Send in the Clowns


Remember how President Kennedy's policy elites were referred to as 'the best and the brightest'? These well-educated policy scientists helped President Kennedy execute the ' Bay of Pigs ,' the ill-fated foreign policy debacle. The 'best and brightest' advisors continued on, with LBJ, to lead the U.S. into Southeast Asia . The Vietnam quagmire would devastate and divide this nation while claiming tens of thousands of U.S. and Vietnamese lives.

Robert S. McNamara, the Secretary of Defense during those administrations, said in retrospect, 'We of the Kennedy and Johnson administration who participated in the decisions on Vietnam acted according to what we thought were the principles and traditions of this nation. We made our decisions in light of those values. Yet we were wrong, terribly wrong.'

Over the last four years, policy scientists have been advising the Bush administration in its efforts to attack and reform Iraq . These policy institutes, like the Center for the American Experiment, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and so on, abound with learned souls who write lengthy position papers on how to go about rebuilding Iraq and reforming the entire Middle East . We hear them promote their crusade on talk radio, television, and in high and mighty sounding commentaries, published in the daily newspapers. Their self-proclaimed level of expertise is matched only by their arrogance.

They knew the war would be easy and the 'peace' more difficult. They do not lose sleep over the fact that over ten thousand Iraqi civilians have been killed or injured. Saddam, their man of the hour less than two decades ago, had become 'Blowback,' so Iraq and its vast oil reserves had to be 'liberated.' The ends justify the means, they preach to us, and Iraqi casualties are not factored into their clinical dissertations. The daily realities of this detestable war, like 60 people being injured in a car bomb attack or little children picking up discarded U.S. bomblets which leave them blinded or armless, do not move them. They only speak of their imperial mission and its glorious end.

Excuse me for my humble opinion, as I only hold one degree from a State University . However, even with my limited credentials, I can see that our involvement in this war has been flawed right from the get go, based on lies about WMDs and Saddam's ability to attack the U.S. The despot once loved by Bush Sr. and Rumsfeld could have been brought down by Iraqis themselves if not for 13 years of UN sanctions that resulted in middle class professionals fleeing Iraq , which drained the country of a crucial opposition base and aided Saddam. Now we have this miserable quagmire. The authoritarian policies of the smooth talking Mr. Bremer in response to the looting and chaos that overtook Baghdad after our arrival was not surprising. Bremer is a prot'g' of Henry Kissinger, who has long been one of our 'best and brightest.' Henry proved his most excellent killing skills in Chile and Southeast Asia .

These bright thinkers have put U.S. soldiers, limited in number and policing skills, in the middle of an impossible situation in postwar Iraq . Guerilla warfare is the most successful form of warfare in modern history. If the tiny nation of Vietnam persevered, so will Iraq . Algeria is another case in point. Young readers in the region still voraciously consume Frantz Fanon's essay 'On Violence' from his famous treatise, The Wretched of the Earth.

So I suggest that we bring the rank and file troops home immediately and in their place send in all these policy elites, especially members of all the 'think' tanks, people who lectured all over the media promoting this vapid regression in imperialism. They dictate their sanctimonious nonsense from cushy offices while people in Iraq suffer and die. Let us now airdrop them all into Baghdad . Send them in with their laptops and lengthy position papers, and they can try policing and rebuilding Iraq themselves. Once there, they better watch their backs 24-7 if they want to avoid showing up in a photo clip on Arab TV in an orange jumpsuit. For a good read on the trip over, I suggest In Retrospect by Robert S. McNamara.

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Kristina M. Gronquist's picture
Columns on STR: 10

Kristina M. Gronquist is a freelance writer based in Minneapolis. She specializes in foreign policy analysis and holds a BA in Political Science from the University of Minnesota.