America stands today in Iraq, trying to direct traffic in a tsunami.
America stands today in Iraq, trying to direct traffic in a tsunami.
The 68% of American who think we should withdraw are probably as irrelevant as the remainder, who believe we will be ‘followed home’ by terrorists if we leave. The decision is no longer in our hands. The options are unpalatable; leave on a timetable and turn Iraq over to Iraqis, or leave when this administration leaves.
We have, each of us and all of us, taken positions and because of that, a rational view of what we have wrought is too clouded to judge—or admit—or both. On the Bush administration side, the United States has invested itself of infrastructure in Iraq as if we were a colonial power, taking over to stay for the foreseeable future.
The Defense Department is busily putting the finishing touches on fourteen major, long-term military bases at an ‘undisclosed’ cost that is billions rather than millions.
The State Department is building the largest American Embassy in the world, 21 buildings on 104 acres within the Green Zone, to contain the 5,500 Americans and Iraqis who serve there. Cost is undisclosed, except that it will be the most expensive Embassy ever built.
The rest of us understand that a loss too painful to contemplate is not sufficient reason to continue to claim we can and will win. There appear to be only two futures possible for Iraq and neither of them are American futures.
The first would be setting right what has gone wrong and that involves bloodshed so violent and pogroms so abhorrent that they could not possibly happen during American occupation.
Ending sectarian killing requires picking out a sect and declaring it master. Back to Saddam, to square one, to where we started these four long years ago--where opposition is ruthlessly destroyed and dictatorial rule overcomes by force and fear.
That's just not an American possibility, but if it were to happen, it would preclude basing American troops and probably even the hosting of an embassy. This scenario is George Bush's worst nightmare and may be why he is so intransigent. Iraq would be (and in fact, no longer is) on the table as the ‘new’ Saudi for an American military presence in the Middle East.
The second and more probable outcome is continued civil war after we leave, be that soon or later. Iran will back Shiite operatives and Saudi will promote their Sunni brothers. Whatever is left standing after the bloodied participants agree there is no winner, will much resemble Lebanon—a country that is no country, but remains the possibility of one.
In this case, perhaps in either case, a theocracy will take the place of the secular government we overthrew.
We cannot win in Iraq, not because we are tired and certainly not because we do not have Dick Cheney’s ‘stomach’ for war, as long as he is not required to personally serve. We are doomed to failure because we have been unable to protect civil life in the cities and villages. We began badly. Kicking in doors and terrorizing families is not the message of a liberator.
There was a brief moment when we might have sustained what worked in the policing of Iraq and built upon that. But a major mistake was made, a stupid mistake, the mistake of novices. We are, if nothing else, novices in the military takeover of foreign nations.
Because they were Sunni and because Sunnis were in power under Saddam--as they were for a thousand years before him; we sent home the Army, disbanded the police and gave notice to public officials.
The fact that we had no one in place to do their jobs, meant not a thing. Not having quite worked out (or even understood) the Sunni-Shiite dynamic, in one sweeping proclamation, Paul Bremer
lost control of the nations armaments and weaponry
set a minority but deeply connected force against us
brought chaos to streets and marketplaces
disrupted the oil infrastructure that funded the country
wrecked the power grid
and put most Iraqis out of work
For which he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in America. The award is for
"an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors."
There is, so far as I know, no Iraqi equivalent.
ASSOCIATED PRESS-- The radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr issued a scathing attack on the United States on Friday, following one of the country's bloodiest days, blaming Washington for Iraq's troubles and calling for a mass demonstration April 9 _ the fourth anniversary of the fall of Baghdad.
As al-Sadr's remarks were read in a mosque, Shiites in Baghdad loaded wooden coffins into vans and shoveled broken glass and other debris into wheelbarrows in the aftermath of a double suicide bombing at a marketplace. At least 181 people were killed or found dead Thursday as Sunni insurgents apparently stepped up their campaign of bombings to derail the seven-week-old security sweep in Baghdad.
It’s arguable whether Sunnis were trying to derail Bush’s surge or merely taking revenge for the recent uncontrolled (and some say government inspired) Shiite bombings and summary executions in Sunni enclaves.
What is not arguable, is that no government can stand without public support, unless it is based on ruthless and dictatorial power. We have destroyed Saddam Hussein’s ruthless power in Iraq, but we gave the franchise to anyone with a gun or an explosive device.
And they all have guns and explosive devices. They got them courtesy of Paul Bremer, Donald Rumsfeld and General Tommy Franks.
The reason we and the Iraqi government will not prevail in this war is that we have no overwhelming support outside the four square-mile Green Zone. In fact, the elected Iraqi government dares not show itself outside that fortress city.
Within a devastated country (called the Red Zone), lies an area that comprises the other 170,000 square-miles. The Green Zone is sometimes called the Emerald City. Occasionally, it's called OZ.
Moqtada al-Sadr, the Shiite cleric who dominates Iraqi politics, made the following statement at Friday services, preparing for the four-year anniversary of the fall of Baghdad;
"I renew my call for the occupier (the United States) to leave our land," he said in the statement, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press. "The departure of the occupier will mean stability for Iraq, victory for Islam and peace and defeat for terrorism and infidels."
Radical Islam is winning in Lebanon, Palestine and Iraq because they operate on the streets. They kill and maim and bomb and assassinate, but they feed and clothe and protect as well. Governments in Lebanon and Palestine and Iraq have shown themselves powerless to feed, clothe and protect; unable to stop the killing, maiming and assassination.
The bitter truth is that radical Islam thrives because competent government has gone missing.