Real Wealth Society

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

I’ve been thinking about “enough” By Fred Cederholm

Column for on/after Jan. 14th, 2007

I’ve been thinking about “enough.” Actually I’ve been thinking about Iraq, vagueness, polling, duration/costs, November 7th, constitutional semantics, Rockford/Rochelle, and “the speech/interview.” The quagmire of Iraq is finally getting its due on the front page national domestic media as well as in the features in the nightly news. It is surprising how often the word “enough” is figuring into those stories and commentaries. But… therein rests the dilemma - and the rub.

You see, the word “enough” is one of those terms which both quantifies and qualifies. By its very nature, it is sufficiently vague to give wiggle room; yet… it can also be sufficiently specific to make its point. Depending on the context and the implied tonal inflection - on the low end, it suggests an amount that is sufficient to do “whatever;” on the high end, it suggests an amount that is plenty to achieve the same thing. Alphabetically, synonyms for it include: abundant, adequate, ample, bounteous, complete, fed up, had it, last straw, satisfactory, suitable, and unlimited. Regardless of where one stands on the status of the action in Iraq, “enough” seems to apply.

The polling of opinion is both and art and a science. It is safe to say that a majority of Americans are dissatisfied with the progress in the Iraq conflict – as well as where we are and where we are headed. Regardless of how the polling sampling is stratified and the questions are structured, roughly two-thirds of the US population sees it negatively. This has been true since before the recent mid-term elections. Now, even more than 50% of those in the military see it that way, too. I find it particular of interest that the White House has not been hawking poll results (of any kind) for some time now. Could that be because no matter how the polling population is stratified, or how the questions are asked; the results fail to support their position, policy, and strategy?

Since November of 2006, the action in Iraq has dragged on longer than the Second World War in both the European theater AND the Pacific theater for THOSE conflicts. The loss of life of our service men and women in Iraq now exceeds the casualty tolls from the attacks of September 11, 2001 – the event which supposedly originally triggered the intervention there. The dollar cost of war estimates of $ 50 BILLION are already eight times that - and there is no end to the conflict in sight on the horizon.

The November 7th election was clearly about dissatisfaction on the part of the electorate. Not since the Newt Gingrich led “Contract with America” campaign of 1994 has the swing of the political pendulum been so lopsided. This time the momentum for change went to the Democrats with “control” of both the House of Representatives and the Senate shifting to the party of the Donkey. Not one incumbent Democrat lost on November of 2006. The electorate had had “enough,” and wanted change. But, just what was the so-called mandate for change? How much change would be “enough” to placate the voters?

The Iraq situation is complicated on so many fronts. Like every conflict since World War II, Iraq was never declared a war by Congress. By tacitly deferring all decision(s) to Bush as Commander in Chief via a resolution of open-ended support for actions there, did Congress preclude their subsequent right to pull the plug? The Constitution gives Congress control of the purse strings, but will stopping funding be a legitimate, a politically expedient, and an effective way to prevent further escalation there - and bring our troops home? Will non-binding resolutions be “enough” to placate the voters – convincing them that they are getting from the 110th Congress what They the People… voted for on November 7th?

It is hard for me (living in a small town of 500 souls in North Central Illinois) to conceptualize the over 150,000 of our young service men and women who are already there in Iraq - plus the current supplementary “surge” of 21,500 more being mobilized as you read this. Then it hit me. Using the 2000 census data, it was like the entire population of Rockford, Illinois at 150,115 (our second largest city after Chicago) had been picked up and already transferred to Iraq. The escalation now in progress would take the entire population of Rochelle, Illinois at 9,424 TWICE, pack it up, and ship it there to join “Rockford.” Will that then be “enough” to finish the job? Or, will that merely buy more time until…?

In the past seven days, we have seen President Bush hold a press conference and stage an interview on “60 Minutes.” It is clear from his words that “the decider” has decided what he as Commander in Chief will do. He “knows” what he “wants” to happen. But… there are no guarantees of that happening by any means. Just when (or how much) of enough… is enough? I’m Fred Cederholm and I’ve been thinking. You should be thinking, too.

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