Two of the seven soldiers who wrote a controversial New-York Times op-ed, “critical of some elements of the war just last month,” have died in Iraq. “Among the column’s statements: ‘In short, we operate in a bewildering context of determined enemies and questionable allies, one where the balance of forces on the ground remains entirely unclear.’”
In an interview with Jim Lehrer yesterday (as the cable cretins were babbling about O. J. Simpson), Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, amidst many obfuscations, brought himself to agree with Lehrer that “the casualty rates among American troops are about now what they were a year ago.”
Readers ask what I think ought to be done about Iraq. If the analysis in the column “The Petraeus-Crocker Crock“ is correct, as many of you have conceded, then the conclusions ought to follow closely.
We are powerless to do a thing about “the religious animus between Shia and Sunni that dates back to AD 680.” If anything, we are solely responsible for inflaming the vendetta by removing Saddam, the strongman that kept the lid on the cauldron of depravity that has now boiled over because of the invasion. Our soldiers can continue to serve as sacrificial lambs, giving their lives futilely in order to separate the warring sides. What on earth for? Cui bono?
As mentioned in the column—a no-brainer really—the American occupation is the other flame accelerator. Our presence there is contributing to the chaos. The Iraqis in all their factions hate our collective guts. Those who know the culture and have lived in the Middle East understand that the exquisite politeness with which Anbaris, for example, are treating their new-found American friends masks a cold hatred. Americans are naïve about the people they keep messing with. Michael Ware, the hardnosed reporter who has lived in the region for years, gets the unromantic, unvarnished picture exactly right:
“[W]e have to be careful about what we hear Iraqis say when we’re surrounded by American soldiers. If we’re on an embed and we’re dealing with these Iraqi forces, they’re going to be very careful in what they say, because their American paymasters essentially are standing around. We need to talk to these groups in their undiluted state. We were with those groups, not with Americans. And, to be honest, I have known many of these organizations for years. They hate al Qaeda, no problem. That’s a shared American agenda. They are vehemently anti-Iranian, which also makes them vehemently anti-Maliki government. They believe this is essentially Iranian influence. So, no, they don’t want to work with this central government. And this central government is working with them under great sufferance, being forced by the U.S.”
In other words, what they say is not what they are thinking and scheming.
As to what will transpire once we withdraw, listen to Ware’s words, when asked for his overall impression of the president’s imbecilic speech:
“Well, … my first impression is, wow. I mean, it’s one thing to return to the status quo, to the situation we had nine months ago, with 130,000 U.S. troops stuck here for the foreseeable future. It’s another thing to perpetuate the myth. I mean, I won’t go into detail, like the president’s characterizations of the Iraqi government as an ally, or that the people of Anbar, who support the Sunni insurgency, asked America for help, or to address this picture of a Baghdad that exists only in the president’s mind.”
“Let me just refer to this, what the president said, that, if America were to be driven out of Iraq, extremists of all strains would be emboldened. They are now. Al Qaeda could gain new recruits and new sanctuaries. They have that now. Iran would benefit from the chaos and be encouraged in its efforts to gain nuclear weapons and dominate the region. It is now. Iraq would face a humanitarian crisis. It does now. And that we would leave our children a far more dangerous world. That’s happening now.” (Emphasis added)
It’s done. We broke it. Since the actions taken by Bush to improve Iraq caused it to break, it follows that no amount of further “improvements” will do anything but break the place some more. We are incapable of fixing it because of what we did (The Original Sin of invasion, if you will), who we are (invaders and aggressors), what we wrought (destroy the place), and what we symbolize (invaders who destroyed Iraq).
How difficult is it for readers of this space to follow this simple logic/drift? Expressions such as the road to hell is paved with good intentions, or the idea that you can kill with kindness—these all go to illustrate that it is quite possible to do evil while firmly believing you are doing good. Americans refuse to accept this because they cannot seem to see things from the perspective of the people they insist on “helping.” It’s a pathology–terminally self-righteous–to only see one side, and believe that that is the totality of the reality at hand.
The only way out is to withdraw completely. If readers intend to repeat that Iraq will then fall into chaos, please, at least do me the courtesy of reading (above) Ware again (in my opinion one of the finest reporters in the field). Iraq is in chaos. It may in fact improve once we remove our imperious boots from the Iraqi backs.
After withdrawing, we must work out a system of reparations for individual Iraqis. Of the logistics I’m not clear, but it is the right thing to do for individuals whose country and future we’ve destroyed. Next, instead of threatening Syria, one of two countries that has taken in millions of refugees of our creation, Americans need to assist the refugees in Syria and Jordan with private funds. These nations are housing the millions displaced by our actions. How dumb is it to threaten them? Do we seek to bomb the Iraqi refugees again, now that they’ve fled to Jordan and Syria?
Once we leave, some Saddam-like strongman will fill the power vacuum left. Will there be massacres? Sure; just like there are now. (We should have thought about that before the invasion. Or our revered leaders, and the masses that blindly fell behind them, ought to have read about Tony Blair’s philosophical forerunner, Gertrude Bell, and what happened to the British in Iraq circa 1920. When Americans invaded Iraq, they didn’t know Shiite from Shinola.)
We had it good with Saddam because he was secular, an enemy of fundamentalist Islam. Can we have back what, in our folly, we fouled up? No. The dictator to emerge from the ruins of Iraq will impose Sharia, pray to the hidden Imam, and compel women to walk about in black nose bags.
Let this be a cautionary tale. Hopefully we’ve learned our lesson. But the idea that we can rehabilitate what we ruined is delusional—a function of a collective mindset that rejects reality and its lessons.
I can hear the shrieks, “Iran; Iraq will belong to Iran. The nukes, the oil, omigod, blah, blah, blah.” Oh for heaven’s sake, get a grip. We delivered Iraq to Iran. Live with it or continue to be bled bit-by-bit by an insurgency that is way stronger than we are. We can wipe Iraq and Iran off the map with one of our nukes. The idea that the new Shia axis is a threat to us is not a serious one. Israel has more to fear, of course. Not America. Israel will have to figure out how to neutralize Iran’s arsenal.
Oil independence? I can never understand the protectionist, bellyaching about oil independence. Has anyone heard of trade? Perhaps if we traded more with Iran, instead of boycotting their wares, they’d be less belligerent. Trade is the best antidote to war. Think clearly: Iran has to sell its oil. That’s its livelihood. We need to buy it. Voila! Trade! Oil independence is a foolish leftist notion. Do I grow carrots in my backyard so as to become less dependent on Costco? Why would I? Costco needs to sell its fabulous produce; I want to buy it. Case closed. The idea of oil independence belongs with the global warming wombats.
Over and out.