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  • azalphainvestor azalphainvestor Dec 17, 2004 11:56 AM Flag

    Fidling as Iraq Burns

    Fiddling as Iraq Burns

    The White House seems to have slipped the bonds of simple denial and escaped into the disturbing realm of utter delusion. On Tuesday, there was President Bush hanging the nation's highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, on George Tenet, the former C.I.A. director who slept through the run-up to Sept. 11 and then did the president and the nation the great disservice of declaring that it was a "slam-dunk" that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.

    It was a fatal misjudgment.

    Another Medal of Freedom was given to Paul Bremer III, the chief civilian administrator of the American occupation, who made the heavily criticized decision to disband the defeated Iraqi Army and presided over an ever-worsening security situation. Thousands upon thousands have died in this unnecessary and incompetently conducted war, yet here was the president handing out medals as if some kind of triumph had been achieved. If these guys could get the highest civilian award, what honor is left for someone who actually does a good job?

    A third medal was given to Gen. Tommy Franks, who led the invasion of Iraq, which Mr. Bush, in his peculiar way, has characterized as a "catastrophic success." It's an interesting term. Some people have applied it to the president's run for re-election.

    By anyone's standards, terrible things are happening in Iraq, and no amount of self-congratulation in Washington can take the edge off the horror being endured by American troops or the unrelenting agony of the Iraqi people. The disconnect between the White House's fantasyland and the world of war in Iraq could hardly have been illustrated more starkly than by a pair of front-page articles in The New York Times on Dec. 10. The story at the top of the page carried the headline: "It's Inauguration Time Again, and Access Still Has Its Price - $250,000 Buys Lunch With President and More."

    The headline on the story beneath it said: "Armor Scarce for Heavy Trucks Transporting U.S. Cargo in Iraq."

    This administration has many things on its mind besides the welfare of overstretched, ill-equipped G.I.'s dodging bombers and snipers in Iraq. In addition to the inauguration, which will cost tens of millions of dollars, Mr. Bush is busy with his obsessive campaign against "junk and frivolous lawsuits," his effort to further lighten the tax load on the nation's wealthiest individuals and corporations, and his campaign to cut the legs from under the proudest achievement of the New Deal, Social Security.

    So much for America's wartime priorities."


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