Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Dog Ate My Exit Timeline

Those poor Iraqi kids. Who’s going to keep them supplied with new soccer balls after we leave? Will the poor things have to go back to eating Iraqi food after all the Hershey bars run out? (Cue Sally Struthers). And what will happen to all those adorable puppies American G.I.s adopted as pets that get left behind? (Cue Sarah McLachlan.)
The entire planet knows Obama’s “fulfilled promise” to end the U.S. combat mission was an exercise in sleight-of-tongue Neo-speak, and all signs indicate that the December 2011 status of forces agreement (SOFA) deadline by which all U.S. troops are supposed to leave Iraq has already gone the way of the pay phone.
The desensitizing phase of the propaganda offensive designed to turn the citizenry apathetic to the warmongery’s next escapade has been in effect for some time. It was clear back in February 2009, long after the SOFA exit deadline had been established, that Ray “Desert Ox” Odierno announced, via David Petraeus hagiographer Tom Ricks, his desire to see 30,000 to 35,000 troops remain in Iraq until 2014 or 2015. More recently, Odie has suggested that theU.N. establish a new Iraq occupation mandate once the SOFA expires, one that will be supported by the same personnel that supported the old U.N. occupation mandate, i.e., U.S. troops. Odie didn’t mention the part about the U.S. having to provide the troops. It must have slipped his mind.
Lapdog-of-war Ryan Crocker, former U.S. ambassador to Iraq, has been yodeling onto the echo chamber of late about why we need to prolong our stay in Iraq and why we can. In a recent New York Times “news analysis” piece, Crocker told emerging star of the Long War steno pool Tim Arango that even as the SOFA deadline was negotiated, plans were in place to renegotiate it.
“For a very long period of time we’re going to be on the ground, even if it’s solely in support of its U.S. weapons systems,” Crocker told Arango. That way talks Crocker apparently all the time – a reflecting of it is how convoluted the pretzel logic he for his Pentarch* pals makes about why more war need we.
The weapons systems Crocker refers to aren’t required to keep militants, insurgents, and the local al-Qaeda trademark violators under control. According to a Pentagon press release reproduced by Liz Sly in the Los Angeles Times, “commanders” say “they are reasonably confident in the Iraqi security forces’ ability to keep order while facing insurgents or other internal threats.” But when it comes to Iraq’s capacity to protect itself against attacks from other nations, Lt. Gen. Michael Barbero, commander of the U.S. military training program in Iraq, says it is “inconceivable” that the Iraqi army will be able to stand alone by the end of 2011.
The “defend Iraq from its neighbors” argument is as specious as the rest of the “buy our war” hucksterism we’ve heard since Shock and Awe blew back in our national face. It’s inconceivable that any country, after having watched the best-trained, best-equipped, best-paid, best-fed, best-publicized, best-entertained armed force in the history of humanity get its turrets blown off for seven years, would be in any rush to embark on a comparable escapade.
If a war wonk like the hideous Max Boot tells you things will work out differently when a Muslim country invades Iraq, he’s trying to get his mitts on something you keep in your pants. No matter which of its neighbors might invade it, Iraq possesses at least one major religious and/or ethnic faction that will hate the new occupiers as much as they hated us, and thanks to “King David” Petraeus, every faction is armed to the canines because he bribed them all not to shoot each other by giving them all guns.
So if any of Iraq’s Sunni neighbors decide to invade them, they’ll be up to their ammo belts in Mahdi Army and Badr Brigade. If the Persian Shi’ite Iranians invade, they’ll be swarmed by more Sons of Iraq, Sahwas, Concerned Local Citizens, Very Worried Iraqis, Awakening Movers, and other Sunni militiamen than you can sheikh a stick at. If the Turks decide to attack the Kurds in northern Iraq, then… Oh, wait; they’ve already done that. In fact the Kurds in Iraq (specifically the Kurdish Workers Party) and the Turks have been in an open war with each other since 1984. We’ve barely noticed that conflict, despite having been involved in at least three (depending how you count them) Iraq wars in that time frame, one on Iraq’s side (the Iran-Iraq War) and the others – Operations Desert Shield, Desert Storm, Desert Sword, Desert Saber, Granby, Daquet, Locust, Friction, Southern Watch, Northern Watch, Iraqi Freedom, Enduring Freedom, Infinite Justice, New Dawn, Telec, Falconer, and the rest – against Iraq.
Even if one of Iraq’s neighbors were crazy enough to want to prove it’s as crazy as we are, it couldn’t. The nations in that region simply don’t possess the kind of operational reach or strategic depth it takes to move into and occupy a country as large as Iraq for any length of time. Our Mesopotamian Mistake has nearly broken us in half economically. Imagine what a similar shenanigan would to a pismire like Syria.
That’s where arguments that the absence of U.S. military power in West Asia will lead to a widespread regional war break down. The powers in that region, to use the term “powers” generously, can’t support a war that big, no matter how many killer gizmos we sell them. Sure, there might be a temporary uptick in border skirmishing if we vacate the subcontinent, but that sort of fighting has been going on in the Muslim world since Lawrence of Arabia created the camel cavalry back in World War I.
Liz Sly tells us, “The gravest concern may be Iraq’s inability to defend its airspace.” Fortunately for Iraq, we’ve agreed to sell them 18 shiny new F-16 fighter jets for that purpose. Alas, the poor dumb Iraqi pilots won’t be able to fly the pretty things by themselves for a time so long we’re not sure just how long a time it will be. “I would say we’re five years into a 10-15 year program,” says Brig. Gen. Scott Hanson, who heads the U.S. mission in charge of training the Iraqi air force. “We’re on a glide path, but we’re not in the final stages of approach,” Brigadier Scotty adds.
What a steaming pile of wild-blue balderdash.
Conventional combat air power, specifically aerial bombing, seldom rises in significance above the tactical level of war. It is merely, to borrow from Clausewitz, a continuation of terrorism by vertical means. Once we move into the nuclear arena, post-Clausewitzian paradigms and other art-of-war mumbo jumbo kicks in and air power becomes a predominant strategic factor.
But arcane nuclear warfare theories lose relevance when you consider that only one country in the region we’re talking about is capable of delivering a nuclear air strike, and I’d just love to see Charles Krauthammer go on Fox News and explain that we need a permanent military presence in the Middle East to protect all the Muslim countries from Israel.
*Pentarchs are the oligarchs of the Pentarchy, that cabal of sandbox generals,bathtub admiralsbeltway banditsAIPAC ratsWarlord FauntleroysNew American CenturionsLong War legislatorsDr. StrangelovesG.I. Joe Six-Packs,Pavlov’s dogs of war, and other patriotic psychopaths whose narrow self interests and well-funded efforts have made the long dreamed-of permanent American security state a reality.
Originally posted @ Antiwar.com.


  1. I think Bob Herbert nails it, in his column.

    If the Obama administration thinks war is a "manageable situation" we are all screwed.


    Used to be the objective was to win, declare victory and go home. Now, it's to manage the thing, forever, and ever, and ever.

  2. Yeah. He's treating them like chronic problems.

  3. How comforting to know that what we have in the White House ...... is not a leader.... but a manager.

    Unfortunately, when it comes to "down-sizing" .... "managers" are usually the first to go.

    I suspect there may be some "down-sizing" come 2012.

  4. I wonder how much slack will our government give the 'sovereign' government of Iraq? I cannot believe that our government will tolerate an Iraqi government that might seek warmer politcal/economic ties with Iran. We will be there far longer than most people like to admit.

  5. What is the point of having a site if you send people to another website to read the rest of your thoughts?

  6. We're "five years into a 10-15 year program" of turning out crack Iraqi legions, but at the same time we're two years into a (probably) 5-10 year slide into total economic collapse. The lowest credible estimate of the debt-to-GDP ratio is 130% (officially it's 90%, but that's because they leave out Fannie and Freddie and all the bad bank debt that American taxpayers are the proud new owners of). It was recently suggested by economists that a debt-to-GDP ratio of 90% is a tipping point for a nation's slide into negative growth and the inability to service its debt.

    That may or may not be correct, but when you consider that our debt-to-GDP ratio might in reality be as high as 700% (just add in all the unfunded liabilities. Go on, I dare you) then I would suggest that, economic illiterate though I might be, we're past the point of no return from wherever it is that we're going (not sure, but I don't think it's Candy Land).

    So where is the money going to come from to pay for the Pentarchy's fun and games? Robert Gates recently hinted that he might have a clue, with his asinine comments about the national debt being a security threat (you just now noticed?).

    Instead of worrying about how the gravy train is going to be kept rolling, Gates might ask himself how America is going to repatriate all its sons and daughters from the far-flung outposts of its empire. "Supporting the troops," in my book, comes down to getting them the hell home while the country still has the economic wherewithal to transport troops and equipment. Freedom isn't free, and neither is airfare.

  7. We invaded Iraq. We displaced about 4.5 million people as Iraqi refugees. We destroyed cities. We looted museums of antiquities. We left a mess.

    Brian Wingfield, in Forbes.... tells us why.... as the troops leave.... the oil companies move in.

    I guess.... 'mission accomplished.'


    Obama salutes Bush.... redecorates the Oval office, and life goes on..... with 'page turning.' Nobody's accountable. Nobody's at fault.

    This is all pretty sick.

  8. Well sir, you went and did it again. Yes sir, another excellent look at the Iraq mess. Or as some call it the "Mess O' Potamia and what a big damn mess we have made of that poor country.
    What was it all for? I have been asked that by some close family members and more than a few friends lately. I just tell them the truth, the wars of choice in Iraq and Afghanistan were solely for the obscene profits for the war industries, the big oil conglomerates, and the "too big to fail" banksters. Just as old Smedley Butler said back in the 1930's War IS a racket. And it pays very well for the big businesses.
    Too bad for the troops who died and were severely wounded, physical and psychologically, for nothing else.
    Just like in Vietnam, these wars were not to make anything but profits. America is in no way any safer for these idiotic wars of choice. Our economy, do we still have one?, is toast at best.
    Good question, where will the money come from to pay off the war debts? Will China buy more nearly worthless treasury bonds from old "helicopter" Ben?
    Too many unanswered questions. Hell, too many questions that have not yet been asked about these damn fool wars. Like how do we pay to care for the severely wounded troops who will require a life time of medical care? So many things we had best start to ask, let alone answer.
    Just an old former Marine/Vietnam vet wondering out loud as it were.
    Thanks for your time Jeff

  9. Good to hear from you, Charlie. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

  10. The crazy talk gets crazier:

    Krugman: This Is 1938 All Over Again, And We Need Something Like WWII To Save Us

    I guess he thinks war (or a big, capital-intensive project on the scale of a war) will stimulate us some economic growth. Since there is no way to finance another war except through taking on more debt, then WWII (III?) had better provide a hell of a stimulus. We've got two wars now, and the economy can't grow fast enough to service the debt we've already rung up.

    He may get his wish, at the rate things are going:

    Israel's Tira Urges IDF Attack Iran Before U.S. Mid-Term Elections

    Come on, Obama, it's not too late to lead. An executive order putting a moratorium on U.S. aid to Israel, even on a temporary basis, would go a long way towards cooling Israeli hostility towards their neighbors (and if there is one thing Israel could use right now, it's a cold shower).