Thursday, May 27, 2010

I Hate The War

The Iraq war is still being touted by Washington and the Pentagon as a war for progress and stability in the region. A study released May 26, however, reveals a radically different reality.
The Mercer Quality of Living survey ranked Baghdad last in a list of "most livable cities." The study took into account political, economic, ecological, social and cultural factors.

The above is from Derek Ford's "Study: Occupied Baghdad is least livable city on planet" (Party for Socialism and Liberation).

And it's the weekend right before Memorial Day. You seeing much in the way of Iraq War coverage? Any increase?

Nope. At The Nation, that 'brave' Greg Mitchell decided he had the energy (almost) to write a new intro to a 2003 column he republished there. [Added: For more on silly Greg, see Mike's "Greg Mitchell is an ass who needs to die."]

Oh, Greg, what a brave and strong man you are. Telling us, in 2010, about what happened in 2003. Covering that barely covered and little known Judy Miller era. Greg, you big, strong man, you. No one else has ever tackled that 'controversial' issue. No one else has ever weighed in. What a man, what a man.

Reality: It's just another way for Greg to continue his misogyny while avoiding the time required to actually educate himself about what's going on in Iraq today.

In the real world, an e-mail I have no reason to doubt the sincerity of came in to the public e-mail account today and Martha and Shirley passed it on. It's from a female who says she's 17 and she's concerned about the Iraq War in terms of the US leaves and everything goes to hell. She writes that she cares about the Iraqis and she worries about them and what will happen in August when all US forces pull out?

At the end of August, the White House hopes to have the number of US troops stationed in Iraq down to 50,000. Not zero.

It is confusing because the press keeps referring to this announced drawdown as a withdrawal. They care so little about the topic, don't be surprised that they can't get the terminology correct.

I don't doubt that the e-mailer cares and is sincere.

And on her fears? They're well grounded.

And I've never, ever lied here and said, "The US leaves and Iraqis have a group hug and all is wonderful."

Some have attempted to suggest that either with false claims or with silence. I don't play that game. It is likely -- and we have said this for years -- that violence will increase when the US leaves.

How long and to what extent no one knows.

But that's going to happen anyway.

It's going to happen if the US stays for two decades. It's going to happen if the US stays for two more weeks.

In November of 2004, "SHOULD THIS MARRIAGE BE SAVED?" appeared here. That is where I stood on the issue and where the community stands on it. This is a bad marriage, you cannot make it right. It was started for the wrong reasons and the healthy thing to do is to end it.

The relationship brings nothing for either partner. For the US, it destroys much more than national prosperity. For Iraq, it's consequences are much easier to see with the naked eye.

The current government or 'government' in Baghdad was set up by the US. It was propped up by the US.

If the press had done their job before Joe Biden became US Vice President, they could have prepared Americans for realities. Biden had many people -- right, left and center -- appear before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He chaired that committee back then. And there were serious conversations about Iraq. It was a strong committee with many outstanding members including a few Republicans. And serious topics were addressed including the goverment or 'government' in Baghdad and what happens if US troops end up being used to prop up that government in the midst of a bloody revolution in Iraq?

Because that can come. The people didn't pick their government. No Iraqi who had lived in Iraq all their lives would ever pick exiles to represent them. It wouldn't happen.

We wouldn't do it here. Bully Boy Bush came close to being a tyrant. (Barack seems determined to top him.) He didn't get that far but a number of people -- following the 2000 election (and Supreme Court gifting of the White House to Bush) and the 2004 election -- decided they no longer wanted to live in the US and they moved to Canada. (I am not talking about war resisters.)

If Canada, to stop Bush, had invaded and attempted to set up a new government, none of us would have gone along with the cowards who fled to Canada while we stayed and tried to fight back against Bush.

By the same token, Iraqis would not choose exiles who fled the country and lived in Europe and Syria for decades to become their leaders.

I loathe Nouri for a number of reasons. But even Ayad Allawi is an exile.

Iraqis have not been allowed to create their government.

That's one of the issues that may come up when the US leaves and the military's no longer able to keep Baghdad's government or 'government' in place.

The exiles fled out of fear. Some of it justified. And they returned, many of them, for vengeance. That's what they're seeking. It's what always motivates Nouri (as demonstrated by his own statements). So Iraq moves forward how? When leaders are always looking back and trying to even scores, the country moves forward how?

It is likely that after the US leaves, Iraqis may attempt to take control of their own country. They may or may not be successful in said attempt. (Moqtada al-Sadr has always been the one the US government has feared would lead such an attack. He might or he might not. But he's far from the only one capable of doing so. And if reports out of Basra currently are accurate, there's a new al-Sadr emerging.)

It is also likely that Nouri or a Nouri like person (US government analysis believes it would most likely happen under Nouri -- one more reason he shouldn't continue as prime minister), once the US leaves, will use the forces they control as prime minister to attack their various enemies. To kill them. The same way Saddam Hussein would have.

So that's two potential areas of violence within Iraq after the US leaves (whenever that might be). al Qaeda in Mespotomia came into being after the start of the Iraq War. For all the claims of 'foreign influnce!,' it remains a homegrown movement in Iraq. Should it attack (likely) after the US leaves, that would still be Iraqi-on-Iraqi violence.

Iran, whom the US fears, is not thought likely to attempt to influence Iraq by force. It's thought that the Arab neighbors wouldn't allow it and that Iran grasps that. (So Iran uses soft diplomatic pressure currently.) Iran might try to seize some land, claim they had a right to it. It might not.

But the serious threats to Iraq's stability remain internal groups, not external.

And the US efforts to cobble together leadership (among exiles and/or militias) ensured that would be the case. This was not a group of people coming together and deciding what kind of government they wanted and who they wanted to be represented by. It was imposed on them. And they have a right to reject it.

They may not. When the US leaves, they may not care or may care about other things. It could happen. Especially if the US keeps pouring all that money into Iraqi TV.

But the chances that Iraqis would rebel in some form against the US-imposed government do not decrease if the US stays there for decades. The chances only increase and the grudges grow.
I do understand the e-mailer's concerns and I hope she feels I've addressed them. But, to repeat, our position has always been that a US withdrawal could likely be followed by violence and that prolonging the occupation only increases the chance of violence. The US military is not trained for the job it's been forced to do. They're not trained for illegal war period but at the start of the war, one built around lies, the military was tasked with a goal they could do: Take control of Baghdad and run off the ruling government. They did that. After that, they've been expected to be couriers, security guards, constables and you name it. I'm sure that the bulk of US troops have attempted those roles with the best of intentions and some have been very successful in them. That doesn't change the fact that they're not trained for it. Nor does it change the fact that they're not appreciated by Iraqis in that role. In this country, we wouldn't appreciate the Canadian military doing similar tasks. You don't like a foreigner coming into your country, taking control and attempting to boss you around -- especially at gun point.

There is nothing that can be done by the US military in Iraq currently. There are a million reasons why the US military should never have gone to Iraq and why they should have already been pulled out. But there's also the reality that there's no role for a foreign military in Iraq today.

It's over, I'm done writing songs about love
There's a war going on
So I'm holding my gun with a strap and a glove
And I'm writing a song about war
And it goes
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Oh oh oh oh
-- "I Hate The War" (written by Greg Goldberg, on The Ballet's Mattachine!)

Last Thursday, ICCC's number of US troops killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war was 4397. Tonight? It remains -- no, it has reached 4400.

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