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Monday, June 18, 2007

Where are you going to get the troops, General?
Posted by Jill | 6:13 AM
In case there was anyone who still believed a word out of this Administration's collective mouth, the "surge" is turning out to be "throw money down a black hole in Iraq in perpetuity":

Conditions in Iraq will not improve sufficiently by September to justify a drawdown of U.S. military forces, the top commander in Iraq said yesterday.

Asked whether he thought the job assigned to an additional 30,000 troops deployed as the centerpiece of President Bush's new war strategy would be completed by then, Gen. David H. Petraeus replied: "I do not, no. I think that we have a lot of heavy lifting to do."

Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker, his diplomatic counterpart in Baghdad, said a key report they will deliver to Washington in September will include what Crocker called "an assessment of what the consequences might be if we pursue other directions." Noting the "unhelpful roles" being played by Iran and Syria in Iraq, Crocker said: "We've got to consider what could happen."

Comments by Petraeus on "Fox News Sunday" and Crocker on NBC's "Meet the Press" were an indication of the administration's evolving strategy for confronting rising congressional demands to begin planning troop withdrawals. In addition to warning about the possible regional consequences of withdrawal, both men emphasized a "mixed" picture on the ground, citing successes while acknowledging the difficulty of the task ahead.

Asserting steady, albeit slow, military and political progress, Petraeus said that the "many, many challenges" would not be resolved "in a year or even two years." Similar counterinsurgency operations, he said, citing Britain's experience in Northern Ireland, "have gone at least nine or 10 years." He said he and Crocker would make "some recommendations on the way ahead" to Congress, and that it was realistic to assume "some form of long-term security arrangement" with Iraq.

Nice work for someone who's not supposed to be a politician. He prepares the American public for the fact that this so-called "surge" isn't temporary at all, but is instead an escalation of the occupation of Iraq, and also warns of dire consequences of pursuing "other directions." And here we thought the military wasn't just another political arm of the Republican party. But since the Justice Department is, why NOT the military? Yesterday Petraus gave ol Crying John Boehner and the rest of the warmongers in Congress exactly what they needed to get on the floor of the House and Senate in September and once again wax all lachrymose about "When are we gonna get 'em?"

When indeed.

And who is "'em" anyway? Roger Cohen of the International Herald Tribune believes that George W. Bush decided to use Iraq to try to resolve his psychological issues with his father, he unleashed demons that may never be vanquished:

The Iraqi conflict is going to be with us for years if not decades. The country has become the focus of a crisis of Islamic civilization that is closer to its onset than its conclusion. Violent conflict between the now dominant Shiite community and Sunnis nostalgic for power is but one aspect of this epochal upheaval.

As in the Palestinian territories, the Iraqi struggle has been complicated by the presence of forces driven not by national goals but by the global objectives of jihadist Islamism. These jihadists, finding inspiration in their reading of the sacred texts of Islam, have embarked on a holy war against the West.

It is against such fanatics, some of whom call themselves Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, that General David Petraeus, the top American commander in Iraq, has just announced a major offensive. I wish Petraeus and the 155,000 troops now in Iraq luck, but I am not hopeful.

The fact is that however many bomb makers are taken out, however many cells broken, the social and religious forces driving angry young men across the Muslim world into this sort of fight are not about to abate.

A population explosion is pushing these men into societies with few jobs and scant hope for the future beyond a range of causes - from Palestine to Iraq to the perceived debauchery of modernity - capable of drawing them into a consoling, if nihilistic, zealotry.

Against this reality, exacerbated in Iraq by the whirlwind fragmentation that often occurs in multi-ethnic societies when the lid of despotism is lifted, America's September deadline for measuring the progress achieved by the addition of 30,000 troops looks almost comical.

Let's face it folks, things are not going to be measurably better in Iraq by September. They may be about the same; they could be worse. The destructive energy disaggregating the country is still building. Wars tend to end when their participants are exhausted. We are not there yet, not even close.

The question, then is from whence the troops for this endless occupation of Iraq will come, after Mitt Romney or Rudy Giuliani or Fred Thompson becomes president (as they will, because Chris Matthews will extol their manliness while either Clinton scandals or veiled racism directed at Barack Obama or resentment of John Edwards managing to be wealthy but not a greedy scumbag will scuttle any Democratic hopes of winning the presidency). Will the existing troops do fourth and fifth and sixth and seventh tours? Will the mentally ill and the wounded and felons be recruited? Or will the entire effort be privatized, even further bankrupting the country?


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