Progress in Iraq and Iran

Iraq

I was sorting through the Iraq Coalition Casualties site’s statistics this evening. There were 82 coalition deaths in March, bringing the total number up to 3,252. Statistically, March’s number was one of the highest since the “war” started.

I looked back at the numbers for when I was in Iraq from June 2005 to February 2006. When I was in Iraq is generally regarded as when the insurgency became infamously deadly (as opposed to just detachedly, charmingly deadly). The numbers for this year (2007) are on average higher than that period.

I also noted that in looking at the statistics, Iraqi deaths (security and civilian) are far higher than when I was there. Not as bad as August and September of 2006, months which coincided with the end of Saddam Hussein’s trial and also the bombing of the Imam Ali mosque in Najaf (one of the most holy Shi’ite sites). Sectarian violence, orchestrated most likely by Al-Qaeda sympathizers trying to incite the Shi’ites, spiked after that point.

No progress is being made in Iraq. That is not what is being said by what are mainly Republicans. John McCain, who makes me sad because he used to be a POW and now he’s an apologist, claimed success in strolling the Al-Sharqi market, not far outside the Green Zone, with a hundred soldiers as well as air support to keep him secure.

Okay, I admit that numbers on Iraqi casualties are not very accurate. And American deaths should not really be a reliable indicator of success in Iraq. Hell, it is even possible that some good things are being done.

But they are temporary gaps in the bloodshed, as Michael Ware, CNN’s Iraq correspondent, insultingly informed John McCain. Ware went on to say that nothing has been done to address the underlying issues which continue to tear Iraq apart yet which are completely invisible on the White House’s radar. Ware has been doing some of the best reporting on Iraq since the war began.

What troubles me about “war” apologists that you know and talk to every day is that they will not look past the rhetoric. It’s enough for them to hear Bush say, “There is progress in Iraq,” but they do not go one step further and analyze whether results have backed up his hollow statements. It’s hard not to write apologists off as people who just want a father figure or authoritarian leader to soothe their minds with platitudes. It’s hard to consider these people thoughtful, rational, well-informed voting Americans.

I think many Americans feel embarrassed that they went along with the invasion of Iraq at first. Many said, “FUCK YEAH!”, some said, “Well, some good can come of it anyway because of our American values…”

It has taken some time for many to come around and express doubts about Iraq but they have not taken full responsibility for it yet, as they should. We have learned a lot about how we were fooled and manipulated by a carefully consistent political message and the purging of any officials who could stand in the way, but we don’t want to believe the extent and purpose of this public fleecing yet.

I know that people in my age group often said, “My vote makes no difference, the candidates are the same, politics don’t matter.” Hopefully my generation has been scarred by the Bush Administration, who said, “Believe in us,” and proceeded to blow everything to pursue narrow-minded goals. Hopefully my generation will ensure that political sleight-of-hand will not fool the entire country so badly again.

Until we take responsibility for this, we will see these allowances of more time and money to continue operations in Iraq. More and more people who were pro-war are beginning to see that it was wrong. But they can’t fully admit it.

Iran

I didn’t really believe in the rumor released by the Russian political and intel machines that the U.S. was planning on air strikes on Iran on April 6th. For starters, why would the Russians be let in on this?

But given the words being thrown about in DC right now, it no longer seems quite so unrealistic. The US has moved carrier groups into the area and conducted show-of-force training operations. Also, the British soldiers being held in Iran are routinely being called hostages. Technically, are they hostages? It was not a smooth negotiation but there is an international dispute here, and now it is being exploited politically.

“Hostages” is a particularly loaded term since little gets Americans and especially Republicans as riled up as memories of the Iran hostage crisis in the 80’s. And since the only diplomacy being conducted publically between the US/UK and Iran right now is “here are some unrealistic demands and if you don’t like them then fuck you”, I have to really hope there’s some diplomat or negotiator who’s really going to shine here.

Joe Biden, a Democratic senator, proposed cutting off Iran’s gasoline imports in order to choke it. Iran exports crude oil but actually requires the importation of gasoline since it doesn’t have the refining capacity.

This would in effect be a declaration of war to most countries and certainly to Iran which is feeling threatened enough as it is. Biden evidently sees cutting Iran off as akin to sending little Johnny to bed without dessert.

This is why people analyze every little word that comes out of politicians’ mouthes. Their words betray their true intent and world-view. And right now, it ain’t looking too good.