2006-06-27

Redeploying from Iraq is the Consensus

In the last year the static, alarming situation in Iraq has convinced a majority of Americans that redeploying troops out of the country is good policy. Who would expect them to feel differently when almost every indicator we measure shows a worsening of conditions? Empirically, we've been losing this war for quite a while. Electricity, sewage and water services are all worse than they were before the war. Security problems are rampant, from kidnappings of American soldiers to marketplace and mosque car-bombs, and the pace has been increasing. The ballyhooed security lockdown of Baghdad that's been instituted since the permanent government took over hasn't made a noticeable difference in the rate or seriousness of violence.

As an aside, try to imagine living with just a few hours of scheduled power outage a day. It would be personally infuriating, and debilitating to society. Imagine if the trash and sewage weren't easy to deal with in daily life. Even for Iraqis, who are used to more adverse conditions in the form of excesses of executive power under their former Dictatorship, the environment today is one that beats people down. People are driven over the edge, and the violence increases. Innocents die, and their kin feel rage in their blood. Is there any wonder that violence has started to take hold? It is a positive feedback loop, and such patterns are nearly impossible to abrogate.

This is why our invasion was always going to be a ridiculously costly step to address a minimal threat. It was disproportional in the extreme, given that Iraq posed no threat to America, and without an exit strategy or even post-war plan for the country. In fact, Bush recited his part in Bin Laden's playbook. In bin Laden's mind, move over Reagan, because it was bin Laden's war of attrition in a foreign land that bankrupted the USSR, and it is this same strategy which he is executing against us in Iraq.

As part of the "bleed-until-bankruptcy plan," bin Laden cited a British estimate that it cost al Qaeda about $500,000 to carry out the attacks of September 11, 2001, an amount that he said paled in comparison with the costs incurred by the United States.

"Every dollar of al Qaeda defeated a million dollars, by the permission of Allah, besides the loss of a huge number of jobs," he said. "As for the economic deficit, it has reached record astronomical numbers estimated to total more than a trillion dollars."
A shockingly good point, don't you think? This is the essence of asymmetrical warfare, with the bungling of an incompetent Commander in Chief multiplying the damage by taking the bait.

All of this "irresponsible" pessimism sets the scene for the "Iraq Debate" in the U.S. Congress. We've spent the last few weeks hearing about how any withdrawal of troops would be a shameful, cowardly act which would doom the Iraqi people to the whims of a terrorist government. In fact, Cheney delivered the cutthroat political attack, as usual:
They believe they can in fact force us to quit, that ultimately we'll get tired of the fight, that we don't have the stomach for a long, tough battle, and that we'll pack it in and go home. If we were to do that, it would be devastating from the standpoint of the global war on terror.
The above, coupled with the facts that we are building permanent bases and that the President himself has told us that the withdrawal of troops from Iraq would be for "future Presidents to decide," sends a clear message about the Administration's plan for Iraq. We're in it for the long haul, and withdrawal is failure. More of the Same is their strategy.

In the meantime, the highly praised Iraqi Prime Minister has been busily putting together a National Reconciliation Plan to bring the country together. Unfortunately for Republican rhetoric in the United States, Prime Minister Maliki's plan involves setting a timetable for the phased withdrawal of U.S. Troops. Concomitantly, General Casey has been working on a plan for the substantial withdrawal of troops before October, 2006.

So, the the Democrats want a timetable, the Iraqis want a timetable, the Generals on the ground want a timetable, and the American people want a timetable. So the Democrats are leading this debate, right? So says the future Speaker Pelosi:
"“Republicans have repeatedly and loudly rejected these [Democratic] ideas, using military, diplomatic and national-security arguments that have now been exposed as false. Republicans are determined to reject any Democratic ideas, simply because they come from Democrats, and yet the Bush administration is proceeding with planning reductions in our military presence in Iraq immediately before the midterm elections," Pelosi said in a statement. "“When it comes to Iraq, the only schedule that matters to Republicans is the U.S. election schedule."
So why is it that the Administration would be so two-faced? Perhaps it has something to do with the dire political situation the Republicans find themselves in? For clarity, add a dash of this quote from The Hill:
"The withdrawal of 20,000-40,000 U.S. troops from Iraq this fall would greatly help Republican chances in the November election," Rep. Mark Souder (R-Ind.)
We now see the reality behind the "conditions based draw-down" that the President ostensibly supports. There is no plan for victory, there is only More of the Same taking us ultimately to a politically motivated timetable designed to save the Republican's bacon. This is cynicism and cowardice of the worst degree that the Bush Administration is advancing. To use the military so transparently, for so many years to meet political goals is disgusting.

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