Sunday, November 19, 2006

"We'll Win in Iraq if We Don't Quit"

Bush, perhaps using Karl Rove's words, recently responded to reporters' inquiries on the state of the war in Iraq by saying "we'll win if we don't quit."  This is a stroke of genius!  In a single succinct sentence, Bush is saying that the Democrats, when they begin to withdraw troops from Iraq, will be quitting and, thus, losing the war.  The Republicans have already put an item on the agenda for 2008!  Amazing political savvy, I think.  So how do we hand the probable "loss" of the war back to them in 2008?


Let's examine the thinking of the men who took us to war in Iraq.  What did they consider when planning the war?  First, they wanted to oust Saddam Hussein, and felt it was going to be pretty easy to do, given his reputation as a hated, murderous tyrant.  The Iraqis would buy in to his defeat.  Second, they wanted to install a "democratic" regime in Iraq that would be friendly to the U.S. and its interests.  (My readers should understand that our country makes allies, not friends.)  Third, they wanted to assure the free flow of oil from the Gulf, principally to China, a huge and quickly developing trade partner with a big need for oil.  And fourth, they wanted to be close to Iran, which was already seen as an enemy.  Given that Iraqis would like to be liberated from Saddam's rule and to develop democratic institutions to replace the Ba'athist ones, what happened?  How did we find ourselves in the middle of an insurrection, a civil war, a whatever?


The simple answer is that it took too long!  Bush and company unleashed the Leviathan and rained murder down on Iraq from the sky.  When Iraq was pounded to within an inch of its life, the Leviathan was caged and the Marines, Army, and others were dispatched to make short work of the Republican Guard, which they did.  On that fateful day when Bush announced that the war was over and we had won (don't forget that claim made from the deck of an aircraft carrier when you're arguing with your conservative colleagues), we had already lost.  Iraqis needed power and water; they needed a supply of food; they needed to be stabilized.  What happened?


None of the above happened because of two big things.  First, we sent too few troops, by half, to see to the infrastructure and security needs of the Iraqi people.  Had we protected the museums and the libraries, had we brought generators on line, had we delivered fresh potable water from the day we took Baghdad, Iraq would not be in this situation today.  Instead, what we chose to do was occupy Saddam's many palaces (as if this were Europe in 1945), fold our arms across our chests, and wait.  Wait for what?


(Second) We waited for the treasonous war profiteers like Halliburton to take over the situation.  Nobody did anything because nobody knew who was really calling the shots.  The Pentagon is both civilian and military, and the two sides rarely spoke at a level below the Secretary of Defense, and often at the White House.  To wit, the Royal American Plenipotentiary of Iraq, Mr. Paul Bremer.  The generals told the colonels to fight in Falluja and Sadr City, but not to rebuild the infrastructure.  After all, the Marines are not city planners, architects, or construction superintendents.  The war profiteers and the civil administrator, who ostensibly hire and deploy such people, did not do so, but did manage to negotiate lucrative military food contracts charging Marines a mere $10.00 a meal!  The cooks were paid more than the Marines, by a long shot, but these paragons of industry have absolutely no shame.  These capitalist potentates even gave the soldiers the dirty and dangerous job of driving unshielded fuel trucks around Iraq to deliver gas wherever it was needed.


We could have salvaged a bad situation simply by being honest with ourselves.  You don't drop bombs on people for weeks then defeat their army on the ground, only to make them suffer for two more years without power, fuel, food, education, and neighborhood stability.  The Administration was incredibly stupid about this war.  It wasn't that they did not understand that after the war would come a period that demanded immediate attention.  They understood it.  What they didn't understand is what that would look like.


These guys are former cold warriors.  For them, there's a group who's for you, and a group who's against you.  The South Vietnamese are for us and the North Vietnamese are against us.  The South Koreans are for us and the North Koreans are against us.  When they looked at Iraq, they looked at it this way.  They said "the Saddam loyalists in the Ba'ath Party, and some of the Sunnis will be against us, and the Shi'ahs, the Kurds, and the Marsh Arabs will all be for us."  Don't you wish life were that simple!


That's what things looked like for about an hour and a half; then everything changed.  The Shi'ahs, after waiting to see what would happen under American occupation and seeing no quick progress, armed themselves.  So would you!  You have been living under a savage dictator who has killed your people by every known means including poison gas, and you heard more than a decade ago that these self same Americans would defend you if you rose up against Saddam and when you did, they failed to do so and left you hanging in the wind.  Oh, yeah, you're gonna grab some guns, and you're going to be much more careful about what you believe when you hear people say things.


The Sunnis were actually the only ones who played the game perfectly.  They were angry at their loss of power, were sure they were going to be disenfranchised from the new government, whenever it came about, and could only look forward to being a powerless minority with no access to oil.  Of course, they grabbed guns!  The Kurds are sitting on the sidelines, having no particular interest in Baghdad, and the Marsh Arabs have been all but eradicated by the Ba'athists.  The Shi'ahs are the sticking point.


Two men can pray together as Shi'i, but not speak together because they don't share a common language, and they might hold suspicions because one ethnic group is like "this" and another is like "that", and so on.  This is the case with Arabs and Persians. Having had the privilege of living for extended periods in both Arab and Persian cultures, I can tell you that language, food, customs, ethnicity, and attitudes are different.  So this a priori linkage between Iranian Shi'ites and Iraqi ones is less a linkage than it appears to be.  Our government did not, and still does not, understand this.  They also don't understand that the Persians may look just like the Taliban, but they hate them, and are only like them when judged by the ignorant.  We need not believe we are at war with Shi'ah Islam because it is not true.  And we need not believe that Iran will have a deeply personal and brotherly relationship with Iraq in the years ahead because it will not.


The point here is that the Administration lost this war the day they bombed Iraq.  They lost the war because they knew nothing about anything important to Iraqis, were not sufficiently interested in providing the minimum daily needs to this defeated people, and lacked any capitalist initiative to move quickly, allowing the small infections to fester and grow into real problems.  When the American people told them their policy was wrong and changed the complexion of the Congress, the Bush regime simply turned the world on its head—as they have done so often—and said that the war will be won unless we quit.  They are liars with mouths full of the clotted blood of dead soldiers.  They are the real vampires who suck out the life of an inherently compassionate and charitable American people—a people who make war reluctantly unless manipulated.


At Mon Nov 20, 07:28:00 PM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hit the nail on the head! thanks for the great work.


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