Monday, July 16, 2007

Cheney-Bush's Occupation of Iraq Will Inevitably Fail

American Armed Forces have been assigned tasks which are at cross purposes.

The Cheney-Bush administration had substantial trouble arriving at a consensus as to how to justify the invasion of Iraq. The reason was that Operation Iraqi Liberation Freedom was a solution in search of a problem. Paul Wolfowitz told Vanity Fair in May of 2003:
The truth is that for reasons that have a lot to do with the U.S. government bureaucracy we settled on the one issue that everyone could agree on which was weapons of mass destruction as the core reason, but . . . there have always been three fundamental concerns. One was weapons of mass destruction, the second is support for terrorism, the third is the criminal treatment of the Iraqi people.
After more than four years of occupation following Bush's announcement on 1 May '03 that
Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed
the clarity of his purpose has not improved. This enduring ambiguity, I have long thought, has been the center of our national inability to draw a road map or chart a course out of Iraq. For that reason, Bush's phrase, "stay the course", has always been a mal à propos. Now, as the American people and their legislative representatives strive to rescue the Bush-Cheney cabal from its Iraquagmire, the multiplicity of occupation goals defeats them. The yardsticks, waypoints, benchmarks, (and now) 'metrics' erected to measure the effectiveness of Cheney-Bush’s occupation are defeated by Neo-Conservatives' hydra-headed goal for Iraq.

It's entirely plausible that all large-scaled projects - even those of less scope than the occupation of an entire country - could be undertaken with more than one purpose in mind. But the question I want to raise is this:

Are these different objectives mutually compatible
in their Iraqi context?

Let's consider the following gamut of purposes this prospective endless and restless occupation is supposed to be addressing. I've boiled them down in number so as to be as few as possible:
  1. Completing Regime Change: Having changed-out Saddam's regime, the most obvious goal would seem to be to leave any kind of centralized regime behind - however thuggish - and to get the Baghdad government to rule over all of Iraq. This path is piled high with difficulties, will take an interminable effort and threatens Goal #3 (below). Members of the current government and parliament have only sectional allegiances and are paid with American cash with which they and their families have taken extended European vacations.
  2. Training Iraqi troops to stand up so our troops can stand down: The only reliable troops wearing Iraqi uniforms are volunteer(ed) Kurdish Peshmerga. Shiia Troops are reliable only when dispatched to their own local or tribal areas. Otherwise, they desert after payday. American trainers have learned not to turn their backs on them, so this objective is in conflict with force-protection.
  3. Force Protection and Legitimacy: The Coalition forces must protect themselves. This requires winning even temporary acceptance and legitimacy of the occupation forces. The key to this objective is convincing Iraqis of all stripes that their 'occupiers' will leave soon. This requires the absolute absence of any military installations that appear permanent. This requires even more boots on the ground than we have currently, so that use of air strikes do not make up the difference with 'collateral' casualties.
  4. Civil War Monitor: Refereeing, suppressing or ending sectarian, political and criminal violence. This mission has the prospect of lasting indefinitely. This mission is also a self-defeating: by virtue of our presence as occupier, we are blamed as being the proxy or sponsor of each episode of slaughter: Shiia victims blame us. Sunni victims blame us. One can even make the additional point that our presence encourages sectarian violence. For example, any Shiite wishing to strike a blow against 'The Occupier' but lacking sufficient armament, can kill a dozen or so Sunnis just to demonstrate the ineffectualness of the Occupier's puppet government. Or vice-versa.
  5. Buttressing & propping up Iraq against Iran: This is otherwise known as keeping Iran from getting its grubby hands on our Iraq. This requires permanent bases, thus undermining the legitimacy of our occupation (see #3 above). This requires siding with Sunnis against the Shiia, who, after all, won our election. This requires us to favor the Sunnis, who not only lost the election but who are the most friendly -for want of a better word - with al Qaeda.
  6. Killing as many of al Qaeda as possible: Using Iraq as flypaper with which to draw al Qaeda jihadists from other targets, so that Iraq can become/remain 'THE central front in a war on terror'. The trouble with this flypaper concept is that the swarming flies are drawn from a seemingly bottomless pool of madrassa-trained recruits. This gimmick of using Iraqi soil as a killing ground is oh-so transparent to Iraqis, so this violates mission #3 (above): Iraqis will tell you they never volunteered their country to serve as flypaper. This also means siding with Shiia, whom the Sunnis call 'Iranians'. Siding with Shiia means toleration - maybe even diplomatic recognition - of Iranians and/or, (according to Cheney), their proxies, the Hezbollah.
  7. Rebuilding Iraq's infrastructure: This mission points to the restoration of Iraq's economy so that the basic needs of nutrition, shelter, utilities, transportation and employment are attainable for all Iraqis. This takes too long which necessitates a long-term presence and suggests permanent occupation (#3 above).
  8. Reorganization and updating oil production: Otherwise known as having Iraqi oil profits pay for our occupation. Otherwise known as grabbing their (our) oil from underneath some one else's sand. This definitely de-legitimizes the occupation and undermines its force security (#3)
  9. Growing Democracy: Establishing a parliamentary government in Baghdad. Educating Iraqis in the rudimentary principles of federalism. Takes too long, suggests interminable occupation and thereby threatens the security of its forces (#3 above).
I could go on. The point I'm trying to address is that it is time to end Bush's and Cheney's foolishness in Iraq. We have sustained 3,616 American KIA's in this unnecessary, counter-productive and poorly advised adventure, and 12,014 (life altering) WIA's. Who knows how much treasure we have spent on this quagmire? But we do know it's costing us $200 billion annually. It's time for the American people to take charge, along with their supposed representatives in Congress, and exercise some triage here. Choose the single most plausible objective, get 're done and get out. By Christmas.

Updated: How Do We Measure Progress in Iraq?

More than two years ago, we were here:
That's what our de facto president said on Larry King's Live (20-Jun-05)

Here's where we were two weeks ago:
Joe Lieberman (29-Jul-07:
The enemy's on the run through the surge.Militarily it is working. The enemies that we face in Iraq are really being defeated and contained and being pushed...

Lindsey Graham (6-Jul-07)
The military part of the surge is working beyond my expectations. We literally have the enemy on the run. The Sunni part of Iraq has really rejected al-Qaida all over the country. We’re getting more information about al-Qaida operations than we’ve ever received.
Here's where we are today (11 July):

20 35 mortar rounds and Katyusha rockets struck the fortified Green Zone on Tuesday afternoon, killing an American service member and two other people in an attack on the heart of U.S. and Iraqi government facilities in the capital.

Those killed included an Iraqi and a person whose nationality was unknown, according to a statement released by the U.S. Embassy. About 18 people were injured, including two U.S. military personnel and three American contract employees.

The Green Zone, also known as the International Zone, is home to the U.S. and British embassies, Iraqi parliament and other foreign and Iraqi government offices. It covers about 4 square miles in central Baghdad on the west bank of the Tigris River.

A U.S. Embassy spokesman said he could not confirm whether the embassy was a target, and that the frequent attacks on the Green Zone are not a barometer of the security situation in the capital.
There's fire into the Green Zone virtually every day, so I can't draw any conclusions about the security situation based on that.
UPDATE (16-July-07): McClatchy Newspapers have punched through the Cheney-Bush cloak of secrecy.

State Department orders flak jackets in Baghdad's Green Zone

At least four mortar rounds hit inside the Green Zone about 1:30 p.m. Saturday, killing two Iraqi civilians, according to a U.S. soldier who could not speak for attribution because he's not authorized to talk to reporters.

But the really big news is the that dress code at the Blue Star restaurant inside Baghdad's Green Zone now calls for vest and hat. But that's Flak vest and Kevlar helmet, actually.

A State Department official, speaking without attribution, initially denying that State had ordered its 1,000 Baghdad personnel to wear protective gear. But he admit that a copy of the Department's order obtained by McClatchy Newspapers was an undiscussable security breach:
You're asking me to comment on an internal document? How did you get it? We don't talk to what our security posture is.
The embassy released its memo later on Saturday:
As a result of the recent increase of indirect fire attacks on the International Zone, outdoor movement is restricted to a minimum. Remain within a hardened structure to the maximum extent possible and strictly avoid congregating outdoors. Personal protective equipment (PPE) is mandatory until further notice. . . Public places that are not in a hardened structure - such as the Blue Star Restaurant - should be frequented only in conjunction with the use of your PPE.
Saturday's attack included a mortar round landed here in the Blue Star's compound. The blast severed a water line and the Internet cable. Another round hit where the compound's security chief resides.

Interestingly, while some 100 British embassy workers and about 55 United Nations personnel living in the Green Zone sleep in hardened housing, U.S. State Department personnel sleep in unprotected housing. Our unnamed State Department official declined to "characterize" this situation "as being a mixed message."