine does not comprehend why the clientele within the walls of the shop, or civilians within the confines of a country’s borders does not greet the charging creature with rose petals and open arms.  

Again, we are reminded of an American Administration and the prospects the leaders of the herd envisioned as they proposed the United States and its allies attack Iraq.  

The bulls, President George W. Bush, Vice President Richard B. Cheney, former Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, and then Secretary of State Colin Powell, and National Security Advisor, Condoleezza Rice did not consider the culture, the civilization, or the fact that every being has the right to choose independence or his or her leaders.  Nor did the creatures who replaced a few of those in the corral.  Future leaders of the herd were as blinded by the light of power as the previous beefy bulls were.

The cattle now labeled the Cabinet, are no more conscious of what occurs when you purposely break the treasures of others than the earlier group of mammals was.

Hence, the axiom framed by the former Secretary of State, Colin Powell, cattle extraordinaire continues to guide Americans, “If you broke it, you must fix it.”

Indeed, the awkward, unaware animals busted the bone china, crushed the crystal, smashed the silverware, and flattened the figurines, and they continue to do so.  

Fortunately, these bulls have money; although admittedly they beg, borrow, steal, or print the dollars and cents used to fund a futile attempt to fix the country they fractured.  Regrettably, the beasts of burden do not realize they cannot repair what has never made sense to them.  The bulls cannot restore health to a shop that was not fashioned in a style they are familiar with.  Few of these creatures reflect on the wisdom of a physicist, the genius of a man who studied the scientific principles of matter, energy, force, and motion.

We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.

~ Albert Einstein


What the bulls believe is best is send in the young.  Calves trained to act as the bigger beasts did and do, now crash into china shop doors and obliterate the fragile finery that is, or once was life in Iraq.  Generals and Ambassador, similar to the elders in a herd, gather the broken glass.  They collect the cattle in one locale or another.  The emissaries, just as the leaders in a pack, attempt to repair relations with proprietors and the public.  

However, these persons also approach those in the Persian Gulf as the Commander-In-Chief did and does.  To the people in Iraq a bull is a bull is a bull.

None of the livestock fully understand as long as they occupy the shop, more treasures  will be trampled.  The merchant wants no missionaries, or mammals to demolish what for him was his own.  Nor does the retailer appreciate a brutal beast in his shop or State.  The Iraqi citizens, just as customers in the shattered shoppe do not crave advise from cruel cattle.  “Correct” information from a bull who demolishes all creature comforts, seems contrary to those who have been terrorized by out of control cows for too long.

Information is not knowledge.

~ Albert Einstein

Money will not mend what was shattered and what will be razed as long as the bulls reside in country.  Yet, the bulls bellow that they cannot continue to finance the destruction they have done and do.  Cattle exclaim too much cash has gone to cracked crystal.  Senator Clinton, who aspires to be the Lead of the American beasts explains, “We simply cannot give the Iraqi government an endless blank check.  The question might be asked, why not.  

The cattle found the dollars to destroy as they desired.  Why might the Lead bulls and those who wish to have the title of Cattle Commander-In-Chief believe they have the resources to remain in the shoppe, with the promise to be less visible and destructive; yet, the bovine does not have greenbacks available for repair or recompense.

Might the bovines consider as long as Americans stay in the boutique and break the bone china, we owe the proprietor reparations.  We bulls cannot ever fully compensate for what we caused.  The only way we, “the American people,” can clean up the mess we allowed our herd to make is to leave now, with sincere sorrow, and issue a blank check as a meager attempt to pay for the horrors we have wrought.

We cannot turn back the clock; nor are we able to replace the antique vases, or extraordinary entities once titled Mom, Dad, son, daughter, friend, or family.  Bovine blunders and bungles will not provide property owners and patrons to live their lives free of fear and further folly.  Perchance the adage bulls might adopt is, “If you break it; you pay for it and then, please, immediately leave the premises.”

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

~ Albert Einstein

Sources and the Reality of Americans in Iraq; Bull in China Shop . . .

John McCain, Michael Ware, Truth About Iraq

McCain is in Neverland


© copyright 2007 Betsy L. Angert

Perhaps, I was not alone.  I stood watching the images and listening to the discussion; I was mesmerized.  Senator and Presidential candidate John McCain stood, straight faced, and stated, Iraq, specifically the Green Zone is safe.  Perchance the Wizard, the once magical McCain, is hiding behind the curtain, oblivious to the strife that exists daily in the world of Oz.

Michael Ware, Cable News Network Correspondent has spent more than one short day in the Emerald City.  He rebuffs the senior Senators claim.  The battle is on, or perhaps, it is only continuing.  Is the mission in Iraq accomplished or aggravated by the presence of America troops.  Stay tuned.

Wolf Blitzer, of Cable News network offered an introduction to his interview with the esteemed Senator McCain.  Notably, the Presidential candidate McCain ends his commentary by chastising the Journalist.

Senator John McCain [R], Arizona: You know that’s where you ought to catch up on things, Wolf.  General Petraeus goes out there almost every day in an unarmed Humvee.  I think you ought to catch up.

After, this snippet, Wolf Blitzer resigns himself and remarks . . .

Still ahead tonight here in The Situation Room, our man in Baghdad wonders if Senator John McCain is living in Neverland.

We, the audience are then introduced to Michael Ware, war Correspondent in Iraq.  We hear him state . . .

Ware: To suggest that there’s any neighborhood in this city where an American can walk freely is beyond ludicrous.  I’d love Senator McCain to tell me where that neighborhood is and he and I can go for a stroll.

The segment is followed by another.  The Senator suggests . . .

McCain: If I’m wrong, you’ve got a lot more problems than anything it does to my political reputation.

It seems we have trouble, right here in the Emerald City.  We also have deep dilemmas in the United States.  The divide in the States is evident to us, citizens of America.  However, what is a world away is less so.  Who might we believe, a beleaguered Presidential candidate, or the press, Michael Ware a Cable News Network Correspondent stationed in Iraq.

Our elder statesman loudly proclaims that a surge is and has been sufficient, that peace is found within the Iraqi borders, within Baghdad.  Yet, we watch as the United Nation Secretary General Ban Ki-moon flinches in the face of bombing in the Green Zone.  We hear haranguing tales.  Still, a former prisoner of war declares, there is no need for distress.  Everything is working well.  There is no reason for concern.  Oh really?

I offer the transcript of the interviews, the intial discussion with Senator John McCain of Arizona, and the ensuing dialogue with Reporter, Michael Ware, postioned and holding on for dear life in Iraq.  Dear reader, you decide.

I’m Wolf Blitzer.  You’re in The Situation Room.  Tonight, Democrats say they’re taking a new step toward bringing U.S. troops home from Iraq.  The Senate voted 50-48 in support of a timetable for withdrawal of the U.S.  forces in defiance of a presidential veto threat, but some Republicans calling it a surrender date. 

The debate is weighing very heavily on the race for the White House and Republican Senator John McCain.  I pressed the Arizona Republican about his support for the president’s troop buildup and Democrats demands to begin a pullout.  But the Democrats, or at least some of them are saying, you know what, let’s say you’re right.  Maybe you give them another year, the Iraqis — it’s now year five of this war — give them another year to get their act together, strengthen their military, strengthen their police force, strengthen their whole political environment there and then you begin to leave.  Do you think they can get their act together over the next year? 

McCain: I’m sure.  I’m confident that they can to a large degree, but that’s like saying after the Korean War, after we had a cease-fire that we would immediately pull out.  We kept our troops there and we keep them there as a stabilizing force.  I think that there’s no doubt that we may require troops there for a long period of time, a long period of time, but at the same time we can achieve success and American troops withdraw from the front battle lines… 

Blitzer: How much time do you think, Senator, the Iraqis need to be really in charge of their own security? 

McCain: I don’t know the answer to that.  And when I venture a guess, then we have a date for withdrawal.  What I’m saying is we are achieving success.  The key to it is not U.S.  presence.  It’s U.S.  casualties and if we can keep U.S.  casualties down as we did after the Korean War, obviously, Americans won’t mind that and Americans have got to understand the consequences of failure. 

Failure is catastrophe.  Failure is genocide.  Failure means we come back.  Failure means they follow us home.  The consequences of failure that one of the most disingenuous — two disingenuous aspects about the Democrats’ position — one is what do you do if we leave?  What do you do if Iraq deteriorates into chaos?  And second, if you really feel this way, if you really feel it, then bring them home tomorrow.  That’s the intellectually honorable thing to do. 

Blitzer: Here’s the latest poll in the “USA Today”/Gallop poll asked about setting a timetable for withdrawal by fall of 2008.  Sixty percent say they favor such a timetable.  Thirty-eight percent say they oppose it.  You would be in the 38 percent.  Why is the American public or at least the majority of the American public disagreeing with you? 

McCain: Because the American public is frustrated and angry and saddened by our failure and mismanagement of the war for nearly four years.  And they would like to see us be out of there, but they also want us to succeed.  You know better than I do, it’s how you ask the questions in a poll. 

If I ask the question, if I can show you a path to success that involves maintaining a U.S. presence there for an extended period, you have 80 percent of the American people say yes, if we can show them path for success.  And Joe Lieberman could never have been reelected in Connecticut if it was as clear cut as some describe it that Americans just want us out.  Because his opponent, clearly that was his position. 

Blitzer: If the situation a year from now, Senator, is what it is basically today, what will that say to you?  McCain: It won’t be.  It won’t be.  It will be better or worse.  No military person… 

Blitzer: Well, what if it is worse? 

McCain: Then obviously we are going to have to examine a set of bad options.  But I’m confident it won’t be.  I’m confident hell won’t freeze over.  I’m confident we can succeed if we stay with this strategy.  And if I’m wrong, we have got a lot more problems than anything it does to my political reputation. 

Blitzer: Here’s what you told Bill Bennett on his radio show on Monday.  “There are neighborhoods in Baghdad where you and I could walk through those neighborhoods today.  The U.S. is beginning to succeed in Iraq.”  Everything we hear, that if you leave the so-called Green Zone, the international zone, and you go outside of that secure area, relatively speaking, you’re in trouble if you’re an American. 

McCain: You know, that’s where you ought to catch up on things, Wolf.  General Petraeus goes out there almost every day in a non-armed Humvee.  I think you ought to catch up.  You see, you are giving the old line of three months ago.  I understand it. 

You certainly don’t get it through the filter of some of the media.  But I know for a fact that much of the success we’re experiencing, including the ability of Americans in many parts.  Not all.  We have got a long, long way to go.  We have only got two of the five brigades there to go into some neighbors in Baghdad in a secure fashion. 

Blitzer: Let me refer to a few of your colleagues in the Senate and the House.  Chuck Hagel, John Murtha, former Senator Max Cleland, the current Senator Jim Webb, they’re all like you, Vietnam War veterans.  You say this is potentially a worse situation if the U.S.  were to withdraw from Iraq as opposed to when the U.S. withdrew from Vietnam.  Why are — because they’re saying, just get out, basically, and you’re saying you have got to say.  Why do you think these Vietnam War veterans, decorated just as you are, disagree? 

McCain: Well, because I hope that all of our experience, knowledge, background, and decision-making is not driven by the experience of the Vietnam War.  I hope it’s an accumulation of all the training, experience, and knowledge I had, including 22 years in the military and 24 years in the Congress and the Senate.  But, look, don’t take my word for it that they’ll follow us home. 

Look at what they say.  Look what bin Laden says.  Look what Zarqawi says.  Look at what Khalid Sheikh Mohammed said at his tribunal down in Guantanamo.  They all say the same things.  Go on their Web sites.  They’ll tell you.  They want to follow us home.  We’re their enemy.  They’re the ones we want to destroy.  They win in Iraq the way they won in Beirut and the way that they won in Somalia, then they will be following us home.  Again, it’s not my stated — not from anything I’ve written or said.  It’s what they’re saying and writing.  (END VIDEOTAPE) 

Blitzer: So is Baghdad really getting safer? A very different view of the reality there from our own reporter on the ground who says Senator McCain couldn’t be more wrong.  Let’s go back to CNN’s Michael Ware.  (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) 

Well, Senator John McCain states his claim and offers a defense against attack from the press vetted on the war-front.  You may have noticed this statement, embedded his ample and rosy assessment, “You certainly don’t get it through the filter of some of the media.”  I guess we do not.  It is difficult to imagine what life is like when missiles are whizzing overhead.  When bombs blast and that seems so ordinary that we do not move, though we hear the sound of a projectile hitting its target only yards away from our feet, admittedly, we do not understand.

However, we can try to imagine what life is like for those living amongst the barrage of bombs and the people as they panic in the streets.  The voices we hear that have firsthand experience may be working with the media.  Still, as the images race by on our screens, as we see the strife from a safe distance, we can only surmise, this seems authentic.  At least it does to this writer.  I believe a war Correspondent has more credibility than Senator McCain.  I wonder; has the Senator forgotten what it means to be on the front.  Michael Ware may wish he could.

Journalist Wolf Blitzer turns to Mister Ware and ask for his appraisal.  I watch as he introduces the topic.  I see Ware look on and listen to McCain’s words.  I witness his raised brow and I am anticipating.  Will this mainstream media reporter offer a stilted evaluation.  Will he underestimate so as not to upset Americans or the White House or will he do as he did.

Blitzer: Michael, you’ve been there, what, for four years.  You’re walking around Baghdad on a daily basis.  Has there been this improvement that Senator McCain is speaking about? 

Michael Ware, CNN, Correspondent: Well, I’d certainly like to bring Senator McCain up to speed, if he ever gives me the opportunity.  And if I have any difficulty hearing you right now, Wolf, that’s because of the helicopter circling overhead and the gun battle that is blazing just a few blocks down the road.  Is Baghdad any safer? Sectarian violence, one particular type of violence, is down.  But none of the American generals here on the ground have anything like Senator McCain’s confidence. 

I mean, Senator McCain’s credibility now on Iraq, which has been so solid to this point, has now been left out hanging to dry.  To suggest that there’s any neighborhood in this city where an American can walk freely is beyond ludicrous.  I’d love Senator McCain to tell me where that neighborhood is and he and I can go for a stroll.  And to think that General David Petraeus travels this city in an unarmed Humvee?

I mean, in the hour since Senator McCain has said this, I’ve spoken to some military sources, and there was laughter down the line.  I mean, certainly, the general travels in a Humvee. 

There are multiple Humvees around it, heavily armed.  There are attack helicopters, Predator drones, sniper teams, all sorts of layers of protection.  So, no, Senator McCain is way off base on this one — Wolf. 

Blitzer: Michael, when Senator McCain says that there are at least some areas of Baghdad where people can walk around and whether it’s General Petraeus, the U.S.  military commander, or others, are there at least some areas where you could emerge outside of the Green Zone, the international zone, where people can go out, go to a coffee shop, go to a restaurant, and simply take a stroll? 

Ware: I can answer this very quickly, Wolf.  No.  No way on Earth can a Westerner, particularly an American, stroll any street of this capital of more than 5 million people.  I mean, if al Qaeda doesn’t get wind of you, or if one of the Sunni insurgent groups don’t descend upon you, or if someone doesn’t tip off a Shia militia, then the nearest criminal gang is just going to see dollar signs and scoop you up.  Honestly, Wolf, you’d barely last 20 minutes out there.  I don’t know what part of Neverland Senator McCain is talking about when he says we can go strolling in Baghdad.  (END VIDEOTAPE) 

Blitzer: And we have just learned that two Americans were killed tonight in the heavily fortified Green Zone in Baghdad.

Swoooh!  A moment of truth, or so I believe.  We may laugh at the striking contrast in views.  People safely in the states might debate the conflict.  Perchance we can relax around our round tables or sit in Senate seats and muse, ‘What might we do?’  congress claims to care.  They are setting dates for an allied and American exit.  Still soldiers and civilians are slaughtered daily.  “Do we need more time to see if this strategy will work?” asks Michael Ware.  He rhetorically answers his own query, “No!”  Ware states, “It is in no one’s interest to change their minds.”  Perhaps, that is the problem.

You cannot solve a problem with the same mind that created it.
~ Albert Einstein


The Truth About Iraq – Michael Ware – 6. YouTube.

Refer to references.  Is Iraq safe? . . .

  • Transcripts, Situation Room.  Cable News Network. March 27, 2007
  • U.N. secretary general holds talks with Iraq officials, By Sinan Salaheddin.  Associated Press.  USA Today.
  • Bush; ‘I’m “Trainable” and the Decision-maker’ on Iraq Troop Levels

    © copyright Betsy L. Angert


    Please view either or each.  Keith Olbermann :: Bush – The decision maker or . . .
    Please preview the CBS coverage of the press conference.  Pardon the obligatory advertisement.  Bush: ‘I’m The Decision-Maker’

    Today, President Bush meeting with his new top commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus, and the press bought back memories.  As I listened to George W. Bush speak on Iraq, I was reminded of my youth.  The once self-proclaimed “decider” explained he is “the decision maker.” 

    Back in the day, my parents worked with patients labeled “mentally retarded.”  Often these “special needs” persons were not as they appeared to be.  Diagnosis means and methods were poor.  People’s chosen perceptions played a more prominent role than “reality” might have.  The same may still hold true today and likely, it does.  Nevertheless, I recall dinner conversations and terms flying around our family table.  One was “trainable.” 

    Apparently, there are differences even within the dynamic of “retardation.”  Some are mildly affected, thus “educable.”  Others are moderately influenced; thus, they are considered “trainable.”  The severely or profoundly slow may require life-long care and supervision.  These persons are often confined to institutions. 

    I have never thought George W. was or is as others state, the stu*** word.  Nor do I think he meets the criteria for special needs.  I think the man is infinitely shrewd.  Yet, I do wonder; perchance, is the White House the proper setting for such a character.  Might this haloed hall be the best prescribed treatment center for a chap such as Bush?

    This morning I realized that my own analysis was flawed.  George W. Bush is trainable.  The “decider” spoke, as he had never done before.  He labeled himself the “decision maker.”

    I pondered.  I recall when Mister Bush articulated his regret.  He acknowledged that the characteristically George rhetoric may be too dramatic.  George W. Bush expressed his intent to capture Osama Bin Laden and bring him home, “dead, or alive!”  President Bush, when proclaiming his frustration offered, “You are either with us or against us.”  He told his enemies, “Bring it on” and they have.

    Most surprisingly to me was that George W. Bush stated his wife spoke to him of his cowboy-like language.  Laura advised him to watch his tongue.  It seems the leader had; he is learning his lessons.  Thus, I conclude, George W. Bush is “trainable.”  That is good to know.  You go George.  Please impress them, preferably, with your intellect and give up the statements of grandeur!

    As I read the text and reviewed the video of this last exchange with the press I can only conclude, training a tyrant is a slow process.  Once a “decider” decides, as far as they are concerned, they are done.  No further discussion is needed.  Mister Bush may speak to the media more eloquently; however, little has changed.

    Bush says ‘I’m the decision-maker’ about sending troops to Iraq
    By Jennifer Loven
    Associated Press

    9:50 a.m. January 26, 2007

    WASHINGTON – President Bush, on a collision course with Congress over Iraq, said Friday “I’m the decision-maker” about sending more troops to the war.  He challenged skeptical lawmakers not to prematurely condemn his buildup.

    “I’ve picked the plan that I think is most likely to succeed,” Bush said in an Oval Office meeting with senior military advisers.

    The president had strong words for lawmakers on both sides of the aisle who are lining up to support resolutions opposing his decision to send 21,500 troops to Iraq.  He challenged them to put up their own ideas.

    “I know there is skepticism and pessimism and that some are condemning a plan before it’s even had a chance to work,” the president said.  “They have an obligation and a serious responsibility therefore to put up their own plan as to what would work.”

    Despite doubts in Congress and among the public about his strategy, Bush said lawmakers agree that failure in Iraq would be a disaster and that he chose a strategy that he and his advisers thought would help turn the tide in Iraq.

    Hold onto your hats.  Grab your saddles.  People we are again in for a rough ride!

    Rally ’round.  The Trainable Decider is expecting or creating trouble again . . .

  • Keith Olbermann :: Bush – The decision maker YouTube
  • Resources for Working With Youth of Special Needs.  University of Illinois Extension
  • Bush: ‘I’m the decider’ on Rumsfeld, Defense secretary: Changes in military meet resistance.  Cable News Network  Tuesday, April 18, 2006
  • Regrets? Confessions? Bring ’em on!  By Leslie Savan.  The Boston Globe. June 2, 2006
  • pdf Regrets? Confessions? Bring ’em on!  By Leslie Savan.  The Boston Globe. June 2, 2006
  • Bush: ‘I’m the decision-maker,’ By Mark Silva.  Chicago Tribune.  January 26, 2007
  • Bush says ‘I’m the decision-maker’ about sending troops to Iraq, By Jennifer Loven.  Associated Press.  San Diego Union Tribune.
  • Bush: ‘I’m the decision-maker’ on Iraq troop levels.  Cable News Network  January 26, 2007