There’s hype, there’s spin, and there’s just plain baloney. The Bush Administration is hard at work, not doing work that needs to be done, but doing work that makes the inept work they do “do” sound plausible. Soon it will be mid September and General Patraeus will deliver his much heralded report on the Iraq surge. What will he say and what will it mean?
Before we consider those questions we must recognize what the first two strikes were.
1. Strike one was the foolish decision to invade Iraq and especially so without UN authorization. You might see Hussein as such a bad person that the US did not need UN authorization but I can not believe you can accept or support a President (really his Vice President) that lied to the American people about the reasons to go to war and then systematically sugar coated the War effort (tax reductions, no pictures of flag drapped coffins, no debate over war appropriations, no draft, no war taxes) so that the American people suffered no hardship.
2. Strike 2 results from the Administration totally mismanaging the post war effort to secure Iraq. Sporting an “I don’t care about them” attitude, Iraqis were left to roast in Summer heat with no electricity, pay black market prices for gasoline, use run down hospitals stripped of most medical supplies, and submit to road side bombings and ethnic cleansing without hope of police protection. The Bush team left huge ammunition dumps unguarded and to no surprise, the insurgents helped themselves. The Bushies equipped the Iraqi police and today can not account for over half the weapons. Under the Bush watch, Iraq which had no al Qaeda activity under Hussein, now sport a local home grown variety, a group that boasts of being the Iraq franchise of al Qaeda. This performance is clearly Strike 2.
Now 5 years later the focus of discussion is how to bring order and security to Iraq. The solution chosen is “anti-insurgency actions” (also called the surge). Pour more troops on the fire and wait for results.
Unbelievably like Vietnam, the Bush Administration keeps digging the hole when it should know the first rule about getting out of a hole is to stop digging. Quagmire ! The Bush/Cheney Administration has been amazingly consistent in its inability to coordinate and successfully execute two or more related strategies. To Bush et al, it is either fight to win, or cut and run, or negotiate (with condidtions), or sit and wait. They have flooded Iraq with dollars, they have bombed it liberally, they have patroled and field tested so many IED’s on American servicemen/women that they should be impeached for malfeasence in office.
This brings us to Strike 3. We are standing on the verge of it. Will the Bush/Cheney team swing and miss as before or will they hesitate and get called out on strikes. Remember:
1. US troop levels can not be sustained beyond early next year. Without a full mobilization of the National Guard (and most likely re-establishment of the draft), there are simply not enough troops to go around.
2. The hapless functioning of the Iraqi government is proof positive that Iraq is not and was not ready for “democracy”. They are generations away from that and maybe even longer.
3. A lawless Iraq serves no one any purpose especially Iraq’s neighbors. Once the US leaves there will be a soft partitioning with Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Iran forming important alliances with Iraqi fractions. Turkey and the kurds will reach some understanding either peacefully or otherwise.
4. The price and availability of oil will stabilize driven by the greed of those who produce. It is not in anyone’s best interest to disrupt supply.
5. The “do or die”, “the terrorists are coming” message that Bush/Cheney are pushing must be heard in the context of points 1-4. It is time for Congress to call their bluff.
We will hear all sorts of things between now and the end of September. Listen to what the 2008 candidates say and remember:
- The war was unnecessary
- The President lied to us
- The Commander-in-chief disgraced our country with Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib.
- The war has cost almost $ 700 Billion, all of it on borrowed money our children and grandchildren must pay.
- An end to the conflict will require the US to leave, and the Iraqis to make pragmatic, non-secular, non-ideological decisions.
Let’s do the part we can effect and withdraw. Withdrawal will take 18-24 months and a new Administration with a fresh sheet of paper could facilitate the necessary concessions. Failing to obtain these concessions, the last solder out should just turn the last light off as he goes out the door.