Friday, August 24, 2007

Iraq Heads the News Again Today

What a surprise. Will the day ever come when Iraq isn’t the most pressing story on the front page? We can only hope, but there are some hopeful signs.

I heard yesterday about a group of Army sergeants who are publicly speaking out against the abuses our war policies have heaped upon them. I wrote not long ago about the Pentagon brass who have threatened to refuse orders if escalation continues.

One of today’s headlines is: Secretary of Army Won’t Extend Tours. The gist is that the Secretary recognizes that the recent hike of tour time from 12 months to 15 months has stretched our troops too far making it not feasible to consider extending their tours to even greater lengths.

A companion story discusses the National Intelligence Estimate that Congress forced out of our spy agencies. Interestingly, the headline touts the report as bolstering Bush’s surge strategy, but a close read reveals at least six very pessimistic points like increasing violence, Al-Qaida’s ability to conduct high-profile attacks, increasing insurgency, lack of Sunni support for the Iraq government, inadequacy of Iraqi forces to hold back insurgency on their own, and an increasingly precarious Iraqi government unlikely to gain popular support. Bush’s strategy, though, is supported by only one point that being that “recent security improvements in Iraq, including success against Al-Qaida, have depended significantly on the close synchronization of conventional counterinsurgency and counterterrorism operations. A change of mission that interrupts that synchronization would place security improvements at risk.” – very diplomatic language.

The first sentence of that supportive paragraph seems to contradict the earlier statement about Al-Qaida’s ability to conduct attacks, but let’s not quibble over details. Let’s just hit the high point. Within the only supportive statement given lies a question to which I’d like to hear a straight answer. What that last bit in quotations says to me is that if we pulled troops out, we might lose “security improvements” gained from the surge. What the entire body of the report said to me is that the “security improvements” we have gained from our entire experience in Iraq have been negative and those gained from the surge have been insufficient to make us expect that we can attain stability there. All we can expect, this report says to me, is to maintain the status quo as it has existed since the surge began. That is not enough to justify any further loss of American lives.

At best the surge moved the bulk of insurgent action out of Baghdad and into other cities and even the countryside. Al-Qaida is still strong there even though it wasn’t even present in Iraq until we generated the insurgency. For God’s sake -- Saddam Hussein governed over a country much safer and quieter than the one we created by unseating him.

Get our troops out and make available to the Iraqi government one-half of the dollars we have committed to war for their rebuilding efforts. Let them then either fight over who gets access to that money, in which case we don’t release any to them, or put together a coalition capable of governing over the expenditure of those funds to rebuild their own country in their own way.

As to the extension of our troops’ tours of duty in Iraq – cut them back to 12 months and reinstitute the draft. Do that and you’ll begin to get the active participation of the majority of American citizens who will surely be outraged by the government’s attempt to force their sons and daughters to put their lives on the line for this neo-con war.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. -- M. K. Gandhi

Individually we have little voice. Collectively we cannot be ignored.
But in silence we surrender our power. Yours in Peace -- BR

P.S. I will not be writing for the next week. I will instead be enjoying the peace and quiet our neighbors to the north enjoy every day. I also expect to catch a fish or two! While I’m gone, please go ahead and solve the mess BushCo has made of things. I’d sure like to come back to the country I love instead of the one that makes me ashamed.

No comments: