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The Forever War

Saturday, Feb. 04, 2006 12:03 AM

Liberty is at stake, to hear Donald Rumsfeld tell it. And, as one might guess, it's time to trot out the rhetoric about how this is going to be a long fight. Osama bin Laden, once dismissed as irrelevant, is now the equivalent of Adolf Hitler and Vladimir Lenin.

You know the rest. It's a battle of wills in which we cannot afford to surrender. We're underestimating the terrorists, they're a monumental threat to global security, and so on.

It's called 'the long war,' the latest attempt to dress up a bungle of failed intelligence and cockeyed foreign policy as something we can possibly dredge some measure of success out of.

Far from borrowing Howard Dean's white flag, we need to bear in mind that we've hired folks to write biased stories for dissemination through the Iraqi media. We've fallen short on project goals set back in 2003, and despite unanticipated security needs, we apparently don't have sufficient oversight to either adjust the goals or increase security. We didn't send our troops into the field with sufficient armor, and we apparently didn't give them fresh drinking water in one case.

If that's how we plan for a long war, we're well and truly fucked. The will to win is inexorably linked with a solid game plan, not the wishful thinking that seems to be the hallmark of the Bush Administration. One fights a long war by being honest about one's performance and being adaptable, not from a stubborn refusal to accept criticism or responsibility about one's mistakes.

Admittedly, the Quadrennial Defense Review, from which this latest round of shiny war talk comes, is a 20-year look-ahead and covers some sensible ground in terms of the threat picture, acknowledging the need to develop mobile, quick-response units as well as tactical defense -- experts who can defuse nuclear devices, for example. On the other hand, it raises the question about what to do with China and its growing military might. The answer, it seems, is to accelerate long-range strike capability -- that is, lob a few missiles along a suborbital trajectory.

Bad enough that the Bush Administration has saddled future generations with a still-skyrocketing deficit, they're of a mind to saddle our grandchildren with a long war.

"I suppose there'll be a war now, hm? All that running around and shooting one another. You'd think that sooner or later, it would go out of fashion!"

-- Centauri Ambassador Londo Mollari, Babylon 5: The Gathering

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