Three years ago, the United States invaded Iraq. We can all run the story through our minds: Shock and Awe, Coalition of the Willing, Mission Accomplished, looting, "Stuff happens," no W.M.D., suicide bombers, purple fingers, blasted shrine.
Many who supported the invasion have taken this anniversary to argue that it all would have been worthwhile if things had been run better. They argue that if the coalition forces had been large enough to actually secure the country, to keep insurgents from raiding Saddam Hussein's ammunition depots, to give the people a sense of safety, the country might well be on the road to a hopeful future.
We doubt it. The last three years have shown how little our national leaders understood Iraq, and have reminded us how badly attempts at liberation from the outside have gone in the past. Given where we are now, the question of whether a botched invasion created a lost opportunity might be moot, except for one thing. The man who did the botching, Donald Rumsfeld, is still the secretary of defense.
The generals on the ground understood what a disaster they were creating in the pell-mell race to Baghdad, which left in its wake an entire country full of places where Saddam Hussein's loyalists could regroup and prepare to carry on a permanent war against the Americans and their fellow Iraqis. As the new book "Cobra II" by Michael Gordon of The Times and Bernard Trainor underscores, the generals in the field were overruled by directives from Washington, where military decisions were being made by men who were guided not by reality, but by their own beloved myths about what Iraq was like and how the war was going to be won.
Chances are that at the time George W. Bush did not have an inkling of how badly he was being served by the decision makers at the Pentagon. But the fact that Mr. Rumsfeld continues to hold his job tells us that Mr. Bush doesn't care, that he prefers living in the same dream world that his secretary of defense inhabits.
In their wishful thinking, Mr. Bush and Mr. Rumsfeld undoubtedly tell themselves what they tell us: that the Iraqi people are better off than they were under the brutal dictator, that the Iraqi security forces are gradually learning how to take over defense of their own country and that a unified government is still a good possibility. It's true that many Iraqis are better off. Others are in far worse straits — their homes have been ruined, their relatives killed, their jobs evaporated and their ability to walk the streets in safety obliterated. Women's rights are being threatened in the south, and sectarian warfare has put families with mixed Shiite-Sunni ancestry at risk in their own neighborhoods. It is hard to quantify relative degrees of misery and pain in these circumstances. But unlike the horrors of Saddam Hussein, the horrors of the present can be laid at America's doorstep.
If the mission in Iraq was to create a stable democracy in the heart of the Middle East and inspire neighboring countries to follow the same path, the results have been crushingly bad — unless Mr. Bush regards the election of Palestinian terrorists as the leaders in Gaza and the West Bank as a step forward. Iran is extending its sway by the hour. In Afghanistan, American forces are too thin to do much more than protect the central government in downtown Kabul.
The idea that Iraqi security forces are poised to take over the job of protecting the people in a unified country is almost ludicrous. Many of those forces are actually sectarian militias that have been armed by the coalition forces, but not changed by them. So far, attempts at creating a government that could bring the country some modicum of stability have fallen apart. There are no leaders with the strength or credibility or even desire to rally anyone but their own co-religionists or ethnic group.
When Americans ask themselves whether anything has been accomplished in Iraq, they do take note that there have been no terrorist attacks on American soil since 9/11. That has been an enormous blessing, for which law enforcement officials can offer no explanation other than somewhat perplexed guesses. It's possible that the chaos in Iraq has distracted Al Qaeda, diverting its energy to fomenting civil war between Sunnis and Shiites in the heart of the Middle East. If that is so, we may have bought short-term peace while creating a training ground for terrorists and a no man's land where they can operate with impunity.
The Iraq debacle ought to serve as a humbling lesson for future generations of American leaders — although, if our leaders were capable of being humbled, they could have simply looked back to Vietnam. For the present, our goal must be to minimize the damage, through the urgent diplomacy of the current ambassador and forceful reminders that American forces are not prepared to remain for one day in a country whose leaders prefer civil war to peaceful compromise.
While we are distracted by picking up the pieces, there is no time to imagine what the world might be like if George Bush had chosen to see things as they were instead of how he wanted them to be three years ago. History will have more time to consider the question.
While I'm in London for New Years Eve, we'll get 1 second of more fun than everyone else back home! lol
It's going to be funny when everyone is like, 3, 2, 1, 1, Happy New Year!!!!
******************************************************************* The adjustment will be carried out by sticking an extra second into atomic clocks worldwide at the stroke of midnight.
"Enjoy New Year's Eve a second longer," the institute said in an explanatory notice. "You can toot your horn an extra second this year."
Coordinated Universal Time coincides with winter time in London. On the U.S. East Coast, the extra second occurs just before 7 p.m. on New Year's Eve. Atomic clocks at that moment will read 23:59:60 before rolling over to all zeros.
A leap second is added to keep uniform timekeeping within 0.9 second of the Earth's rotational time, which can speed up or slow down because of many factors, including ocean tides. The first leap second was added on June 30, 1972, according to NIST, an arm of the U.S. Commerce Department.
NEW YORK - A Manhattan man's holiday spirits soared to celestial heights Friday when a judge gave him permission to change his name to Jesus Christ. Jose Luis Espinal, 42, of Washington Heights, said he was "happy" and "grateful" that the judge approved the change, effective immediately. Espinal said he was moved to seek the name change about a year ago when it dawned on him, "I am the person that is that name."
Espinal, who acted as his own lawyer, got the change approved by Manhattan Civil Court Judge Diane Lebedeff, who said she was "satisfied that this application is neither novel, nor would granting it pose practical problems."
Espinal, who is unemployed and unmarried and has no children, said, "This was not done for any reason other than I am that person. You're dealing with the real deal."
I love the Chinese Buffett. Some fat lady parked herself at the cantalope tray and just stood there eating. At least it was cantalope, not cake. Next some guy started showing me pictures of himself with Lindsey Lohan because he asked me if I was a college student. He also claimed that he had lunch with Chief Justice Ruth Gindberg last week, who he went to college with. He had a shirt with his own picture on it with "his Ferraris" but he had crabmeat on himself, so it was difficult to not laugh when he pointed to his shirt and told me to look at it.
I went to go look at a camera today at J&R in Manhattan. When I came out of the store the SWAT team was window shopping. They had machine guns, bullet proof vests, helmets, a bomb dog and all. I overheard one guy say to the other, "I have an HDTV at home. . . " as I I walked by and was like WTF?!
Earth's north magnetic pole is drifting away from North America and toward Siberia at such a clip that Alaska might lose its spectacular Northern Lights in the next 50 years, scientists said Thursday.
Previous studies have shown that the strength of the Earth's magnetic shield has decreased 10 percent over the past 150 years. During the same period, the north magnetic pole wandered about 685 miles out into the Arctic, according to a new analysis