Wednesday, March 19, 2008

A Really Bad Idea Turns Five

On March 19, 2003, the U.S. military entered Iraq. The mission to remove Saddam was probably one of the worst ideas in modern times, given that it was based on lies and a delusional disregard for the consequences. The PNAC crowd that was cheerleading for war had no understanding of Middle East history, and the American public had/has no understanding of Middle East culture. This really bad idea has led to the deaths of almost 4000 American troops, countless Iraqi civilians, and the forced displacement of millions. Al Qaeda, which had no presence in Iraq before the invasion, has a new fertile recruiting center, and the entire region has become increasingly unstable. The Baghdad Bureau from the New York Times reports on what Iraq looks like five years after the beginning of the war. (Note: some of the photos are graphic.)
But many of those in power still refuse to face reality. Shrub and the Cheney are still touting "progress" and the media reports the "success of the surge" any time there are fewer people dead at the end of a week (during those weeks when more people die, the media ignores Iraq in favor of celebrity bowling or some such). All this for the price of 12 billion a month.
And we have St. Sleazy McCain promising to prolong this quagmire for decades. He actually stands a chance of winning the presidency, in spite of his insane disregard for reality. Here's the latest example of his delusions:

Speaking to reporters in Amman, the Jordanian capital, McCain said he and two Senate colleagues traveling with him continue to be concerned about Iranian operatives "taking al-Qaeda into Iran, training them and sending them back."

Pressed to elaborate, McCain said it was "common knowledge and has been reported in the media that al-Qaeda is going back into Iran and receiving training and are coming back into Iraq from Iran, that's well known. And it's unfortunate." A few moments later, Sen. Joseph Lieberman, standing just behind McCain, stepped forward and whispered in the presidential candidate's ear. McCain then said: "I'm sorry, the Iranians are training extremists, not al-Qaeda."

Whether this is propaganda or just a total lack of understanding, it should disqualify him from ever being president. But it wont.
Now the toughest question is how to get out of Iraq without it resulting in genocide. That will be one of the greatest diplomatic challenges ever to face an American president. If St. Sleazy is elected we will postpone facing the challenge of withdrawal, and if a democrat is elected they will be pilloried for any fallout from withdrawing. There are no easy solutions, but perpetual occupation is untenable.
Five years ago I saw the impending invasion as an inevitable disaster. I couldn't bear to watch, so I spent 10 days river rafting. I wish that I could hide from the reality today.
Added: Our shrub is still in "de-nile":

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President George W. Bush said on Wednesday he had no regrets about the unpopular war in Iraq despite the "high cost in lives and treasure" and declared that the United States was on track for a major victory there.

Marking the fifth anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion with a touch of the swagger he showed early in the war, Bush said in a speech at the Pentagon, "The successes we are seeing in Iraq are undeniable."

How much more "success" can we stand?

I'll be at an anti-war rally/vigil tonight.

Added added: Fran points out that it's a swarm:



Americaneocon said...

"Iraq has become the central battlefield in the 21st century's Islamic war, and may have been destined to be, with or without us. Lying geographically, ideologically, and culturally athwart the Middle East, rich in resources and boiling with rage long before we got there, it is the place where the war will either be settled or truly begun. It is a fitting role for the cradle of civilization to host a war in which the very progress of civilization is being challenged.

While there were terrible errors made in going to war in Iraq, the decision to go to war was not one of them.

Saddam Hussein convinced the world he had active weapons programs. The evidence now suggests he didn't, but how active his programs were, ultimately, is irrelevant. He had demonstrated his desire to dominate the region. Our European allies were eager to do business with him despite their own intelligence reports. Absent any containment, there was potential for more terrible and far-reaching wars. It was inevitable that Iraq would undergo a post-Saddam power struggle with massive ethnic conflict and with interference by Iran and Syria. The question was, and remains, how much influence we would wield in that event.

Five years on, the threat Saddam Hussein posed to regional stability--global stability, if you consider the resources he sought to control--has been neutralized....

Those Americans who have sneered at these fits and starts of democracy are experiencing their own domestic political frustrations. Democrats are demanding more political cohesion from Iraq and Pakistan than they've been able to manage themselves. As Congress presses for disengagement with no practicable plan, we learn--thanks to the candor of a departing foreign policy adviser--that the leading Democratic candidate has no plan whatsoever for his campaign's central plank of withdrawal from Iraq."

- From Jules Crittenden, "Five Years On"

pygalgia said...

"absent any containment"? Saddam was contained by sanctions and no-fly zones, and while he may have wanted to rule the region he was impotent in his ability to attack anyone. The '91 invasion of Kuwait was his last shot, and after that he was barely able to retain control of Iraq. A brutal, horrible dictator in a world that has dozens of them.
The imposition of occupation was never a tenable aproach, and the only real question is how long are we going to continue on a disastarous plan.