Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Iraq Adventure -- Two More Comments

If I hear any more crap about the success of the surge I think I will throw up. The war in Iraq is the most embarrassing and frustrating piece of official madness and retrograde American activity of my adult life. I can't allow myself to write about it because the prose comes out all stressed. I have a hard time suppressing an impulse to use profanity. Instead, here are two links I have come across in the last twenty-four hours that won't get out of my head until I blog them out of my way.

Eric Martin at hilzoy's place did some arithmetic and figured out the proportional damage to the civilian population compared to what the numbers would look like if the nation/battlefield were the USA instead of Iraq:

Even under the more conservative civilian death counts, the numbers are currently at or nearing 100,000. That would be like 1 million American civilians. One Million! [Check my sidebar link to Iraqi civilian deaths.]
But it's not just dead and wounded. Iraqi society has been traumatized in other ways as well.
...[regarding refugees] imagine that suddenly the entire state of Texas moved to Mexico and all of New York set up tent cities in the Midwest. Or if all of Michigan and Ohio evaporated into Canada while Florida's population spread itself through the rest of the south. I really don't think people have a good handle on just how profound the humanitarian crisis continues to be despite all the "improvement."

Read the whole post. He's done some interesting homework.

Zayed, blogmaster of Healing Iraq, linked to a piece by Joel Brinkley in the Modesto Bee that I couldn't finish because it made me so angry.

During the five years the United States has occupied Iraq, the Bush administration has created a new state with a number of notable features: A venal, dysfunctional government. A terrorist haven and training ground. A nation so violent and dangerous that 10 percent of the population has fled.
Add to that a new hallmark: Nearly the most corrupt nation on Earth.

Only two states out of 180, Somalia and Burma, outrank Iraq in Transparency International's latest worldwide corruption index. They are tied for last place. But Iraq has plummeted through the rankings since 2004, when it was near the middle of the pack, and is now within a hair's width of crashing to the bottom.

Along the way, U.S. officials say, Iraqi government officers, from Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on down, have embezzled not only uncounted billions of dollars from their own treasury -- but also $18 billion in U.S. aid. That's about equal to the annual budget for Colorado.

For this we are at war.
Michael J. Totten's take on the situation, that it is now a "peacekeeping" operation, is probably correct.
I hope the next president has a way out.

I recall a story a customer told me a few years ago about eating in another restaurant and spotting a rat (!) running across the floor. He quickly put his foot on the animal, holding it down as he and his family were sitting at their table. He called the waiter over and told him to call the manager, explaining the situation. The manager was mortified, of course, and eventually they got the situation under control. But until then, as he told the manager, "If I pick up my foot, this rat is gonna cause a scene in this place you really don't want. You better do something....quick."

That's where we are now. We have our foot on a rat. And if we pick up our foot, the scene is gonna get pretty bad.

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