What a quagmire

November 27, 2005

Readers on Iraq: What a quagmire

Many readers responded to my Security Mom column.

Mark Holmberg wrote:

“You are right, “we deserve information that can help us make informed decisions and be
more prepared to respond if something bad happens.” However, you missed the point when
you talked of fostering democracy in Iraq. Iraq was not the threat it is today before we
blundered in there based on bad information. Our leaders “should open up on” this subject
and they “should open up on” how we are going to get out of Iraq. I applaud members of
Congress who voted for war based on misinformation and now admit they were wrong. Our
leaders are human and make mistakes, whether they admit them or not. When mistakes are
discovered, real leaders acknowledge them and attempt to set them straight.

Because our leaders made grave errors about the existence of weapons of mass destruction
and Saddam Hussein's alleged ties to al-Qaida, Iraq is now absolutely a threat. Our presence
has drawn those who hate America to Iraq, radicals from outside who weren't there when we
arrived. Our mistaken actions have given them ample ammunition to persuade others to join
them in killing our soldiers. And they're not about to leave Iraq just because a democracy has
been established by an occupying force. What a mess! What a quagmire!

So, what shall we do? This is a great question with no easy answer, until you think of
American and coalition soldiers dying. It's time to acknowledge our mistake, develop an exit
strategy, and stop making these soldiers targets. There are plenty of real threats, a few of
which you point out in your article. How are we, as a country, going to respond to them if
large parts of our resources-military and monitory-are going to Afghanistan and Iraq?

Yes, the Unites States has limited resources and we must use them efficiently to provide the
best level of security possible. Our response to hurricane Katrina makes me and many
Americans think we are more vulnerable than we should be. We all should -moms, dads, and
children-be concerned with security. Can our government be trusted to “help us make
informed decisions and be more prepared to respond if something bad happens”? This is an
essential function of government and the answer had better be yes.

Thank you for your article on November 20. Our opinions differ. However, we share similar
concerns regarding security and we ask similar questions, such as, “why aren't we being
given information that puts a face on so-called weapons of mass destruction?” Lets all keep
asking these questions and demanding answers.”

Mark, Great points, but I still believe in the nobility of the Iraq mission, the number one
priority of which was regime change. In the bigger picture, the years-long projected fight
against world-wide terrorism, we've taken out a major threat and liberated many. Don't
forget Saddam paid terrorist families a bounty for murder perpetrated on innocents.

Isn't it great though, we can find some common ground in the midst of all the rancor?

Copyright © 2005 Marietta Daily Journal. All rights reserved.
All other trademarks and Registered trademarks are property of their respective owners.



Leaders should open up on war

November 20, 2005

Leaders should open up on war

I'm a security mom. Remember us? We used to be soccer moms, but after 9/11 we gained
the attention of politicians and pollsters because they believed we'd vote based on who'd
keep us safer. They thought we were afraid.

My friends and I always took exception to that. We preferred to think of ourselves not as
fear-filled, but as informed, pragmatic and indignant. Sure, we talked about how scary it
would have been on that airplane with the shoe bomber, or whether we'd have rolled with
Todd Beamer on Flight 93. But we also talked about Russia's missing nukes and fostering
democracy in hotbeds like Iraq and Afghanistan, which could give young, radical Muslims an
alternative to terror.

These days, the wavering in Congress has many security moms upset. It's difficult to believe
so many leaders have gotten so far off track since 9/11 and their votes in support of Bush
and the U.N. resolutions. Many threats to our country have been diminished since we were
attacked, but you'd never know it by listening to their posturing.

The party on the left continues to harp that the war is wrong, but I've yet to hear their
solutions to terrorism, unless you count John Kerry's heretofore unknown Plan, which he's
apparently decided to keep secret despite all the troops who're dying.

The media are like my teenage girls, sounding the trumpet dramatically on issues that are
red herrings, distracting us from what we really need to know.

And the party on the right doesn't do much better with their information. They should be
reminding us daily why we fight and what's at stake.

For example, simulations have been done on the effects of a terror attack, and I think
Americans should be informed. One war-game I ran across, a port security study by a private
consultant, was alarming.

It deals with the dilemmas and ripple effects faced by authorities in a mock series of events.
The opening scenario reveals a threat of dirty bombs (radiation detected) entering the
country via shipping containers. The “game” is played out in three different ports and spans
just 12 days, but the threat sequence ultimately costs almost $70 billion in economic loss,
crisis on Wall Street, an explosion in downtown Chicago and major supply chain interruptions
that make Katrina look like a day in the park.

So why aren't we being given this kind of information that puts a face on so-called weapons
of mass destruction? And what happened to all those movies from the Cold War that informed
us about mushroom clouds and fallout? I truly don't want to scare the kids, but how will they
ever understand the threat when it's just a meaningless acronym to them – WMD?

Our leaders should be raising our awareness of potential threats. Not with silly color codes or
pointless accusations, but hard facts.

We deserve information that can help us make informed decisions and be more prepared to
respond if something bad happens.




Copyright © 2005 Marietta Daily Journal. All rights reserved.
All other trademarks and Registered trademarks are property of their respective owners.



Iraq message

December 3, 2005

To: Don McKee

Daily Journal

From: Mark Holmberg

RE: “Perdue returns with Iraq

         Marietta Daily Journal, December 2, 2005


Dear Mr. McKee:

do not share our governor’s opinion that “our troops understand the mission” in
Iraq. The
average age of the American soldier in Iraq is nineteen. Does Mr. Purdue
actually believe that the average nineteen year old really understands the complex
and evolving reasons for this war? After all, their commander in chief has difficulty
defining “the mission” and has no idea when, or if, American troop will leave Iraq.

What exactly is “the mission” in Iraq?
The Bush administration initially justified the invasion of Iraq
because they were certain that
Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) existed
there. That proved wrong. In fact, prior to the declaration of war, the
international weapons inspectors told us they found no evidence of WMD, much less that
they existed.

justification the Bush administration used for declaring war on Iraq
was alleged links between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda. Those links never
existed. However, there is likely an al-Qaeda presence in Iraq
today due to our presence there. Therein lies the quagmire that we find
ourselves in today.

During a speech on
November 30th George W. Bush said, “Our tactics are flexible and
dynamic.” Well yeah, when his initial justification for war turned out to be so
wrong, his tactics must change. We find our troops fighting an enemy that the
administration never believed would
be so formidable. Who is defining our tactics and flexibility, the Bush
administration, or our enemy?

Not until November
29th when the Bush administration published a 27 page document
outlining their position (with no exit strategy) did they have a clearly
defined mission. This was done mainly to answer critics. At least the
administration put some thought into writing this document and they may now
understand how they define “the mission.”

Seeing the
administration struggle makes me think that the young soldiers Mr. Purdue and
the other governors “talked with” during Thanksgiving week probably had no more
clue of “the mission” than their Commander in Chief. If past experience is any
indication, careful scripting and 
screening went into the governor’s meetings with troops. I suspect soldiers
with the least bit of doubt or confusion about “the mission” (whatever that may
have been at the time) were not invited. Obviously, it was important to the
Bush administration that the positively framed comments and accounts of the
governor’s be released and printed just days prior to the start of Mr. Bush’s
media campaign and release of the 27 page “strategy for victory in Iraq.” The
word, propaganda comes to mind.

Please don’t get
me wrong, I support our soldiers in Iraq.
Even though “the mission” in Iraq
is a moving target, it’s not their fault. They are doing the vital job cleaning
up the mistakes of George W. Bush. However, I want to see each and every one of
our soldiers safely home as soon as possible.

Copyright © 2006 Mark Holmberg. All rights reserved.