This War is Toast

Reply Thu 6 May, 2004 03:18 pm
This War is Toast
by Clay Evans

Following the publication of appalling photos of U.S. military guards torturing and humiliating Iraqi prisoners, and Seymour Hersh's devastating revelation in The New Yorker that the military knew months ago that such abuse is systemic, U.S. media outlets are all abuzz over a "scandal."

A scandal?

To us comfortable Americans, these abominable acts are on the level of Bill Clinton's idiotic sexual dalliances and such go-nowhere nonsense as "Filegate." The ugliness at Abu Ghraib already has been dubbed "Torturegate" by some wags.

It'll blow over....

But try to put yourself in the mind of an average Iraqi. To him, our scandal is a sinister echo of the long, fearsome years under Saddam Hussein. It is sickening proof, to him, that American "values" include mockery of those different from us, a juvenile (and to Muslims, unholy) obsession with sexual hijinks, a deep lack of respect, and blind arrogance.

The Bush administration sold its war of choice by telling us we faced an imminent (yes, they used that word) threat of attack with weapons of mass destruction and a poisonous alliance between Saddam and Al-Qaida. That didn't pan out (though Iranian journalists have reported there are efforts underway to import "evidence" of WMD; stay tuned).

So, on to the next teleprompt: We're engaged in a grand enterprise to instill democracy in the imperially cobbled-together nation of Iraq. With a lemon-fresh Tide of freedom we will wash away the stain of Saddam.

Right. We've hand-picked "leaders" with no popular support, we've killed uncounted civilians while chasing down people enraged by the chaos and death we have delivered, we've declared majority-rule off limits, and we've imposed a "free market" system, putting Iraq up for bid to Western corporations, without asking the Iraqis' permission.

And as for our cherished, simple-minded belief that we are white-hats battling "evildoers," the photos from Abu Ghraib - and it's not just an isolated pocket of untrained hillbilly reservists; it's going on all over the country, and in Afghanistan - the Muslim world now has photographic proof that Bush's dangerous Manicheanism is a pack of lies. Whatever we do, we can never fix this.

I disagreed with Bush's war from the outset, but I've been clinging tepidly to John Kerry's uninspiring call to "stay the course." No longer.

We're done in Iraq. The genie of Arab outrage is flowing over the Babylonian desert and we will never jam it back into the bottle. We've lost all hope of winning hearts and minds. The longer we stay, the more we'll aggravate the problem, and the more soldiers we'll lose.

I've been straining to think of an example in which any nation truly welcomed invasion and occupation, in which the military fist, chaos, civilian deaths, and evildoings won hearts and minds. If anyone thinks of one, let me know (and World War II France doesn't count: we were booting the Nazi invaders out).

It's time to start planning an orderly exit and bona fide transition of power to Iraqis, under the watch of the United Nations. Yes, our reputation will suffer, but it has already because the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld-Wolfowitz experiment has failed, and there's no excuse to spill more blood in the administration's ideological petri dish.

Ultimately, the real solution - which doesn't have to entail a bloodbath, if the U.N. is involved - may be to let "Iraq" break into three nations of Kurds, Sunnis and Shia. The modern Middle East was drawn up by Britain and France along such arbitrary lines as railroads, and there is no moral reason to try to hold it together. Does any body really believe a new, independent Iraq wouldn't collapse into civil war anyway?

What hawks never seem to realize is that while war is sometimes necessary, it always breeds inhumanity. There are no "evildoers" and good guys when bullets fly. When enemies threaten you, it's you or them, and you shrug off "collateral damage." And when your leaders preach that "they" are evil, and we have God on our side, anger can morph oh-so-easily into brutality. Think Rwanda. My Lai. Al-Qaida. Hitler.

We've lost. How many more must die before we admit it?

Clay Evans ([email protected]) is Associate Editor of the Boulder Daily Camera (Boulder, Colo.)
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Reply Thu 6 May, 2004 05:13 pm
U.S. to Keep High Force Levels in Iraq
U.S. to Keep High Force Levels in Iraq Indefinitely
Agence France-Presse

Monday 03 May 2004

Faced with a mounting insurgency, the United States has decided to keep force levels in Iraq at beefed up levels of about 135,000 for the forseeable future, senior defense officials said Monday.

The Pentagon moved last month to build up the force to deal with uprisings in the south and in Fallujah by extending the tours of 20,000 troops from the 1st Armored Division and the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment for at least three months.

Officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told AFP those troops will be replaced with fresh units at the end of their extended tours, but the overall force will be maintained at its current strength, which has hovered around 135,000 troops.

General John Abizaid, head of US Central Command, which includes Iraq, "has expressed his desire to keep things at current levels for a while," a senior defense official said.

"I don't think there is going to be a time limit associated with it," the official said.

The plan is expected to be announced on Tuesday, but the brigades chosen for the next rotation in Iraq will probably not be identified all at once, the official said.

"There is a decision in the works. The details are being finalized and it's going to be talked about tomorrow," said a second official.

The decision effectively shelves an earlier plan to shrink the size of the US force in Iraq to between 105,000 and 115,000 troops. There is now recognition that hostilities in Iraq are unlikely to subside after the handover of limited power on June 30.

Critics of US policy insist more troops are needed to pacify Iraq, and point to Washington's failure to commit the necessary forces as a major cause of the deteriorating security.

More than 750 US troops have now been killed in Iraq since the US-led invasion in March last year. April was the deadliest month for US forces since the start of the campaign.

Abizaid told reporters last week he did not favor big increases in US troops except to deal with the immediate security problems.

"Am I comfortable with where we are now? Militarily, yes," Abizaid said.

"If the situation were to move into less secure circumstances than are currently visible in the country, I would go to the secretary and ask for more forces, and General Sanchez agrees with me on that. But I don't see a need to do that now," he said, referring to General Ricardo Sanchez, his commander in Iraq.

US commanders had hoped to shift responsibility for security to Iraqi police and civil defense forces, easing the pressure on stretched US forces.

But many Iraqi units collapsed when riots and fighting erupted last month, as Sunnis and Shiites rallied against US forces in opposition to the year-old occupation.

Abizaid acknowledged that Iraqi security forces will have to be re-trained and re-equipped, and may not be ready to go before February of next year.

US troops also have had to fill a hole left by the withdrawal of Spanish and Latin American troops from the area around Najaf, where followers of radical Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr have been attacking coalition forces.

Abizaid expressed hope that international troops, particularly from Muslim countries like Pakistan, Morocco and Tunisia, could be recruited to serve in Iraq after June 30.

But other senior US officials have said neither NATO allies nor other countries are likely to provide more troops so long as fighting continues in Iraq.

*Death toll of troops will be 1,000 in a few months. Maimed around 5,000. About $185 Billion to date. Bushco asking for $25 Billion more. What is that ? $50 to $80 Billion a year from now on?

I wonder how long the American sheep will go along with this miserable failure?
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Reply Thu 6 May, 2004 05:31 pm
Pistoff is correct. The USA, in the mind of the average Muslim, is indeed corrupt and Anti-God.
The average Muslim knows that his religous leaders have long preached against the secular Godless society of the USA which is filled with images of sex and depravity. The devout believer in Islam fears that his family will be corrupted by the Madonna, Brittany Spears and Richard Pryor. The man in the street in Badhdad knows that promiscuity and debauchery is common in American cities.
It is appalling to view the ignorance of our American President who, apparently, is not aware that one of the worst things that can happen to a believer in Islam is to humiliate him by forcing him into positions which simulate homosexual sex. President Bush, for some reason, is not aware that Islam is completely opposed to homosexual sex.
From the point of view of Islam, is it then not, at least, partially understandable, that the heroes of Islam, vowing to restore the world to the purity demanded by Allah, have struck at the heart of the USA in New York on 9/ll?
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Reply Fri 7 May, 2004 12:00 am
In no way do I like the Muslim religion especially the fundy contingent. I don't like the fundies of any religion.

I see this war in Iraq as lost. Unless the US stays for another 20 years with at least 100,000 troops to keep the Iraqis from having their own for real govt., Iraq will almost certainly not be any where close to what the US govt. wants it to be.
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Reply Fri 7 May, 2004 06:55 am
Well, what can you expect from such a backwards culture? They have never evolved past the 15th century and want the world to go back in time with them. Maybe if those idiot Mullahs would shave their beards and embrace a little bit of multi-culturalism they would be able to teach something besides hate and death.
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Reply Fri 7 May, 2004 07:03 am
Pistoff - How many people died in the American Revolution, The Civil War, WWI, or WWII? Many more than the 1,000 that you claim it will be in a couple of months. Also, if you take the costs at the time of these wars on par with inflation, the costs have all been about the same. War sucks, people die, and evil dictators get removed. Would I like to see more of the Iraqi people out there in the streets bringing to justice the ones that have imprisoned them for so many years? Certainly, but like with France, Germany, etc during WWII, the people embracing us had to be careful because if the Nazi's found out, they would be killed.
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Reply Fri 7 May, 2004 07:08 am
Saintsanbrian's logic is illogical.
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Reply Fri 7 May, 2004 07:13 am
My logic is illogical, can you please explain why? All of those wars were fought to free one group of people from oppression (except for the war of northern aggression that is)
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