(Focus On War: Tonight’s Featured Essay! – promoted by On The Bus)
“The war could last 6 days, 6 weeks… I doubt 6 months.”
— Donald Rumsfeld, Speaking on 2-7-2003, in Italy
The same person who spoke those words also told us about building realities. I’m confused, Mr. Rumsfeld; did we set out to fail and succeed?
Rumsfeld was trying to be clever when he talked about zigzagging through false realities. He implied the deception was intended for “the enemy”, even while Cheney was saying 9/11 and Iraq to Tim Russert over and over on Press the Meat. If it were just a matter of evil people lying to us, then there would be nothing new here. What is new is that the evil liars were at the helm of a (supposedly) benevolent superpower, and the evil liars were hopelessly inept to a degree that is almost supernatural.
Some statistics are frightening, but that doesn’t make them wrong – only unbelievable to some. For instance, 50% of all doctors graduated at the bottom half of their class, but 80% of the people think theirs is an above average doctor. In order to take a realistic measure of this administrations ineptness in prosecuting this war, we have to strip it down to the basics and try to separate fact from fallacy.
Was the premise of the war correct? No: there were no WMD’s.
Did we forget anything before we went all the way there? Yes: divisions of soldiers.
Were candy and hugs the only arms and projectiles we faced? No.
How many dead-enders is a few dead-enders?
Edited to move content below the fold – OTB
Enumerating the specifics becomes tedious. A plan can be right or wrong, and a policy can be beneficial or harmful. All things being equal, the success rates we saw either point to a deliberate effort to fail, or of plans drawn up that were actually worse than having no plan at all, on average.
Make no mistake about it, though; we created many of our own problems. In the course of finding WMD’s, we leveled city blocks to flush out an AK-47. We leveled city blocks just to get a good sight line. We occupied their palaces. We fucked their children. We took entire populations prisoner and put KKK hoods and dog collars on them while dragged them around naked on cold concrete floors. We killed men, women, and children for revenge. We wrote laws that exempted us from human decency.
Colossal failure after failure, the MSM and congress not once looked at this fact and sounded the alarm in any significant way that resulted in their forcing a change. They are miserable failures who collectively deserve nothing but our contempt.
Besides horrifically wrong choices such as Abu Graib, and Bremer’s illegal dismantling of the Iraqi civil and military infrastructure, even our text book military doctrines proved to be a failure. Powell’s belief that overwhelmingly superior firepower defeats enemies took a huge hit. We had overlapping echelons of superior weapons systems and communications on land, sea, air, and in space, and we were fought to a near standstill by the enemy’s unholy use of electric garage door openers for remote detonation. Worse, we have yet to develop a weapons system that can counter it.
Intelligence also failed to identify another lethal Iraqi weapons system – the Iraqi cruise missile. It travels at 4 MPH, can turn on a dime, has autonomous target acquisition and tracking, can open doors, can get on elevators, can flirt with secretaries… and pull the pins. It is more committed than any smart bomb or weapons system than we possess or will possess for decades.
The Pentagon uses an inadequate number of data points for assessing troop requirements. The measure of troop moral is very important, but there should also be a measure of relative motivation for each side. This is not a knock against our soldiers; you can not ask for more dedication. What I am talking about is that we fight on enemy soil, they fight at home. Our soldiers can give 120% effort in taking down an enemy, but the enemy is going to give 150% if his wife and children are behind him. Aversion to dying is greatly reduced in these cases, and the “enemy” is liable to take greater risks to kill you first, even in the face of overwhelming odds. Our soldiers go on tour, theirs don’t.
By far, the greatest display of incompetence has been diplomatically. The escalation of the war is widely hailed in the media as a success because it has reduced the violence taking place. We rarely ever hear the name Malaki in the press any more because he has been marginalized. None of the main goals of the escalation are being worked on, let alone met. Deaths may have gone down during this period of limbo, but you can hear the sucking sound of the money vacuum working overtime. Is that what we wanted? Are we winning now?
I have framed an argument here that grounds the assertion that our military and diplomatic efforts might not be as well served by their doctrines and current crop of leaders as they could be. Some may wonder about all the negativity and chock it up to shit happens. I’ll surrender to that view as long as they squarely admit that shit happens, because if things are complicated now, wait until what could be coming up.
We have all seen the horror of sectarian violence and felt the helplessness of not being able to stop it. Before the invasion, Iraq was held together ultimately by will power. After the invasion, the system of government chosen for that country was probably the one system that does not have a chance of working. Even excluding sectarian violence, the composition of parliament would almost ensure a government that would constantly be dissolving and reforming. As sea change is required, and that may, or may not include genocide. Iran may have a lot to say about that.
The stated goal is a drawdown of US forces in Iraq, with only a “small” force left behind for bullshit reasons. If we spool out the likely events leading up to, during, and after a pullout, things don’t look so well. You decide how much of this is alarmist, but please be prepared to offer explanations of how it can, or why it will be different. Solutions to the problems are offered along the way, and here too you can assess the likelihood of their success and to offer other solutions.
The dirty little secret
Due to events not of its making and beyond its control, Iran has been handed an opportunity to expand its influence and power that it could not have achieved on its own.
Let’s be perfectly clear on this: the dirty little secret is that Bush has created a clusterfuck of epic proportions that may end up handing Iran the keys to the kingdom. As it looks now, his legacy will be that he basically delivered Iraq into the hands of Iran – I.E. he strengthened Israel’s enemy and changed the balance of power in the region. That’s one of the clues I am using when I assert that the whole mess might be rooted in excessively grotesque incompetence, and not just in evil.
This is also what I fear most will trigger him to do something rash against Iran before he leaves office. The thought of him leaving his legacy up to the next administration where the outcome could place him firmly into the lead as the most short-sighted leader in the history of all civilization, probably irks him. “Here lies George W Bush – Royal Fucker of All Things. Nothing Lives Where He Has Walked.”
Not that logic is a deterrent for Bush, but he has to know that our military options against Iran are limited. Iran is a country of 80 million people. They have a night-fighting capable army and they manufacture many of their own arms, including ballistic missiles that can easily reach US bases in Iraq and the Saudi oil terminals along the Red Sea and Strait of Hormuz. Any attack on Iran would be limited to shelling, bombing, and missile attacks.
Attacks of this nature would be completely ineffective for the goal of keeping Iran out or Iraq. In such an event, Iran could choose not to retaliate at all, and instead flash images of the innocent dead around the world and let world outrage and condemnation build. Should Iran choose to escalate, their options could inflict so much pain that it may work against them.
For the moment, let’s assume Bush leaves office and we are still not at war with Iran. Let’s further assume a Democrat has been elected president. There is already an explicit understanding that we will stay in Iraq if McCain wins, so the focus shifts to the Democratic candidates, both whom are campaigning to stop the war and bring our troops home.
It would be expected that before any major drawdown, the US will make some effort at a summit with Iraq’s neighbors. Certainly Obama has indicated this, and we can only assume Clinton is holding her cards close to the vest, but that some dialog will have to take place.
What does the US say at the summit? Or more accurately, what does the US offer Iraq’s neighbors? Somehow we have to convince them to act in our best interests. They certainly will get nowhere showing up empty-handed to just serve notice not to interfere while we go away, and to stay out of Iraq after we leave.
Or will they? Altruism has no place on the global stage, as evidenced by the US using Israel to broker an arms deal for US military hardware sales to Iran in 1979, even as we were supplying Saddam weapons to use against Iran. I have often wondered if we wanted Saddam to use the chemical weapons technology we gave him. Otherwise… why give it to him?
Do we dare ask the other countries to act in Iraq’s best interest in our absence? It would make sense, but it is also an implicit invitation into Iraq.
Iran can extend a simple, and probably very effective offer to just take over reconstruction and security, promising full Sunni participation and vowing to root out terrorism there. They say it out loud to the world, and we would look like idiots in rejecting it because the fact is, Iran is probably the best suited to all those tasks. The problem is, we would have to reject it not only because Israel would freak out, but because the Republican party would relentless beat the president over the head for giving Iraq to Iran.
Iran knows this, so they make some noise about being reasonable but they don’t protest too hard and continue to talk. They may even eventually agree to US terms and promise to not meddle as we draw down. True to their word, Iran does nothing as we remove the first 8 or 9 brigades, and then as we are removing the tenth, they decide to slip a division of their own just over the border. They can use the argument that someone has to provide security – especially after any events that they decide to create on the ground are executed to provide the context they want. In other words, they probably have the capability to foment unrest to shape the diplomatic field in ways that best suit them.
What is our response? Do we threaten them? Is that the avenue the new president wants to go down? I doubt it very much. So maybe we freeze the drawdown and enter into fast pace diplomacy and try to hammer out a resolution. Iran says yes to enough things that it looks like a deal is going to be reached, and then… Iran derails with a last minute demand.
Iran knows this game very well, and knows the maddening effects it can have on a country with no patience, such as the US. They could play the new president like a fiddle and make him or her begin to look ineffective simply by dragging out negotiations for as long as they want, knowing that once the US starts using threats against Iran, they have will have trapped us.
That possibility hangs out there, but the prize of Iraq is so great that it is doubtful that Iran would want to stick their finger in our eye as long as the goal remains in sight. The fact is, Iran could use our help realizing one part of the prize, and that is the development of the Iraq oil fields.
It is very important that Iran be able to demonstrate an ability to stabilize Iraq. If they can do what is best by the people of Iraq, and bring stability, then they will have China and the US both whispering in each ear about turning carbon into gold.
If the US uses threats of force to prevent meddling in Iraq, they will only be prolonging the inevitable. If they instead do something entirely radical and offer to normalize relations with Iran, and add to that an offer for trade agreements, then the US would probably be able to influence Iran in other areas such as nuclear inspections too.
The chance of that happening under the current administration is a confident 0 percent. What is the chance under a new, Democratic administration? It has been shown time and again that trade agreements have a very powerful influence on policy. Trade agreements with the US are a coveted item.
Instead of bombs, we should just once try dropping reclining chairs and digital cable TV on their heads, and turn them into a bunch of fat and lazy consumers just like us.
I’m under no illusion how naive this might sound. I am also under no illusion that Iran does not have big designs on Iraq. I have to think somewhere along the way, the original Iraq war plans had something about us eventually controlling Iran too, and maybe Israel controlling Syria. Along the way, those plans had to change. Now we are in a brutal stalemate where everyone loses. Congress has yet to raise its voice to the most corrupt and incompetent administration this country has ever had. It is worrisome that the next president will be a product of this congress. I hope once they attain the office, they allow themselves to crawl out from under the rock that Bush has rolled on top of us all.
A tribute to Bush is in order:
His hatred of things decent
His crimes of most recent
His hand of death dealing
His life breath stealing
His theft of our nation
His mental vacation
His vetoing hope
His begging for rope
His embarrassing stupidity
His lack of lucidity
His clan of red morons
His plans of more war bombs
His chin to balls game he
His suck a dick Cheney
His space he takes up
His parents fucked up
His pretend friends of Jesus
His pretzels near pleased us
His flaccid pink dink
His rear-end stink
His hollow sold soul
His conscience corpse cold
His noxious breath breathes
His throne he soon leaves
His love of love hater
His catching us later
His wormy brain squirms
His howls, hell burns
Update: It was interesting to hear McCain talking yesterday about us leaving would allow Iran to gain power. It was really the first direct mention of the new excuse for staying.
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, I can’t say what I want to do to you.