Tuesday, August 14, 2007

What does it mean for the U.S. to "Win" in Iraq?

The U.S. was lied into invading Iraq by the Bush administration. Granted that Saddam was a brutal dictator who had previously invaded Iran (with our blessing) and Kuwait (again with our apparent blessing.) The failure of Bush 41 to follow the defeated Iraqi Army into Baghdad in the Persian Gulf War that resulted from April Glaspie's unfortunate choice of language left Saddam in power. There were a number of reasons for not going on from Kuwait into Iraq and removing Saddam from power. I found one comment by "hlabadie-ga on 17 Nov 2003 11:23 PST" at Google Answers that provided these reasons, all of which I recall at the time:
1) It would have exceeded the terms of the UN resolution, which
authorized only the forceful expulsion of the Iraqis from Kuwait.

2) The Coalition would have splintered, as other nations, especially
the Arab countries, would have objected and withdrawn support.

3) There was not sufficient preparation for urban warfare.

4) The continuation of the invasion of Iraq would have produced a
deplorable slaughter of the Iraqi army (CentCom's main objection).

5) There was no plan for an occupation.

6) The US had promised Turkey not to allow the establishment of a
Kurdish state, which might have been formed if Iraq was fractured by
civil war after invasion.

7) The US needed a unified Iraq that was still a balance against Iran.
In addition I remember hearing that there was no exit strategy from the occupation of Iraq so that it would quickly become a nasty war against insurgents who wanted us out of there.

It should be noted at all of those reasons remain valid even today. They were not brought up during the false "discussion" regarding the intended peremptory invasion of Iraq in 2002 and 2003.

But back in 1991 and after there were a number of people who ignored those reasons for not invading and wanted to "finish the job." The American NeoCons, particularly Irving Krystol and his son Bill as well as Norman Podhoretz particularly wanted to use American military power to remove Saddam. They were closely associated with the pro-Israel lobbying organization, AIPAC in their effort to get the U.S. to act militarily to remove Saddam.

The Neocom think tanks, "the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), and the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA)" all pushed for an invasion of Iraq back in the 1990's in order to "finish the job left undone at the end of the Persian Gulf War.

To retain power Saddam acted as bellicose as he could, took every opportunity to cheat on the UN oil sales restrictions designed to restrain his ability to recreate his military power, and attacked both the Kurds in the North and the Shiites in the South after the U.S. government encouraged those groups to rebel. (Not that they needed much encouragement.)But his so-called WMD had been eliminated in 1991 and were carefully inspected by UN inspectors to keep him from getting them back.

Iraq remained a thorn in the side of the U.S. from 1991 on. Not as much as North Korea or China, but Iraq also sat on top of the second largest known reserves of oil in the world. Probably more important, he survived the American counter attack in Kuwait and publicly supported the Palestinian Intifada and Palestinian suicide bombers by giving $25,000 to the family of each bomber.

Neocons did not like Saddam. They wanted him gone, and since Israel could not remove him, they wanted the U.S. to do it. This was the basis for the Open letter to President Clinton on Iraq encouraging that invasion and signed by PNAC members such as Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, and Robert Zoellick. Note that this was 1998, well before 9/11. The forged Italian Letter allegedly describing the attempt by Saddam to obtain yellow-cake uranium ore from Niger also predated 9/11, and which came from the Italian Military Intelligence Agency SISMI and was closely associated with the NeoCon Michael Ledeen. Ledeen has close ties to both Italian Intelligence personnel and to Vice President Dick Cheney. (See The Italian Letter.)

The Neocons and Bush Neocon supporters lied about WMDs to drag America into the war they had wanted since 1991. (See Proof that lies led to our invasion of Iraq for a more compelte discussion of the lies.) They ignored the known problems of the war (See above), suppressed discussion of anything but the possible advantages and attacked anyone who opposed their fictions, lies and assumptions as supporters of terrorists.

The government cherry-picked supposed Intelligence items that supported their desire for war and passed those things on to be trumpeted by the Neocon Press such as Commentary and The Weekly Standard, FOX News and a surprising number of members of the supposed mainstream media such as Judy Miller.

So we invaded Iraq in 2003.

Now the argument by the Neocons and conservatives is that if we pull out of Iraq, we will lose the war. Those who claim that the war is already lost are terrorist supporters. Bill Krystol returns from his eight-day vacation in sunny Iraq saying that all is going well, and that all we have to do is keep it up and we will "win the war in Iraq."

Ignoring the fact that Krystol and the Neocons generally have been wrong about the existence of WMDs in Iraq and about how easy the war would be, I really want to know something.

What does it mean for us to win in Iraq? How is a win defined?

Winning does not mean making Iraq the 51st U.S. state and remaining there forever. They don't want it, and we have no use for it. Whatever winning might mean, it includes our leaving Iraq.

So. Do we stay until there is a free and democratic government under an effective Parliamentary government controlled by a liberal Constitution and the Rule of Law?

The Maliki government can't even get a police force or army together that they can trust to control the Green Zone. The weapons the U.S. has been providing to the Iraqi troops have been appearing in Italy on the way to being sold to the insurgents. The troops and policemen the U.S. have been training quickly leave to work for the various militias, the Shiites who ostensibly control the Parliament can't decide which sect it in charge and none will cooperate with the others, the Sunnis prefer to walk out of Parliament, the Kurds are there only as long as the American troops protect them from the Iraqis, no one likes or follows the Constitution the U.S. has imposed, and the solution has been for the entire Parliament to take August off and individually move to safer ground in Amman, Jordan. The only thing a majority of the people in Iraq agree on is that they want the U.S. troops out as soon as possible.

If I say that prospects for a free and democratic Iraqi government under an effective Parliamentary government controlled by a liberal Constitution and the Rule of Law are dim, I am still severely overstating the case.

The continued presence of American troops offers no prospect for improving this situation. It only makes it worse. No one there has any incentive to work with anyone else to solve the problems.

It isn't free and democratic elections. As has been demonstrated in Gaza and Lebanon, our presence in Iraq has angered Muslims so much that support by America has become the kiss of death for any local politician running for election. Our invasion of Iraq has been the greatest support that Hamas or al Qaeda could have ever hoped for.

So can we install a dictator and get out? That was what the Neocons intended to do with Ahmed Chalabi. The Iraqis rejected him totally, and he never had the power to control the country. We do not have any better prospects, and the Bush administration is too incompetent to talk to other Middle Eastern nations which have a stake in Iraq's stability to make anything work.

If we leave, the great fear that he Neocons keep shouting is that Iraq will fall apart, collapse into Civil War (Huh? Where are they now?) and become a failed state and a training ground for terrorists like Afghanistan was. That's not real likely. The only reason there are terrorists in Iraq now is that terrorism and IED's are the most effective techniques to use against the American troops. It is called Asymmetric Warfare.

We could prevent terrorists from training there by keeping troops and aviation assets over the horizon but outside of Iraq. Instead we keep our troops in Iraq to give them a reason to practice asymmetric warfare and an enemy to fight against, while we train and arm many of the very fighters who then go out to attack our troops.

So we aren't staying. Yet the Neocons shout that leaving means losing. OK. Just tell me - what are we staying for?

And how do we win if we stay? Not some magic formula. Not some prayer. Not the unexplained results of appointing some miracle-worker leader. Someone needs to explain how the plan is expected to work in real life.

I'm waiting.

[Shut-up, you damned crickets!]


David said...

After reading the comments made by Sen. McCain concerning Sen. Obama's visit to Iraq and Afganistan, I also wondered what exactly is a 'win' in Iraq. So I decided to utilize the magic of google, and came across this page. It seems that the word win is just some sort of nice buzzword that current republicans have championed to oppose any suggestion of leaving Iraq made by Obama. There clearly is no definition of winning. Perhaps after the war in Iraq has lasted 100 years, a way to win will materialize?

Richard said...

You can never determine whether a strategy has succeeded or not unless you know the goal the strategy was attempting to achieve. The shifting rational for our invasion of Iraq is a clear demonstration that the real goal the Bush administration (read "Cheney") was and remains concealed. They knew from the get-go that what they wanted to achieve would be rejected as unrealistic and too expensive from the beginning, so they lied and continue to lie.

A strategy is more than just a goal. It includes the means to achieve that goal, and a realistic evaluation of the costs required compared to the rewards that will result from success, with the rewards discounted by reasonable estimates of failure.

These people didn't even attempt such a calculation. They knew right off that no rational calculation would justify invading Iraq. But they "knew" in their hearts (or gut) that those calculations were wrong, so they went and conducted the invasion anyway.

Guess what. It wasn't the rational calculators who were wrong. It was the idiot conservatives who did not like the results of those calculations and refused to listen to them.

Bush and Cheney will go to their graves as two of the greatest failures America has ever place in high political office. And they will never 'fess up regarding what they were really trying to do, because it is so embarrassing to be so very very wrong in such a public venue.

McCain has different evaluations for what success means. His mindset is the end of WW II in which America strode the Earth and occupied its enemies until they became industrial democracies like America thought it was. His mindset is placed on the Battleship Missouri accepting the total surrender of the Japanese after we nuked Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Our Navy and troops are still there in japan. That's McCain's concept of victory in Iraq.

I really doubt that Cheney has told even Bush why we invaded Iraq for fear the idiot Bush would spill the beans someday in front of an audience somewhere. Bush just needs a simple cover story. No sense in giving him anything complicated. He won't deal with it. Here's the Dalia Lama's view of Bush's intellect, and to confirm it just watch Bush spout his economic "Happy Talk" as he tries to talk America out of feeling like the economy is going downhill.

If you really want to know why we invaded Iraq - and thus what winning there really means - you will need to waterboard both Cheney and Rumsfeld to find out. With Cheney's bad heart, even that isn't likely to work.

I wouldn't count on ever finding out what winning in Iraq means. We still don't know what winning in Vietnam would have meant.