June 22, 2007
As time has past, all the other pretexts have been stripped away by events, and we are left, at this point with nothing more nor less than permanent occupation in support of a puppet government. I have despaired of anybody, in the MSM or in the blogosphere writing clearly about this--or about the severe difficulty involved in ending the US involvement in the occupation because of Iraq's status as a failed state with no national defense capability, surrounded by four states that have reason to have designs on its territory, and who are, in some ways natural enemies.
This is complicated further by the fact that one of those states, Turkey, is a member of NATO, and has legitimate concerns over border security. The positions taken by democratic candidates--the wiggle room in their detailed statements about their plans for Iraq--make it clear that they understand these difficulties, but fear saying so out loud, because of the enormous unpopularity of this catastrophic occupation.
The blathering from the beltway pundits, spouting the FU justification of the week also impedes serious discussion of what is to be done, and is frequently characterized by arm waving that presumes that the US is both sovereign and if not omnipotent, effectively able to impose conditions, like a tripartite division, or the dissolution of the current government or alliance with "good" ex-Baathists. But there is very little written that discusses the reality of the strategic situation.
Last night, over at FDL, swopa outlined these issues in the context of parsing democratic presidential candidates' statements. He describes why these issues pose difficulties for those who want to end the occupation, and what realistically we have to worry about. The US will not be able to withdraw substantial forces without facing these issues, and making clear decisions about what the least horrific outcome is, and how it can be pursued.
This is a debate that is long overdue. I urge people to read that post.
June 19, 2007
In a less widely publicized instance, Chris Matthews endured catcalls at the AFSCME event yesterday, when he decided that one of the most pressing issues of the day was Senator Clinton's view on the question of pardoning Libby.
Those dirty effin' hippies are everywhere. And they keep making noise.
June 18, 2007
But I can give you the skinny. It's the first line:
The Iraqi conflict is going to be with us for years if not decades.
This is the latest in a series of breaking-it-to-you-slowly pieces about the plans for permanent occupation in Iraq. The first mention came a couple of Sundays ago, when the NYT quoted anonymous sources that there was the possibility of Iraq being like Korea--with a long term occupation force of about 50,000 troops. I'm gonna pull a few bits out of the piece to demonstrate just how completely out of touch or complicit the media continues to be.
The last military build-up will not be repeated. Americans have no stomach for a further "surge" and theWhen the escalation was first proposed in mid January 2007as Bush's response to the ISG report calling for diplomacy and drawdown, the media spent some time reversing direction from the certainty, expressed by Time and Newsweek, that this would provide political cover for a drawdown. By the time they had finished adjusting their conventional wisdom cocktail weenie goggles, it was March, so the law of the Friedman unit decreed that September was when All Would Be Settled. The Last Chance For Bush, because Republicans Would Turn On Him. There was a brief introduction of a Boehner Interval of 90 days, but that was much too imminent to preserve the fiction that something would be different at the end of the requisite period.
armed forces have no capacity for one. U.S.
What Cohen says here does not, of course, reflect reality. The decision to escalate came after the 2006 elections, which confirmed what the polls had been saying for some time--that Americans had no stomach for an escalation. And the time it took, and the corners cut in terms of training, equipment readiness and extensions of tours of duty indicated that the armed forces did not have the capacity for the escalation.
In fact, Americans had no stomach for the last escalation, and the US Armed Forces clearly had insufficient capacity for it—training was curtailed, equipment was provided upon arrival in theatre, injured soldiers were sent back into battle, rotation length was increased and any number of other indicators demonstrated this. Whether you read polls, or just talk to people, it is very clear that Americans have turned decisively against this war.. And it is also very clear that this simply does not matter to our policymakers, our elected officials or the Beltway punditocracy. The escalation happened anyway.
I see four core American interests in
And now let's just tack on one more "must." Everybody gets a pony.
We use the the Friedman Unit not just because it's snarky and derisive. We also use it because it encapsulates, in only two words, a sense of pseudo analysis, wishful thinking and a Mr Micawber-like belief that something will turn up that has characterized MSM coverage of the war from the beginning. It also connotes the unwillingness of advocates of this disaster,especially the “liberal hawks,” to admit that it is a disaster, and to accept the inevitable catastrophic results.
Moreover, those uacceptable conditions that must be avoided are largely happening now. There is genocide going on. There is a regional conflagration taking place, with Saudi, Syrian and Iranian proxy forces doing battle, as well as a very nervous line drawn through the center of would-be Kurdistan. It can be argued that the
I'm sure Gorbachev saw four core interests that couldn’t be abandoned when he announced glasnost, too. Sometimes the world is not what you wish it to be.
To ensure this, the
Oh there is so much here to write about here. Let’s start with the first sentence. The
Now as to the size of the, ahem, proposed “deterrent” force. Shortly after Saddam fell, the administration was talking about a residual force of 30,000 to 50,000 troops (see a contemporary TNR article as an example). Permanent occupation has always been the plan.
The notion that we are slowly coming to the realization that a permanent presence in
This has been the plan from the outset. And, for some reason, the reporting on this has been very limited. The Chicago Tribune had a piece in 2004 about the plans for enduring bases. George Packer visited ones of the bases for the New Yorker. Fred Kaplan finally did write a column about them in Slate. By and large, though, these very clear plans have not been reported upon, and now columns like yours today are facilitating the myth that these are new plans, a new recognition of reality. In fact, had there been any plan for a real withdrawal, the US would have been working to rebuild the Iraq national defense force, including air power, armor and logistical capability. Instead the
And now, in the third sentence of the graf, it turns out that, of course, we have to let the Iraqi Prime Minisiter, former exile and recipient of CIA funds, know what our plans are. The
The piece ends with this bizarre coda:
That chance will be increased if, as the
Where does the UN charter specify support for an occupying power? And where will the
But this where the traditional media is. The Beltway is still committed to supporting whatever the latest talking points are, and to grease the skids as much as necessary for a continuation of this occupation, ad infinitum, regardless of what the electorate thinks.