Featured Column
Week of 10.3.2005
"I think we have a problem!"
          The two couches in the Oval office faced each other with an antique rosewood coffee table separating them. Sitting on a solid oak straight backed chair facing the sides of both couches settled the President of the United States. On one couch, to the President’s right, sat the Vice President. On his right sat the newly appointed Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Facing these two, closest to the President’s left is the Secretary of State and to her left is the Secretary of Defense.
           The President had called the high level meeting to discuss one subject: The ongoing war in Iraq, or, as the President calls it, with his Texas twang, “That biness in Iraq.”
           The President started the conversation with, “Well, folks, watcha think we outta do with that biness over there?”
           His Secretary of Defense took the initiative, “Mr. President, we’ve turned the corner. The tide is going in our favor. We’re finally winning this damn war.”
          The new Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff cut in, saying, “Excuse me, Mr. Secretary, but are we talking about the same war. We’re losing men and women every day. The suicide bombers are taking a dreadful toll, causing much of the population to be afraid to walk out of their houses. The Iraqis are frightened to death about being accused of helping America. They hate us being in their country.”
           The Vice President fidgeted with the collar of his jacket, straightened his tie and said, “Mr. President, we’re rebuilding Iraq at a steady pace, although not as fast as we’d like because the insurgents are constantly attacking our workers and bombing our trucks and supply lines. On the positive side, last week we finished construction of a storage shed in Kabul.”
           The President leaned forward and nodded towards his Secretary of State, as though asking for her comments.
           “Mr. President, I’ve recently been to Germany, France, Italy and Spain and met with their heads of state and I can honestly tell you that they are solidly behind us attempting to give the Iraqis a taste of democracy, but they will not contribute men, goods or public encouragement. They will, however, offer up prayers for our fighting men and women and they have promised me that in any press conferences they will offer up nothing but positive feelings towards you personally.”
          The President stood up from his chair, hitched up his pants, scratched his left arm with his right hand and said, “Well, ain’t that just fine. What the heck am I supposed to do with this information? Every headline I read in the N.Y. Times says that we’re getting our butts kicked over there. Seems as though even if them Iraqis pass their new constitution, the fighting, the bombings, the slaughter will continue for who knows how long? Now give me something to go on, all of you.”
           His Secretary of Defense spurted out, “I say we keep our men and women fighting over there. We can’t pull anyone out. We have to stay there as long as it takes, even if it’s a hundred years. We gotta show ‘em who’s boss. American never backs down – that is, unless things look hopeless, like in Vietnam.”
            The Vice President interjected, “Give us some time, Mr. President. We still have thousands of oil wells to get pumping. And we haven’t got the fresh water problem fixed yet. In a couple of years we should have electricity flowing to a couple of smaller cities and by 2009 we’ll have many of the roads repaired. Patience, sir, patience, please.”
           The Secretary of State stood up from the couch, brushed her red dress with both hands and stated, “Mr. President. Although much of the world is strongly against our continued
presence in Iraq, we must show our allies that once we give our word we stay the course. We never give up. We fight to the finish, except of course, if things look terribly bleak, like they did in Vietnam.”
           The President turned towards the General and said, “So, General, what does our military think about this biness in Iraq now?”
          “Mr. President. Our troops are tired and our National Guard troops want to get home to their families. Our American men and women will fight as long as we ask them to. They’re loyal and well-trained. Best army in the world. We can defeat any army or navy in the world in a fair fight. We can kick butt, but this isn’t the kind of fighting we were trained for. These people come out of the woodwork, they rise from the dust clouds, they appear suddenly riding a bicycle and the next minute fifty Iraqis and ten American soldiers are dead. Our hope for peace and victory is to stop the hatred in their hearts for us. I don’t have an answer, Mr. President. As a soldier I will follow the orders given to me. It does, however, appear to me, Sir, that this war, as it’s called, will continue this way for many years to come.”
          The President, his face becoming more flushed by the minute, stretched out his legs, put his hands in his jacket pockets and said, “So, what the hell are we to do now? If we keep our fighting people there thousands of good, young Americans will die every year. And there’ll be thousands of Iraqi’s dying too. For what? On the other hand, if we pull out soon this whole thing will look like another Vietnam. I’m telling you, America needs a victory. The American public likes a winner. We need a conquest, a win, a triumph. At that, the President rose from his chair, walked to a near wall and stared at a hanging portrait of President Theodore Roosevelt. After a quiet minute he turned and said, “So, General, does it look like Iran has any “weapons of mass destruction?”
The President talks about Iraq
      Ron was born in the Bronx, New York. He was raised in Southern California and lived in Honolulu, Hawaii for three decades. He attended Inglewood High School and U.C.L.A.. His youthful goal was to become a major league baseball player. In Hawaii Ron played on a series of championship softball teams. He is an active tennis player.
      Ron’s career began at the Inglewood Daily News where as a youngster was enrolled in a publisher training program. He served as an advertising salesman, circulation manager, writer and layout and design staffer. He has been a newspaper publisher at the Oregon City Oregon Enterprise Courier, the Beloit Wisconsin Daily News, the Elizabeth, New Jersey Daily Journal and This Week Magazines (Hawaii).
      Ron lives with his wife, Marilyn, in San Diego, California. His two children, Douglas and Diane also live in the San Diego area. Ron’s interests range far and wide and are reflected in his columns diverse topics.
Ron Cruger