There’s been a media blitz recently to promote how well things are going in Iraq right now. Everyone is in on it, even anti-war Democrats. Given the proximity to the release of General Petraeus’s September analysis of the “surge”, this blitz is pretty conspicuous in its timing.
Take, for example, the word that the “surge” has caused Al-Anbar to become far more secure and less dangerous. The “surge” (which is really an escalation) took place entirely in Baghdad and was composed of primarily logistics personnel. How exactly does sending troops to Baghdad help calm down Al-Anbar to the west?
Another example of misrepresentation. Baghdad is safer. For whom? There are still close to 1,500 civilian deaths each month, higher than in the rest of the occupation. American troop deaths are still high. Even with the loss of a chopper that killed about 14 people, the totals are still higher than they were in past years.
Finally, the spin about municipal institutions improving. Apparently people are rebuilding their homes and public systems are coming back online. Well, pro-war people have been claiming this has happened all along, even during the worst of the 2005-2006 maelstrom. Meanwhile, electricity production in Iraq has gotten worse and there is nothing operating anywhere except for a completely US military-backed sectarian security service.
Look, here’s what’s going on. General Petraeus is applying counter-insurgent strategies to the country and for once there’s a competent sense of leadership from the top. The Americans have bought off the Sunni tribes in the west by offering them guns and money. Considering that the majority of anti-coalition fighters in Iraq continue to be ex-Ba’athist and Sunni elements (not Al-Qaeda, by the way), then appealing to their sense of self-preservation suits their interests. They will gladly take resources in order to defend themselves against an overwhelming Shi’ite majority in Iraq. The inability to see the extreme violence in Iraq as primarily insurgent, not terrorist, has led us to where we are today. The ex-Army and ex-government forces (who composed the entire power structure in Iraq) were cut off from the government early on. All Al-Qaeda has done is foment sectarian violence which everyone fell for big-time. Zarqawi was a rogue element — more of a movie-like adventure strand within a large story.
The Shi’ites are in control and everyone knows it. Maliki is tight with Iran, primarily out of practicality. Everyone is just gaming for when the US leaves. This is a foregone conclusion whether we leave now or later.
Meanwhile, the government is completely non-existent. The true power exists outside of the system, with Al-Sistani, Al-Sadr, sheiks, and smaller communities. Bush’s insistence on a strong federal government (as he has implemented in his own country) is detrimental to the progress within Iraq. The Iraqi government has been out of session for months now, and, not surprisingly, security has improved a bit. The country is circumventing the government and dealing with matters on its own. The Iraqi government is corrupt, non-representative, and garners no trust among the people. Now the rumor is that Bush is pushing Al-Maliki out while Allawi is lobbying in Washington to get elected in Iraq.
The social fabric in Iraq is almost certainly irreparably destroyed for generations. Many refugees will never return. Regardless of when we leave Iraq, it will undergo turmoil politically, which I’m sure will be blamed on Democrats in the US one way or another, despite 1) it being Iraqi politics and 2) it being a completely Republican-dominated mission for almost five years now.
American perception of Iraq is so warped right now that having less than genocide is now great news, and buying off anti-American elements is now a wise move. Having a puppet government is democracy in action.
â€œA precipitous withdrawal at this point would probably be at least as big of a mistake as the initial invasion itself was.â€ -Brian Baird
This quote speaks for itself.
Even Hillary, the Democratic front-runner, is basically running a neocon foreign policy (and attacking Obama for challenging it), standing behind the war’s continuation. The now-majority Democratic Congress has yet to stop Bush from doing anything except slowly strip him of his cronies in office.
I fear we are in danger of learning all the wrong lessons from Iraq, thus continuing more ridiculous foreign policies that will foment more terror and divide nations even more. It is bizarre to me that even after all this time, people still have faith in the administration, that perhaps it will eventually get things right. Many war defenders are pro-business, pro-competitive — a so-called American capitalist mindset — supposedly. Shouldn’t we thus hold institutions accountable for results?
Shouldn’t we hold the media accountable for misrepresenting the situation in Iraq, even after all this time?
Nope. It’s just business as usual. 9/11 has been turned into nothing more than a political power-grab. There is nothing cathartic, productive, or positive about it. And like I said, the worst part is that many people are unapologetic about it and still insist that the right things were done. Bin Laden and Zawahiri continue to laugh.