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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Enough pretense on Iraq

From Think Progress comes this amazing pronouncement from the Army chief of staff concerning how long we could be in Iraq.
At an event this afternoon at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., Gen. George Casey — the former top commander in Iraq and now the Army chief of staff — declared that Iraq will be a remarkable country “in a decade or so” if we maintain the U.S. occupation.

A questioner asked, “What are the prospects in Iraq and how will this war end?” Casey responded:

"Right now, there’s so much residual mistrust left over from the time under Saddam Hussein that they’re not quite ready to go forward. But they have an educated population, they have oil wells, they have water, they have some of the most fertile land I’ve ever seen. In a decade or so, this will be a remarkable country, if we stick with it."
Of course, the question is exactly who is going to "stick with it?"

If you have a son or daughter who is say, ten years old right now, they could be in on this. Think about it. (Well, unless your last name is Romney, in which case you can go ahead and jaunt down to the local RV store and plan that purchase ahead of time. They don't like us to talk about class in this country, because a certain class of people "serve their country" by touring Iowa for daddy.)

Talk about a military and foreign policy establishment that is seriously adrift. If anyone thinks another decade in Iraq is militarily, let alone politically, feasible, they are seriously deluded. The Iraq occupation has been a humanitarian, financial, military and diplomatic debacle from the beginning. Yet our media and political elites continue to cast about for ways to make it go on forever.

It boggles the mind to think of the damage being done to our long term interests. People don't want to be occupied by foreign military powers. This should not puzzle anyone. From India to Algeria to Vietnam and countless other examples, eventually the occupying power is bled dry, bankrupted or defeated militarily. (And to be clear to our conservative friends, this is not the same as arguing military force is never justified. It's a recognition of historical fact.)

You can get by with occupation and meddling for a while, or even quite a long time. U.S. involvement in Vietnam basically spanned the years 1945-1975. And when the communist government led by Ho Chi Minh finally took over, there was no domino effect. Our entire policy was based on the fear of something happening that couldn't happen.

Conservatives have taken Cold War thinking and applied it to the inappropriately named "war on terror." Somehow, Iraq has become West Berlin in this way of thinking, which is not only bizarre but downright stupid.

Hello! They're terrorists. They're not coming across the plains of Eastern Europe with massive tank formations, they're going to come at us with whatever low-tech and cheap means of death they can find. And they probably don't care what country they are in or who rules Iraq. If they get driven from Iraq they will go back to Pakistan, or fly to London, Rome, Tokyo, New York or any other large city. In short, they are guerrilla fighters of the post-modern age. So it's beyond idiotic to even mention terrorism as a justification to stay in Iraq, since A) they will just adapt and move and B) our best defense is intelligence combined with limited, specific military action, not occupation of countries. Generally speaking, occupying countries hamstrings us so badly in terms of logistics and diplomatic initiative that it's quite harmful.

There can be exceptions. I would argue that the early efforts against the Taliban in Afghanistan were thoroughly justified, brilliantly executed and could have presaged a broader U.S. effort in that region to both combat Islamic fundamentalism and bring people towards democracy. I distinctly remember at the time press accounts and perhaps television shows reviewing the Soviet experience in Afghanistan, and thinking what a huge effort would be required in Afghanistan. We would have to dedicate virtually our entire available foreign aid and State Department resources to rebuilding Afghanistan, but it would show the Muslim world that when attacked, we would win but still assist the regular people in regaining control of their country, as we always had.

Instead, we invaded and occupied Iraq. It was arguably the most colossal military blunder in United States history, right up there with the War of 1812, which featured the burning of the White House.

And for what? So a particular ideological spectrum in the United States, composed chiefly at the top levels of third-rate minds and first-rate crooks, could "prove" its theorems in practice while securing a temporary political advantage. (And all political advantages are temporary. Ask Karl.)

The people of Iraq have been rewarded with chaos, destruction and death, our hard working and dedicated military personnel have been rewarded with death, maiming and endless "stop-loss" orders, and the American people have been rewarded with the most deceitful administration in a generation.

Enough is enough. There's a mindset that the 2008 election is almost here, as the candidates are at full throttle, but it's still over a year away. I'm not certain our country can stand much more of this madness.

It's time the politicians and especially the media stop the pretense altogether. Our national interest lies in getting out of Iraq. You can argue the details all you want; there are highly paid professionals at the Pentagon who can work it all out. Withdraw to Kuwait, build bases there, bribe the Saudis some more, whatever.

Just stop it with the pretense. We're not going to be in Iraq for another ten years, and to talk along those lines is insulting.

UPDATE 12:08 AM PDT Aug. 15: How terrible. From the BBC:
At least 175 people have been killed in a series of suicide bomb attacks in northern Iraq, Iraq's military says.

The blasts apparently targeted a Kurdish religious minority, the Yazidi sect, near Mosul. At least four blasts hit areas which house the community.

A Mosul police source told the BBC that there had been "large loss of life".
It never ends. You'd think the neo-con whack jobs would be hanging their heads in shame, but to them none of this is real. As long as they score a point on Fox Noise and avoid going to Iraq themselves, they've done their part.

Maybe we should require political predator registration of Republicans who supported this twisted endeavor. Strap a GPS to their ankles and any time they head towards a television studio, they get a sudden shock. Most of them would probably like it anyhow.

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