Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Iraq: Those Poor Kids

UPI Pentagon correspondent Pamela Hess of has been making the cable news rounds lately, and is telling some compelling stories about her experiences in Iraq. Her interview on C-SPAN in early March of this year is the most moving eyewitness accounts of "conditions on the ground" you're likely to see. It was almost enough to convince me that we should "stay the course" in Iraq.


Saving the Course

Hess related her experiences of U.S. troops doing their utmost to provide security to that segment of the Iraqi population that just wants to get on with living a normal life. Some of her anecdotes are heart wrenching, especially the one about the poor Iraqi kid who got shot in the face four times by bandits. One is tempted to suspect that she's acting as an administration shill, but I don't think that's the case. We've seen plenty of Rovewellian phonies making crafted appeals to emotion. Hess's emotion is genuine. But there's a problem with making decisions about wars based on emotion.

In her C-SPAN interview, Hess made the point that the Iraq war isn't about U.S. national security, and I agree with her. The administration's bunker mentality bunk about how "they" will follow us "here" if we withdraw from Iraq is just a bunch of boo noise. Al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia won't take over Iraq, and neither will Iran or Syria.

As to the threat of a regional war breaking out in the Middle East, well, that's bunker bunk too. None of the countries in that part of the world have militaries capable of sustaining prolonged, high intensity conflicts. At worst, we might see one or two border skirmishes, and if those idiots want to skirmish along their borders, let them. There's no need for us to step in the middle of those kinds of pillow fights.

So what the hell are we doing in Iraq?

Saving Face, Saving Grace, Saving Dick and Dubya's Big Oil Cronies

If we're trying to spare ourselves the embarrassment of the world's "best-trained, best-equipped" armed force in the world having its brass handed to it by a relative handful of sand gomers armed with popguns and Radio Shack technology, we're too late.

A year or so ago, I wrote an article that said the only valid reason to stay the course in Iraq was that we owed the Iraqi people something for having broken all their pottery, which is more or less what UPI's Hess espouses, but that excuse is wearing thinner than the knot in Karl Rove's tie. It's all starting to sound like one of those Catholic charity commercials about "those poor kids" in Africa with swollen bellies and flies in their eyes.

At this point, I'm a lot more concerned about those poor American kids coming home with their limbs blown off and their eyes shot out, and the ones who don't come home alive.

And what do their sacrifices serve? They line the pockets of Dick and Dubya's big oil buddies who want to keep a chokehold on the global energy market, even as young Mr. Bush exhorts us to cure our addiction to foreign oil.

Now, that's something to cry about.


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


  1. Anonymous5:20 PM


    The idea that has been promulgated by a lot of people both in and out of government that if we leave Iraq that this mixture of civil, religious and tribal warfare will spread throughout the Middle East really needs to be carefully reexamined.

    As a general rule civil wars do not spread abroad. Instead they tend to invite other nations to intrude in the civil war on one side or the other for a variety of reasons related to their own self interest. Lebanon seems to be a fairly good modern example of this sort of behavior with the governments of Israel, Syria, Iran, France and the United States all being players in that arena to varying degrees since at least 1958. It would be difficult to make a case that Lebanon's civil war has really spread abroad during that period. In many ways the situation in Lebanon resembles that of Iraq but without the petroleum component.

    The Israeli occupation of Lebanon resulted in the same sort of insurgency problems that we now face as an occupier of Iraq. The IDF in Lebanon sustained the same sort of low level but steady casualty rates that we are now suffering in Iraq. Unlike Israel we don't have to be concerned with Hezbollah lobbing 122mm mortar rounds or a variety of unguided short range rockets over the border. Much as I think we need to defend and control our borders for a number of other reasons I don't think we have to worry about Hezbollah digging in along the Rio Grande.

    While it might make some strategic sense to leave a much smaller force based either in the Kurdish area of northern Iraq or in the Basra/Kuwait area the current concept of throwing everything but the kitchen sink into Baghdad seems unlikely to produce the results that will allow us to disengage from Iraq. In fact quite the opposite. The "surge" concept will only work as long as you continue to heavily garrison the area of Baghdad. Once you begin to reduce your presence there the exact same problems will begin all over again. In fact I would not be at all surprised to see the problems of Baghdad resurface elsewhere in Iraq. There is already some evidence of this as General Petraeus has already been forced to shift at least one of his brigades elsewhere to respond to a growing insurgency efforts outside of Baghdad.

    Iraq has to stand (or fall) on its own two feet. They have been given more than enough opportunity to take advantage of the removal of Saddam's regime. It is well past time for the United States to cut its losses and begin to rebuild our military for the purpose it was originally intended. That being to protect and defend the interests of this country not Dick's extremely wealthy cronies in the oil business or "Dubya's" very dubious legacy.

  2. Once those PSAs get rammed through to the oil companies' satisfaction, maybe then it will be permitted to speak of at least a partial troop withdrawal. But I ain't holdin' my breath.

    That's the corner CheneyCorp. is really waiting to turn. After that, they'll stay the course of protecting their own interests, while also stringing things along and leaving the messy "blame thing" part to the next President.

    I'd say we're about a year away from the stab-in-the-back PR offensive about how the Dems lost the war.

  3. BR,

    Like I say, I'm skeptical about the "spreading war" theory.


    Yeah, the Dems will get blamed, all right.

  4. Anonymous12:13 PM


    I have no doubt that you are correct about the impending Republican PR offensive. I'm quite sure that Limbaugh, Hannity and the dozens of other shills for the Grand Old Party, who masquerade as Conservatives, already have at least their first drafts of those particular talking points and scripts close at hand.

    However, I also believe that a close examination of which oil related interests contribute to the movers and shakers within the leadership of the Democrats is in order. I note that Pelosi's largest contributor is Occidental Petroleum. The oil lobby is much too wealthy and cunning to just buy assets on just one side of the political isle. They hedge their bets and buy whom they need among both Republicans and Democrats to insure that no matter who is in the WH or which party controls the Congress that they get the legislation that they want hammered through.

    Putting the Democrats in charge of policy may alter matters on the surface but if you probe beyond the empty promises and false rhetoric what you usually find is that the major policies continue largely unabated. The only major difference is that we will have exchanged one team of political thieves for another.

    The country is run by and for a very small group of extremely wealthy people and the business interests that provide that wealth. The rest of us are there merely to provide the taxes and warm bodies that are required to make the system work for them. The truly sad thing is that most Americans live their entire lives without ever managing to figure out what a con game is being run inside the Washington Beltway. They can tell you in great detail about the status of soap operas, who is up or down on American Idol or a dizzying amount of sports trivia but they really never take the time to examine what their own government is really doing --- or not doing.

    Bread and the circuses. It worked for the Romans too. My recollection is that ultimately it didn't end all that well for the civus Romanus.