Reading at the Crossroads

Reading at the Crossroads is an archive for columns and letters which appeared in the Terre Haute Tribune Star. I also blog here when my patience is exhausted by what I feel is irritating, irrational and/or ironic in life. --gary daily

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Location: Terre Haute, Indiana, United States

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Monday, May 05, 2008

THE WAR -- The Money [Part 22]

There was a term in the military back when the weapons of war (as compared with the high tech, micro-destroyers of life used in the present) were akin to medieval siege machines and uniforms were without a square inch of Velcro. Enlistees served three year hitches, draftees, two. And then there were the “6 monthers.” After their 180 days it was back home to the Guard and Reserves. Fairly or unfairly, they were not much admired when I served.

Thomas Friedman has served most of the Iraq war as a 6 monther. (There are many of these among the pundits even today.) He’s always managed to almost get one foot out the door. For some reason though, he’s never quite able to pull the other one clear. Instead, on a regular basis he has solemnly informed his many readers that “in 6 months we will know if it’s time to leave Iraq.” He’s redeployed himself so many times I've lost count.

Lately he’s taken a new approach. The energy crisis, always a main concern with this 6 monther, is not going to be eased through any form of “victory” in Iraq. He doesn’t say this in so many words. Now he finesses the withdrawal issue by discovering the need for "nation building," at home. So there’s work to be done at home. Friedman makes like a modern day Paul Revere. If Paul had taken side trips to Canada, Ireland and the Bahamas, he still would have aroused the countryside as fast as stuck-in-Iraq-Friedman.

Many have been saying the same thing Friedman is saying about our crumbling infrastructure, pitiful research initiatives, and failing educational system since before “Mission Accomplished.” The costs of the Iraq war come in many forms. It’s irritating to see Friedman wring his hands and act as if he has to be the bearer of this bad news. If he had started with this line after the first 6 months of this disaster of a war, we might be getting out within six months after Bush leaves office. Barring, of course, the election of McBush. If that tragedy is heaped upon the last five year fiasco, Friedman will need a new supply of calendars.
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The Money [Part 22]


The New York Times May 4, 2008
Op-Ed Columnist
Who Will Tell the People?
By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN

Traveling the country these past five months while writing a book, I’ve had my own opportunity to take the pulse, far from the campaign crowds. My own totally unscientific polling has left me feeling that if there is one overwhelming hunger in our country today it’s this: People want to do nation-building. They really do. But they want to do nation-building in America.

They are not only tired of nation-building in Iraq and in Afghanistan, with so little to show for it. They sense something deeper — that we’re just not that strong anymore. We’re borrowing money to shore up our banks from city-states called Dubai and Singapore. Our generals regularly tell us that Iran is subverting our efforts in Iraq, but they do nothing about it because we have no leverage — as long as our forces are pinned down in Baghdad and our economy is pinned to Middle East oil. . . .

Who will tell the people? We are not who we think we are. We are living on borrowed time and borrowed dimes. We still have all the potential for greatness, but only if we get back to work on our country. . . .
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Who Will Tell the People?

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