Saturday, March 17, 2007

Iraq: Playing the Course (and Cheating)

Also at DKos.

"Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities."


Pro-war rhetoric continues to resonate of the peculiar neoconservative brand of insanity. Last week, Representative C.W. Bill Young (R-FL) said, "Nobody wants our troops out of Iraq more than I do, but we can't afford to turn over Iraq to al-Qaida."

The Sunni organization al-Qaeda is not going to take over Shiite dominated Iraq. If Young honestly thinks it can, he's an utter dullard. It's more likely that Young was the Bush liegeman chosen to introduce the latest Rovewellian talking point.

Staying the Course

From the beginning, The administration and its echo chamberlains have sold their woebegone war in Iraq with a fabric of glittering generalities, appeals to emotion, bandwagons, sand bagging, blame shifting, straw man attacks, faulty main assumptions, false analogies, and the rest of the propaganda arsenal. They coaxed us into this war by making visions of mushroom clouds dance in our heads, and they've been playing Rovewellian mind games with us ever since.

Their most enduring trick has been the "fighting them over there so we don't have to fight them over here" mantra. In recent months "fighting them over there" has morphed into "If we withdraw, they will follow us here." Pish. How are they going to get here--hide in our troops' luggage? Swim? Wind surf? Jump?

Despite what Bush the younger tells us, the oceans do, in fact, still protect us. Nobody has an army large enough to invade and occupy the United States, and they certainly don't have a navy or air force capable of transporting a force that size across the Atlantic or Pacific. Even if they did, we could sink them and/or shoot them down before they got halfway here.

Yes, terrorists might still sneak through our borders and ports in drips and drabs like the 9/11 perpetrators did, but nothing we're doing militarily in the Middle East is preventing that from happening. That's Homeland Security's job, and if Homeland Security can't keep terrorists from infiltrating our country, why does it even exist?

Young Mr. Bush exhorts us to show "resolve" in the Middle East. But the kind of resolve we're showing in the Middle East is the kind of resolve it takes to throw yourself in front of a moving bus, and then lie there while the bus continues to roll back and forth over you.

In January, Senator Joe Lieberman (?-CT) said on Meet the Press that "We all want to find the right exit strategy. But my own sense of history tells me that in war, ultimately, there are two exit strategies. One is called victory; the other is called defeat."

My three dogs have a better sense of history than Lieberman does. Wars, especially modern American wars, have seldom been decisive. World War I ended in an armistice, the conditions of which laid the groundwork for World War II. World War II concluded with the formal surrenders of Germany and Japan, but that only led to the Cold War and a series of dirty little third world proxy wars that lasted for half a century.

One pro-war neoconservative pundit recently compared Representative Jack Murtha (D-PA) to Lee Harvey Oswald. He said that Murtha and Oswald formed a small club of individuals who deserved to be classified as "ex-Marines." This pundit is not a Coulter-class luminary in the neoconservative galaxy. He is a distinguished dean and professor at one of our most distinguished graduate level war colleges who consistently indulges in this kind of vituperative through the Big Brother Broadcast megaphone. With people like him in key positions of upper level of military academia, it's little wonder our national security brain trust is so bankrupt.

We hear from voices on the right that a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq will create conditions that could lead to a regional war, but the fact is that U.S. presence in Iraq has created a regional war. Conflict, at one level or another, rages from the Horn of Africa to Pakistan, and our presence in Iraq is fueling it, not containing it.

The Bush war hawks keep serving up grape flavored hallucinogen shooters, and their non-cognitive supporters keep slamming them down. Meanwhile, a pack of dune farmers armed with tinker toys continue to make the "best-trained, best-equipped" armed force in history look like it couldn't find its oasis with a map and a flashlight.

It's so difficult for me to watch our chicken hawk leaders pour more of our magnificent troops into a war they're not designed to fight in pursuit of a "victory" that cannot be defined, and justify their policies and strategies with arguments they have to know are medicine show hokum, and blame their failures on the CIA, the news media, Catholics who voted for John Kerry, and whatever other scapegoat is handy.

It breaks my heart.


Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) writes from Virginia Beach, Virginia. Read his commentaries at Pen and Sword.


  1. Oak Leaf1:14 PM


    I just came across your site and share many of your thoughts. I am a currently serving USAR Combat Arms Officer. (Also happen to be a NWC Graduate)

    An interesting observation from the site where I "guest blog" and have written from a military/political angle is how former republican allies abandon you when you "stand with" the military.

    I was in the Army at 18, long before I registered to vote and that is where my support always goes back to.

    I am staying in uniform a few more years until my MRD because there are going to be a lot of pieces to pick up in two years.

    My best,

  2. Anonymous1:14 PM

    On resolve -- once the bus has run over you the first time, the staying around for the back and forth stuff is more a result of gravity than of resolve.

    Similarly, once first blood is drawn, the gravity of the situation usually requires that more blood be spilled to justify the expenditure of the first.


  3. Oak Leaf,

    Welcome aboard! When did you attend NWC?


    Something like "honor the dead by adding to their number?"

  4. Anonymous7:48 PM

    The other night, on "The Daily Show", Zbigniw(?) Brezinski said the same thing as you about the insurgents swimming across oceans to get to us if we leave Iraq. It speaks much to your wisdom in this area when intellects like him steal your lines (although I fear he believes that the only mistake the neocons did was choosing the Republicans to carry their torch, and not the Dem's).

    All the best and thank you for your insights.

  5. Brzezinski also has a very enlightening story about the Carter years and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

    It's a story you certainly never hear from the Carter-bashers of today.

    I'd estimate 90% of Americans, if asked, only remember that the Russians invaded Afghanistan, and lost ("their Vietnam").

  6. Sky-Ho2:43 AM


    Thanks for the link to what Brzezinski's history about the Carter years.

    Would "they" take away his Peace Prize if they knew he provoked the Russians?

  7. Anonymous6:14 AM


    I regularly stop by this blog to pick up your colourful and perceptive insights on the world. I’ve just finished an awesome and highly relevant book by General Rupert Smith which I think would be right up your street. Do you have an amazon wishlist or some other way I can wing you a copy?

    Please don’t be put off by the review in the attached link courtesy of the wanker Eliot Cohen – if anyone could miss the point and implications of this book (and like a good neo-con, ignore any inconvenient facts) it would be this sad little man.


  8. Anonymous6:16 AM

    The link doesn't seem to work -

    I'm also assuming that you haven't already read the book!


  9. Anonymous10:25 AM

    Sightly off topic, I suppose, but perhaps the comments of the then Iraqi Information Minister, Comical Ali, have a chilling ring to them now.

    "I told you yesterday that the shock has backfired on them. Indeed, they are shocked because of what they have seen. No one received them with roses. They were received with bombs, shoes and bullets. Now, the game has been exposed. Awe will backfire on them. This is the boa snake. We will extend it further and cut it in the appropriate way."


    "We chase them here and they chase us there. But at the end we are the people who are laying siege to them. And it is not them who are besieging us."

    and most interesting of all,

    "Washington has thrown their soldiers on the fire."

    And we all laughed.

  10. apostrophe10:56 AM

    Sorry, I didn't mean to hide behind "anonymous" for the Comical Ali comment.
    "apostrophe" is the name! :-)

  11. The Reality Kid2:35 PM


    Thank you for the refreshing straight talk.

    Not much to add in the context of your commentary, but I will point out that, in my view at least, the whole "fight them over there..." theme smacks of racism (or, at least, of an almost unfathomable discounting of Iraqi lives).

    Or, as plaintively put by an Iraqi (took this quote from a June, 2005, Reuters report) -

    "Why don't they find another place to fight terrorism?" asked Abdul Ridha al-Hafadhi, 58, head of a humanitarian aid group.

    Thanks again for your words and insights.

  12. Anonymous2:18 AM

    Just wanted to say I thought your piece "Playing the Course" was a wonderful piece of writing.

  13. Anon,

    Thanks for the nice words.



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