Tuesday, December 12, 2006


My Turn

Okay, the ISG gave us their plan for fixing Iraq. The neocons hated it, Don Rumsfeld hasn't read it, the progressive blogs think it's a joke or a kabuki or something, and George W. Bush asked zero questions when it was presented to him and hasn't indicated that he'll actually do anything that's recommended in it, even though the only thing that saved the GOP from a complete electoral meltdown last month was the prospect that we were going to change course in Iraq once the ISG report came out.

So now it's my turn.

I have had a few discussions recently with friends and family where I have urged a withdrawal from Iraq, and the comeback has been: how can you run the risk of the pure anarchy (and possible regional war), not to mention the increased possibility of unrestrained terror plotting in an American-less Iraq? And it's true, I think, that as bad as the situation is there (and it's probably among the worst over an extended period of time for civilians that I can think of, but my history isn't as good as it should be; still, it's one three-year-plus-long period of terror) it could conceivably get even bloodier for the Iraqis.

The problem is, it is still a mess over there. And all reason, to me, points to the idea that our presence is actually making things worse there. Notwithstanding all our high-flown rhetoric of freedom and democracy, we are plainly at this point an occupying power (some claim reluctantly so), and as such, we would have to be fools not to follow the age-old truism that in order to rule a foreign land, you must divide. Divide and rule. We would be stupid, in some sense, NOT to encourage discord among the various sects in Iraq, because I'm pretty sure that in a purely peaceful Iraq, none of them would want us to build permanent bases, which we have built. And it wasn't so long ago that the Shiite al Sadr was making overtures toward the Sunni insurgency, and that doesn't seem to be as much of a priority these days. We should consider ourselves lucky that Americans get only 3-4 military deaths a day, while Iraqis get hundreds. Imagine if they aimed all their energies toward killing us (not that our overall casualty figures are that low - 22,000 wounded, not counting illnesses).

All this is to say that it's obvious to me that Bush wouldn't get out even if the gettin' we good. Permanent bases being the key here. Ergo, in order to "fix" Iraq, our number one order of business MUST be at the top. Not waiting 25 more months for 2000 more Americans to die and another hundred thousand Iraqis. As soon as possible. George Bush and Dick Cheney must resign. If they fail to do so, they must be impeached. Anyone who doesn't think it's feasible to convict doesn't have much faith in Americans. I can promise you that the more people realize that Bush isn't shifting directions despite a 21% approval rating of his policy, the more impeachment will seem like a viable option. And once that gets started, it only takes some Democratic political bravery and a whole lot of Republicans fighting for their political lives. I say this should happen by March.

Then President Pelosi must take her Armani suits directly to the Hague for an international conference on Iraq. She should state up front that the Americans will withdraw from Iraq on a quick and specific time table, for that country's and that region's benefit. If there truly is concern that foreign fighters are destabilizing Iraq, she should call for an international force to seal off the borders. Finally, she must insist on the dismantling of the death squads by NATO, the UN, or whoever takes over in Iraq. If countries seem hesitent to do this, she should threaten them with the reinstatement of George W. Bush. Also, we will pay for any associated costs.

She should follow this up by a renewed effort to resolve the Israel/Palestinian question; a reevaluation of our relations with Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iran, Syria, and Pakistan; and an international call for Islam to fix Islam - specifically, those forces within Islam that encourage terrorist violence.

She should apologize for the death to civilians and others caused by this unjust war.

She should call for Saddam Hussein's retrial (and certain conviction) at the Hague, to be followed by Rumsfeld's. As for Bush and Cheney, while I can't see any argument against their indictment for war crimes, I still can't seem to get my mind around the idea of them in prison. Perhaps because they have such powerful allies. I am perfectly fine seeing them wither away and be known finally as the two worst leaders in American history.

Then, I believe, we might start seeing things in Iraq improve.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006


Iraq Study Group Report: 160 pages, but wide margins

Well, the Iraq Study Group released its report today. Things have changed a LOT about the panel since I blogged about it. No longer does the group carry the burden of being seen as past-their-prime insiders who were chosen for their names and media profiles instead of their expertise and willingess to stand up to the powers that be! No!! Check it out: they got rid of that fogey politicos Robert Gates (confirmed today as Secretary of Defense) and replaced them with ... hmmm, let me see here...

Ah yes! Lawrence Eagleburger! A spry 76, Eagleburger seems the be the guy who stood at the post to watch Yugoslavia devolve into the worst hot war Europe had seen in a half century. However, he at least was someone (widely suspected at the behest of George I) who was willing to call out the Bush administration during their rush to war in 2002. Anyway, he was put there after Rumsfeld resigned, i.e. after the election, i.e. after the ISG had already come to their basic conclusions, i.e. he's a meaningless figurehead.

Oh, and he named all three of his sons Lawrence. Freaky!

So all this is to say that my efforts to contextualize the ISG report, which I admittedly only skimmed, took me to one place I really generally loathe going: Slate. Why do I hate Slate? Well, here's what I said many moons ago:

As if Christopher Hitchens' blatherings weren't bad enough, the folks at Slate also seem to have created a niche for themselves as the ultimate in wacky "what if" scenarios and their mind-numbingly dull "explainer" articles. "What if Howard Dean were debating George Bush tonight?" is their thought exercise for today.... I just find the whole thing to be irrelavent, unfunny, and desperately wanna-be in its hipness and water-cooler-topicness.

(As if to prove my point, today some of their featured articles are "Why Litvinenko Lost His Hair but Not His Eyebrows" and "My Quest for the World's Perfect Bag." Oh, and "Why Do Cruise Ship Passengers Always Get Diarrhea?")

Anyway, imagine my surprise to find that they were leading with the only writer in their damn organization worth a darn, Fred Kaplan, and his cutting, plain-spoken gem of a scary article, "The Iraq Study Group Chickens Out". His points:

> Whereas everybody seems to want the ISG to use the word "should," the report instead uses the word "could."
> They not only don't advocate a timetable for withdrawal, they give themselves enough wiggle room so that more troops are just as viable an option as fewer.
> They have not given us one reason why Iran would possibly be interested in helping us out.

However, none of Fred's analysis is nearly as convincing to me as the article I read earlier -- forgive me, I forget where -- that points out that by not mentioning the permanent bases -- the massive, extremely intentional permanent bases -- that are already in place, the ISG is not dealing with the FACT of our occupation and our actual strategic goals (whatever they are, because god knows the administration won't tell us) and therefore is nothing more than a meaningless exercise in empty rhetoric and political cover for any politician who would like to use it.

So expect more carnage. More sectarian violence (that is likely saving American lives because we'd be a truly inept occupying power if we were NOT secretly encouraging division among the populace, "divide and rule" being the only proven precept among colonizers). More evasion from Tony Snow and the like. And a couple of more years of nobody having the balls to demand George W. Bush and Dick Cheney's resignations, which to me is the only rational first step in any Iraq strategy.

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