Featured Column
Week of 11.21.2005
What a mess!
          Let’s go on record that I don’t think we can just pull our troops out of Iraq. Regardless of the validity of why we went there in the first place, we can’t just put our tails between our legs and march out. We can’t act like Roberto Duran and say “No mas!”
          That said, I’ve been spending the past few days trying to sort out and put in some logical order our more recent military and political involvement in the Mideast.
          On September 11, 2001 New York’s Twin Towers and the Pentagon were attacked and thousands of American citizens were killed. Almost all of the attackers were Saudi Arabians. Because of these attacks we marched into Afghanistan in an attempt to find the instigator of the attacks; Asama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda terrorist network. We bomb the al-Qaeda terrorist camps in Afghanistan and we force the Taliban government out of power. Today we find the Taliban bad guys in the Afghanistan mountains still causing severe problems. We have not found Osama bin Laden and the al-Qaeda terrorist network is getting stronger by the day, blowing up Iraqis, Americans and Afghanis with regularity.
          In February, 2003, Secretary of State Colin Powell, in a speech to the assembled United Nations, cited Iraqi weapons of mass destruction as an imminent threat to world security. Massive peace demonstrations are held around the world protesting our potential invasion of Iraq.
           In March of 2003 President George W. Bush enlists the aid of the United Kingdom and the combined forces launch a war against Iraq. In April Baghdad falls to U.S. troops. In May President Bush announces the end of combat operations in Iraq. In December, 2003 American forces capture Saddam Hussein. They find him hiding below ground in an enlarged gopher hole.
           In 2004 it was estimated that there are between 8,000 and 12,000 hardcore insurgents and a total of over 20,000 “active insurgent sympathizers. By 2005 these numbers are probably much greater. Although it is difficult to estimate, there are believed to be approximately 20,000 Iraqi civilians killed during the fighting. No doubt these numbers are also much greater than estimated.
           It seems like ancient history when we claimed that “I’m still the president” Hussein had atom bombs, hydrogen bombs, poison gas bombs and smallpox bombs in his arsenal and that he might be shipping some of the above to American cities to wreak havoc. The United Nations and our own C.I.A. send hundreds of inspectors to check out all the stinky, musty caves in Iraq on a wild search for weapons of mass destruction. All that was found were 6 rusty World War II Garand rifles and two dull bayonets.
           We pretty much leveled many Iraqi cities during the brief warfare and we did “Shock and Awe” those few Iraqi soldiers that hadn’t stripped off their uniforms and returned home saying, “Not me, I wasn’t a soldier.”
          We’ve been looking for Osama bin Laden since September 11, 2001 without any good fortune. The guy is as elusive as a World Series victory for the Chicago Cubs.
          We made up some playing cards adorned with the faces of Saddam’s bullies and cronies and to date we’ve found quite a few of these bootlicking cronies, which hasn’t changed much that could improve the average American or Iraqi’s lifestyle.
           In the meantime, Saddam lingers in prison, still answering all questions with, “I didn’t do nothin’ – I’m still president.”
           His thug pals are answering all questions with, “Who, me?” 
           It seems to me that right from the beginning we should have focused all of our energies towards capturing and punishing those responsible for planning and carrying out the attack on 9/11. We would have shown the world that you mess with America and you’ll pay with unimaginable pain. Instead, we have become involved in a war that is not going well. Our own lawmakers are in a divisive contest to determine when we shall pull our troops out of Iraq, which must give great solace and hope to our enemies.
          It is ironic that every day in Iraq, and in other nations around the world, we are faced with the “Shock and Awe” of terrorist bombs that are killing and maiming not only Americans, but citizens of many nations.
          We have imprisoned “lame-brain” Hussein, which has not caused much difference in the lives of Americans, but bin Laden is still out there causing unthinkable problems plus we have watched the disgusting rise of a world-class thug in the person of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
          It is with substantial hindsight that we reflect on our current involvement in Iraq and realize that we are there under false pretenses. Nobody has a plan, nobody knows where it will end. It seems reasonable to assume that without American involvement, and perhaps even with our involvement, that for decades in the future that ravaged land will continue to be the quagmire of war, revolution and cataclysm. We are, indeed, involved in a religious war – a continuation of the wars that have been waged in the area for millennium.
          We will have to wait a while longer. We need more information before we decide on our next course of action.
          For now, we are in this mess thanks to picayune and emotional reactions and poor, biased information. For the immediate future all we can do is support our troops in that foreign land. This is no time for debate of whether to stay or leave.
          Someday, sometime there will be hell to pay for this odious error. Now is not the time.
The mess in 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