November 3, 2003

Keep Refighting the Good Fight
Be part of the War Party's problem
by Matthew Barganier

An interesting report in Friday's Wall Street Journal looked back at last spring's Topoff2 drill, which simulated a biological attack in Chicago and a dirty bombing in Seattle. May was a big month for gloating, you'll recall, and Topoff2 was one of many encores in the Bush apotheosis extravaganza. Where have all the good times gone?

"At the time of the exercise, officials were quick to praise Topoff2…Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge and Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich pronounced the drill a tremendous success. Since then, officials have toned down their enthusiasm: Michael D. Brown, a deputy of Mr. Ridge, told Congress recently that Topoff2 'revealed several areas for improvement.'"

That's a diplomatic way to describe stunning failures in "one of the most heavily scripted drills ever staged." Chicago hospitals were told what disease to expect; Seattle coordinators "knew weeks in advance the exact time and location of the 'dirty bomb.'" The White House prepared its responses in advance and read the lines as they were written.

What happened? Personnel, equipment, and information got lost in leviathan's bowels. Homeland Security's color-coded alert system caused two days' worth of confusion. Untold numbers of pretend victims died fake horrible deaths in the government's own PR stunt.

But hey, no use dwelling on the past, or even the present, for that matter. So terrorists can still smuggle uranium past Customs and sneak bombs and box cutters onto planes with ease. So what? So what if the war on Iraq is a disaster? As an opinion piece in Friday's Journal put it, "Instead of focusing on how to win the war we are now engaged in, [critics of the administration] want to refight the argument over how we got in."

And that's bad. What's done is done. Don't cry over spilled milk. Let's all pull together and win this one for the boss.

Tiresome, sure, but almost convincing. Until Wesley Clark invents time travel and we peaceniks can go back and avert Gulf War II, why dispute the arguments for a mission accomplished six months ago? Are we going to be part of the problem, or part of the solution?

Well, if "problem" means "opposition to imperial lunacy," then I, for one, plan to be part of it. That the hawks want us to ignore the proof while we're drowning in the pudding is understandable. The war was not won by defeating the Iraqi army; if anything, the war has gotten worse since it "ended." Spring's boasts have soured as fall's bodies and bills arrive on American doorsteps. But the hawks need to divorce the war from the occupation in order to save their meaningless victory from its awful consequences. So they call for bipartisanship, they implore us to think of the future, they upbraid the obstructionists, they do everything but explain how today is not the tomorrow we once warned them about.

Don't be fooled. The war debate rages on because Iraq is just the beginning. Enlist in the Bush corps now – even for the noblest of reasons – and, like many reservists, you'll be in for more than you ever imagined.

~ Matthew Barganier

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Matthew Barganier works for an educational philanthropy in Baton Rouge, LA. A late bloomer in his mid-twenties, he has only recently joined the ranks of web punditry. He is an alumnus of Louisiana State University and the University of Alabama.

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