Monday, October 27, 2008

The Surge success Mythos in Iraq

Been surfing as usual, and I can pretty easily find articles that suggest that the so-called successful surge in Iraq is not all that it would seem.

I was looking for the quote about making a desert and calling it victory, and found at TomDispatch, it has already been used at the beginning of an excellent article by Michael Schwartz -Tomgram: Michael Schwartz, Iraq in Hell

It begins:
"The Roman historian Tacitus famously put the following lines in the mouth of a British chieftain opposed to imperial Rome: "They have plundered the world, stripping naked the land in their hunger… they are driven by greed, if their enemy be rich; by ambition, if poor… They ravage, they slaughter, they seize by false pretenses, and all of this they hail as the construction of empire. And when in their wake nothing remains but a desert, they call that peace."

and then :
" Or, in the case of the Bush administration, post-surge "success." Today, however, success in Iraq seems as elusive as ever for the President. The Iraqi cabinet is now refusing, without further amendment, to pass on to Parliament the status of forces agreement for stationing U.S. troops in the country that it's taken so many months for American and Iraqi negotiators to sort out. Key objections, as Juan Cole points out at his Informed Comment blog, have come from the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, which is [Prime Minister Nouri] al-Maliki's chief political partner, the support of which he would need to get the draft through parliament." That party, Cole adds tellingly, "is close to Tehran, which objects to the agreement." The Iranian veto? Hmmm

Among Iraqis, according to the Dreyfuss Report, only the Kurds, whose territories house no significant U.S. forces, remain unequivocally in favor of the agreement as written. Frustrated American officials, including Ambassador Ryan Crocker ("Without legal authority to operate, we do not operate… That means no security operations, no logistics, no training, no support for Iraqis on the borders, no nothing…"), Secretary of Defense Robert Gates ("Without a new legal agreement,'we basically stop doing anything' in the country…"), and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Mike Mullen ("We are clearly running out of time…") are huffing and puffing, and threatening -- if the agreement is not passed as is -- to blow the house down.

Without a mandate to remain, American troops won't leave, of course. At year's end, they will, so American officials insist, simply retreat to their bases and assumedly leave Maliki's government to dangle in the expected gale. Clearly, this is a game of chicken. What's less clear is who's willing to go over the cliff, or who exactly is going to put on the brakes. "

Then over at Salon an excellent article by Gary Kamiya- entitled:Remember Iraq?

" With Congress rejecting the $700 billion bailout package, the Dow falling 700 points and the U.S. economy on the edge of a cliff, no one is paying much attention to Iraq. Money talks, and incomprehensible and endless wars walk. From a purely financial perspective, that dismissive attitude makes no sense. The Iraq war has already cost almost $700 billion, and as Joseph Stiglitz and Linda J. Bilmes have argued, its total cost, factoring in huge back-end costs like disability payments, could end up exceeding $3 trillion. As Tom Engelhardt and Chalmers Johnson point out on TomDispatch, the money we've poured and are continuing to pour down the bottomless pit of Iraq, to the tune of $10 billion a month, could have bailed us out many times over.

and ..." McCain's entire position on Iraq boils down to two words: the surge. According to McCain, Gen. Petraeus' counterinsurgency tactic worked to perfection, and after years of failed approaches, victory is now within our grasp. McCain endlessly attacks Obama for not supporting the surge, painting his rival as a craven defeatist who, as McCain's top foreign policy advisor put it, "would rather lose a war that we are winning than lose an election by alienating his base."

The media has largely bought into this rosy view of the surge. Violence has fallen sharply in Iraq and U.S. casualties are down, and the media and the U.S. public have tacitly accepted both that the surge was largely responsible for these laudable outcomes and, to a lesser degree, that the underlying situation in Iraq has fundamentally improved. Unfortunately, neither claim is true.

... it concludes: " McCain's talk of "victory" is not just logically false, it is morally obscene. Our unprovoked invasion destroyed Iraq. Up to a million Iraqis may have died. The infrastructure is dreadful, far worse than in Saddam's time. Most of Iraq's doctors have fled or been killed. Vast numbers of Iraqis have been forced into exile, and few have dared to return. The sectarian war our invasion let loose has ripped the country apart. Iraq remains one of the most dangerous and violence-torn countries in the world. (On Sunday, five bomb attacks in Baghdad killed at least 27 people.) "

And may I also mention again the 4.5 million Iraqi refugees living outside of Iraq at present.

Thus literally Iraq has become a desert in all respects - a state that hobbles along. A far cry from the type of victory that McCain keeps declaiming about.

For further reading I also recommend Patrick Cockburn over at Counter Punch for example see: Pogrom Against Mosul's Christians

Monday, October 13, 2008

Chuckle of the Day

"Republicans are showing signs of worry about the state of the presidential race.

Conservative Republican William Kristol wrote in The New York Times that the McCain campaign is "close to being out-and-out dysfunctional."

"If the race continues over the next three weeks to be a conventional one, McCain is doomed," Kristol said. "