Nov 21, 2005

Spin Cycle, Activate!

Reuters reports that U.S. troops killed Iraqi civilians - including a child - today. This happened while U.S. troops fired on a minivan that had failed to respond to their requests that the minivan stop and after firing warning shots.

Already, we're getting the same, tired, old "it's not us, it's them" spin:

"These tragedies only happen because Zarqawi and his thugs are out there driving around with car bombs," said Major Steve Warren, a spokesman for U.S. forces in Baquba, in reference to the leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
I'm torn. On the one hand, this story reads like those good-cop-shoots-suspect stories in which a perpetrator gets shot on the mistaken assumption that he or she is carrying a firearm or weapon. Let's say you were a US soldier in Iraq. How would you respond if it were you in that position? You just don't know - and can't know for sure - that this person (or minivan) in front of you is packing heat. So what do you do? You err on the side of caution. And your conclusion wouldn't have been all that far fetched:
Scores of suicide car bombs have been launched at military and police checkpoints, as well as convoys and civilian targets, making soldiers wary of any vehicle.

In the past few days more than 160 people have died in a spate of suicide car bombings and other attacks across Iraq, including attacks on Shi'ite mosques in the northeast and at the funeral of a Shi'ite tribal sheikh near Baquba on Saturday.
On the other hand, this story is not going to paint the US government or military in any more positive light in the international court of opinion. It's unfortunate (to put it mildly) that this happened to Iraqi civilians, nobody disputes that. But what will be important to watch is how Dubya and crew choose to spin this unfortunate event in Iraq today. It will either reveal if this administration is really serious about nurting diplomacy, or confirm for us whether politics, and not true "support for the troops," is the order of the day.

But nurturing diplomacy takes tact, compromise, and an adept skill at anticipating needs and working together to find solutions. It's imperative that we wrap things up in Iraq. This black-and-white, "you're either with us or against us" modus operandi, however, makes me doubt that any form of successful diplomacy or withdrawal of troops can take place under this administration.

Dubya will need lots of help from his cabinet and the legislature, since every move they've been making lately seems to kick them in the ass. Creating a successful exit strategy's real hard work, y'know?

UPDATE: Amen, Cenk!

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