Debate can and will rage about how things are going in Iraq and what the future might contain. Certainly the issue has enough political spin to make any observer dizzy. However, these two items I found particularly disheartening:
- Bechtel, the giant international construction firm is pulling out. Not only is it too unsafe for their workers, much of the work is simply allowed to fall apart again. Even with the billion of dollars at stake in Iraq, Bechtel is "cutting and running". Or being logical.
Bechtel's contracts were part of an enormous U.S. effort to put Iraq back on its feet after decades of wars and sanctions. That rebuilding campaign, once touted as the Marshall Plan of modern times, was supposed to win the hearts of skeptical Iraqis by giving them clean water, dependable power, telephones that worked and modern sanitation. President Bush said he wanted the country's infrastructure to be the very best in the Middle East.
But Bechtel -- which charged into Iraq with American "can-do" fervor -- found it tough to keep its engineers and workers alive, much less make progress in piecing Iraq back together.
"Did Iraq come out the way you hoped it would?" asked Cliff Mumm, Bechtel's president for infrastructure work. "I would say, emphatically, no. And it's heartbreaking." [More]
- A joint editorial by the Army, Navy, and Air Force Times will call for the firing of Sec.Rumsfeld. This is more than unusual.
Rumsfeld has lost credibility with the uniformed leadership, with the troops, with Congress and with the public at large. His strategy has failed, and his ability to lead is compromised. And although the blame for our failures in Iraq rests with the secretary, it will be the troops who bear its brunt.
But then, if the Democrats win Congress and force a pullout, Republicans can blame the end all on them ("if only we had stayed the course").
Maybe Rove does know what he's doing, and is simply throwing guys like Santorum under the bus.