Friday, June 13, 2014

40 Miles West Of Baghdad

The best lack all conviction, while the worst  
Are full of passionate intensity.   
--Yeats, The Second Coming

Any excuse for Yeats. But let's move on.

How often do we get to label Joe Biden as "prescient"?  Doesn't the partitioning of Iraq now seem downright wise (though a tad tainted with imperialist hubris)?  Would that ANY of this mess depended on USAmerican actions or ideas!

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki grand design to eliminate Iraqi Sunnis from any role in government, a fallow field for ancient seeds that was largely fueled by the disbanding of Sadam Hussein's military (a very sarcastic tip of the hat to L. Paul Bremer), and the astounding arrogance and ignorance of the Bush administration.

Long schooled in the long view, Arab Shiites, Arab Sunnis, and the northern Kurds (to mix sects and ethnicities) in the region must have snickered into their famous head gear, beards, and shiny western suits as they saw the foundation laid for the perfect storm that now threatens, in the form of a revolutionized Al-Qaeda "offshoot" ISIS (DAESH in Arabic), first the "stability" and lives of Iraqi citizens, and second, the "stability" of the entire region.

Some Chicken Littles have the sky continuing to lower over the First World, as well, with frequent references to oil prices.

President Obama, Secretary of State Kerry, and those responsible leaders in Congress are facing the impossible issue of what-to-do-now in the sucking vacuum of an illegal war marked by the profound loss of USAmerican treasure, and the current President's political premises and promises regarding the Iraq war. You remember, the one that didn't have any Al-Qaeda element, much less WMDs, in evidence.

We left with Bush' slogan ringing in our ears -- which always reduces to that tired "give a man a fish, feed him for a day;  Pretend to train his army, and run, run, run away."  Which always has a syncopated background track cover of those grabby, raspy McCain lyrics:  "Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb... Iran."

Now that the well-trained Iraqi troops have stripped off their uniforms, literally, and fled before what appeared to be, in Mosul, a smaller and weaker force, knowing that those 1,000 or so ISIS troops their 10,000+ well-equipped, crack-trained fighting force faced were but the tip of a desert iceberg.

Mosul, Tikrit, Fallujah...

This is "now."

Remember way back when?  Remember how police and army recruitment centers were prime targets for bombs, bombers, shoot- 'em-ups?  In our short view, a desperate ploy to derail the democratization of a country long split at least three ways -- three ways too complicated for USAmerican country builders to fathom.  In the regional long view, a snickering foreshadowing of an interminable drama.

The Obama administration cannot indulge in laying blame at the feet of Bush, Cheney, Wolfowitz, Perle and their traitorous deceptions, cannot curl up in a mass fetal position at the thought of hoping Syria's Bashar al-Assad remains in despotic power, and imagining Iran's smirk rising above the horizon's mess like a festive Cheshire Cat.  I hear whispers about Jordan, and shouts from the ISIS leadership that "slaughtering" Abdullah II is on the To-Do List.

But I, who am nobody, can indulge.

From one of Daily Kos' cobbled posts (that I've now lost) --

 Former Ambassador to Croatia Peter Galbraith is claiming President George W. Bush was unaware that there were two major sects of Islam just two months before the President ordered troops to invade Iraq, RAW STORY has learned. In his new book, The End of Iraq: How American Incompetence Created A War Without End, Galbraith, the son of the late economist John Kenneth Galbraith, claims that American leadership knew very little about the nature of Iraqi society and the problems it would face after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein.
A year after his “Axis of Evil” speech before the U.S. Congress, President Bush met with three Iraqi Americans, one of whom became postwar Iraq’s first representative to the United States. The three described what they thought would be the political situation after the fall of Saddam Hussein. During their conversation with the President, Galbraith claims, it became apparent to them that Bush was unfamiliar with the distinction between Sunnis and Shiites. Galbraith reports that the three of them spent some time explaining to Bush that there are two different sects in Islam–to which the President allegedly responded, “I thought the Iraqis were Muslims!”

From a cache of  The Heretik now defunct blog archive for August 2006, the chilling --

From the Known Unknowns Department: “While I don’t doubt the central thesis that Bush is not particularly intellectually curious, it’s almost inconceivable that anyone—let alone a man whose father was CIA Director, Vice President, and President—would not at least be aware of something so basic.” So we are left now in the conundrum. Bush did not know and can plead a certain ignorance which is no defense for what now goes on in Iraq. Or he did know and went ahead anyway with no clue of the consequences. The idiot of the past meets the fool of the future. So we slouch toward Baghdad.
Cheney was rife with casting USAmerican troops as long-awaited, oh-so-welcome liberators, and glossed religious and ethnic sectarianism as the tried-and-true propaganda of good versus evil.  Delving further into that heart thief's verbiage might engender a myocardial infarction of mine own. Let's just keep it simple:

My belief is we will, in fact, be greeted as liberators. . . . I think it will go relatively quickly, . . . [in] weeks rather than months. – Cheney, Meet the Press, September 14, 2003

Wolfowitz.  I hate nausea and vomiting more than the prospect of squeezing chest pains often described as what one might experience should an elephant kneel upon one's rib cage.  Wolfowitz brings up PTSD images of Pepto-Bismol pink pachyderms upchucking via every unduly hairy orifice onto my pristine self.  I'll pass.

Instead, gird your gastrointestinal tract for Peter Oborne's five-part documentary from 2006, one of the best I've seen.  It bears a new hearing, a new look, given that ISIS (or ISIF?) is, at last report, about 40 miles west of Baghdad, whose most western enclave is friendly to them, being largely the home of Sunni Iraqis. Baghdad residents of sufficient wealth wasted no time in becoming, not a merrily mixed city of diverse hatchet-buriers, but savvy wall-builders.  The Shia majority population is arming, looking to show the beleaguered retreating state army how "it" is done.  The Kurds, looking down from the north, must feel like bat-wielding sugar junkies in a plain of unattended piñatas. Sure, the gas masks detract from that frivolous depiction, but can you blame them?

Peter Oborne, political editor of the Spectator, reports on the West's exit strategy for Iraq. He believes the invasion of Iraq is proving to be the greatest foreign policy failure since Munich. Oborne argues that the plan to transform Iraq into a unified liberal democracy, a beacon of hope in the Middle East, is pure fantasy. Reporting on location with US troops in Sadr City, and through interviews with leading figures in Britain and the US, Oborne argues that the coalition and its forces on the ground are increasingly irrelevant in determining the future of Iraq - a future that's unlikely to be either unified, liberal or democratic.

We, of course, are saddened indeed by the events in Indochina. But these events, tragic as they are, portend neither the end of the world nor of America's leadership in the world.
Let me put it this way, if I might. Some tend to feel that if we do not succeed in everything everywhere, then we have succeeded in nothing anywhere. I reject categorically such polarized thinking. We can and we should help others to help themselves. But the fate of responsible men and women everywhere, in the final decision, rests in their own hands, not in ours.
-- President Gerald Ford, Tulane Graduation Address, April 23, 1975

 Special police will be required to undergo training on human rights and the meaning of the rule of law, Bush said. All nine Iraqi police academies, he said, will place added emphasis on personal and professional ethics. And U.S. battalions will partner with Iraqi special police units to provide mentoring, Bush said, as part of a program similar to one that succeeded with the Iraqi army.
"These U.S. forces will work with and train their Iraqi counterparts, helping them become more capable and professional, so they can serve and protect all the Iraqis without discrimination," Bush said.
Numbers of Iraqi border police, now at about 18,000, will be bolstered, Bush said, with the goal of having 28,000 border police trained and equipped by the end of the year. The border police will benefit from a new customs academy in Basra, Bush said, and will work with U.S. and coalition personnel, including experts from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
The president said efforts also will focus on increasing the numbers of trained local Iraqi police, now at about 80,000 officers. The goal, he said, is 135,000 trained and equipped local police. Local police will be teamed with experienced U.S. and international police officers, Bush said, focusing on nine key cities that have seen intense fighting with terrorists.
"And by strengthening the local Iraqi police in these cities, we'll help them earn the confidence of the local population," Bush said, "which will make it easier for local leaders and residents to accelerate reconstruction and rebuild their lives."
Bush acknowledged that training the Iraqi police hasn't always gone without a hitch. "Yet, we're making progress," he said.
"As we bring more Iraqi police and soldiers online in the months ahead," Bush said, "we will increasingly shift our focus from generating new Iraqi forces to preparing Iraqis to take primary responsibility for the security of their own country."
More than 35 Iraqi army battalions have assumed control of territory, the president said, including almost half of Baghdad province.
"And in the year ahead we will continue handing more territory to Iraqi forces, with the goal of having the Iraqis in control of more territory than the coalition by the end of 2006," Bush said.
-- DOD News Article, January 10, 2006

We're leaving behind a sovereign, stable and self-reliant Iraq with a representative government that was elected by its people. We're building a new partnership between our nations and we are ending a war not with a final battle but with a final march toward home. This is an extraordinary achievement... " 
– President Barack Obama, Fort Bragg, December 14, 2011

 So any action that we make take to provide assistance to Iraqi security forces has to be joined by a serious and sincere effort by Iraq's leaders to set aside sectarian differences, to promote stability and account for the legitimate interests of all of Iraq's communities, and to continue to build the capacity of an effective security force. We can't do it for them. And in the absence of this type of political effort, short-term military action -- including any assistance we might provide -- won't succeed.
So this should be a wake-up call. Iraq's leaders have to demonstrate a willingness to make hard decisions and compromises on behalf of the Iraqi people in order to bring the country together. In that effort, they will have the support of the United States and our friends and our allies.
Now, Iraq's neighbors also have some responsibilities to support this process. Nobody has an interest in seeing terrorists gain a foothold inside of Iraq. And nobody is going to benefit from seeing Iraq descend into chaos. So the United States will do our part, but understand that ultimately it's up to the Iraqis, as a sovereign nation, to solve their problems.   
-- President Barack Obama, WP transcript of oral remarks, 13 June 2014

 © 2013 L. Ryan

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