3/21/2007

Flowers, Trees, and the War in Iraq

When we moved to our new house last year, some landscaping came with it. There was one tree in the front yard (the builder planted the wrong one, so we had it transplanted to the back yard and replaced with what we ordered in the first place) and a few bushes here and there. We put in several other plants, some flowers, and a couple more trees. Now that spring is starting, the results of last year's investment are starting to show.

But there's a big difference between trees and flowers. The flowers are an instant gratification sort of thing. You can put them in the ground and get the results almost right away. In fact, this time of year, you can plant flowers that are already blooming. Trees take a lot more time to develop. The oak tree (that's now where it's supposed to be in the back yard) has hardly grown at all in the last eight months. The pear trees we planted did bloom, but they haven't grown much either. Trees require patience, but the payoff is great.

Americans are not by nature patient people. We want instant gratification. Tyson even has a four minute pot roast on the market. (Although having tasted my wife's real one, I wouldn't even try it.) I think there's a correlation between our lack of patience and the public's distaste for what's happening in Iraq. I should say that I'm not even remotely satisfied with the Bush Administration's prosecution of the war. We've held back far too much, tying the hands of our soldiers behind their backs. That's wrong.

But victory is essential. We cannot afford to lose. And, just as in Vietnam, we cannot lose the fight on the ground--we can only lose it here at home. Tomorrow the Democratic leadership in the House is going to try to push through a measure requiring troop withdrawal by next spring. Since a similar measure has already failed in the Senate, it's unlikely to become law, but still the fact that many politicans are ready to cut and walk (if not run) speaks poorly for our chances of winning this vital battle.

The truth is that things in Iraq are starting to get better. (You can tell because the media is talking about what's going on there less and less.) The surge is only about 1/3 in place so far, and the results are starting to show. This new tactic has a significant chance of working--unless we cut it off. It's time for America to get serious about winning the war and plant some trees. Flowers are nice, but trees last for decades if not centuries.

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