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Tuesday, May 08, 2007

War Made Endless: Iraq Intentionally Mismanaged

The American occupation of Iraq has not achieved any of its goals if the outside observer interprets the goals to be restoration of a stable Iraq. If however the goal of the occupation is to rationalize an ongoing occupation, it's succeeded.

In my last post I described how the US has failed in its surge strategy. There's a constant stream of information which shows the scope the the failure. Deaths in Baghdad are down, but only if car bombings were ignored. Whatever gains made in the counterinsurgency were limited to Baghdad, and a string of bombings has taken lives in the other cities, who are outside the capital and thus in a pre-surge condition.

Barring a massive escalation in force, deployed using the same flawed logic of our current surge, the quantitative limitations on manpower and troops strength are simply too strong. We are in a word, contained.

Surging across Iraq would allow the areas outside Baghdad to enjoy the dubious benefits of an expanded American military presence, complete with its accompanying violence, bent statistics, and walls.

The majority of Iraqis want the US gone. If the increased of violence in Baghdad is any indicator of what would come, a larger role for the US military would only exacerbate animosities. With a stepped up US presence, the Iraqi government increasingly appears to be a US puppet, which clearly plays to radical fundamentalists in denying general acceptance of secular government, one which created by the US.

So the Iraqis will hate us even more for any escalation if the surge expands nationwide.

An increase in military strength can do nothing to stop the violence. I've discussed the inadequacy of a solution based on the use of military force, or what I heard Chris Matthews call "using guns to solve political problems" on Hardball May 7th.

We already have a look into the results of the surge to date; we have been told the surge will take several more months before it's fully implemented. War supporters are pushing the dates of surge implementation farther into the future in a clear efforts to disassociate the results of a surge with its implementation. By denying implementation of the surge, three months in, perhaps the President and his supporters feel they can delay criticism of the policy, at least until the failure has become more evident.

Unfortunately for supporters of the war, the President and the military have lost virtually all credibility. Moderates who might have once believed unquestioningly in the rhetoric of the President have simply given up on trusting the White House.

Denying the surge's failure, or simply delaying its evaluation, allows politicians to avoid accusations of not supporting the troops. Tacit acceptance of the surge (or a willingness to postpone criticism) could be an effort to sully Republican candidates by locking them into votes supporting the war in advance of the next election. Timing will be critical, knowing that the surge is doomed to fail (Senator Reid indicated the "war is lost") sets up a scenario where supporters of the war are forced to support the war, just as things worsen in Iraq as a result of mismanagement.

Why help extricate the President and Republicans? First, I hope Democrats are capable of holding the national security interest over their political aspirations. If they are in fact nurturing failure in Iraq for partisan purposes, it's possible the American people will turn from Democrats because they have been unable to solve the Iraq problem--which is an universally American problem for supporters of the occupation as well as its critics. No political gain can be worth the cost in lives, money, and diminished credibility, diplomatic, and military effectiveness.

Touted as a last ditch effort, the surge was really a politically motivated effort to present an illusion of progress in Iraq. Iraq has become a political liability, and the Bush Administration clings stubbornly to belief in victory in Iraq in a desperate effort to retain whatever remains of their shredded credibility. Even if public no longer believes what they're hear from Washington, they might be deceived into believing things aren't as bad as they really are.

Incapable of self-evaluation, and unwilling to change policy, the Bush administration has led us down a one-way, never-ending track to supporting a Shia government in Iraq. The longer we are there, the more dependent the Iraqis on us become.

As I said in my last post, motivations abound for continuing the war. Profiteers and big oil have seen profits rise dramatically through the war and so its continuation does constitute a benefity to a narrow constituency (including Halliburton, of which Vice President Dick Cheney still owns millions in stock options.)

The war profiteering spigot brings collateral economic benefits, with the bulk of blood money going to a privileged few, including naturally the proponents of continued war funding for Iraq in Congress and the White House.

Foreign Agenda

Many have blamed Democrats for spinelessly backing off their pledge to end the War. I'm convinced a core group of die-hard sympathizers harbor an agenda on behalf of the Israeli right wing to continue our presence there.

AIPAC has been allowed to avoid registration as a representative of a foreign power, and dispenses huge sums of cash to politicians, while advocating greater involvement by the US military in the Middle East. The Israel lobby undeniably weighs our Middle East policy towards the right, despite the anti-war position of a majority of both American and Israeli Jews.

AIPAC's invasive influence has long strived to polarize the US in the region against Arab states. Many Israelis believe that Israel is under the constant threat of attack. This siege mentality is exploited by Zionists (advocates of an expansionistic Jewish nation) who rationalize military action taken preemptively as justified on the basis of the larger threat from the Arab world.

America has taken an approach sympathetic of Israeli interests in the region because Israel has worked long and hard to articulate its interests in the American press. The media acts as a screen to stunt internal debate over the role Israel--by directly and actively lobbying through AIPAC--plays in shaping our foreign policy.

Democrats are undeniably fixated on pleasing their AIPAC patrons, and the attentions of the courtesans from the Israeli right are rewarded in votes for aid to Israel, alongside promises to defend the nebulously worded "security of the State of Israel". Dragging the anchor of overcommitment to Israel, American policy suffers, our policy ship relying on the never-ending use of force to resolve our problems in the Mideast.

Is the Iraq War open-ended? This from a
Karen Kwiatkowski interview:

...we are not leaving these bases, and a Democratic president, I don’t care who they are, will keep those bases there. They will justify them and they will use them and we love that. We love it. So it’s not about what the American people think is right or wrong, it’s not about if we got lied to, what matters is, they did what they wanted to do, and as Bush says, and as Cheney says, “it’s quite the success.”
...The facts are, we are in Iraq, we have the finest military installations in the world, the newest military installations in the world, and we’re not leaving them. We’re not turning them over to a Shiite government, we’re not turning them over to a Sunni government, we’re not turning them over to a Kurdish government. We’re not doing that. They are American bases. We’ve got our flag there."

Isolationism has been a common Bush coping mechanism for dealing with countries that simply don't like us and we them. Unitary action is in itself an act that isolates one nation from others and discourages dialogue. In this sense, non-communication serves an important purpose for the militarist, giving supporters of the ongoing occupation a reason to distrust potential enemies in the region.

In its purest form, advocates for the use of military force in Israel and the US embrace open-ended conflict. Hardcore supporters of the war are publicly confident of victory while they secretly hope the larger conflict with Muslims drags on.

The greatest threat to a cessation of military force is peace. Wanting a conclusion to the war ultimately means wanting peace, something which takes a reduction in mistrust and a willingness to communicate. Relying on non-militarized solution also requires overcoming a powerful lobby fixated on colonial aspirations and defense contracts.

Bush and his inner circle have rejected dialogue. It took the initiative of grandmother Nancy Pelosi to initiate communication with Syria, with whom the Bush administration had completely cut off dialogue in 2005.

If an end to the war is what Bush wanted, he'd be actively pursuing options which will bring the conflict to an end. Instead he chooses to avoid dialogue and peace with our enemies, which barring some genocidal final solution means compromise with our enemies. This is how all wars must end.

Communication with the enemy represents a means to end wars. Dialogue is not a concession to defeat but rather to the need for peace. Its opposite, non-communication, represents a barrier to cessation and thereby facilitates the opposite of peace: continuing violence without gain, except for those who profit from war and can avoid the fallout. (Radioactive particles are literally falling from our atmosphere throughout the world as the result of the use of depleted uranium weapons, so no one is safe.)

The surge is a political agenda packaged as a military solution. Inwardly, military strategists must be wondering if a surge could end the insurgency given the obvious force strength limitations, and absence of economic and political sensitivities beyond their control. Like Vietnam, the political motives shape military policies, not the generals. This is often given as an excuse why we lost in Vietnam and will, most likely be used again to glaze over the utter failure of military force to work in this more recent counterinsurgency.

According to Larry Beinhart, a surge carpeting Iraq would take around 670,000 soldiers, which can only be attained by a draft. Clearly Presidential contenders from both sides of the aisle will strive to avoid political consequences in what have been our wholly superficial efforts to resolve the problems we've sown in Iraq.

While Bush may be able to shun dialogue, other Republican politicians must face the voters and thus are sensitive to how the war is perceived by the public. As I've said, the Democrats may end up owning the war if they are unable to end it; Republican politicians opposed to the war be able to provide a more dovish alternative to Democrats who've been sucked into supporting the war or shown an unwillingness or inability to end it.

Bush and his loyalists have confused dissent with disloyalty. Bound in the fervor of self-righteous nationalism, they believe in American exceptionalism. Their pride--hurt in Vietnam--hinges on the premise of American invincibility. Incented by war, wrapped in nationalistic fervor, our Iraq policy has proven resistant to outside criticism and overly presumptive of victory.


I've focused on the War on Terror, with a particular emphasis on why it is no longer capable of succeeding. However comforting the self-infatuated rhetoric might sound inside the Beltway, decisions made for partisan reasons have dramatic consequences in the realm of global realpolitik.

A lack of results brings geopolitical consequences. Domestically, the ripples of foreign policy failure are less damaging. An American population primed through war with Muslims since 9/11 appears detached from day-to-day developments in Iraq, with the help of a mainstream media derelict in its duties to tell the truth and complicit in sustaining the lie by concealing the inevitability of failure.

In an odd twist of irony, war supporters tout the consequences of failure as reason to continue the occupation, as if the continued use of military force would produce different results at some point in the future. In the run-up to the war, few Americans contemplated the broader implications of failure presumably because they felt the US would win: a belief with its roots in nationalism and American exceptionalism: God is on our side.

As has been said extensively here and more recently on Bill Moyers Selling the Iraq War, the media played a major role in facilitating the war by failing to scrutinize its justifications.

So derelict in its duties was the mainstream media that a complete lie--that Iraq had tried to acquire significant quantities of uranium--made its way into a pre-war State of the Union address without even the slightest scrutiny. It took the determined efforts of a dedicated public servant to expose the 16 words for the lie it was. In its effort to punish the whistleblower, the Administration exposed itself for what it was--an self-serving political machine willing to compromise our national security to punish someone with a conscience.

If our government were made of more Joe Wilsons, it wouldn't have degenerated into what it has become under men like Dick Cheney. As a matter of fact, men of conscience would have confronted any questionable information, particularly any intelligence sufficient to generate a case for war. The subsequent deaths and destruction stand as ghostly reminders of ignoring the truth--they continue.

It's interesting to see Henry Waxman, now Chairman of the House Oversight Committee, delve into the prewar intelligence fabrications. He's apparently issued a subpeona to Secretary of State Rice in regard to what Rice knew or discovered about the forged memo detailing the uranium transactions.

That there was an agenda in play we have no idea, looking back with hindsight as we now can. The mere premise that the war was necessary implies a lie, unless of course you consider ulterior motives. The most damning motive has been oil; Iraq sits on the third-largest deposits anywhere. Cheney's secret energy task force did look at maps of Iraqi oil fields before 9/11.

Bush was said to have wanted an Iraqi invasion within hours of the WTC buildings going down. According to George Tenet, Bush had demanded that the case for going to war needed be a "slam-dunk" (a term which Tenet has disputed in his recently published book, At The Center of the Storm.)

In a recent Salon article (cookie req'd), Tenet was accused of reaping millions in profits from companies involved in the Iraq war. His credibility at this point is minimal.

Bonini Nexus

I had the good chance to see Craig Unger and Carlo Bonini talk about Bonini's new book, Collusion, on C-Span2 BookTV. I've tried to find that video but been unable; I did track down this interview (click Bonini film clip) of Bonini by Bill Moyers. Here is Bonini's profile from pbs.

I find myself dazzled by Bonini's narration, with his accent forcing me to listen harder and more intently with what the Italian La Repubblicca reporter had discovered. Bonini's not the first to link the forged intelligence with actors within the neocon movement; still his book provides a damning indictment of the Administration's flagrant intelligence fabrication effort leading up to Iraq.

Bonini's real skill lies not in identifying the shadowy operatives who provided evidence to make the case for war, but rather how he connects the media, the political leadership and intelligence operatives in what he calls a "perfect storm."
By failing to scrutinize what they were told by the government, the media let a group of neocons concoct policy for our government and launch a war based on lies.

Bonini's insight should form more than a backdrop for the misbehavior that got us into Iraq, it's a template for a much larger retrenchment of democratic values. Holding the Bush Administration accountable legally and morally should form the basis of a much-needed effort to reestablish the credibility of our government and faith in our media.

Without leaders, our country is bound to drift and sooner or later a domestic social upheaval will occur in response.

Leaders need to be responsive to the will of the people, and serve the public, not just those who directly benefit from the decisions of policymakers. Eventually the gap between what our leaders accomplish and claim to be able to do grows too wide for any amount of perception management to overcome. Many people look to past heroes to reestablish their ideal leadership image, one of strength and success like that of Ronald Reagan.

Reagan Redux

Has the US become nothing more than a collection of individuals? If the forces that bind us together have weakened to the point that many Americans don't feel like they share anything with their fellow Americans.

One of the great tragedies of our capitalist system is that the rich grow richer and poor grow poorer. I have in the past discussed some of the widening economic gap between Americans; the disparity between the accumulation of political power for the rich and elite corresponds to the increase in their wealth.

Yet the rich and political elite must search for a mechanism to bind pauper to prince, consumer to producer. Every taxpayer needs to feel they are contributing to the great machine called America; what better tool than nationalism to bring us together?

Perhaps this soul-searching has manifested itself into Reaganism--the nostalgic concept that a strong leader can bring Americans back together again, and restore our pride in our nation.

One problem with revisiting Reaganism is that the Republican party today is responsible for creating the state of divisiveness and polarizing currents of discontent through starting a war of choice, then demanding the public support it indefinitely, lest the consequences of (their) failure result in an even greater failure (for us).

Another issue with Reagan worship is the tendency to ignore Reagan's failings. Reagan oversaw a massive and most unconservative increase in federal spending and the deficit, a tactic which is now proving unsustainable. The Gipper also negotiated with the hostage-taking Iranians and his representative Scrowcroft worked to delay their release after the 1980 Elections. And also with the Iranians, Reagan's people managed to sell aircraft parts, ostensibly to secure the release of hostages in Lebanon, all the while funding paramiltary death squads in Latin America with cocaine imported by our own government and sold in primarily minority communities.

It's the Economy

Vietnam had been over for years when Reagan took office on the promise of reuniting America. Like Bush, Reagan's first years in office saw widespread decline in manufacturing jobs (4 million lost under Bush II). Unlike Reagan, Bush has had the benefit of much lower interest rates. While Bush supporters even now blame Clinton for not doing enough to stop the rise of radical Islamists, there's been little criticism of Clinton's economic policies.

The political economy can be defined as an economic environment created by political forces acting on behalf of specific economic agendas which typically benefit one group over others. For decades, the main antagonistic forces were labor and management. It appears now that large corporations are attempting to exert political influence over government in order to push globalization, which I've come to conclude has become an competition between governments and corporations to make irrevokable a process of economic centralization and weaken the ability of governments to impose geographical limitations on corporate authority.

Governments suffer from the influence of wealthy patrons; the US is in no ways immune from corruption. It's perhaps because we Americans think of our nation as superior that we tend to underestimate the forces which are continually acting to diminish the impact of the democratic process on our government.

Democracy in Peril

Nowhere is the undermining of our democracy more evident than in the disenfranchisement of voters, which denies equal participation for citizens of our representative democracy.

Yet little is said of the evils of "black box voting" or the persistence of undercounting or higher vote "spoilage" in minority districts. While some have complained vociferously about the infringement of their voting rights, political hierarchies controlled by the winning party are able to escape accountability, with some scattered exceptions like the two Cuyahoga County election workers imprisoned for their part in violating laws regulating a recount held after the '04 elections.

Where we see Republicans in charge of the electoral process as they did in Ohio, we see Republican-friendly voting companies counting the votes. Where we see an elections supervisor sympathetic to one candidate, we see the potential for abuse absent adequate regulatory oversight.

It's not that all Republicans (or Democrats for that matter) aren't capable of being fair, it's that we've come to trust a broken system which is overseen by people with agendas, who've been granted the means to alter returns via electronic voting.

Endless War

The burden of fighting the Iraq War is shouldered by few, so are few Americans directly affected by the conflict. In this sense the war can be made more tolerable--extending the fruits of war to profiteers and other right-wing industrialists while avoiding a draft and thereby minimizing the impact of the war on the middle class, and its voting majority.

Endless war is a thing which takes propaganda, a complicit media, and a complacent public. To stay complacent, the public must be kept in the dark as to the motivations of their leaders for the war, and the profiteering beneficiaries of the war kept in the shadows.

To expose the real motives for invading Iraq would bring into question why we are still there, as well as undercut whatever credibility the mainstream media has left by virtue of revealing their dereliction in holding prewar claims to account. So those who control the media have a vested interest in keeping the real reasons for Iraq quiet.

And what are the real reasons for invading Iraq? Establishing Israeli/US hegemony is one. Here is one account from an Arab paper:

...who, apart from Iran and Israel, has gained from the catastrophe that has befallen Iraq? Does it not also follow that the sole beneficiary of any war against Iran will be Israel, for whom the destruction of Iran would come as the most crucial step towards realising Israel's dream of re-organising the Middle East into disparate sectarian-based statelets as it transforms itself into the engineer of their multi-farious rivalries and alliances?"
"It is mistaken to believe that what is happening in Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine are civil wars or even the beginning of civil wars. They are political conflicts fuelled by the US-Israeli drive for regional hegemony.

And this citation comes from informationclearinghouse.info:
"American Enterprise Institute's Michael Ledeen, who boasted in 2002, 'We do not want stability in Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and even Saudi Arabia. . . The real issue is not whether, but how to destabilize.'"

So there you have it: the US is trying to sieze Iraqi oil. It's successfully seeded the underlying battlescape with the necessary violence to guarantee a Long War, with no conclusion, all the while benefitting Big Oil and war profiteers fed by the hand of politicians mismanaging--quite purposefully--the war. IF the war were managed with the end--peace--in mind, hostilities would end and with it war profiteering and the exploitation of Iraq's oil.



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