Secular Right | Reality & Reason

Jul/11

14

Iraq’s attempt at a free lunch

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In Shadow of Death, Iraq and U.S. Tiptoe Around a Deadline:

The government of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki is privately telling American officials that it wants their army to stay here after this year.

The Americans are privately telling their Iraqi counterparts that they want to stay.

But under what conditions, and at what price to the Americans who stay behind?

American combat deaths are on the rise here, an ominous harbinger of what lies ahead if an agreement is reached to keep troops here after the withdrawal deadline set for the end of the year. For the same Iraqi government that wants the Americans to stay is also tacitly condoning attacks by Shiite militias on American troops, by failing to respond as aggressively to their attacks as it does to those of Sunni insurgent groups such as Al Qaeda in Iraq.

All things being equal, the Iraqis would prefer an agreement between the two governments for a continued troop presence without the political complications that would come from submitting it to Parliament. The Americans have insisted any deal be ratified by Parliament because their lawyers have decided it is the only way to secure legal immunities for any soldiers that stay.

To make this palatable to the citizenry in Iraq and the United States, the public relations game is to draft language that is politically acceptable yet obscures the reality that American soldiers will continue to face an enemy, will need to defend themselves and will almost certainly continue to die.

The New York Times makes a show of objectivity, but here the mask has fallen. The piece drips with skepticism and war weariness, but that’s because the American people are so skeptical and war weary that this sort of piece is cautious and measured compared to the real feelings of the populace.

We’re on the precipice of national default and the Obama administration can’t do anything about a war without end and meaning? Barack Obama put his political capital behind health care reform, and passed it. He’s a liberal Democrat. What else did you expect him to do? But he’s a liberal Democrat with the power of the executive branch in foreign policy, why isn’t he cutting short this farce! Is the institutional power of the military-industrial complex and the internationalist elite such that there is no chance that any American executive can extract us from foolish entanglements?

5 comments

  • Mark · July 14, 2011 at 5:37 pm

    Since when were liberal Democrats against war? LBJ? FDR? Wilson? Even Clinton in the Balkans and some hellhole in Africa?

    And the answer to your last question–just in case it wasn’t rhetorical–is YES, obviously.

  • James · July 14, 2011 at 7:46 pm

    The vague opinions of the American populace are of no import. We live in a post-democratic political universe. (See Burnham’s The Managerial Revolution and John Lukacs’ Outgrowing Democracy for details.)

    That people are taking the elimination of their jobs, intrusions by the police state, and the imminent gutting of their social programs in the name of preserving big banks and the military complex by lying down. Apparently the “citizenry” is accepting of this soft fascism as long as they can continue to watch Dancing With The Stars in high definition.

  • Jonathan Campbell · July 16, 2011 at 11:27 pm

    This is almost as much the Republicans’ (including Tea Party’s) fault as Obama’s. If Obama pulled out and chaos ensued, the Right would blame Obama even though a moderate level of chaos is a price we should be willing to pay to get out of there.

  • Polichinello · July 18, 2011 at 6:13 pm

    This is almost as much the Republicans’ (including Tea Party’s) fault as Obama’s.

    Yes, yes, and yes again.

    The only exclusions to this are the few Ron and Rand Paul types, maybe the congressman from NC who apostatized on the whole neocon project in 2006.

  • Handle · July 23, 2011 at 3:59 pm

    It’s worth mentioning that violence against US forces in Iraq, which had lulled down to a few isolated incidents, has recently spiked.

    In the year May 1, 2010 to May 1, 2011 – There were “only” 17 hostile incidents which resulted in fatalities, with 23 KIA (in the worse year-long period, from Sept. 2006-07, there were over 1,150 killed, so a reduction of nearly 98%). In only the last 11 weeks alone, however, there have been 10 such incidents with 20 KIA.

    Some news reports claim some of this is due to Iran, but whatever the cause, the latest phase of the mission was to leave Iraq in a condition in which it could use its vast petroleum wealth to secure itself independently. If it cannot do that, why not? If the US cannot leave now, then when? How do we get from here to there, and how long will it take?

    Someone who has access to the executive should ask the President these. But no one will.

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