Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Don't Forget About Iraq!

Outside the Green Zone Lies Bush's West Bank and Gaza Strip.

If it hadn't have been for George Bush's un-provoked, unnecessary, largely unilateral invasion and unplanned occupation of Iraq (UULUIUOI), the Global War on Terror (GWOT) would have amounted to a little more than the 21st century's version of the 19th century's conflict with the Barbary Pirates. But thanks to Bush's UULUIUOI and his benign neglect of the world's two-state project for Palestine, the GWOT has the capability of morphing into a regional war in southwest Asia.

But don't forget about Iraq! George Bush wants you to. That's why we aren't getting an early demand for a ceasefire in Lebanon: all the more to distract from the "West Bank" and "Gaza Strip" he has purchased for the American people at the Price of $300 billion and thousands of U.S. military casualties.

Things in Iraq are swirling into the toilet as the MSM concentrates on the "brink" [!] of war in Lebanon. The U.N. reports that 3,000 Iraqi Civilians Were Killed in June, a documenting dramatic darkening of the tunnel we're all trying to see through.

The Ramblings of a Lexington Parrothead has drawn my attention to a piece in Newsweek by Col. Mike Turner (24-year Air Force veteran and former fighter pilot and air rescue helicopter pilot. He is a military analyst and commentator who spent seven years serving in U.S. Central Command and the Pentagon as a Middle East/Africa planner). Turner says it's Time to Get Out. He says staying the course is not based on facts but mythology. And he says the three myths are:

  • U.S. forces will be withdrawn when military commanders determine the Iraqis are capable of maintaining their own security.
  • There are now 260,000 trained Iraqi troops.
  • Our only options are "stay the course" or "cut and run."

  • Click through the links and read about this soldier's arguments. Turner's conclusions:

    There can be no doubt that a likely outcome of an immediate U.S. withdrawal from Iraq might be a complete collapse of that country into chaos. Yet remaining in Iraq and trusting the future conduct of the war to an administration that badly bungled this operation from the beginning and has no coherent plan for remaining is irresponsible. I believe there is a way to mount an effective war in Iraq that greatly reduces the risk to U.S. forces and U.S. national security while retaining a reasonable possibility for a measure of success. However, I do not think that the present administration is capable of either acknowledging its failures or rethinking its strategy to the extent necessary to achieve such a limited victory. For that reason, I'm left with a simple solution—let's save as many U.S. lives as possible and get out now.
    Let the chuch say, "Amen".

    12 comments:

    1. I am a fan of magic. Since I was a little boy, it has entertained and fascinated me but I never had an urge to know the mechanics of it. However, the one of the main incredient for successful completion of a trick is supposed to be deception...drawing the attention away from where the real action is taking place.

      Based on the above fact, may I suggest that Dubya will be nominated for THE MAN OF MAGIC 2006!

      ReplyDelete
    2. Vigil and Pekka: I say, "Amen".

      ReplyDelete
    3. "There can be no doubt that a likely outcome of an immediate U.S. withdrawal from Iraq might be a complete collapse of that country into chaos."

      Regardless of why you believe we are in this mess, either UULUIUOI or Bush's plan gone terribly wrong, there are no easy answers to the Iraq situation.

      If we leave you will have IRAN II, an Islamic Fundamentalist State bent on the destruction of Irael and the west.

      Since Israel has really screwed up Lebanon, Hezbullah will soon turn it from a democracy to IRAN III, and the middle east will be dominated by Islamic fundalmentalist states.

      I don't know the answer. But I'm certain the Turner solution isn't it.

      Sorry, the Wizard.......

      ReplyDelete
    4. Wizard, I don't claim having undeniable truth on my side but the following items must be considered;

      1. American positive influence in Iraq was squandered years ago by not having sufficient number of troops to take care of the occupation. Task of an occupier is always to make sure that a relative peace and order is established. It was not done then and now it would be too late anyway.
      2. Hearts and minds part was lost over two years ago thus making your stay there ever increasingly unwanted and impossible. The vast majority of the population in Iraq do not want you there any more, if they ever did, and the same can be said about the rest of the region.
      3. Your forces training Iraqis to take over is waist of time. If the hearts are not there, the result will be that these "trained" men are not going to do your dirty work but they are there just there to earn a living and to take care of their families.
      4. Genie is out of the bottle in a form of full blown secterian violence which has only one way to play out - civil war. The most observers outside the immediate influence of this fumbling administration are declearing this being the fact already.
      5. Your precence there right now is not contributing to any sensible solution, if it ever was, but is one of the problems.
      6. The huge majority of Iraqis are not for democracy even if it is schoking to us. The concepts that we value are not those that they do. This business of bringing democracy to those who do not want it is doomed to be a failure. We didn't get it from the barrel of the gun but from the desire to have it and accept it.
      7. This awful mess was created by an ideology that is based more on layers upon layers of myths and is seldom if ever able to tackle the reality based problems such as this. To stay on course will bring exactly what it has so far; mayhem, lawlesness, social and civil break-down, insecurity, power vacuum that has to be filled, and plenty of dead Americans and Iraqis. This is for what? Certainly not for the ideas that were hatched in Washington and totally rejected by Iraqis.
      7. To stay the course is quaranteed to turn even those few that still might see you in positive light against you and see more of your sons and daughters killed. It's going to keep eating your dollars that could certainly be spent a lot better.
      8. To get out now would make no difference to the outcome because you are not in the control of the events there. This run-away train is going down the hill, you on it, and all you can think is to stay on. Things are bad for you today and tomorrow they will be even worse. Besides, every occupation has to end eventually. Since there is no meaningful role for Americans to play, my question is; WHY TO STAY FOR ABSOLUTELY NOTHING?

      ReplyDelete
    5. Thanks, Pekka, for taking my back and covering all the bases at the same time.

      I do like the Wizard. I like any one who says he doesn't have all the answers. (I'll resolve to practice up on that, myself.) Wizard is a likeable enough guest here, not like some of the guests he attracts on his site.

      ReplyDelete
    6. Knowing that I stepped in at the wrong time, I apologize! Believe me, I just got fired up, temporary insanity you might call it, and started to type away.

      I am also sorry if I seemed to be too rough with my comment to Wizard. This was certainly not my intention. Maybe I should calm down and stop pushing so hard.

      ReplyDelete
    7. pekka, Absolutely no offense was taken. You make several excellent points.

      Your comment "Hearts and minds part was lost over two years ago thus making your stay there ever increasingly unwanted" is especially correct. It's not even possible to overestimate the screw-ups made by the U.S. "coalition" in this regard.

      But I disagree with your comment "The huge majority of Iraqis are not for democracy " in two important respects.

      First, several polls I've seen indicate this is very far from true. And the overwhelming participation in the constitutional and parlimentary elections certainly contrradict your assertion.

      Second, and most important, I believe in "universal" human rights. All peoples in all the world are entitled to basic freedoms.

      Years ago, long before Bush ever dreamed of the Presidency, long before neocons planned to democraticize the middle east, I fought beside my fellow liberals to free the women of Afganistan from the murderous slavery of the Taliban.

      My principles haven't changed. All humans are entitled to basic human rights. This includes every citizen in the middle east.

      Can the US achieve this? It's not looking good. But turning Iraq back over to a right wing religious fanantic dictatorship, bringing on the murder of tens (hundreds??) of thousands of people is not something I believe the world should allow.

      I don't want right wing conservative religious fanatics in charge here in the United States and I don't want the peoples of Iraq to suffer that fate either.

      the Wizard

      ReplyDelete
    8. Wizard, first of all I am pleased that you haven't taken an offence about what I said in my previous comment. I also know now that, you and I want the same things but we differ slightly in how to go about getting them.

      My main argument actually is that democracy is, the way you and I understand it, literally foreign concept to an average Iraqi. Democracy is almost without exception achieved by the work done by various movements within a country and by a ever increasing number of people accepting that it is what they desire, too. Momentum builds on a solid foundation driven by a hunger for change. This would take time and these elements were basically missing in Iraq.

      Loyalties and obidiences are based on parctises that have been nutured for thousands of years and are mainly based on strict tribe and then religious lines. These people, generally speaking, didn't vote to get Jeffersonian democracy but mainly position their tribe and religious leaders in best possible position for the political struggle after American withdrawal.

      We, in the West in general and you in the U.S. particular, have woeful knowledge about Arabs and, needless to say that, everything we have imposed on them the past Century has been catastrophic. We have created in our wisdom countries in the Middle East that ignore all the things that had meaning for them. We lumped hostile religious sects and tribes together and told them what their "country" and "people" are to be known as now on. Naturally this sort of situation is unmanageable and the only way to hold it together is to have rough and tough dictator type in charge. When you move one of those fellows, there are concequenses and when it is done by the infidels there is a situation such as in Iraq today.

      We tend to think in terms that are familiar and dear to us, sort of; "what's good for the GM is good for America". We all know now that the GM's way wasn't neccesarily best for you, neither is the Jeffersonian democracy for Iraqis...at least yet. Not only that but an average, not too fundamentalistic, Iraqi is totally against Western materialism and decadence. They have absolute conviction that our way of life with it's corruptive democracy is a certain death for everything they believe. They also tend to believe democracy as a first sinister tentacle for the U.S. to achieve a complete subjucation of their societies. If you wish to success to change their societies, you are going to need lot more knowledgeable and sensitive people than the Bush&Co to do any good. It also remains doubtful if this was anything more than an attempt to establishing another puppet government disquised as noble spreading of democracy and liberation of people from under a vicious tyran, Saddam.

      This adminstration speaks a lot on behalf of democracy but their actions so far at home have been to erode it where possible. Outside of your borders they have a lot of bad undemocratic strong men they tolerate for various reasons and they don't hesitate to get rid of those democratically elected leaders that peresent challenge to them. This all goes to divide well meaning people such as you and I. These cynical men in their blind pursuit of their own agendas are ready and willing to use any means possible and you and I should see what they are all about and STOP THEM.

      ReplyDelete
    9. I appreciate Wizard's presence here, first and foremost. Intelligent conversation among intellectually honest people is what we depend upon to increase our understandings of the confusions and tragedies of our times.

      This said, I want to make about three points about the dialogue between Pekka and Wizard.

      Point Number One.

      Pekka did a wonderful job responding to Wizard's comments about Iraqis and democracy, especially when he said,

      "These people, generally speaking, didn't vote to get Jeffersonian democracy but mainly position their tribe and religious leaders in best possible position for the political struggle after American withdrawal.

      Pekka is reminding us that democracy is a lot more than voting. We are all to familiar with democracy's perversion of 'one man-one, one-vote, one-time.' That's what you can get when you force 'demokracy' on a people at the end of a gun barrel.

      ReplyDelete
    10. Point Number Two:

      Wizard says:

      "Second, and most important, I believe in "universal" human rights. All peoples in all the world are entitled to basic freedoms.

      . . . . My principles haven't changed. All humans are entitled to basic human rights. This includes every citizen in the middle east.
      "

      Wizard, I have to say I'm not so sure as to whether the 'basic freedoms' and 'human rights' you and I and Pekka might agree on are shared universally. In fact, I would wager that having two square meals a day, a job, shelter, and stability in one's village (from whatever quarter) far outweigh the substance of our Bill of Rights in large parts of 3rd world countries in Central Asia and Africa.

      I find myself wanting desperately to agree with you about the Taliban: this was a regime universally deplored as being diabolical and utterly without merit. And yet, they were seen by some Afghans as having brought an end to seemingly endless bloody warfare among war lords. Had Mullah Omar not made the foolish decision to host and protect Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda after 9-11, I would not have been in favor of any expeditionary force to root them out and destroy them. (But he did and I was.)

      I could go on this note (others are familiar with where it is leading), but I'll save it for another day.

      Except to say, if my memory serves me correctly, that when 'regime change' became a goal for our Iraq policy during the Clinton administration, it did not (a) mean invasion or (b), democratization. It meant a change in leadership: Saddam (the aggressor in two wars) out; any other tough-enough guy (military or civilian) in. Assassination could have fit the bill. This thing about bringing democracy to Iraq later became an ex post facto rationalization for Bush's UULUIUOI. Far being a part of universal principle or marketing goal, even the inner circle of Bush warmongers couldn't agree to it.

      ReplyDelete
    11. The third point I was going to raise had to do with hitch-hiking on Pekka's theme of how the institution of democracy depends more on long-term cultural seeding and preparation than short-term balloting.

      I was going to make a point that if an American president was bent on encouraging democratic self-governance in the Middle East, there were one or two conspicuous places where the soil was more fertile than Iraq. (I'm confident the church will say 'Amen' here.) The trouble was, these democratic 'crops' were inconveniently located as far as the Neocon crowd was concerned.

      ReplyDelete
    12. vigilante, Thank you for your kind words. The dialoge here is excellent, thoughtful and insightful. I'm pleased to participate here from time to time.

      My only comment in response to your's and pekka's excellent analysis is that I think you both may be underestimating the Iraqi people, their ability to embrace democracy and their desire for basic human rights.

      If you don't already, I suggest you add Juan Cole's Informed Commment Blog to your favorites (or bookmarks) list. It's tough reading from time to time (long, detailed, filled with statistics and "professorial" in tone), but I think you would find it quite good.

      Generally he agrees with you, but his detailed knowledge of the area is quite enlightening.

      the Wizard.....

      ReplyDelete