Focus On Al Qaeda, Not A Permanent Occupation
While General Petraeus makes a big deal about the 10,000 troops he is using in a major offensive against Al Qaeda northeast of Baghdad in the Diyala province, apparently he is still unable to secure central Baghdad. And that is a good example of the challenges we face four years into this miserable war. The action against Al Qaeda is warranted, and exactly the battle we should be waging against them. It’s just that we are waging it years too late, with a sectarian civil war going on all around our forces, a civil war our forces are also expected to police by a delusional alleged commander in chief who got no closer to the perils of war than his Alabama barstool in the 1970’s.
As Sunni tribal leaders finally had their wishes heard by the Americans and were allowed to go after Al Qaeda with our help in the Anbar province, the relatively small Al Qaeda force of several thousand has left the province and relocated to the areas around Baghdad, which is where Petraeus is focusing his current campaign. Congress should pressure Petraeus in September to specifically account for his success in reducing the Al Qaeda threat, rather than what he has done with the sectarian bloodshed. The only reason for us to remain in Iraq is the former, not the latter. If Petraeus has used the summer months between now and September to break up and reduce the several thousand Al Qaeda forces down to several hundred by the fall, Congress should force a change in mission and get the bulk of our forces home or redeployed just over the horizon, and leave the burden of the sectarian stupidity on the Iraqis themselves. We are never going to stop it in a thousand years.
But those are just the military challenges we face. Our ongoing role in Iraq is under review now, with word that our ambassador is “panicking” over the realization that even with 1,000 staff, he doesn’t feel he has enough of them. The problem is that the Baghdad mission has been ramped up for a permanent occupation to run the oil production, by building our most expensive embassy in the world, and yet it was staffed with the only people who would go there: young, unqualified, and inexperienced GOP political hacks who only made the stop for a year to build their resumes. Now our ambassador wants even more staff, but better staff, to stay inside the fortress for years managing Iraq’s economy and oil, in a hostile environment. It’s another botched element in the Bush Administration’s gross mismanagement of this war and occupation, built on faulty assumptions that seemingly were chiseled in stone.