By Scott Patterson
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Monday, December 5, 2005
Bashing the Bush administration can be difficult for left-leaning individuals, for oftentimes those listening tend to dismiss their criticisms as purely regurgitated rhetoric. They believe critics criticize just to criticize, thereby convincing themselves that the expressed criticisms are not valid.
To counter this, I have developed an ingenious plan. Today, I am a Republican. Today, in my final column for the Arizona Daily Wildcat, the conservative side of me is on the prowl, and Bush's latest speech has me licking my lips.
It was with my newfound Republican ears that I listened with intent to the first of three speeches on the eve of the Dec. 15 legislative elections in Iraq given by our commander in chief. Even in my new form, however, I found the speech wanting.
On Wednesday, in front of a Bush-friendly audience in Annapolis, Md., our leader defied rising public opposition, pledging to have a clear path for victory and vowing once again not to abandon Iraq.
On the plus side, ol' Dubya confirmed speculation that the U.S. was looking to draw down troops next year as Iraqi security gained strength. On the down side, however, he made no promises (which may actually be a plus, considering his record on keeping promises), saying troop numbers may potentially increase if the situation demanded.
Sen. Ken Salazar (D-Colo.) called the president's speech a "step in the right direction," and although that may be true, two items must be addressed: First, that step should have been taken months ago. Second, a step in the right direction means nothing if two steps are taken in the opposite direction a week or two later.
Progress is not the word to be used in Iraq. Stagnation or retreat would be better choices. It's like this guy has to be hit over the head with a Christmas tree to get him to understand. Christmas is right around the corner, and the mean old Grinch administration is not only stealing it, but it's killing the Whos.
We had our chance to bring the troops home when Bush declared an end to hostilities in May 2003, but instead, we turned an offensive powerhouse into daddy day care for democratization. In June 2004, sovereignty was turned over to Iraq; again troops were left behind. Iraq's first elections in January yielded the same result.
The consequence: 2,127 dead and 15,704 wounded (according to official U.S. Department of Defense estimates), and a glut of empty stockings. Moreover, the violence won't stop anytime soon. Landmines, roadside bombs and other explosive devices continue to disfigure, maim and kill our soldiers, leaving them caroling, praying, imploring, "All I want for Christmas are my own two feet."
And what's worse, the administration has no intention of doing anything about it. The conservative blood running through my veins knows it. Junior and company will do everything in their power to keep Iraq occupied. They have had several opportunities to get our troops out of harm's way, yet have refused. The elections of Dec. 15 will not change this.
Therefore, liberals, moderates, apathetics and conservatives like myself must act in unison, join together and call for an end to this madness. Christmas is a time for joy and celebration; not for massacre and ruin, making now as good a time as any put this plan into action.
For all the John Does out there who believe that taking issue with U.S. policy equates to anti-American, liberal horseradish: Come on, be serious. You aren't such simpletons. Bush's foreign policy has not worked wonders for our country. It has hurt the economy, damaged our relations with the world, and mauled and murdered thousands of U.S. citizens.
We all know that Bush would do a better job on the UA spirit squad than running the country, but it's too late to change that now. What we can change, however, is rate at which innocent Americans die in vain.
We must band together. We must speak out. We must remind our president that he was elected by the people, for people. We as a people must stand together and declare in one voice that more death is not on our Christmas list.
In the spirit of Christmas, it's the least we could do.
Scott Patterson is an international studies senior. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.