Iraq: A Promise Never To Be Broken
We don’t have a Secretary of Defense these days, at least not according to him, we have a Secretary of War, since American divisions are on the march on foreign soils. It’s a stupid, arrogant, extremely dangerous distinction that isn’t even technically true, yet somehow is always accepted instantly at face value simply because an old white Republican flapped his lips about it.
Mr. Gates, a nation at war applies all tools, men, women, materials and will all day, every day until the tragedy is finished. Of course this is nothing close to our appalling behavior in Afghanistan, we’ve been lying to ourselves for eight years now, how is it not obvious your ridiculous War title displays nothing but a boastful, stupid peacock of a personality?
Furthermore, the outrageous classification of American Afghanistan behavior as “war” has invited the most pernicious, insidious, horrifying consequence of low-grade constant casual violence. Got a problem? Call it a war to use the most violent, terrible tactics available to man yet not really declare war or muster the country. The result is an appalling sacrifice level by a tiny minority of citizens who are forced to shut up about it, while at the same time demanding a casual acceptance level to little details like blowing up innocent women and children.1
Afghanistan, of course, is yet but fifty percent of our current foreign soil forays, divisions of men and billions in equipment are still parked in Iraq, sitting there for a useless year in a unnecessary compromise, but at least a blessed end date to the horrifying mess set anyway. That shining date has always been stated as “in the Spring,” meaning only around 90 days from now, maybe 120. Ships, C-130’s, C-17’s and C-5’s will then somehow starting the magical ferry of peace, our people coming home from Iraq forever, no more bombs or wounds or mercenaries or lying or death for utterly nothing.
Right? One of the remarkable facets in the great silence about Iraq since the degrading compromise is the issue of permanent bases allegedly built there. Well, are there permanent bases that cost tens of billions of dollars dotted around Iraq or not? Don’t ask the American journalism corps, heavens no, sniffing Tiger Woods jock strap is more up their alley.
If in fact they exist, a DOD infrastructure investment worth at least $60 billion dollars, what is to be their fate when we leave in 90 days? It’s questions such as these that make bloggers like Amanda Marcotte take an extremely wise set of empirical lenses to Iraq, all talk and promises mean nothing, not even about this issue, believe the peace only when the tanks can be seen going up the ro-ro’s.
Would Obama and Gates really dare to break the promise of withdrawing from Iraq, for whatever reason? The Machiavellian political scientist in me wouldn’t be surprised, of course not, but it would still be a furiously heart-wrenching tragedy that would cause me great upset, of course.
Only fools speak for other Americans, but it’s fairly safe to say that reaction would be extremely common in the Democratic base. I’m reminded of the blogger Matt Yglesias’s observation that the only reason Obama is in the White House is his nay Senate vote on the Iraq war, he never, ever would have beaten Clinton without that empirical cachet of change to one of the most horrible tragedies of Bush. I don’t think a primary for an incumbent President is ever wise, it wouldn’t be my reaction, but some disaster or other of equal proportion would be bound to be the result from such a profound betrayal to liberals and progressives.
Not to speak of the people of Iraq. Just like Afghanistan, what we have done to them and what they’ve had to endure just seems to be so conveniently left out of the policy discussions about what to do moving forward.
Is there truly a compelling military reason for Obama to break his Iraq promise? The potential could only be there, there is no political downside anywhere in withdrawal. Dick Cheney would say of course we have oil resource security there, we all know that, but he’s gone. Right?
We shall just have to wait and see, only 120 days at the most now. If folks think there’s division and shouting within the Party now, watch what happens if Obama decides to stay longer in Iraq, for whatever reason. All bets would be off and the Party could break up forever from it.
 A fascinating element to the current Afghanistan policy is the blithe acceptance to horrifying mistakes of the greatest magnitude that span an amazing eight years of time.
We blew up women and children by mistake, we must never do that going forward, it will ruin everything else we try. Those eight years we killed kids? Never mind!
How convenient to smash in that never mind! to the human equations of thinking here. It works in the American militaristic mind, yes, but absolutely nowhere else on the planet.
This is precisely why I’m so upset about DOD spending and “war” in Afghanistan. We, Americans, let militarism, killing and death shrug off the killing of human being Afghanistan children like they were cockroaches.
We have so terribly lost our way, we can be so much a better people than this so easily, and there is always a terrible price to pay so such cruel casual violence. Always.