Thursday, January 17, 2008

Crow for Breakfast - Yummy

I had to start my day today by eating crow – maybe on two fronts, both related to the surge in Iraq.

When Mr. Bush announced his plan to send more troops to Iraq I was loudly sure that it wouldn’t work. When General Patraeus brought his agreement with the plan to Congress, I agreed with MoveOn’s assertion that he was a toady who’s goal in life was to slither up the chain of command on skids greased by the stuff on his little brown nose.

If I have any crow to eat on the first count, it’s just a tiny bite because the surge as I think W envisioned it did not work. I’ll swallow it, though, because it thrust General Patreaus into a command position from which he could improve on his boss’s vision.

Now I’ll fill my plate with the old black bird by saying that I believe that Patraeus’ version of the surge has worked quite well. I’m still not convinced that he needed the infusion of extra troops to pull it off, but he has begun a process of winning over insurgents that he couldn’t have done if he hadn’t been put in charge of the surge.

What this military genius did with his surge of extra troops was not to deploy them in smart strategic positions and carry the day with brilliant tactics. What he did was use them in ways that those of us who advocate a Department of Peace would have done. He made them not only visible to the Iraqis, but visibly friendly to the Iraqis. He went to the insurgents with an offer they couldn’t refuse. He paid them to work alongside his new troops and he made sure those new troops came on board without a John Wayne attitude. Together new U.S. troops and old insurgents fought against and drove out Al Qaida zealots.

The result is that former insurgents – now granted immunity by virtue of having taken an oath of loyalty to the Iraqi government and demonstrated friendly intentions by working with U.S. troops – are now allies who have come to understand that U.S. soldiers are not the raping and pillaging devils that Al Qaida portrayed them as, but are, instead, those fine, dedicated young men and women we all want them to be.

It still appears to me that the surge as such had little to no chance of success, but it was done at a very opportune time in that the Iraqi insurgents were at the time in a position of evaluating the value of their alliance with Al Qaida, far enough into the history of the devolution/evolution of an Iraqi central government that they were open to the possibility of change, and aware that if they continued their resistance and the new government actually wound up winning the day they would be in deep trouble. Still, like anyone else and perhaps - due to their bellicose nature - even more then the average duck, these fellows would certainly have continued to react negatively to continued U.S. efforts to ram “democracy” down their throats with a new barrage of hostility.

Instead of taking that tack, though, Patraeus chose to combine his military strength with diplomatic tact, and it worked.

If he had told us initially that this was his plan, he would more than likely have had my support. As it was, though, I suspect that he wasn’t even upfront with Mr. Bush about his plans because he knew the kind of reaction this administration would have had. Cheney would have come unglued!!

Now it looks like not only Mr. Bush but all of us owe General Patraeus a huge debt of gratitude. He may have singlehandedly shown this nation the way to get somewhere with the “war on terrorism” by showing the hand of friendship rather than the fist of hatred. He and his approach now look to a great many Muslim Iraqis like a much more safe and sane route to power than the barbarous death-dealing method touted by far-right Islam.

In doing this Patraeus hasn’t looked weak. He has used his troops in decisive military actions that clearly demonstrate that he is dealing from a position of strength. Still, he has gotten the message across that Americans are not devils but friends and it out of his incorporation of similarly strong Iraqis into the status quo, he may ultimately have set the stage for American withdrawal – another outcome not truly hoped for by BushCo whose real goal continues to be a permanent American presence in the region.

Talk of the same approach being used in Afghanistan is also being circulated. At the same time, Robert Gates, Secretary of Defense, made a statement yesterday to the effect that we need to spend more money on diplomatic approaches. He wouldn’t say we should spend less on military approaches, but we all know that the pie can only be cut so many ways.

All in all, I must admit that I don’t mind eating crow this well prepared one bit. Please, General, pass me another plateful.

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

The reason for going was to keep the crude flowing and raise a false flag abroad. – from a poem by Jack Evans titled 3500 Souls -

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