Monday, July 21, 2008

Iraq Event Horizon

event horizon: the boundary of a black hole beyond which nothing can escape from within it

-- Merriam-Webster Online

After five years and change of turned corners and dead enders and last throes, is it possible that we're approaching an event horizon in our Middle East miasma? Stuff seems to happen faster than anyone can deny it occurred these days, and from the sound of things, it won't be too long before we're committed to getting out of Iraq in smart fashion or sucked into staying there until kingdom come.

The New American Decade

It hardly seems possible, but it was over ten years ago—January 26, 1998 to be exact—that Bill Kristol's Project for the New American Century (PNAC) wrote their infamous letter to President Bill Clinton demanding that he invade Iraq and oust Saddam Hussein. Clinton blew them off. Whether that was an act of wisdom on his part or he was simply occupied with more pressing matters we'll never know.

The PNAC was undeterred, however, and in September 2000 it published the neoconservative manifesto Rebuilding America's Defenses, which called for America to secure global peace through military occupation of the entire planet. The PNAC was notably interested in using the "unresolved conflict with Iraq" as a fuzzy pretext to increase our military footprint heart of the Middle East. The PNACers knew, though, that it would be difficult to get America go to along with their yahooliganism "absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event." On September 11, 2001, they got the "new Pearl Harbor" they were looking for.

On March 19, 2003 young Mr. Bush launched the invasion of Iraq, justified by "slam dunk" evidence that Saddam Hussein had an active weapons of mass destruction program and was probably at least sort of involved in the 9/11 attacks. Shortly after the invasion commenced, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld announced, "We know where the WMD are." On April 9 the Army staged the toppling of Saddam Hussein's statue in Baghdad, and on May 1 the Navy staged Mr. Bush's "Mission Accomplished" ceremony onboard the USS Abraham Lincoln.

Later that year, Mr. Bush declared, "We found the weapons of mass destruction" even though the CIA knew we hadn't. When violence began to flare, Rumsfeld said, "stuff happens." Time passed and stuff kept happening. Rummy blamed the trouble on "pockets of dead enders." Bush said, "Bring 'em on." They came.

In January 2004 the CIA said that the "stuff" was turning into a civil war. Bush said the CIA was "just guessing" about that civil war stuff. 2004 was also the year Lieutenant General David Petraeus took over training Iraqi forces and started handing out AK-47s like they were soccer balls. About 190,000 of the weapons disappeared themselves into the hands of Shiite militiamen. In October of 2004 the CIA concluded that Saddam Hussein did not possess stockpiles of WMD at the time of the U.S. invasion and had not begun any program to produce them.

2005 was a banner year for our woebegone war in Iraq. Dick Cheney declared the insurgency was in its "last throes." Mr. Bush said that "As Iraqis stand up, we will stand d`own." In November, the administration unveiled its new Victory in Iraq strategy. Lipstick neocon Joe Lieberman said Mr. Bush had turned a corner in Iraq.

On February 2, 2006 Rumsfeld said he did not believe Iraq would be a long war. On February 4, 2006 the Washington Post published an article titled "Ability to Wage 'Long War' Is Key To Pentagon Plan." On May 1 of that year, the third anniversary of "Mission Accomplished," Mr. Bush said the war had reached "a turning point" (mission accomplished again!). On August 19 Operation Iraq Freedom surpassed World War II in length. On August 21, Mr. Bush said, “We’re not leaving [Iraq] so long as I’m the president.” That day, he also admitted that Iraq had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks. On August 29 Donald Rumsfeld called Iraq war critics "quitters." On November 8 he resigned as Secretary of Defense.

Also that year, Senator Arlen Specter admitted that Iraq was in a state of civil war. In November, the Pentagon began planning an escalation strategy that became known as "The Surge" and alternately as "Son of Stay the Course."

Bush announced the surge in January 2007. In February David Petraeus took over as the top U.S. military officer in Iraq and began handing out arms and bribe money to Sunni militants. Having armed, trained and funded both sides of Iraq's civil war, Petraeus proceeded to echo the administration in blaming Iran for arming, training and funding militants in Iraq.

Hello, I Must Be Going

The pace picked up. Dick Cheney started trying really hard to pick a war with Iran. New Defense Secretary Bill Gates got Admiral William Fallon installed as head of Central Command to keep Petraeus under control. Fallon let everybody know he thought Petraeus was an a** kissing little chicken s***, and that Dick Cheney was crazy, and that the surge was stupid because we needed those extra troops to get things in Pakistan and Afghanistan under control, and that he wouldn't let a war with Iran happen on his watch, so he got fired. Bush nominated the a** kissing little chicken s*** to take Fallon's place, and the a** kissing little chicken s***s in the Senate confirmed him.

Bush and Cheney said it would be appeasement to talk directly to the Iran about things unless they gave up their inalienable right to develop nuclear power, but they didn't mention how they'd characterize the bribes Petraeus was handing out to Sunni militants in Iraq. Democratic candidate for president Barack Obama said he'd talk to Iran without ridiculous preconditions, and his opponent, Senator John McCain, said that just showed how ridiculous Obama's notions of foreign policy were, that offering to negotiate without making ridiculous preconditions would only lead to negotiations. McCain's supporters said that showed how McCain had more foreign policy savvy than Obama.

Obama also said he'd withdraw troops from Iraq in 16 months. McCain said he might keep them there for fifty, a hundred, a thousand or a million years. Obama, like Fallon, said that we need to pull troops out of Iraq to focus on Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Suddenly, in early July, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said any status of forces agreement would have to contain a timeline for U.S. troops to leave Iraq, and later he said that he liked Obama's plan to have American G.I.s home in 16 months, and brother, did the stuff hit the fan after that!

People tried to say that Maliki hadn't said what he said, that he'd been mistranslated, or that he'd been snot slinging drunk when he said those things, or that he'd been possessed by aliens or demons when he said them, and what have you, but everybody pretty much got the message.

The neocons ramped up to full spin, trying to swing momentum back in their direction. Young Mr. Bush agreed to set a "time horizon" with Maliki, and the a** kissing little chicken s***, sensing the wind shift, allowed as how, yeah, maybe he should look at starting to bribe bad guys in the bananastans now, seeing as how well that had worked for him in Iraq.

Some in the warmonger camp were devastated, though. One high ranking ex former retired administration official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the silliness involved, said that upon hearing the news of a departure timeline Joe Lieberman cried like a girl and Lindsay Graham fainted dead away in his closet.

It's tempting to conclude that we've crossed the event horizon in the Middle East, that the end of the Iraq war has begun and it's too late for team Bush to start a war with Iran. Remember, however, that the neocons still have Karl (The Brain) Rove and Dick (The Dick) Cheney on their side, and the only neocon bastard more devious than either of those two is Lucifer (The Archangel).

It may be that we'll never quite cross the event horizon in Iraq, that if anything happens at all, it will happen with a whimper so soft that we won't know if we stayed or went, because the neocons will have cooked up some new and improved fiasco that once again has us so distracted we can't tell whether we're coming or going.

Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) writes at Pen and Sword . Jeff's novel Bathtub Admirals (Kunati Books), a lampoon on America's rise to global dominance, is on sale now. Also catch Russ Wellen's interview with Jeff at The Huffington Post and Scholars and Rogues.


  1. Anonymous2:57 PM

    Excellent summary of the chaos of American policy. You are right indicating that we are not out of the woods yet because Cheney and Rove are planning a big surprise that will incite all red blooded reactive Americans into demanding an immediate response. I'm betting that it will happen on or before 9/15/08.
    If we can slip by that date then it may be too late for the neocons to act. But then again, with the willing "little chicken s***", also known as the man who would be president, in power and willing to say anything against anyone to enhance his ego we might even slide into late October before seeing a horror which causes the red blood to boil.
    Mark my word, there is no way Bush is leaving office without attacking Iran. It's just time is short on manufacturing the right justification.

  2. Yes, LCS is indeed the man who would be president; our post-modern American Caesar.

    My question is, at what point does his fear of death/talent for self preservation make him jump off of his present ride and onto the new horse?

    Will someone in Israel rein Cheney in?


  3. Oh stop!

    I'm laughing so hard the tears are streaming.

    The idiocy is .... according to the "op-ed" that never made it into the paper.

    The Iraq military is not quite ready. They need battle plans, and stuff, and their air force is still pretty low on the learning curve.

    So, we premptively invaded a country, occupied it for almost six years, and now we are training and arming them. We got these guys going for about $300 a month. So far.

    I don't want to know to what end.

    Maybe the event horizon, maybe the rapture.

    At this point who the heck knows?

    Commander, thanks.

    You gave me a laugh, on a really lousy, stinkin' day. (Lindsay Graham - Hah.)

    Maybe we should send our "presidents in training" abroad more often.

    Shootin' hoops with the troops seems to work.

  4. Anonymous9:52 PM

    Hey, Jeff: Kudos to the Navy. The Navy captain who is the judge at the Gitmo trial ruled that torture evidence is inadmissible. Even though our leaders including all the a** kidding generals think anything the president and his goons say is right, it is good to know that there are many still in the service who have traditional American values and who believe we shouldn't torture, imprison without hearings, and kidnap people. Anchors Away my boy!

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. The Event Horizon has some unique properties. As a hunk of matter, a spaceship, or a politician approach the Event Horizon, time slows. Radio-active decay is less vigorous, Tang(tm) takes longer and longer to drink, and the ability to affect events beyond the Event Horizon diminishes.

    As November approaches, the isotopes in possession of the Iranians capable of making a nuke vanish below a critical mass in any geometry. As the election nears, a planet in desperate need of a carbon diet might finally see the faint beginnings of change and escape velocity from the Event Horizon might finally be reached.

    As the Event Horizon nears, we can only hope that those who have served the Nation and the national interest so poorly will fall beyond the ability to influence future events.

  7. wkmaier9:03 AM

    Great recap Jeff.

    My only quibble: Lucifer is in no way more devious than The Turd or The Dick.

  8. WK,

    But Lucifer has been around longer. Respect for your elders, and all that. ;-)

  9. The Reality Kid10:47 AM

    A brilliant (and brilliantly sarcastic) summary. As Homer Simpson might say:

    "It's funny because it's true."

    One quibble: I do wish that we could retrieve, from the memory hole, the quintessential fact that, in compliance with UN Security Council Resolution 1441, Iraq had "disarmed" and, further, proved that it had disarmed by its comprehensive filing in December, 2002.

    This is the key and quintessential piece of the chronology, establishing not only the illegality of the invasion, but the illegitimacy of Bush's justification even if we take it at face value.

    Saddam actually proved the negative, but the U.S. attacked anyway.

  10. Anonymous11:12 AM

    Thanks. Wonderful summary.

  11. Anonymous11:34 AM

    from Awake!... hey Jeff, what do you make of this- 2 days ago, Sunday CNN was heavily into reporting that the Prime Minister of England, Gordon Brown, was on his way to Israel to demand that they withdraw from their (Jewish) settlements... then, yesterday, on the BBC, there was scarcely a word about these demands, and instead his rhetoric was about Iran must conform to the int'l. blah blah blah... ?

    also- i met a man from Iran and he told me that at a critical time, the elder Bush withheld support troops, (that he had promised), which resulted in a bloodbath... maybe Petraeus has a similar strategy handing out weapons to Sunni, because as long as you keep those people fighting each other, their position weakens, agree?

  12. Awake,

    I think I hear the sound of the men working on the Cheney Gang, a sound like the cracking of tibia.


  13. On July 9, the fine foreign policy analyst Robert Dreyfuss wrote: "In my opinion, progressives ought to worry a lot more about the real wars we're fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, not the one we aren't going to have with Iran."

    He of all people should know that you can never let your guard down with Bush & Co.

  14. The biggest asset the Racketeers have is a willfully ignorant populace. Keeep sounding the Collision Alarm. Lucifer I can deal with. It's His Earth Bound Servants that I worry about.

  15. Commander,

    The "horizon" thing. Isn't the "horizon" the thing you always can see, but never get to?

    to anon: (on Gordon Brown and the Settlements)

    There is a story on Al Jazeera about Brown. His remarks were made in an appearance at the Knesset. He did speak about the Settlements being a roadblock, in trying to find some peaceful solution to the ongoing Israeli/Palestinian conflict. He made those remarks along with the usual about Iran giving up nuclear capabilities. (Also written about in Ha'aretz.)

    Where I found -- on their ticker, that Obama is now in Israel.

    Talk about not knowing whether you are coming or going.

    Wind is picking up in Houston. Surf's probably up in Galveston.

    Hurricane heading in, just down the coast. Watch is up as far as Brazoria/Matagorda County.

    Got some beer. Got some wine. Got some books. Got batteries. Got candles.

    Nothing more I can do.

  16. Russ,

    Ah, yes, old "use Iraq as an aircraft carrier" Dreyfuss. Dangerous dude.


    Yes, Lucifer is the deception group, the Cheney Gang is the main body.


    That's exactly the kind of horizon I fear Iraq will turn into.

  17. John Rees1:59 AM

    Hey Jeff,
    A picture of SSGT Joe Cleveland, USMC is on this youtube link:

    You've read the Audacity of Hope. You're a Candide fan. So you're ready for l'audace and you think Michelle ought to wear the Hope Diamond to Oprah's inauguration.
    So here's your quiz: at what military battle did the Hope Diamond play a significant role?

    AOCS 1980

    John Rees

  18. No, I suppose "Oil Apocalypse," if it happens, won't start with Iran. Here's an article that mentions more likely candidates (Pakistan being most likely, as I believe you've suggested in the past). I don't pay a lot of attention to Big Media, but I have the impression that the story of the Third World being priced out of the energy markets has been mostly ignored. A shame, because I think this is where we're most likely to see the flashpoints that lead to war.

    My own bet for the first shot in the next "big one" would be, believe it or not, the U.S. vs. Mexico. I'm thinking that when Mexico ceases its oil exports (Google "Cantarell depletion" for the skinny) in a (very) few years, then I think the gloves might come off. I'm thinking that our friendly "annexation" of Canada (or Alberta, anyway) will be comparatively nonviolent. Hope so, anyway.

    And I hope you're right about not crossing the "Event Horizon" in Iraq. I just packed a friend off to Al-Asad, and I'm hoping I get to see her again one of these days.

  19. John,

    Last time I saw Joe was at a Padres game in '81. Battle of Valmy?


    Good note on TW getting priced out of the energy market. Thanks.

    You just reminded me, I haven't heard from my old ATP who shipped out to Baghdad a few months ago.


  20. Commander,

    Have a good "vacation."

    Looks like you may have a new canine friend.

    If you are still reading, on your break, there is an interesting article in The Asia Times this morning, by Gareth Porter.

    He references, among other things, an op-ed, (which I missed) in the NY Times, by Admiral Fallon. In his op-ed, Admiral Fallon advocates for "permanent military presence" in Iraq.

    My take, on his opinion, (Porter's) is that the Maliki government, and Sistani, have already squeezed the "independence" toothpaste out of the tube.

    Of course, our government, thinks it has veto power over anything the Iraqis want.

    Interesting article.

  21. Hi Jeff. Redroach here.

    Good stuff on this link.

  22. EL,

    Yes, that Porter piece is excellent.


    I've encountered that guy before. I recommend being very hesitant to grant him a sympathetic ear.


  23. ozebloke10:18 PM

    Dear Jeff

    The tiniest of quibble...

    I'm pretty sure it's Bob Gates - not Bill Gates: Secretary of Defense?

    We never want to give the idiots even the slightest reason to poke a hole in your otherwise typically cogent analysis.

    In thanks and admiration as always


  24. Heh,

    It appears everyone is as blind to Gates's first name as I am.

  25. Well, they both are small sneaky types........

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