Winning the Real War By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN

Excerpts from

Winning the Real War

By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN

For me, though, it is a disturbing thought that the Bush team could get itself so tied up defending its phony reasons for going to war — the notion that Saddam possessed weapons of mass destruction that were undeterrable and could threaten us, or that he had links with Al Qaeda — that it could get distracted from fulfilling the real and valid reason for the war: to install a decent, tolerant, pluralistic, multireligious government in Iraq that would be the best answer and antidote to both Saddam and Osama.

…Over 20 mass graves have already been uncovered in Iraq, and there may be as many as 90. One grave alone in Hilla is estimated to contain 10,000 people murdered by Saddam’s regime. Human Rights Watch estimates that there are 300,000 people missing in Iraq. President Bush is flailing around looking for Saddam’s unused weapons of mass destruction, when evidence of his actual mass destruction is all over the place in Iraq. Yet the Pentagon has done almost nothing to help Iraqis properly exhume these graves, prepare evidence for a war crimes tribunal or expose this mass murder to the world.

Eyes on the prize, please. If we find W.M.D. in Iraq, but lose Iraq, Mr. Bush will not only go down as a failed president, but one who made the world even more dangerous for Americans. If we find no W.M.D., but build a better Iraq — one that proves that a multiethnic, multireligious Arab state can rule itself in a decent way — Mr. Bush will survive his hyping of the W.M.D. issue, and the world will be a more hospitable and safer place for all Americans.

Kayaking the Etowah River

Ann and I kayaked down the Etowah River with a group of friends on Saturday. On Sunday, the front page of the Atlanta Journal Constitution newspaper displayed a photo of some people on the river in kayaks, accompanying an article about dangers to the water quality of the river (Tourists, developers set off alarms over N. Ga. river ).

This beautiful little river provides drinking water for many thousands of Georgians. The river was running high due to the recent rainfall. One tributary that we passed, a large creek, was red with sediment. Subsequently, the right side of the Etowah was red for several hundred yards below the confluence. Too much sediment!

Etowah Falls, a class 5, ten-foot drop, was roaring with power and turbulence. Everyone portaged around it. Smart.

Thanks to Candace Stoughton for organizing the trip. I know why we don’t see many old guys in kayaks on big whitewater. My back was sore! I hadn’t been in a kayak since a two-day trip down the Klammath River in northern California in 1997. I still have some paddling skills, but the muscles don’t respond or recover like they once did. We rented "sit-on-top" kayaks.

The kayak that served me well on the Ocoee, Chatooga, and Nantahala Rivers in the 1980’s has been retired — it rests in peace in our backyard, home to various insects and small critters. The "sit-on-top" represents a breakthrough in kayak marketing — now anyone can paddle a kayak without learning how to roll (not a trivial process). It handled enough like a whitewater kayak that I had fun, and Ann didn’t feel like she could drown at any moment. Good stuff.

Ann’s Garden Upgraded

We added a retaining wall to Ann’s garden. Below are two photos (before and after) taken from north of the garden. The last photo shows a horizontal view of the retaining wall.

The Do It Yourself Network is taping a televison show in the garden tomorrow.



Zeus Visits

Yesterday I was working in my office when the doorbell rang three times in quick succession. It’s a signal from Ann that she needs my help in a hurry. I trotted to the garage and got a big surprise.

Ann was in the garage hanging onto the collar of an 80 lb Great Pyrenees dog. This dog (his name is Zeus) was trying to couple with a larger female dog and Ann was trying to keep them separated. The female dog looked like a wolf! Our garage is full of the usual stuff, so there isn’t a lot of room for two big dogs that are engaged in frisky foreplay. Ann had her hands full.

Ann asked me to hold Zeus by the collar and to read the phone number from the tag on his collar to her so she could call the owner. Zeus was not a stranger ? he had visited our home several weeks ago. Ann had called his home to come get him. They told her he is an escape artist who takes advantage of any opportunity to go on an adventure.

I held Zeus by his collar and tried to read the phone numbers on his tag. The she-wolf kept coming into the garage, disrupting my progress ? Zeus would jump up and try to mount her. Reading the small print on his collar tag while he was so excited was a challenge. After about ten minutes of chaos, I finally was able to decipher the small print into a viable phone number. Ann called the number and got Zeus? owner, who said he would drive over immediately.

Ann left Zeus and me in the garage. Zeus was cooperative given the circumstances ? he would lie down when I tapped on the floor. But the she-wolf kept coming back into the garage and Zeus would jump to his feet again. We finally got the she-wolf to stay out of the garage and I pushed the buttons to close the garage doors. I stayed with Zeus, scratching his ears and telling him what a good dog he is. He was very sweet and affectionate. After about 10 minutes Zeus? ?master? arrived. He thanked us and put Zeus in the front seat of his SUV.

I told him Zeus had been well-behaved and friendly. He said Zeus is very smart, if fact smarter than his two teenage sons. He said one of his boys had left the front door barely open, which Zeus opened and escaped to the current adventure. He and Zeus drove away, leaving the she-wolf looking jilted and lost. She wouldn’t let us close enough to check her collar for identification. She hung around for a few minutes and then left.