Bob Franken


October 15, 2007
Shame Blame (Bob Franken)
@ 10:47 am

Even before anyone is officially admitting defeat, the “Who Lost Iraq” battle is in full swing. The mission to accomplish for those who are involved in this ferocious fight is to make sure someone else gets the blame.

That might explain why Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez is now calling the war “a nightmare” and the handling of it from the beginning “incompetent.” Never mind that Sanchez was the top commander in Iraq as the insurgency exploded and Abu Ghraib accelerated the free fall; Gen. Sanchez feels the time has come to berate those who contributed to the “nightmare,” as he calls it — those other than him, of course.

And this is not the only front in this semi-polite war. We’re starting to hear the first whispers in the “Who Lost Russia” skirmish. That one we’ve seen before, just 90 years ago, after the Marxists took over. But then the communists fell. Since then, we’ve been congratulating ourselves for the triumph of democracy over dictatorship. President Bush even gushed about the “soul” of his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin.

But now the soul mate seems to be dismantling Russia’s democracy and the debate is already raging. How could this happen? Why would a man who was a KGB operative suddenly become an authoritarian?

We could move from one debacle to another, one administration to another. Where shall we begin? Iran? Vietnam? Cuba? Each is distinguished not only by gross miscalculating but also by frantic butt-covering by those who did the miscalculating.

The point is that foreign policy is anything but an exact science. It is a guessing game, and more than often the guesses are wrong. That’s just worth remembering the next time we consider sending thousands of soldiers to their deaths. Otherwise, sooner or later the debate will be over “Who Lost the United States.”

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