Iraq Is Not Hopeless, But America’s Mission There Is

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

BasingiraqThe 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

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.

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.

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.

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.
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