Meanwhile, Back at the Wars

March 19, 2009

Today six years ago, one of the most dumb-ass and dangerous operations in all of history started up and despite all kinds of processes to the contrary, is still going full banana with no end in sight.

Just as the eyeballs of the whole US was focused Wednesday morning on DC — AIG CEO Edward Liddy testified before Congress about the now-infamous $165 million in bonuses paid to high-financial talent and attempted to leave the building without being choked, hanged, guillotined, or forced to commit sepuku by enraged mobs — while overseas national flesh and treasure is still being squandered.

(Illustration found here).

And all those silly-assed masters of the universe have nothing over the Iraqi adventure, which sucks up $12 billion a month ($608.3 billion at five years) to keep operating and the original “war” in Afghanistan has cost $162.6 billion over seven years — and even now, there’s no sign of having gained anything at all from the waste.

Up to this past weekend, 4,259 US GIs have been killed in Iraq since the 2003 invasion with official DOD number of wounded at 31,089 (estimates at 100,000 or more — and near 350,000 have suffered brain injuries) while in Afghanistan 667 US troops have died there since 2001.

The invasion of Iraq just might be the worst military, social and cultural blunder in history.

On top of the US losses: An estimated 1.3 million Iraqis have been killed.

A new ABC/BBC/NHK Poll reveals the Iraqi people still don’t like the US and a majority think the invasion was a mistake:

But here’s a key finding and the rejoinder to the constant call for war critics (and Obama) to admit that it was, despite everything, correct to topple Saddam: 56% now say the U.S. was wrong to invade, actually up (despite the cooling of violence) since last year’s 50%.

And on top of all the squawk about an Iraqi bloodbath after the US troop withdrawal, 57 percent aren’t too concerned about what might happen after the U.S. exits — despite some consternation:

“The situation in Iraq will improve only if the Americans and the Iraqi politicians withdraw from Iraq,” said Abbas al Dulaimy, 31, as he walked through Baghdad.

“The situation will soon be worse because the politicians will look out only for their interests like those who demand to divide Iraq . . . it will be chaos.”

And the horror of the situation is that if US troops are gone by Dec. 31, 2011, or even tomorrow, the result would be the same — the bottom line then should be to leave as soon as possible.

Why complicate the matter.

Simple, really: Chicago Mayor Richard Daley told LBJ in 1967 the way to get the 500,000 U.S. troops out of Vietnam was to just, “Put them on a [expletive deleted] plane and bring them home.”
One asshole to another — How many lives would have been saved if Johnson had done what Daley had so vividly suggested?

Iraqi women want the US out yesterday!

Here in the U.S., we’ve rarely heard the story of the Iraq War told from the perspective of women.

So what are Iraqi women saying on the sixth anniversary of the US invasion?

The same thing they’ve been saying since 2003: end the occupation. Polls consistently show that a majority of Iraqis want US troops out.

We’ve been told that if the U.S. withdraws, violence would again soar in Iraq.

That’s a compelling argument for those of us who care about the suffering that the U.S. has already visited on Iraqi women and their families.

But Iraqis themselves, who have the best grasp of their security situation, say that U.S. troops are causing, not confronting, violence.

In multiple polls, most Iraqis say they would feel much safer without U.S. troops.

Who can blame them?

Since the invasion, over a million Iraqis have died violently and four million have been driven from their homes.
The resources that women need to care for their families — electricity, water, food, fuel, and medical care — have become dangerously scarce, sometimes totally unavailable.

Six years along, 36 percent of Baghdad’s water is still undrinkableIn a bad month, it’s 90 percent. Cholera broke out last summer, and officials fear another outbreak this year.
Yesterday was relatively peaceful — only 12 Iraqis were killed, another 12 wounded and a couple of skulls were discovered at a suspected mass grave near Basra.

Among the those dozen dead:

A bomb blast killed a married couple working in an orchard in Saidiya.
Authorities believe the bomb was leftover from when armed groups controlled the area.

A place where picking fruit can get you killed.

And from as the crow flies across the fat middle of that other axis of evil, Iran, into Afghanistan and to another whole nasty, dangerous can of worms.

Even as President Obama tries to put together some kind of strategy for the now-nearing-8-year-old-war, there’s reports of a different kind of surge.

According to Reuters:

Other threads that run through them all are building up Afghan military and civilian capabilities and finding the resources to support whatever strategy is adopted.

Officials said two other elements under discussion were making a significant “civilian surge” of U.S. experts to address Afghanistan’s development needs as well as a strategic communications campaign to try to persuade the U.S., Afghan, Pakistani and European publics to support the war effort.

If that occurs, and when the “war effort” fails, and then when an urgent “Eagle Pull” operation is required, there will be just another shitload of civilians to snatch out of harms way — And don’t just believe me, the “war effort” will fail (See here and here and here).

Although Obama unleashed the order a couple of weeks ago for 17,000 additional troops, a group of 15 US congressmen have dispatched a letter to the president, urging his to “reconsider” the action as it “may well be counterproductive.”

While attempting to cobble together some kind overall Afghan strategy, DOD Chief Bob Gates has been blubbering about “…goals, at least in the near to mid-term, that are achievable,” but has yet to offer anything useful.

There’s also been reports of a plan for Afghan government efforts to reconcile with some elements of the Taliban and other militant organizations.

Another piece of big-idea shit.

Noted independent diplomatic historian and journalist, Gareth Porter, examines this so-called “peel off” from the “hard core” Taliban notion that would lead to a “political route to victory” in Afghanistan.

Not so fast:

But experts warn that the strategy is unlikely to work.
And by appearing to provide a political route to victory, the strategy is luring the administration into a renewed commitment to war in Afghanistan and diverting it away from a deal with the Taliban leadership aimed at keeping al-Qaeda from having a presence there.
News reports this past week have raised the possibility of negotiations by Afghan, Saudi, and Pakistani officials with the Taliban leadership that could result in an agreement not to allow an al-Qaeda presence on Afghan territory in return for U.S. and NATO withdrawal and assurances that they will not intervene in the country as long as al-Qaeda is kept out.

The latter sounds cool, but…

But that extraordinarily optimistic assumption (of the ‘peel off’ idea) is not shared by most experts on the insurgency in Afghanistan.
A report by Carlotta Gall in the New York Times last Wednesday quotes “several Western diplomats and officials in Afghanistan, including those already in contact with the Taliban” as saying that attempts to split off individual commanders or groups from the Taliban leadership “would not work.”

The reason, according to those officials, is that the plan would require those commanders to surrender and accept an Afghan government and a foreign military presence in which they have no trust.

Which takes us back to square one.

A lot of cash has flowed out of the US the past few years — billions of dollars since just last September — and even with the ironic horror of paying big-buck bonuses to the very people who caused this worldwide financial conflagration, a nifty way to cut back and save some dough is to bring the US military home.
Or just buy up some old AIG stock.

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