September 13, 2007
Child's Play In Iraq
"I am reminded of the time I saw my 3-year-old daughter trying and failing to tie her shoes. She got angry. Still, she kept trying.
"'This is difficult,' she concluded. ‘But I like difficult.'"
A child grittier than Congressional leaders, spunkier than people twenty times her age.
She's Bill Gates' daughter, but that's immaterial. Her mother Melinda wrote those words, but that's immaterial, too. What matters is what Melinda Gates also said to other philanthropists about starting the Gates Foundation.
"It turns out that her parents like difficult, too. And I suspect that you all like difficult, which is why you've devoted your lives to solving some of the world's toughest problems."
That's what Congressmen are elected to do: solve some of America's -- and therefore the world's -- toughest problems. But Congressmen prefer childish ways instead and so play: play statesmen, play leader.
Listening to leaders in Congress one would imagine that, like a child, they still believe in the stork: Iraq, which they voted to liberate from Saddam's rule, would go from tyranny to ally against terrorism in four-tenths of a decade.
Which it might well have, had Iran, Syria, Al Qaeda not intervened. Iran, Syria, Al Qaeda -- threats all, threats each to peace in the Middle East and the world long before Operation Iraqi Freedom -- rushing to Iraq to cripple Iraq; and Congressional leaders now say, "Have at it."
We attacked Iraq when it invaded Kuwait and the world applauded: we defend Iraq from foreigners invading it and the world, Senate and House leaders included, spits in our face.
But much of that world at least is not two-faced; it didn't back regime change in Iraq as American policy under George W's predecessor, authorize action under W himself, approve hundreds of billions to oust Saddam and start rebuilding his country, approve every general charged with directing the Iraqi campaign, hear testimony under oath from those generals themselves on Iraq's problems and progress -- and then, bludgeoned with blogs, bail.
In starting philanthropy, Melinda Gates wrote:
"We knew what we stood for."
Other than re-election, what do Congressional leaders stand for? As important: What can they withstand?
Mr. and Mrs. Gates believe
"Ultimately, all people, no matter where they live, deserve a chance to live a healthy, productive life."
Congressional leaders would amend that to exclude Iraqis to whom we've given our word.
Leaders frequently tout their business backgrounds as signs they're savvy, then display astounding ignorance of the struggles all businesses -- including Microsoft -- meet just to keep getting ahead. As if iPods wondrously appeared with nary a Newton among its ancestors, IBM never stumbled, Mercedes never goofed, Kodak never almost croaked, Xerox has the entire globe copying only it, the Big Three are still big and still three, AT&T didn't have to be disemboweled to be reborn.
Sports isn't without scars either. Becoming a champ is nowhere near as hard as staying a champ, as Packers and Forty-Niners and Jets and Cowboys painfully know -- and, unlike Iraq, they have game films and scouting reports and player profiles and rules everyone obeys or they're out. Terrorists don't play fair; neither do Congressional leaders who, when it comes to Iraq, could teach jihadists tricks on sighing to the heavens while slitting throats.
Male leaders must have missed labor room or passed out; females leaders must have hired surrogate moms: none seems to recall that birth is painful and child-raising is not non-stop glee.
Despite billions in the bank and fame Congressional leaders can only envy and do, Bill and Melinda Gates met hard knocks:
"Our foundation works hard to think through problems carefully, but it's simply impossible to get our strategies exactly right in the beginning."
Robert Gates would say the same, and he's not even kin. Don Rumsfeld would, too, and did, withdrawing American troops when he thought Iraqis were ready to handle more on their own and finding they were not. Yet.
Any leader who's actually led and not just sweet-talked knows what "sweat equity" means: life is tough, business is tough, football is tough, and they all have regulations: terrorists have none.
The military is adamant on lessons learned: and it learns. Name one lesson Congressional leaders have learned other than to emote before CSPAN cameras.
Which Congressional leader could be this blunt?
"The list of lessons Bill and I have learned since we started is just about as long as the list of mistakes we've made. And we're still making mistakes and learning lessons every day."
Who in Congress would dare be this frank?
"Seeing where we missed something can be humbling, but it helps us understand how we can be more innovative the next time. We try to bring that spirit of learning and changing to all our work."
Look at Congressional leaders one by one: who among them has convictions as deep as Bin Laden's? Who among them, like Bin Laden, is unwavering no matter what?
Jihadists and US troops have one thing in common and one thing alone: they're willing to sacrifice themselves for something greater than themselves. And Congressional leaders?
Bin Laden sacrifices everything he has -- wealth, health -- for his beliefs. Belief: that's Bin Laden's power. You can see it in his eyes. And Congressional leaders? Beliefs that deep? Eyes that steady, firm?
How many thousand Iraqis will join Al Qaeda when Al Qaeda in Iraq rules over Iraq?
Any Congressional leader who can't see that Iraqis are dying to live free, that Iraqi security forces are killed serving their country, that Iraq's politicians need help and American politicians could give it, that the world has looked to America because America has honored its word and stood by its allies no matter what, has a jihad of his own.
And there'll be no virgins stroking when all's said and done.