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Troops are not poker chips


Last updated 1/4/2007 at Noon

A Pentagon official said that Bush is proposing to “double down” in Iraq – using a gambling term to describe deploying significantly more troops to Iraq. I find this obscene.

He’s saying that things are going badly, we’re on a losing streak, and rather than just walk away, we’ll risk more money and troops to try to prove Bush was right.

I saw an example of this kind of thinking in Las Vegas. A fellow was losing badly at the tables and couldn’t call for more chips fast enough ($5,000 at a time). His buddy next to him was almost yelling to just walk away, but he was determined that he could win it all back. He was sweating, nervous, and obviously couldn’t afford to lose so much. I stood there watching him lose over $40,000.

The only concession Bush will make about Iraq is that “we’re not winning.” In that same press conference, Bush pledged that as long as the Iraqi people wanted us there, he would stick with it. Well, they don’t want us there. Some Iraqi politicians who live in the Green Zone may want us to stay – but a majority of the Iraqi people want us gone, if not immediately, within the next six months.

Like the buddy in Vegas, many of the recently retired generals, admirals and now Colin Powell are speaking up about the recklessness of the gamble in Iraq. Why didn’t they speak up earlier? Not only does Iraq have nothing to do with preventing terrorism, but the whole world (outside the Bush and Blair residences) see clearly that it has made things worse. More and better police and intelligence work – and cooperation with countries around the world – will make us safer, not combat troops caught in a civil war.

The most offensive aspect of the “double down” gambling analogy is that we will never get our “chips” back. The billions of dollars and nearly 3,000 troops are lost forever. They cannot be won back, no matter how much more Bush is willing to bet on this gamble.

Jon Monday


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