Thursday, August 03, 2006

Quagmire or Tar-Baby

WASHINGTON - US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld extended the tours of nearly 4,000 US troops in Iraq for 120 days Thursday to help quell sectarian violence in Baghdad, the Pentagon said.Earlier this year, there were suggestions that the top U.S. commander in Iraq, Gen. George Casey, would make recommendations to Rumsfeld in the spring that could begin showing a decrease in American troops. But a Tuesday announcement mapping out five more Army and Marine brigades scheduled to go to Iraq later this year signaled that any decrease is highly unlikely. Wash. Post- - - -Friday, July 28, 2006.

Quagmire - - -1. soft miry land that shakes or yields under the foot. 2: a difficult, precarious or entrapping position.- -Websters 9th New Collegiate Dictionary.

Have been reading Cobra II: The Inside Story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq by Michael Gordon and Bernard Trainor. As I was doing so, I was remembering that even back in 2003, my friend Greg was predicting Iraq would become a Quagmire. I suggested it would become a Tar-baby, in the sense of something you get stuck to, and then attempts to become unstuck, only cause further stuckness.

Now, it looks like both our predictions have come true.

In a British style govt., Rumsfeld would be long gone by now. Having to send about 5,000 troops back into Baghdad, is admission enough in the failure of the whole neo-con enterprise. 2585 dead American soldiers as of today. 18,777 Americans wounded.
By election day it will be around 3,000 dead. By this time in summer of 2007 it could be around 4,500. The monetary cost by then could be half a trillion dollars. In short, this is madness which will ultimately collapse , because of the overwheening hubris with which this adventure was entered.

Here is a relevant passage of a review of Cobra II by Andrew Bacevich:

"Although US forces made it to Baghdad, and Bush soon thereafter declared an end to 'major combat operations', it was all downhill from there. An incident in Fallujah – troops from the 82nd Airborne Division fired into a crowd of angry demonstrators – kick-started the insurgency. That was on 24 April 2003. Heavy-handed US tactics added fuel to the fire. 'The only thing these sand niggers understand is force and I'm about to introduce them to it,' a senior officer in the 4th Infantry Division is quoted as saying. Bush's chosen proconsul, Paul Bremer, compounded the problem by dissolving the remnants of the Iraqi army, thereby providing the insurgents with a pool of potential recruits. As Franks made his escape, command in Iraq devolved on Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez, an officer of indifferent ability, poorly prepared for the challenges he faced, and unable to forge an amicable relationship with Bremer.

Cobra II provides only the briefest sketch of all the ugly events that followed. The volume concludes with a summary of the administration's myriad errors: underestimating the enemy, failing to understand the fractious nature of Iraqi society, relying excessively on technology, and failing to anticipate the magnitude of the nation-building task that could not be avoided. But one failure stands out. Rumsfeld's grand plan to transform the US military was at odds with the administration's grand plans to transform the broader Middle East. Imperial projects don't prosper with small armies that leave quickly: they require large armies that stay. Out of this arrogance, incompetence and sheer stupidity came a policy failure that may yet beggar the debacle of Vietnam."

Despite Bush's blathering about total victory, there can be no victory in Iraq. It would take 400,000, maybe 500,000 troops to really get things under control of some sort in Iraq, but this is not going to happen. 'W' may think he is Churchill like, but Churchill was also the chief architect of the Gallipoli disaster in WWI.

We are now about 3 months away from Nov 2006 elections. For the life of me I don't see how the Republicans can win with this policy of stay the course in Iraq. They can try to paint the Democrats all sorts of ways, but Iraq is a Republican idea through and through.(Project for a New American Century) Some Repubs officials were oping that at least the Lebanon war is moving Iraq off the front pages, but this is a bit like whistling in a graveyard.

Anyway these are my sober thoughts and conclusions. Such a huge loss of American lives, Iraqi lives, and treasure.

My prediction: The Republicans lose the House, maybe even the Senate.
One need only read Cobra II, the new book Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq by Thomas Ricks , and/or The One Percent Doctrine by Ron Suskind to be able to understand what is unfolding. Grim thoughts, but there are grim things happening in the world.

No comments: