The President and the Physician

Democratic congressmen and activists are outraged by the “new war strategy” presented in President Bush’s “Iraq speech” of January 10. But the content of the speech should have been no surprise. The exact number of troops in the strategy put forth might not have been expected, but it should be no surprise that the President seeks to follow this war through no matter the cost.

There is really nothing new to this “new” strategy of President Bush; contrarily, it is essentially the same kind of solution proposed to solve any problem since the world’s second oldest profession was instituted. Political solutions to problems have throughout history offered nothing but “more” and “faster” of what has already been proposed. Bush’s new strategy is just the same: more, faster.

This “new” strategy includes sending up to 20,000 more U.S. troops to Iraq in order to salvage the mission to liberate the Iraqi people from the now executed dictator Saddam Hussein. Even though a greater number of troops might do more damage to Iraqi insurgents (there is no better word in war than “damage” even though it is caused the “enemy”) it will surely also intensify the conflict and bring more Americans back home in body bags.

The obvious solution for American taxpayers and parents who have seen their sons and daughters leave to risk their lives on foreign soil, is to bring the troops back home and let the Iraqis take care of their own problems. But this is not a solution available in the political discourse.

Comparing Bush’s proposed solution to the stand-still in Iraq with medicine clearly shows what is wrong with this proposal. A physician trying to treat a patient with a certain drug would not consider increasing the dosage if the treatment caused harmed to the patient. It should be obvious no one would like to see a physician known for stubbornly providing bad treatments that do no good — or even do harm — and who can only think of increasing dosages when the “treatment” doesn’t work. But voters are of a different breed it seems than are patients.

Let’s consider the non-political solution to the problem. A competent physician would try to find a better treatment — another solution to the problem than the one that seems to be failing. This is how most of us solve problems, but this is not how problems are solved in politics. Politicians solve problems through increasing dosages.

Is it not true? This is how state and local politicians try to increase and ensure quality in public schools that simply cannot seem to function well as educational institutions: increase their budgets. This is how federal politicians try to solve problems for insolvent industry that continuously spend more money than they can generate in sales and value: award more subsidies. And this is how the President tries to solve the crisis in Iraq, a project that has already cost the death of thousands of American young men and women wearing the state’s uniform: send more troops.

The effect of this kind of behavior should be obvious; these are not solutions but acts that cannot but make the problems even worse — at taxpayers’ expense. Yet this is the logic of the political world: the more is spent of hard-working Americans’ money, the better the solution. And if it doesn’t work, the solution is to spend more.

One would think such behavior should be penalized by American voters at election-time, but the exact opposite is true: uncontrolled spending of our hard-earned money is the unsurpassed strategy for being reelected by the populace. In the real world we would never even consider going to a physician known for maltreating his or her patients, yet in politics the exact same behavior is rewarded over and over.

This is a well-known fact for politicians, and they do not hesitate to use our money to buy support in order to break political competitors. Democrats may be outraged by Bush’s “new” strategy for the Iraqi war, but it they are certainly not outraged because he spends Americans lives in a distant land in a pointless war. They are outraged because they know Bush’s excellent sense for political tactics might cost them the next presidential election.

Few would buy leadership like this for themselves with their own money in an open market. Government and politics, intrinsically, are the real problems the war in Iraq highlights.

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