Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Another Inconvenient Truth

Iraq is not a war, but an occupation.

George Lakoff in his Rockridge Institute writes of
Occupation: The Inconvenient Truth About Iraq:
It is time to tell an inconvenient truth about Iraq: it is an occupation, not a war. . . .

The war was over when Bush said "Mission Accomplished."

Then the occupation began. Our troops were trained to fight a war, not to occupy a country where they don't know the language and culture; where they lack enough troops, where they face an anti-occupation insurgency by the Iraqis themselves; where most of the population wants them out; where they are being shot at and killed by the very Iraqis they are training; and where the U.S. has given up on reconstruction and can't do much positive good there.

The Occupation Frame fits a politically inconvenient truth. Most people don’t want to think of our army as an occupation force, but it is. An occupying army can’t win anything. The occupation only helps Al Qaeda, which Iraqis don’t want in their country since Al Qaeda attracts foreigners who have been killing Iraqis.
As far as Iraq is concerned,
Our nation has been held trapped in a fallacious War Frame that serves the interests of the Bush administration and the Republican Party. The term “cut and run,” used to vilify Democrats. . .

The Cut-and-Run Frame put forth as a reason why we cannot withdraw from Iraq fits a gallant war. It does not fit a failed occupation. When you have become the villain and target to the people you are trying to help, it’s time to do the right thing — admit the truth that this is an occupation and think and act accordingly. All occupations end with withdrawal. The issue is not bravery versus cowardice in a good cause. The Cut-and-Run Frame does not apply.

In an occupation, there are pragmatic issues: Are we welcome? Are we doing the Iraqis more harm than good? How badly are we being hurt? The question is not whether to withdraw, but when and how? What to say? You might prefer “End the occupation now” or “End the occupation by the end of the year” or “End the occupation within a year, “ but certainly Congress and most Americans should be able to agree on “End the occupation soon.”
So, as far as Iraq is concerned, isn't Lakoff on to something when he questions
In an occupation . . . should the president still have war powers? How, if at all, is the Supreme Court decision on military tribunals at Guantanamo affected if we are in an occupation, not a war? What high-handed actions by the President, if any, are ruled out if we are no longer at war?
That pertains to Iraq. As pertains to Afghanistan, when Lakoff mentions "a fallacious War Frame", it brought to mind the Phony War:
The Phony War (the Phony War, in Britain), or in Winston Churchill's words the Twilight War, was a phase in early World War II marked by few military operations in Continental Europe, in the months following the German invasion of Poland. Although the great powers of Europe had declared war on one another, neither side had yet committed to launching a significant attack, thus there was relatively little fighting on the ground. The term has cognates in many other languages, notably the German Sitzkrieg ("sitting war," a pun on Blitzkrieg), the French drôle de guerre ("funny war" or "strange war") and the Polish dziwna wojna ("strange war"). In Britain the period was even referred to as the "Bore War" (a pun on "Boer War").
By starving the quest for Osama bin Laden's skull to feed the quest for Saddam's head, Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld have basically been waging a phony war in Afghanistan. The sacrifices our troops have made in this forgotten war with pull punches have served to legitimize Bush's pretense to being a latter day Rooseveltian war president.

Lakoff's thesis is correct: the Republican house of cards depends on Bush holding in his hand but three jokers: 9-11 (been played); Iraq (been trumped); and Afghanistan (still face down on the bottom of the deck).

With respect to this last card, it's totally unsurprising that it was announced Monday that Bush has closed Alec Station, a unit focused on the capture of Osama bin Laden and his top lieutenants.

Until that OBL card is turned, Bush can still be War-Time President. The joke on the American people is that the OBL card is not in the deck GWB is playing with.