June 26, 2005
-- by Gary Boatwright
I started this off as a comment to Dave's post, but I got rather long winded, so I decided to write a dueling banjo post.
My position is that the only way to provide any semblance of a stable Iraq is to demand immediate withdrawal. In place of the pottery barn rule I am invoking the Humpty Dumpty rule. If you run over a piece of pottery or an egg with a tank, you can't put it back together again. Just as withdrawal was the only path to peace in Vietnam, withdrawal from Iraq is the only path to peace in the Middle East. Even if we demand an immediate withdrawal, a realistic withdrawal plan will not happen unless Bush is impeached or a Democratic President is elected in 2008.
Nobody thinks the United States can withdraw in less than two years. Three or four years is probably a more realistic time frame. Since Bush and the Theocons have no intention of ever withdrawing, a Democratic President in 2008 will have to start from scratch and develop a withdrawal plan. That will take at least a year and maybe more. Unless Bush is impeached the minimum length of Bush's Iraq war is already pretty much locked in at eight or nine years.
The longer Bush and the Theocons are allowed to completely ignore the basic question of what their goal is, aside from building Democracy, the more likely Bush's Iraq war will extend into double digits. Rumsfield identified the problem that the Theocons intentionally established. How do you accomplish a goal that has no measureable metrics? Bush and the Theocons have not been failing to plan, they have been planning to fail. They never had any intention of leaving Iraq. Their unstated goal has always been a garrison state similar to South Korea.
Now for my counter argument. The first step in rebutting any argument is examining the assumptions it is based on. Starting at the top and working down:
America leaving Iraq now means leaving the people and the oil there under the control of the Islamic Republic that arises after we leave.
As the recent election in Iran demonstrates, leaving in fifteen years may also mean leaving the people and the oil there under the control of the Islamic Republic that arises after we leave. Continuing an immoral and illegal war may very well make it more likely that Iraq reverts to an Islamic Republic. How does continuing the war make an Islamic Republic any less likely?
leaving Iraq now likely means ever-expanding terrorist war against us --
According to Peter Goss the Iraq war is a better training ground for terrorists than the Afghanistan war was. Since the Afghanistan war against Russia provided the training for Al Qaida, the logical conclusion is that staying in Iraq means an ever-expanding terrorist war against us.
If we leave, what happens to the people in Iraq? Think about what an Islamic Republic means for the women there. Then think about what that means to US. Leaving could mean that the people who are driving bombs into crowds are likely to end up running the country. We will leave behind millions of people who hate us (many hating us for leaving after starting what we started there), but who will then have the resources of an oil-rich nation at their disposal.
The only thing continuing Bush's Iraq war forestalls is a Sunni government. Recent reports indicate that a Shiite government is capable of being every bit as repressive as Saddam was. Millions of people already hate us enough to want to blow up every American in sight. Staying will only increase the resistance, multiply the number of terrorists and provide them a superior training ground in urban guerilla tactics. When they run out of Americans to practice their new skills on, either before we leave because we manage to harden the green zone or after we withdraw, they are likely to utilize their new skills on targets in Europe and America.
Unless we install a puppet government that does not have popular support, the Iraqi government is likely to join OPEC and sell their oil exactly the same way Saddam did. Whether Iraq sells their oil to China or to the United States, neither the total supply of oil or the price will be affected. The primary factors that affect the price of a barrel of oil are the total monthly supply that OPEC delivers and the total world wide demand for that oil. The price of oil gets indirect assistance from market manipulation by Big Oil of distribution channels and refinery capacity. Whether we leave now or in fifteen years is not likely to affect the equation and how the market will be affected is sheer speculation.
I suggest we take Bush out of our thoughts for a minute and think about where Iraq is today, and what needs to be done to bring real peace.
I have thought about it and concluded that nothing the United States can do will bring real peace to an area of the world that has not known real peace for centuries. How is a white Christian nation going to solve religious, tribal and cultural conflicts that preceed the Crusades?
I think that restoring order, if done right, would mean much LESS violence than we are seeing now. It means having enough people there to help a legitimate government start tracking down and jailing the people who are setting off bombs, which would enable Iraq to start building a real police and justice system.
The only way of restoring order in Iraq may very well be a Shiite tyrant just as bad as Saddam. Is there any evidence that in the next fifteen or twenty years we can resolve the deep seated differences that created Saddam in the first place? Iraq had a real police and justice system under Saddam. The next police and justice system is more likely than not going to be a mirror image of the one we dismantled.
We broke it, we HAVE TO fix it. Even if it means restoring a draft. It would certainly be nice if we could only draft the kids of people who voted FOR this war.
I recall someone saying "we have to deal with things as they are, not as we wish them to be." A draft is even more unpopular than Bush's Iraq war. The great thing about a voluntary military is that it makes it impossible to continue a war that the American people do not support. Hopefully, this will be a stark reminder to Congress and the President when some fool wants to invade another country thirty years from now, but I doubt it.
The most important false assumption that the war was based on is that the Iraqi people are less patriotic, less nationalistic and less religious than Americans. That has clearly proven false. The Iraqi people hate Americans for invading their country as much as we would hate Muslims for invading America. America has very shallow support from the factions that we are putting into power. For example, if we do not give the oil city of Kirkurk to the Kurds, they will prove to be very uncertain and troublesome allies. The inherent problem of conflict between Turkey and the Kurds has been ignored, but it will not go away. Until we start focusing on an exit strategy, the Kurdish problem will continue to be ignored.
That brings me back to the fundamental question of how America develops an exit strategy that leads to maximum social stability possible under current conditions. Without a demand for an immediate exit strategy Bush and the Theocons will continue their plan for Iraq to fail. It was never their intention to leave Iraq following a military victory. Only by focusing on the earliest possible exit strategy will anyone even begin to develop an exit strategy.
I believe that in Rumsfield's testimony to Congress he mentioned "six, eight or twelve years." Condi has mentioned a "generational war," which I presume means twenty or thirty years. Bush and the Theocons have no intention of implementing or even discussing an exit strategy. It is very clear that nothing and nobody can make them discuss an exit strategy.
Even after a U.S. exit strategy is agreed on, I don't think two years is a pragmatic time frame for complete withdrawal. it may not be realistically possible in less than three or four years even if Bush agreed to start planning for immediate withdrawal today. My prediction for the earliest possible date for final withdrawal of troops is 2012, which puts Bush's Iraq war at nine years minimum.
Demanding an immediate withdrawal is the only way to make sure that Bush's Iraq war does not exceed the fifteen years that America spent to absolutely no avail in Vietnam. Withdrawing from Vietnam resulted in devastating collateral consequences to the entire region of Southeast Asia. Ben Stein's analysis to the contrary, the actualy cause of those consequences was not American withdrawal, but the Vietnam war itself. The logic of Ben Stein's analysis is that the damage of a car wreck is caused by an out of control car finally coming to a halt.
Vietnam is better off than if we had continued bombing and killing North Vietnamese people. Iraq will be better off the sooner we stop killing Iraqi people and the sooner we stop training a whole new generation of terrorists.
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Tracked on June 27, 2005 1:14 AM
"We broke it, we HAVE TO fix it."
Two words: Abu Ghraib.
If that plays any part in our effort to "fix it," *as it already has,* it will never be fixed. It proves we are incapable of "fixing" Iraq. The fact that it was even possible shows we have no intention of ever fixing it.
How is winning such a war possible?
Only Barbarians (and those they vanquish) know.
Posted by: Brendan at June 27, 2005 2:12 AM
If we are ever to aicheve any good in Iraq it would only be by a series of improbable events.
The US must be seen as admitting the errors of its actions before any "good will" can be accepted as motivating its future actions.
The first steps that would have to be taken would imclude
Prosecuting people for war crimes this must include US political and military leadership as well as individuals who have in the name of "just obeying orders" have committed specific criminial acts, i.e. any and all who have mis- served in Gitmo, Abu Garbrib, participated in "extraordinary" renditions and other crimes.
The transfer of any military, and or, civilian US personel in Iraq to UN command with a French General and German adminitrator.
The odds of such actions are unfortunately extremely unlikely. So we and the rest of the world will be condemmed to continue this nightmare because we in the US would rather continue to protect the guilty rather then move forward in helping to reconstruct the disater that we have created.
Posted by: Anonymous at June 27, 2005 4:26 AM
The war in Iraq is supposed to be "generational" and the mythical War against Terror is intended to be never ending. In other words the neocon vision is a state of never-ending war and we're supposed to accept this. How Straussian!
In their twisted philosophy, war is a good thing because it unites the "masses" and keeps them under control. How sad to find ourselves in such a mess at the very moment when the Cold War was finally over and the world was beginning to unite for peace. Bush is no Augustus, the Roman emperor responsible for creating that hundred years or so of peace. Peace is just another resource he squandered.
Posted by: MJ at June 27, 2005 6:21 AM
"We broke it, we HAVE TO fix it."
Dave seems to have bought into the neocon idea of our omnipotence and good intentions. Success has always been dependent to a large degree on the Iraqis themselves. If even a significant minority of them don't want us to fix Iraq, then success is not an option. Here's the Economist:
Asked to estimate how many of the [Iraqi military] academy's students were motivated by a desire to help their country, Major Donald McArdle, the American in charge, reckoned 5%; his colleagues thought this too high.
Dave wants us to forget about Bush for a moment when thinking about this. But that was the liberal hawks' mistake. They thought the war would be conducted the way they wanted. Dave thinks the "fix" will be done the way he wants it. Neither is true.
The neocon idea of a fix is the Salvador option -- in other words, genocide.
Posted by: Cal at June 27, 2005 9:09 AM
Actually we largely agree. You're writing about not continuing Bush's war, but so am I. I'm writing about handing things over to the UN, and bringing in enough force to stabilize things. I agree completly that an exit strategy forces the Bush crowd to drop their plans for invading Iran, etc.
My fear is that momentum is growing to just leave now. Not an "exit strategy" but Right Now. Just leave. Fuck the Iraqis, etc. - just like how we left VietNam. AND THEN DEMOCRATS WILL BE BLAMED for the terrible consequences of Bush's actions.
I have a big disagreement: "The great thing about a voluntary military is that it makes it impossible to continue a war that the American people do not support." I think the opposite. I think a military composed of broad representation of the public prevents initiating military action EXCEPT with necesary. The support from the war now comes from people who have no stake of their own - no one at risk. AND the national security of the country is at risk because our smaller, volunteer military is all tied up and depleted.
I don't agree with the VietNam comparisons. I think we have a very different situation here. The North taking over stabilized the region - including Cambodia. The communist movement really gained very little from the win there. The risk in Iraq is that there will be civil war - killing hundreds of thousands, which WOULD be our fault - and a dramatic boost to the Islamic Fundamentalist movement. This would enslave the region and create a superpower rivaling the west.
Posted by: Dave Johnson at June 27, 2005 9:45 AM
We can be out of there in a matter of weeks if necessary, and I think it will come to that.
Posted by: Alice Marshall at June 27, 2005 11:05 AM
Possible draw down
Posted by: Alice Marshall at June 27, 2005 11:58 AM
Interesting link Alice. I'll add that to my military favorites. I don't see anything that suggests we can pull out in a matter of weeks, but maybe that's the only way we can pull out. The building consequences of a measured withdrawal might be too terrible to tolerate.
Just pack up the babies and grab the old ladies and everybody go. Damn the consequences, turn over the keys to the city and boggie.
Posted by: Gary Boatwright at June 27, 2005 2:24 PM
This clusterfuck was lost as soon as Bush was fucking inaugurated in 2001 continuing his record as the man with the fecal touch. GET THE FUCK OUT NOW! Then Impeach, convict, and send to the Hague for the war crimes tribunal all the the dipshit morons who thought they knew how to conquer the goddamned world.
Posted by: Vinnie at June 27, 2005 2:25 PM
Gary, don't ya mean boogie out of the boggy?
Posted by: Vinnie at June 27, 2005 2:27 PM
/The risk in Iraq is that there will be civil war - killing hundreds of thousands, which WOULD be our fault - and a dramatic boost to the Islamic Fundamentalist movement. This would enslave the region and create a superpower rivaling the west./
I'm not sure how much responsibility America would have for Iraqis killing other Iraqis. They seem to have been faily proficient at killing each other before we invaded in 2003.
I don't know how to assess responsibility for future events or predict the consequences of future events. Is a civil war likely if we leave? Probably.
Would a civil war be a bad thing? I don't know. The American Civil War was certainly a tragedy of historic proportions, but I don't know if it could have been avoided or if America would be a better country if it had been avoided.
Whether boosting the Islamic Fundamentalist religion would be a consequence of US withdrawal also seems speculative. If we stay will Islamic Fundamentalist religion be weakened? Who represents moderate Islamic religious beliefs? How does our military presence support them or increase their influence?
I'm not sure how you get to your vision of a MIddle East super-power that rivals the US. If Russia is no longer a serious rival to the west, I don't know how Iraq or even the entire region could be. China may be on the path to being an economic rival, and even a super-power rival. Can we stop either China or a united Middle East?
I just don't see how our influence on events can ever be that precise or predictable. You can always invent a parade of horribles for any global event. If that is the criteria for action, we will always be stuck with the status quo.
Posted by: Gary Boatwright at June 27, 2005 3:09 PM
China is further along than even we know from what I have been reading. Hadn't America and Canada and Mexico already signed an alliance to protect our continent? Seems China has quite a few allies now. I do wonder how that could have come about? We owe China how much now? Wait until China starts throwing their clout around.
Posted by: Nancy at June 27, 2005 6:46 PM
I hope the URL works - plutonium for breakfast anyone?
Posted by: Nancy at June 27, 2005 6:51 PM
I think the longer we stay in Iraq the greater, not the lesser the chance of civil war.We're nothing more then an irritant at this point in time.I think they maybe need some neutral parties in there to clean up the mess.Give them advice,whatever neutral parties do.No stake in the game is what I mean by that.We can't be that.We can't have any credibility left when it comes to helping them put a government togeher or figureing anything out that pertains to their, not our greater intrests.I think if we leave them alone they will manage from here.Far better without us then with us.I'm sitting here laughing at what I just wrote...in a perfect world....
Posted by: Kay at June 27, 2005 7:29 PM
Since I can't seem to organize my thoughts at the moment, let me simply say, I agree with Gary's 3:09pm post.
Here's what's holding me back: I wonder how the British felt when they pulled out of what was then India? They must've said to themselves, "If we leave, the loss of presige alone is enough to cripple U.K. foreign policy for generations to come, but also, the entire subcontinent will erupt into strife. The only reason they have peace is because of us. The consequences will lead to long-term instability and the potential for it to eventually strike back at the U.K. These consequences are unacceptable." Well, the Brits left. Their presige went down. People died. Instability has taken root in the subcontinent. Thus, the Brits should've stayed. Right? And let me note, the Brits were actually right about them maintaining peace, unlike the U.S.
Posted by: Bribes at June 28, 2005 10:10 AM
If you really want to know what the war in Iraq and other other places around the world are all about, you merely need to follow the money trail. Ask yourself who profits? This is NOT ABOUT A FREE IRAQ!!! What do you think the Right cares about more, putting billions of dollars in their pockets or the people of Iraq? Just look at here in the US. Do they give a rat's ass about the common citizen and how our standard of living continues to plummet? So why would anyone with half a brain think they could be so sympathetic to the Iraqis plight? THESE GUYS ARE LAUGHING ALL THE WAY TO THE BANK!!! THE AVERAGE AMERICAN IS SOOOOOO GULLABLE!!
Posted by: mhett at June 28, 2005 4:06 PM
Two words, Gary: Brilliant post!
Posted by: Helga Fremlin at June 28, 2005 5:18 PM
A: The U.S. is NEVER going to withdraw until the oil is gone; B: The Democrats will do very little differently in Iraq if elected.
Posted by: Walter at June 28, 2005 7:41 PM
Two words Helga: Excellent analysis!
Posted by: GaryBoatwright at June 29, 2005 6:15 AM
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