Sunday :: Jan 8, 2006

The White Anglo-Saxon Protestant Oil Man's Burden Is Slip Sliding Away

by pessimist

Since World War II, localized foreign protests of US actions is almost de rigeur:

Left to protest against Bush’s visit to India

A nationwide Anti-Imperialist Day shall be observed by the Left parties on January 24, condemning the aggressive policies of America and against the scheduled visit of President George W Bush to India in early March, said CPI (M) General Secretary, Prakash Karat. Addressing media persons at Agartala on Sunday, Karat said that the US was trampling on the national sovereignty of many states including Iraq through its military power and was a threat to other nations as well.

What is one to think, then, when a high-ranking military officer of our staunchest ally takes a similar stance - in a conservative publication?

Impeach Blair over Iraq: UK general
January 08, 2006

General Sir Michael Rose, a former UN commander in Bosnia, was quoted by the right-of-centre Mail on Sunday as saying: "I think the politicians should be held to account ... my view is that Blair should be impeached. I would not have gone to war on such flimsy grounds," he said.
"That would prevent the politicians treating quite so carelessly the subject of taking a country into war."

Now, add in a person whose job is to understand the world and it's political problems - one who is asking some tough questions about the goals of Bu$hco in Iraq:

The Real Choice in Iraq
By Zbigniew Brzezinski
January 8, 2006

The writer was national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter.

"Bring 'em on." -- President Bush on Iraqi insurgents, summer 2003

The insurgency is "in its last throes." -- Vice President Cheney, summer 2005

" . . . there are only two options before our country: victory or defeat." -- President Bush, Christmas 2005

The administration's rhetorical devolution speaks for itself. "Victory or defeat" is, in fact, a false strategic choice.
Victory, as defined by the administration and its supporters -- i.e., a stable and secular democracy in a unified Iraqi state, with the insurgency crushed by the American military assisted by a disciplined, U.S.-trained Iraqi national army -- is unlikely.

The U.S. force required to achieve it would have to be significantly larger than the present one, and the Iraqi support for a U.S.-led counterinsurgency would have to be more motivated. The current U.S. forces (soon to be reduced) are not large enough to crush the anti-American insurgency or stop the sectarian Sunni-Shiite strife. Both problems continue to percolate under an inconclusive but increasingly hated foreign occupation.

The administration's definition of "defeat" is similarly misleading.

Official and unofficial spokesmen often speak in terms that recall the apocalyptic predictions made earlier regarding the consequences of American failure to win in Vietnam: dominoes falling, the region exploding and U.S. power discredited. An added touch is the notion that the Iraqi insurgents will then navigate the Atlantic and wage terrorism on the American homeland.

The real choice that needs to be faced is between:

* An acceptance of the complex post-Hussein Iraqi realities through a relatively prompt military disengagement -- which would include a period of transitional and initially even intensified political strife as the dust settled and as authentic Iraqi majorities fashioned their own political arrangements.

* An inconclusive but prolonged military occupation lasting for years while an elusive goal is pursued.

In any case, as Iraqi politics gradually become more competitive, it is almost certain that the more authentic Iraqi leaders (not handpicked by the United States) -- to legitimate their claim to power -- will begin to demand publicly a firm date for U.S. withdrawal. That is all to the good. In fact, they should be quietly encouraged to do so, because that would increase their popular support while allowing the United States to claim a soberly redefined "Mission Accomplished."

The requisite first step to that end is for the president to break out of his political cocoon. His policymaking and his speeches are the products of the true believers around him who are largely responsible for the mess in Iraq. They have a special stake in their definition of victory, and they reinforce his convictions instead of refining his judgments.
The president badly needs to widen his circle of advisers.
Why not consult some esteemed Republicans and Democrats not seeking public office -- say, Warren Rudman or Colin Powell or Lee Hamilton or George Mitchell -- regarding the definition of an attainable yet tolerable outcome in Iraq?
Finally, Democratic leaders should stop equivocating while carping. Those who want to lead in 2008 are particularly unwilling to state clearly that ending the war soon is both desirable and feasible. They fear being labeled as unpatriotic. Yet defining a practical alternative would provide a politically effective rebuttal to those who mindlessly seek an unattainable "victory."
America needs a real choice regarding its tragic misadventure in Iraq. [W]ith some luck and with a more open decision-making process in the White House, greater political courage on the part of Democratic leaders and even some encouragement from authentic Iraqi leaders, the U.S. war in Iraq could (and should) come to an end within a year.

One rising Democratic star is over there in Southwest Asia seeing for himself what the possibilities are:

Obama visits Kuwait day before Baghdad

Illinois Senator Barack Obama was just a country away Friday, meeting with US service personnel in Kuwait where he began a Middle East swing with a small congressional delegation that includes Indiana Senator Evan Bayh.
"I am still concerned that we don't seem to have a clear picture of how this whole engagement plays itself out, and that's something that I am going to be looking to hear more about when I get into Iraq," said Obama.
The beginning of Senator Barack Obama's trip to Baghdad Saturday morning comes at the end of one of the most violence weeks in Iraq since the war started. The past two days alone, more than 150 people have been killed by sniper fire, explosives planted along roadsides and suicide car bombs.
Among the dead: 11 US soldiers, the most killed on a single day since December 1.
Nearly 2,200 US service personnel have now died in Iraq at the hands of so-called insurgents. "This insurgency did not end because there was such an inspiring vote on December 15th," said Donald Alston, US brigadier general.

As if taking Zbigniew's advice about the viability of Iraqi leaders demonstrating independence from the Occupation, Senator Obama had some sharp advice for them:

Democrats urge Iraqi leaders to cooperate
Warn: Shape up, or US will ship out
January 8, 2006

A delegation of congressional Democrats that included rising star Senator Barack Obama of Illinois had a blunt assessment yesterday for Iraq's political leaders: Shape up, or America will ship out.

The continued US commitment to Iraq is becoming a tougher sell back home, the four lawmakers said, and unless Iraqis can start showing visible signs of progress by creating a broad-based government and security forces inclusive of all of Iraq's ethnic and sectarian groups, Americans will lose patience, they said.

"It's going to be hard to convince American taxpayers to pour water into a leaky bucket," said Obama.
With 2006 midterm elections on the horizon and American opinion polls suggesting declining enthusiasm for America's involvement in Iraq, pressure has been building on lawmakers and the president to demonstrate progress or to show an exit plan.

Obama, Senators Christopher S. "Kit" Bond and Evan Bayh of Indiana, and Representative Harold E. Ford Jr. of Tennessee arrived in Iraq yesterday on a trip that included meetings with American intelligence and reconstruction specialists and Iraqi election officials in the capital's fortified Green Zone, as well as visits today to troops in outlying provinces.

The lawmakers said that their constituents were proud of America's accomplishments in Iraq, but reluctant to commit further money and troops if the Iraqi government elected last month did not draw in all the country's ethnic and political factions. "We are not here to participate in something that is dominated by one particular party or one particular sect," said Bond, known as a strong backer of the US military.

To help draw Sunni Arabs into the political process, US officials have been communicating with members of the disaffected minority connected to the insurgency.

Is that why this is happening in The Other White Anglo-Saxon Protestant Oil Man's Burden?

Karzai Invites Contact With Taliban Head

President Hamid Karzai said Sunday that a few hundred Taliban fighters have reconciled with the government and suggested militant leader Mullah Omar should "get in touch" if he wanted to talk peace.

Like he hasn't got thousands more to draw from, Hamid? Besides - no one is convinced yet that you are dealing from any position of strength, considering current events in Afghanistan:

In the context of escalating violence, including suicide attacks, the remarks by Karzai in an interview with The Associated Press were seen as a significant softening of the government's previous policy of not negotiating with top leaders of the hard-line militia. Despite the spike in bloodshed, the U.S.-backed leader said the Taliban's resistance was fading although he expected suicide attacks to continue in Afghanistan "for a long time."
The past four months has seen a spate of about 20 suicide bombings, once a comparative rarity in Afghanistan.

Ah, well! What was that saying about best laid plans? Better tell Condi and Karen to get those burkhas cleaned. They are going to need them.

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