You'll notice that the Newsweek editors didn't hesitate to adorn the cover with the spurious Bush "victory" on the aircraft carrier, one of the biggest theatrical props since the DeMille days. As I watched that fiasco I could only wonder why they had not also rented some of Aida's elephants as a subliminal way of boasting of another Bush triumph.
That would only make sense to the corrupt politicians on the ground over there who have yet to figure out how to run the place without giving up some of their U.S. largesse. The "government" has been deadlocked ever since the last elections (scarily like the worsening conditions here - which likely will grow worse after the November elections), frequent bombings and the absence of electrical power in Baghdad for nearly 20 hours a day in searing summer heat. A New York Times reporter on the streets told of polluted drinking water, trash strewn streets, blackouts, unsafe hospitals and still-shattered buildings destroyed by insurgents and American bombings.
For a more authentic comment on the democracy we created with nearly a trillion dollars, hear what Haitham Farhan cynically told the Times as he stood in his shop without electricity:
"Democracy didn't bring us anything. Democracy brought us a can of Coke and a beer."
So now president Obama is removing U.S. troops from Iraq with many of them destined for another losing cause, Afghanistan. Like his predecessors, Obama has trapped himself in the belief that there is something to win in that part of the world even as internal reports tell him otherwise, costing us more and more in lives while strangling the treasury. What is it about American presidents, anyway, that they can't escape the grasp of the military-industrial complex that President Eisenhower warned us about, a merger that prefers hawks to eagles?
Lyndon Johnson, who was responsible for so many progressive social programs, was dogged by Vietnam, and eventualy gave up any notion of seeking a second term. Obama, who crashed though an eternity of indifference or obstruction to preside over health care, Wall Street reforms and many other sorely needed programs, needs to have a copy of the final LBJ years on his desk. Obama can't win in Afghanistan because despite the assurances of the military and right-wing chorus, nobody has yet given us a clue to what winning really means.