Loopier and Loopier
Bush seems to be getting loopier and loopier by the day. He’s poised to crash and burn in a fiery display. He has said clearly and defiantly that he wouldn’t change his ideas and plans even if his wife and dog were the only two creatures on earth that still agreed with him.
Looks like that’s where it’s heading. His handling of Iraq down to 23% in one poll, he’s responding by making one final desperate stab at Victory. Success in Iraq with twenty thousand more troops is as likely as the world getting serious about climate change before it’s too late. Which is close to nil.
In this case McCain is more correct; his proposed escalation of 100,000 new grunts is closer to the half million necessary to subdue the Iraqi people. And then you’d be ruling over a population that hates you dearly. Just recently an Iraqi poll showed about 80% wanted the US to withdraw quickly and most astounding, 61% thought it was OK to attack American troops. That’s gratitude for ya. It might be theoretically possible to bring peace to Iraq if you were fighting a small insurgency and the people were on your side, unthinkable under the present circumstances: You still can’t drive the 6 miles from the Green Zone to the Baghdad airport without a very muscular military escort.
One of the first and stupidest decisions made in Iraq was to disband the army and let half-million pissed off - because they were summarily cast out with no consideration for the hardship caused to them or their families – conscripts take all the doodads of death they could carry as they slammed the door on their way out.
Then again, nearly every decision made by the US in Iraq has ranged somewhere between the moronic and idiotic. The latest being the rushed killing of Saddam - which took place on an Islamic holy day related to forgiveness, no less. This was important to the bushman since a second trial based on the deaths of many thousands of Kurds had just gotten underway. This would have brought into sharp relief US complicity in Saddam’s crimes, including helping him acquire the chemical weapons he used on the Kurds. A war crimes trial conducted to international standards would have made the sordid record clear and complete.
The Iraq Study Group report, chaired by James Baker (largely responsible, because of his actions in Florida 2000, for foisting the numbskull on the world in the first place) makes few decent points among a lot of blather. It suggests bringing home ‘combat troops’ but they are only about 30% of the total, so it’s not really suggesting withdrawal. The remainder are supposed to be training Iraqis. Meanwhile the British stormed a police station recently in their part of occupied Iraq because a hundred men were about to be summarily executed. Will we be training Iraqis to kill bad guys, or good guys?
The report is also keen for Iraq’s oil to be privatized, though what that has to do with bringing peace to the country is a little murky. In fact the Iraqi parliament is rushing a bill through as I write this to do just that. However, at the present time it’s an empty gesture since little or no exploration or development will take place until the country is safe and that’s not going to happen for a long time, short of a despot taking over. Even that is highly unlikely now that the two groups are so heavily armed and intent on hurting each other. It’s possible, if the country were divided up, that the Shia south, where most of the oil is, would become stable. But then, of course, it would no longer be the Iraqi government.
What can possibly be done to ease the burden on the long-suffering Iraqi people? In the short term, absolutely nothing that America does will improve the situation. If the US stays in full force, or retreats to the permanent military bases now under construction, or leaves entirely, it’s going to be a terrible bloody mess.
This is what I wrote in a November 2003 article. “One thing seems easy to conclude; there’ll never be democracy or peace in Iraq as long as the US is there - whatever might have been true before and regardless of our intentions, today the US is the problem. And further, there is no way this can turn out good for the occupier; there is no imaginable scenario in which America won’t be brought to its knees even if it does work out in the end.”
And it wasn’t even that bad then. I went on to suggest (updated to the present) that we get out as quickly as possible and concurrently go to the UN on bended knees, with a couple hundred billion dollars in our hands, offering profuse and groveling apologies for our aberrant behavior and ask them to try to make some sense of the situation.
Billions of dollars floating around would placate a lot of anger. Admitting the awful mistakes made while raining money down on them might even garner the US a little sympathy. They would see that the perpetrator of their misery at least cared just a bit about their plight.
However, this last scenario is by far the least likely. America always seems to have the resources to bully and destroy, never can find the scratch to rebuild and foster peace. America’s stinginess is what cost Afghanistan; it too now is lost to instability and internecine war for years to come. Alternatively, had fifty billion dollars been spread around one of the world’s poorest countries (poor in good measure from US meddling) it would have built roads, railroads, sewers, water systems, electric power, schools, parks, a sampling of everything they so desperately need. Everyone in Afghanistan would have seen the progress and millions would have benefited from the large number of Afghanis employed in the construction.
The great majority would have been on America’s side and tolerated many of the imperfections of its military presence (bombing wedding parties) because they would have felt its heart was in the right place. Instead the US allocated a paltry couple billion dollars and characteristically mismanaged its expenditure. Then it brought in only enough troops to secure Kabul, leaving the rest of the country in the hands of the same warlords who were so bad when they were in control that the people welcomed the victory of the Taliban.
So now a variant of the endless war scenario is starting again for Afghanistan. And the US is in the middle of it and no good can come of it. This now makes two pivotal Muslim countries destabilized by Bush’s brutish and breathtaking ineptitude. Both are rife with multiple insurgencies and militias and impossible to pacify and perfect breeding grounds for terrorists.
One of the few nuggets of wisdom to come from the Iraq Study Group report was the recognition that settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is central to peace and stability in the wider region. The plight of the Palestinian people is a dagger of anger and hostility twisting in the heart of every Islamic militant. And more, nearly every Arab of all religious stripes and the great majority of Muslims in the world, no matter how far they may be from the conflict themselves, feel a grave injustice has been done.
For six years Bush has engaged in a policy towards Middle East peace of malign neglect. Neocon disinterest in trying to solve this problem based of fairness has greatly exacerbated it. Anyway, it will take up too much space to summarize all the points of instability and bloodshed Bush has had a hand in creating in the Muslim world in one article... so, to be continued.