Saturday, April 12, 2008

Basra Note, 2008

The U.S. occupation of Iraq is one of the longest military engagements in our history, longer than either world war or the Civil War. My view from a couple of years ago is that our children and grandchildren will be paying taxes to maintain troops in Iraq, rather like we do in Korea and other parts of the world. National interests, don't you know. (Make that read "petroleum.") I am not misled by the political positioning of any of the candidates running for president. I think most of my fellow Americans are living in a dream world. Those who think that taking out the troops will end our problems don't have a clue. And those who imagine that words like victory, win and finish the job have meaning are even more deluded.

Meantime, as the picture becomes increasingly complicated, here is a good summary from Zayed, one of Iraq's most durable and clear-minded bloggers. He is a dentist by trade, and his blog is Healing Iraq.

This would be amusing if it were not so tragic. The US military, knowingly or not, is fighting Iran's wars for them in Iraq, not against Iran. SIIC and Da'wa (Iran's strongest allies in Iraq) are determined to retain control of the Shi'ite south, and the crackdown against the Sadrists, which caused them to revolt, is a feeble attempt to prevent them from taking over in the upcoming provincial elections. And to describe this ongoing intra-Shi'ite conflict as "the government of Iraq against criminals" is ludicrous at best, as the so-called "government of Iraq" had no problem in the near past when those hordes of criminals were taking to the streets cleansing Baghdad and the south from Sunnis with the active participation of "Iraqi security forces." But as we say in Arabic: 'If you know then it is a calamity. If you don't know then it is a greater one.'

Before you dig into the links, be aware that there is a lot to learn. I lost track some time ago trying to keep up with the various Iraqi parties, tribes, groups and regional interests. This part of the world had an ancient history before Rome was built so it is very hard for a modern American to understand what's happening there.

I have seen how GI's behave in an ancient land because I was a draftee who was sent to Korea in 1966. That was during the Vietnam Era and Korea was at peace. Even so, it is not a pretty picture. My peers, for the most part, were well-behaved, but in the eyes of respectable Koreans were mostly regarded as a crowd of Philistines. I cannot imagine that what remains of Iraqi respectable society has any better view of their US military "peace keepers."

Expert: Current Iraq fighting not good guys vs bad

How can our leaders celebrate this diffusion of power as effective state building? More accurately described, it has placed the United States astride several civil wars. And it allows all sides to consolidate, rearm, and refill their financial coffers at the US expense.

To sum up, we face a deteriorating political situation with an over extended army. When the administration's witnesses appear before you, you should make them clarify how long the army and marines can sustain this band-aid strategy.

The only sensible strategy is to withdraw rapidly but in good order. Only that step can break the paralysis now gripping US strategy in the region.

Link to General Odom's testimony last week.

...on more than one occasion that the problems with this narrative arise when the Bush administration believes its own propaganda and then formulates policy as if it were true. That's an endemic problem with the neocon War party - as the lack of post-invasion planning attendant on the belief that "we will be greeted like liberators" or the almost year-long lag in addressing the general Sunni insurgency brought about by their insistence that any and all insurgents must be foreign fighters attested.

In their rush to catapult their preferred narrative - one that essentially gives Iran and its main allies a free hand in Iraq - both the Bush administration and its neocon Wormtongued advisors are deliberately forgetting even their own previous narrative.

Iraq, Iran And The Memory Hole

Contrasting old and new societies reminds me of something I heard years ago. Few people now remember Harry Golden, maverick Jewish publisher from the Sixties who wrote the Carolina Israelite. Very witty guy. I heard him speak once when I was in college. He delivered a great line: When Europeans were still roaming the forests, painting their bodies green, the Jews already had diabetes.

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