Thursday, March 29, 2007

A complete unmitigated failure

Front paged at Booman Tribune, ePluribus Media and My Left Wing. Recommended at Daily Kos

Yes, this can be referring to pretty much anything that this Administration has put its hands on, but here, I am talking about Iraq. In general but also with respect to the escalation, the civil war and the smackdown that the rest of the Middle East is now “officially” giving the US.

The “surge is working” canard should just be forcefully and flat out rejected as an egregious lie. The truth is, nothing is working, and nothing that our military does will work in any remotely substantial manner. The troops are in the crossfire in a bloody mess of a tit-for-tat civil war bordering on genocide. We know that the streets of Iraq are so filled with violence that you can’t walk down them safely. There was no plan for post invasion. The “let’s just wing it” approach has failed for four years. This “new packaged with a bow” approach of an ill-thought out escalation is still “just winging it”.

It has failed numerous times. And it is failing now. This shouldn’t be measured in troop deaths (constant for the past few months), other casualties (also constant), civilian deaths (these are up significantly), attacks (also up significantly) but even if you do measure it that way – it is still a failure.

Or, you can measure it by restoration of services (not happening), how safe it is to walk the streets (not safe), spreading of violence (getting worse), restoration of the economy and businesses (not happening either), and the types of attacks which are occurring (more deadly). All of these also indicate a complete failure.

Chlorine trucks are being blown up in a new wave of more deadly attacks. Any benchmarks that have been outlines have failed to be met. There is a growing movement towards forcing an end to our participation and inflaming of this ongoing nightmare. The Saudi’s won’t stand for it. Iran and Syria won’t stand for it (regardless of how “we” feel about them – they are the countries that border Iraq, whether we like it or not). The UK already knows that Afghanistan is the “fight that they should be fighting” and have committed to redeploy troops there from Iraq.

This is not progress. This is failure:

Shiite militants and police enraged by deadly truck bombings went on a shooting rampage against Sunnis in a northwestern Iraqi city Wednesday, killing as many as 70 men execution-style and prompting fears that sectarian violence was spreading outside the capital.

Even false empty talk of “victory” misses, well, just about everything.. These are the words of Fareed Zakaria – not the bastion of liberalism and left wing media. This is failure:
To speak of victory in Iraq might sound like a cruel joke. This is a nation that is now devastated, where 2 million people have fled, another 2 million are internal refugees, militias run large parts of the country and the government sanctions religious repression, ethnic cleansing and vigilante violence. What does "victory" mean in such circumstances?

Benchmarks are being missed – nearly all of the benchmarks are being missed. Benchmarks that even Bush himself has touted as necessary. From the Zakaria article linked above:
Just before the referendum on Iraq's Constitution in October 2005, U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad brokered a deal that secured Sunni participation in exchange for the Iraqi government's promising to set up a committee to amend the Constitution to incorporate Sunni concerns later. This was to have been done four months after the formation of Iraq's elected government—in other words, by September 2006. Nothing has happened. When he took office, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki announced plans for an ambitious program of national reconciliation. Nothing has happened.

In January, after persistent inquiries from Sen. Carl Levin, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice wrote to Levin setting out the benchmarks and timeline that the Iraqi government had signed off on. They included new election laws, the scheduling of provincial elections, laws on investment and oil-revenue sharing, the disbanding of militias, the reversal of de-Baathification and the granting of amnesty. In supporting the surge, Sen. John McCain also listed these goals as crucial to progress. But none of them has taken place. The revenue-sharing law has passed the cabinet but not yet moved through Parliament. The Los Angeles Times reported in February that Baghdad had abandoned plans to reverse de-Baathification. It quoted a U.S. official who said that the reform, far from advancing as promised, was "moving backward" and was "almost dead in the water." The amnesty law also appears moribund.


There are less formal benchmarks that are also not being met. Maliki was to have reshuffled his cabinet to remove members who actively fomented civil war. That has not happened. The government was to finally start spending money in Sunni areas. That has not happened. Militias were to be demobilized. Instead, one of their most notorious leaders has been released from prison and publicly embraced by Maliki.

Not happened. Not happened. Not going to happen. Dead in the water. Moving backwards. These are the words of someone who was in favor of invading Iraq initially.

The most recent issue of Newsweek is absolutely heartwrenching and chilling. Nearly fully dedicated to Iraq, it publishes a number of letters, journal entries and instant message exchanges between soldiers and their loved ones. What makes this even more chilling is that every single letter and entry is from someone who has been killed in action. People as young as 18 and as old as their 50s. The letters are segregated by year, and 2006 is the most telling of them all. While this is a must-read, it will really make you stop and think about just how much was ruined – wasted – both here and in Iraq by this complete unmitigated failure.

There are a few notes that I wanted to share. Notes that show that our soldiers – you know the ones who us liberals are undermining – are much smarter than Bush thinks or cares to give credit for.

Army Capt. Jason Hamill

March 5, [2006] Baghdad

Yeah, s--t's been pretty crazy. Locals have been out of control because the Golden (Shia) Mosque was blown up. [ ... ] There is going to have to be a civil war. It has to happen. If it happens while we're here, so what. Our stance is we're not going to get involved. We'll pull back and overwatch.

March 2006 and he is already talking about a civil war. AND that the US stance is to not get involved. He died in November 2006 – one day before he was supposed to go home.

Army Maj. Michael Mundell

Sept. 1, [2006] Fallujah

The question has been asked, by many of you, what [this place] is like. Try to imagine this: If you go out in your front yard, take a weapon with you and stare REAL careful at all the neighbors' houses. One of them may be on the roof, trying to snipe you. Also, don't stay out too long—someone down the road just might lob a few mortars at you, or drive by and fire some machine guns, or perhaps shoot an RPG rocket. So, if you are outside, be armed and know where the closest cover is—all the time. If you get in your car to go to the grocery, you can never ever go by yourself—you gotta have at least two cars and at least three people in each one. And make sure that at least one of your passengers is a medic. [ ... ]

The very second you leave the driveway, everything that is not immediately recognizable is dangerous. Is that a trash bag? An empty box? Or is it a command-detonated bomb. [ ... ] Never let any other car get close to you—EVER. Check them out closely. Is it another grocery-bound traveler? Or a car bomb. Maybe they have a machine gun sticking out the back. If they get too close, wave a flag at them, shoot a flare at them, honk the horn and blink your lights. If they don't move, or keep driving at you, you kill them. Period. Because if none of that works, they are certainly going to try to kill you. That is what it's like here.

That was around six months ago. That is what it is like for someone that can’t leave their own house, let alone do something as mundane as going to the grocery store. That is failure.

Mundell again

Sept. 14, [2006] Fallujah

Audrey once asked me what the attitude of the troops is over here, about the war, about the President and so on. I have to say, it's pretty darn cynical. You can't see what we see every day (like today, dead kids [killed by an IED]) and not get a little cynical about it all. High-minded political phrases sound pretty hollow out here. Our standard joke is "we are doing (whatever it is) as our part in the global war on anti-terrorism." This isn't to say that any of us doubt that we are doing the right thing—we don't.It's just that things look a lot different down here at the point of "W"'s spear. The ones at home rattling the loudest saber aren't here helping load dead kids into an ambulance. WE are. And that just sucks, I gotta tell you.

This 47 year old America hater was killed on January 5, 2007 by an IED.

Army Staff Sgt. Ronald Lee Paulsen

Oct. 2, [2006] Tarmiya

Remember when I told ya that as the forces swept through Baghdad the bad guys would move to the surrounding areas? Well, guess what. They're here. For the last two weeks, the camp has been mortared daily. We lost one of our CA [civil affairs] teams to a roadside bomb. I'm really getting pissed off. [ ... ] You have to hand it to the U.S. Army, though. We're training the best terrorists in the world. We drive around passing out money and building things, and the enemy practices their bomb-planting skills. Sometimes they hit, sometimes they miss. They're getting really good, though.

This 53 year old terrorist supporter was killed two weeks later.


The Beatles have an excellent and underrated song called Hey Bulldog. One of the lines in that song is most appropriate here and is as follows:

Some kind of solitude is measured out in you

You think you know me but you haven't got a clue

Nowhere is this more evident than the approach taken in Iraq – historically by this administration and even more so over the past few weeks and months. There is much solitude as many allies and nearly everyone else except a few “true believers” (even some Congressional republicans) are bailing or turning their backs on Bush and his stubbornness. As for what is going on in Iraq and the least horrible alternative? Well, to quote John Lennon – they think they know but they haven’t got a clue.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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