The Way Forward

Bush’s firing of Rumsfeld, listening tour, and the Iraq Study Group were political moves to soften up his image. It’s obvious that he sees things as proceeding normally right now. He supports a Vietnam-esque “surge” in troops to bring security, which is now the key priority as reconstruction money has dried up (and has been since I left Iraq). And not just any security, but American security. There is widespread lack of respect for Iraqi forces, at ground level.

Bill Kristol, who is the definition of “tool bag”, strangely decided to appear on The Daily Show. Check the interview out.

The rumor is that 20k more troops will be heading to Iraq and that 70k more troops will be added to the military as a response to generals’ complaining that the military is stretched thin. Kristol supports this.

The military generals don’t seem to agree. I’ve been wondering to myself for the last year or so if the senior commanders have tried to disengage their troops because of a lack of mission. Obviously servicemember deaths are still occurring regularly but the productivity has decreased at least in my mind. Is it possible that some seasoned commanders are biding their time until they get redeployed, so that they won’t lose their soldiers to insurgent turkeyshoots? I don’t have evidence for this but sometimes I wonder. In fact, if it were true, then perhaps my commander is more clever than I give him credit for, because he has a reputation for staying out of trouble so he can get his star.

There is a new insurgent satellite TV station in Iraq called Al-Zawraa.

From the article:

“Al Zawraa announcers dispute U.S. casualty statistics. They insist that instead of nearly 3,000 American soldiers killed, the death toll is closer, as one said, to “30,000 miserable, poor nobodies who you have convinced that they will win a scholarship after a tiny tour in a little place called Iraq.”

Okay well the death toll figure is bullshit, but ouch! That insult hurt! The insurgents and foreign fighters believe we don’t have our heart in it. And despite the neo-con chickenhawks’ whining about the American people not having balls, we never will have our heart in it. Those guys are fighting holy war, and they live, breathe, and sleep jihad and insurgency.

Kristol says in the Daily Show interview that he gets e-mails from troops (hmm) saying that the majority appreciate the Iraqis and want to help them. I love when people bring up “the troops” and “how the troops feel” as if a “troop” is going to tell some dude from Washington DC the truth while on record.

Most troops I know think Iraqis are shady, will steal your shit when you’re not looking, are lazy, stupid, untrainable, smelly, disease-ridden, and liars. Troops live separately from Iraqis except for trainers or staffers, who generally start out optimistic (“these guys are great to hang out with!” from Jack Army, who just got to Iraq and who is what patrol types call a “fobbit” because he never leaves the base) but who then get jaded and see no progress. I would say that just about no one I know really gives a shit about Iraqi progress and just thinks about combat pay and going to blow shit up and getting to do cool army shit while over there. Soldiers don’t sit around and say, “Man, that sheik is really organizing his people so that they can build a better political bloc in the next election, and aren’t those little kids cute? I hope they do really well in school!!”

The chickenhawks are furious that Americans aren’t as devoted to the cause as the mujaheddin are. Even chickenhawks don’t spend all day dreaming about equivalent things to jihad or plotting some unrest in a region like muj do. They don’t pray to God like muj do to Allah. They don’t spend all day training or planning or fighting. Chickenhawks are like, “Hey, it’s lunch time. I need a freaking Starbucks and a chicken ciabatta sandwich from that deli down on K Street.”

Meanwhile, the muj are pulling shit right out of T.E. Lawrence’s tale of Arab insurgency, Seven Pillars of Wisdom, by cutting off electricity from Baghdad. They’re attacking unprotected sections of the power grid. They’re attacking repair crews. Guerrilla warfare. 20k more US troops are not going to be able to defend the power architecture in Iraq, let alone improve anything else. Or maybe they can, since it virtually doesn’t exist anymore!

Now I read that General Abizaid is retiring. Another in a long line of generals who steps up to serve, and then gets worn down before retiring to go fishing for a few years without any communication with the outside world. I think that’s probably what I would do if I were a general. I wouldn’t want to hear a phone for a DECADE after I retired.

Who will replace him? According to this article, the leading candidates are traditional thinkers. Guys who won’t rock the boat.

But then there’s Petraeus, the general who counter-insurgency types seem to love, the general who reworked the army to include more counter-insurgency training missions, the general who understands Middle Eastern culture and the language, the general who just rewrote the Army counter-insurgency manual, probably won’t be picked because…well, because he’s too qualified! He is widely regarded as a leader of troops, one of those rare senior officers that even the joes identify with.

We don’t need more troops. We need to hit senior Al-Qaeda hard in Waziristan with air strikes called in by special forces, as we did in Afghanistan in 2001-2002. Until we do that, Al-Qaeda feels safe in its small buffer zone that we never even come close to intruding upon.

Bush won’t change his mind. There’s way too much commentary about what Bush will do next. We know what Bush will do next. He sees Iraq a certain way and that will never change. At the very least, the Republican stranglehold on questioning what’s going on has been broken in the last elections, and now success isn’t determined by how loyal to the party you are.

The muj won’t win. Their desires are impossible to obtain even in their wildest dreams. They are reacting to the futility of their cause. Of course, it’s a powerfully motivating cause and when fighting Goliath, just about anything seems like a victory to David. The muj can hurt a lot of people. But the part Bush has had in elevating the muj, in their legends, to the greatest warriors ever in history is inexcusable. Validating the mujaheddin struggle for existence by calling it the rest of the world’s struggle for existence is absurd. QUICK! THE RAPTURE IS COMING! LOOK BUSY!

The final thing I want to bring up is that it seems Al-Sistani might want back in to the political process. This is good news because he had disengaged a few months back, and this is part of what I think caused a huge fracture of the Shi’ites into the rampant Shi’ite militia violence that’s been taking place lately. Al-Sistani, the most revered person in Iraq, will be part of the answer if Iraq ever works out.