Today, I tipped.
Today I've reached my personal tipping point regarding America's efforts in Iraq. We must either dramatically increase the size and aggressiveness of our presence in Iraq, or. . . get the hell out. I say this not as one who has ever opposed the very notion of going into Saddam's personal, nationwide torture pit. No, I've always thought we had no choice but to rid the world of him. But in decapitating the Iraqi regime and executing the vile progeny of its leader, Uday and Qusay, we have unleashed forces even more evil and find ourselves fighting a snake with a thousand heads. Why did this happen? Was it inevitable? Was our noble effort doomed from the start? Well, yes and no.
Not doomed in the sense that it was a mission impossible — if one properly defines the mission. Thinking that we could be midwife to the birthing of a constitutional democracy in a matter of only thirty months or so was probably a bit of a stretch. Underlying that plan was a not—so—hidden assumption that the three main ethnic and religious groups that comprise the Iraqi population — the Shia, the Sunni and the Kurds — would somehow be willing to set their differences and mistrusts aside while forging a new nationalistic union from dissimilar metals. How to alloy those who've never been allies does seem an intractable dilemma.
Such things take time and a conducive environment. Just as does the formation of a metal's structure require the correct time, temperature and atmosphere. Without the proper, specific conditions, the desired result does not emerge from the furnace. Imposing deadlines under the current chaos that exists in parts of Iraq and expecting some unifying miracle to present us with a fully—formed nation is a best na�ve and at worst disastrous — for both ourselves and the Iraqis.
Remember, it took eleven years from the time we declared our independence until we had ratified our Constitution. And for the prior 100 years we had voluntarily governed ourselves without being at one another's throats nor under the heal of a minority brutally imposing its will upon the rest. Who's the guy who ever thought that a little over two years would do the trick in Iraq? If the planners of our Middle Eastern adventure didn't really think so, they never should have said so.
We do have some experience in governing countries we have conquered militarily. Japan and Germany after WW II probably being the best examples. Japan was not plagued by the internal strife we see in Iraq. Though there seems to be little disagreement that much of what goes on in Iraq is not all that 'internal.' There was agitation in post—war Japan by Communist inspired labor unions who raised a bit of a ruckus. But having our own American Caesar in Douglas MacArthur left no doubt who was in charge. And there wasn't much of a problem with invaders landing on Japanese shores to foment an 'insurgency.'
Germany was a bit more problematic with the 'Werewolves' wandering the countryside for a couple of years but they were more of an irritant than threat and, in any case, were summarily, or at least very quickly dealt with when captured. They never had a chance to voice their Camp X—ray/Abu Ghraib mistreatment complaints. The only insurgents available were the Commies to the east and they were held back by what eventually proved to be an impenetrable wall of fissile material. That's one with which I'm personally familiar, having sat Victor Alert with a Mk—61 thermonuclear device inconspicuously slung under the belly of my trusty steed. If the Iranians, Syrians, Lebanese, Turks, Jordanians, Saudis, or whomever else may be secreting undesirables into Iraq, ever thought for a moment we'd plop just one or two or a few of those into their respective/collective laps, they'd quickly reconsider.
However, in this instance that would certainly be 'over—kill' in more than one sense. If we had conventional military resources in terms of a greater number of 'boots—on—the—ground' and the will to aggressively use them as well as our 'we—own—the—night' technology against any and all traipsing across Iraq's borders, I'm confident our insurgent problem would, if not eliminated, be at least substantially reduced. Well, why didn't or don't we? Now, that's a very good question.
Recall that shortly before our March of 2003 invasion of Iraq we had sought permission from the Turks to transit their territory with the 4th Infantry Division so that we could hammer and anvil the hell out of the Iraqi military from both the North and the South. 'Sorry! No can do,' sayeth the Turkish parliament in a vote decided by a very narrow margin. They say you should never lose a close vote. But we did. The result being that our military planning didn't get thrown out as soon as the first shot was fired, as the saying has it. It was blown out of the water before any shots were fired! So whatever assumptions we had made regarding post—war control and our capacity to isolate and capture regime remnants went into the shredder along with the plans.
I don't think it should have been all that esoteric a consideration to have immediately reassessed our troop levels and gotten as many into Iraq as we could get our hands on, whether or not we thought we could 'spare' their removal from some other spot on the planet. I've slowly come to the conclusion that our civilian military leadership, Rumsfeld included, grossly underestimated what would be required in Iraq after the 'Mission Accomplished' banners went up. Was it bravado? No, I don't think so. But minimizing casualties doesn't always follow from minimizing presence. Guess you could call that the 'fewer target' strategy. Nor does it sustain support. Results sustain support. The support of both Americans as well as Iraqis. And we're not getting the results — at least not in the places required nor in the time necessary. No matter what Chrenkoff says.
And how know I this? Well, read what John Connly Walsh, an employee of an American company in Iraq, has to say over at the American Spectator. You can read his stuff here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here. If that doesn't convince you that things are more than a tad amiss, nothing will. The Washington Times tells us that Iran is willfully running amuck in Iraq and that when we leave, Shiite Iraq will be a glorious addition to the Persian Shiite Revolution.
Think the Kurds or Saudis will abide this? Will the Turks abide an independent Kurdistan? Why do you think the Turks didn't let us move through their territory in the first place? Seems they were concerned about a flare—up of the long—smoldering Kurdish insurgency in Eastern Turkey as the Americans passed through. Would we have let the Turks crush the Kurds? Should we have promised to not lift a finger to help if they had rebelled? Lots of tough questions.
Even if from the beginning, or some reasonable time thereafter, we had a large enough number of troops to generally impose order and secure borders in Iraq, we would still be faced with what I call the 'Russia syndrome' problem. Think for a moment about what happened when the Soviet Union collapsed — actually they pulled the plug on themselves (the first deliberate scuttling of an empire?) — and there was a huge power vacuum and economic chaos. Who stepped in? Why the Russian mafia, of course. And what they didn't take over, KGB operatives did. The former criminal officials became unofficial criminals. Voila! Even President Putin is a former KGB officer. Somehow I just don't find that comforting.
And in Iraq? You think Sunni Arab former criminal officials have been reborn as law—abiding democratic constitutionalists? Wanna buy a bridge in Brooklyn? When a government, as it was in both Russia and Iraq, is in its totality a criminal enterprise, how does one expect democracy and its antecedent, civil behavior, to take root in such barren soil? It hasn't yet in Russia and they're not dealing with a lot of outside interference — with some Chechen exceptionalism, of course. But then, that Russian bear does still have some nuclear claws even if he continues having submarine problems. For better or worse the Iraqis have neither. Just exploding interlopers, Baathist criminals, and, if our State Department and CIA are as astute as they claim, the biggest problem of all is Ahmad Chalabi. Well, perhaps he's not the biggest problem, just the biggest distraction. And if there's one thing we don't need in Iraq it's distractions.
What we need and what we get are, of course, not always the same thing. We have the MSM making a sanctified martyr out of Cindy Sheehan. What a crock. I would love to see a listing of all calls to and from her residence in sunny California or anywhere else she's resided over the past couple months. Wonder if one of the media biggies set this up? Was she coaxed into doing this protest stunt? Is she being paid or her expenses picked up? Bet there's a real story behind this cooked—up Crawford carnival — and a much more interesting one at that.
In the middle of all this comes former New York City mayor Ed Koch with his pronouncement that, well folks, times up. Let's pack up and leave the former Saddamistanis to their own devices. This isn't going to work out and we may as well stop kidding ourselves. His motion is seconded by fellow Real Clear Politiker Steve Chapman of the Chicago Tribune. What most troubles me is that today, for the very first time, I found myself thinking, 'You know, they just may be right!'
Right, if we don't radically change course, that is. Standing pat and letting the current situation seek its own level will not work. First, the Iraqis, if there really are any such entities, are not going to form a reasonably stable, democratic, constitutionally cemented country anytime soon. Forget it. It ain't gonna happen. That will take many more years if it is to ever come to fruition at all.
Second, let's scrounge every last able—bodied troop — male, female, animal or otherwise — and get them to Iraq ASAP along with every Abrams, Bradley, AAV—7, Humvee, tricycle, mortar, bazooka, shouler—fired whatever, rifle, pistol, grenade or sling shot we can lay our hands on. Along with every naval vessel, combat aircraft or other floating or flying military device that's in operating condition along with their concomitant bombs, rockets, bullets and bad ass operators.
Third, tell all unauthorized non—Iraqi parties — and I mean ALL unwanted foreign parties operating in Iraq, AND their countries of orign — to get the hell out or they WILL be sought out and destroyed — whether on Iraqi soil or anywhere else. All unauthorized and unsupervised traffic crossing Iraq's borders will be one way only — OUT! Anything that moves inbound within five miles of the frontier with any neighboring country will be subject to attack. Twenty—four, seven. If we detect activity within neighboring countries that we deem threatening, we reserve the right to attack preemtively on either side of any border.
Do all this and mean it. Actually fighting a war and not just playing at it may, just may, do the trick. Ya think? Otherwise, forget it. Not one more causality to our just—screwing—around—playing—at—war exercise in Iraq. If you think that the cosequences of such an aggressive approach prohibit such actions, better think about what's gonna happen when we leave with our tails between our legs. You ain't seen nothin' — yet!
Ladies and Gentlemen, get with the program.