Tuesday, September 12, 2006

What next for the Iraq Occupation?

The NYT reports that a Marine Report Sees Grim Outlook in West Iraq.
WASHINGTON, Sept. 11 -— The political and security situation in western Iraq is grim and will continue to deteriorate unless the region receives a major infusion of aid and a division is sent to reinforce the American troops operating there, according to the senior Marine intelligence officer in Iraq.

The article goes on to give sobering details contained in the report. What does the report signal beyond the grim facts of US forces stretched to the maximum in trying to occupy Iraq in the midst of ever escalating violence?

Speculation continues that Washington military, intelligence, and political insiders have recognized that the continued occupation of Iraq is not tenable. A pull back from Iraq Murtha style is imminent and inevitable after the Fall elections.

Before pursuing the prediction, it is always worth repeating a few of the facts about the Iraq War and subsequent Iraq Occupation since you will not hear the truth from folks such as President Bush. Planning for the Iraq Invasion began as soon as President Bush took office prior to 9/11. Intelligence proving the existence of WMD and Iraq links to al Qaeda was spurious and wildly speculative at best, yet was used to justify the invasion in the eyes of the world. Intelligence assessments predicted the inevitable consequences of an Iraq occupation, consequences we continue to see every day in Iraq as witnessed by large scale chaos, death, and destruction. The goals of bringing freedom and democracy to Iraq and the rest of the Middle East were made prominent after other justifications proved barren and fruitless.

If the rumors prove true that a pull back from Iraq is in the offing, what will that do to the spirit of the most ardent supporters of the Iraq Occupation? The Bush Cult will call it a brilliant strategic move on the President's part while conveniently forgetting the battle in the House of Representatives over the original Murtha proposal. That response is predictable and almost not worth mentioning except to remind the ever forgetful about what really happened regarding current events.

For other supporters it could lead to skepticism about the reality of what they have been told by the government, the sort of skepticism we have yet to see. Belief systems, however, hold a powerful sway over sober reflection of the facts. We are not easily convinced of the errors of our most well entrenched beliefs.

Will a pull back to the perimeter in the Middle East lead to more stability in the region? It is difficult to believe that moving US forces from one Middle East country to the next will ease the underlying tensions in the region. Unrest in one hot spot will resurface in another.

All of the major issues regarding world stability and prosperity remain unresolved. The economic and political leaders in the US have yet to demonstrate they know how to crack that nut, or that they even care. Within the US, the goals of maintaining US preeminence in political,economic, and military power will not change despite the lack of a coherent strategy to accomplish those goals. Questioning the goals and their rightness is off the table for discussion.

At any rate, the Iraq experiment shows that one cannot disregard hard practical and pragmatic concerns about political and economic reality. Massive disruption and dislocation in the political and economic spheres is not to be undertaken lightly. When you fail to assess the consequences, you suffer the consequences. History presents ample evidence of this, yet we fail to learn.

The most severe critics will call warnings of caution reactionary, or at the least reformist appeasement. (Pick your favorite critics from whatever party.) However, the most noble aims are nothing but dangerous in the hands of blundering fools.

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