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Revisionist history

07/02/03 12:00AM By Bill Seamans
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(Host) Commentator Bill Seamans reflects on the conflicting viewpoints about what's really going on in Iraq.

(Seamans) President Bush said those who take exception to the White House's version of what is happening in Iraq are engaging in what he called "revisionist history." The thought that this humble scribe possesses such power overwhelms him with shock and awe. If an accurate representation of White House statements does not reflect what is happening on the ground in Iraq---then who indeed, is revising history?

Perhaps the answer is what the New York Times called the "selective emphasis" with which the Bushites manage the information coming out of Iraq. Perhaps the answer is closer to what noted journalist Arnaud de Borgrave once said---that "Washington is a bilingual city where truth is the second language."

The Iraqui guerillas are killing our troops almost daily but Defense Secretary Rumsfeld says Americans wearing those boots on the ground are not the targets of an organized campaign. As any veteran infantryman will tell you, laying an effective guerilla ambush against the troops of the most powerful army in the world takes organization and planning. It's called assymetrical or attrition warfare. Beyond the killing---the guerillas create the demoralizing fear of uncertainty among troops who never know when they will be hit.

Now as for revising history let's go back to February when retiring Army Chief of Staff Eric Shinseki made the politically volatile statement that it would take "several hundred thousand soldiers" to stabilize postwar Iraq. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz immediately jumped in and said Shinseki was "wildly off the mark"---which sounded more like damage control than substantive postwar planning.

Now let's bring our history up to last week when General John Abizaid, the new commander of our forces in Iraq, said "we will require a large number of troops for Iraq for the foreseeable future" thereby, in effect, revising Wolfowitz's revision.

Rumsfeld says it is not a guerilla war even as flag-draped coffins are still coming home to heartbroken American families---this after President Bush declared the war had ended on May first. From the acute perspective of a revisionist historian, it appears very unlikely that President Bush and his advisors can predict how many troops will be needed and for how long to establish a new Iraqui government.

And are we, the people, being prepared to acquire a tolerance for a continuing toll in young American lives killed in what Rumsfeld calls, in effect, a guerilla non-war?

Tell us, Mr. President, Is stating these facts and asking questions really engaging in "revisionist history"?

This is Bill Seamans.

Award-winning journalist Bill Seamans is a former correspondent and Bureau Chief for ABC News in the Middle East. He spoke from our studio in Norwich.
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