As the Iraq invasion and occupation raged in its early post invasion days, the Shiites and Sunnis tried valiantly not to lose any chance to heap unspeakable atrocities upon each other. Killing innocent children, women, and old people could not be enough satisfaction for century old mythes that required retribution.
An American myth, surprisingly, emerged during 2007. It said that an increase in military strength, some 20,000 additional personnel, could halt this violence. The so called “surge” took place, and low and behold, relative calm came to Iraq. The chicken hawks got it right (they said proudly) and implied that questioning military judgement was done at a politicians own risk.
At the time, others were saying that a Marine Corp initiative called the “awakening” was also having a positive impact. This effort bought the loyalty of Sunni militia leaders who for money, used their influence to control those who would have preferred violence. It is not by bread alone that man lives.
Today, violence is creeping back into Iraq. Reports indicate that many of these “awakening” leaders are involved. And it should not be too surprising that these leaders are no longer on the American payroll and the Shiite lead Government has chosen not to continuing funding this operation. Deja vu all over again.
The myth most Americans readily accepted was that military force could bring peace to the region, and implied that life would be good ever after. While American troops were necessary for training and as a deterrent for any outside invasion, we can see that the military is not a sufficient force for nation building. Iraqi citizens like in all other countries must decide they can live together and that they will make the appropriate accommodations. Iraq’s military is big enough to provide police action and basic boarder defense, if it chooses to act as a unified effort. It is time for the US to drastically reduce its presence. Americans must not get fooled by a return of violence, and the myth that if we stay a little longer, all will get better.
The decision to invade Iraq will undoubtably be viewed by historians as the most serious error of judgement of any US President. We have spent dearly with lives and money to repair the damage we needlessly inflicted, and now, enough is enough. The three “surge meisters” (McCain, Graham, and Lieberman) will surely dust off their trumpets and lead the charge in Congress to continue these efforts. It is time to blow “taps” for these misguided figures.