Sunday, May 30, 2021

Why are we in Iraq?

By Douglas MacArthur
War Correspondent

Fans of endless wars, including those great moral beacons Billy Kristol and Liz Cheney, were disappointed to learn that after 20 years of futility, the Biden Administration decided to pull the plug on Afghanistan, the war that was supposed to make the world safe from al-Qaeda terrorism, after which we hung around another 18 years looking for some reason to justify the endless effusion of American blood and treasure.

And by the way, it's going great, according to The New York Times:

The Taliban have negotiated Afghan troop surrenders in the past, but never at the scale and pace of the base collapses this month in the four provinces extending east, north and west of Kabul. The tactic has removed hundreds of government forces from the battlefield, secured strategic territory and reaped weapons, ammunition and vehicles for the Taliban — often without firing a shot.  

It's almost like there was no country there to defend, despite the Pentagon's protestations to the contrary.

But cheer up neocons – there's yet another endless futile war that's percolating along in the Middle East which no one is paying any attention to. Remember Iraq?  The war that was supposed to make the Middle East safe for democracy?  At least that's what Condoleezza Rice kept telling us:

Conceding that it had been “a long five years,” Ms. Rice said that Iraq had made “significant progress, remarkable progress,” however fragile, and she quoted President Jalal Talabani, who had said that the country was experiencing “a political spring.”

As rockets and mortars crashed into the fortified Green Zone, Ms. Rice met with Mr. Maliki, Mr. Talabani and other government leaders, then spoke briefly at the United States Embassy and dedicated a plaque there to commemorate two embassy employees killed in rocket attacks on the zone.

 .... She played down recent violence in various parts of Iraq, saying that there would be days when “extremists manage, despite the fact they clearly are weakened,” to conduct suicide bombings and other attacks. . . .Two suicide bombings in three days last week killed at least 80 people in Diyala Province, north of Baghdad.

And that was 13 years ago.  By the way, we assume that after lying her way through the entire Iraq debacle, the disgraced and disgraceful Ms. Rice would be unable to gain employment other than as a cocktail-bar piano player.  Right?


Wtf?  We've been bs'ing our brains out for decades and no one has offered us a cushy faux-academic sinecure in pleasant Palo Alto.  

By the way, what is the Hoover Institution anyway?  According to it, it is "an independent institution within the frame of Stanford University."

What does that even mean?  What frame?  The html frame, as shown by the screenshot above? We think it means that the clownish ideologues who populate it get to pretend they are part of a prestigious academic institution while being able to spout nonsense without any of the oversight or responsibility normally associated with such an institution (not that there's much of that anywhere, see, e.g., child rapist Jeffrey Epstein and Harvard University).  It's like saying that after walking through the swamp, the leeches were “within the frame” of your shorts.

But we digress.  Let's get back to Ms. Rice's splendid little Iraqi War and how it's going 13 years after she beat feet out of Baghdad one step ahead of the mortars:

BAGHDAD — U.S. military officials in Iraq have grown increasingly alarmed over attacks by Iran-backed militias using drones to evade detection systems around military bases and diplomatic facilities.

 .... An official with the U.S.-led coalition described the evolving drone threat as the military mission’s biggest concern in Iraq.

In April, a drone strike targeted a CIA hangar inside the airport complex in the northern city of Irbil, according to officials familiar with the matter....The attack deeply concerned White House and Pentagon officials because of the covert nature of the facility and the sophistication of the strike.

Although no one was harmed in the strike, it prompted a long night of deliberations over how to respond, according to Western officials. Some U.S. officials advocated serious consideration of a military response, ... The Biden administration ultimately decided against taking military action.

“The damage wasn’t huge but the coalition were very upset. They told our commanders that it was a major escalation,” said one Iraqi soldier stationed at Ain al-Asad. . . .Ain al-Asad was previously targeted by Iran with ballistic missiles in January 2020 in response to the U.S. assassination of Iranian commander Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani earlier that month.

Rocket attacks by Iran-backed groups have at times killed American servicemen
and Iraqi security personnel and civilians, prompting retaliatory military action from the United States and pushing Washington and Tehran to the brink of outright conflict on Iraqi soil. 

So we have 2,500 splendid troops fighting in Iraq against Iran?  Why?  Were we always fighting Iran? After two decades, it's hard to remember just what we've been shooting at all these years.  First it was that vertex of the Axis of Evil, Saddam Hussein.  

Another digression: Remember who said that Saddam's Iraq was one corner of a triangular Axis of Evil, along with Iran, which was in fact Saddam's mortal enemy, and North Korea, which had nothing to do with any of this?  We'd bet that if we said anything as stupid as that, we'd be sent packing back to Toronto, forced to survive by selling poutine from a cart on Toronto Avenue.

So where is that guy?

He started out with a blog filled with white supremacist garbage like advocating the repeal of birthright citizenship.  That sounds about right, but as with Lyin' Condie Rice, David Frum has had a renascence of sorts:

With apologies to Barry Levinson, did you ever get the idea that there's something going on that we don't know about?

Back to our Iraq War.  We started the war to get rid of Saddam Hussein.  Then – funny story here – after Saddam was indeed gotten rid of, the war went on, this time against the pieces of Iraq that Saddam had kept from killing each other: Sunni and Shia militas, the latter backed by their coreligionists over at the second vertex of the triangular Axis, Iran.  Here's a typical day's war dispatch, from The New York Times:

Early Thursday, the American military launched another airstrike in a residential neighborhood of southwestern Falluja, military officials said. The strike killed at least 4 people and wounded at least 10, . . .

Falluja has become a haven for anti-American fighters who follow hard-line Sunni clerics who have imposed Islamic law. Foreign jihadists, loyalists to Mr. Hussein and disaffected young men also roam the streets, armed with rocket-propelled grenades and AK-47's. Insurgents groups regularly kidnap and occasionally kill foreign civilians passing through the area.

In the southern holy city of Najaf, militiamen loyal to the firebrand cleric Moktada al-Sadr agreed on Wednesday to trade 16 police officers they had captured this week for two insurgents imprisoned by the government,. . . said. Nine police officers still remain in the hands of the militia, the [Shiite] Mahdi Army. 

While liberator George W. Bush practiced
good toe hygiene, the Iraq War went on

Mr. Sadr's forces clearly remain defiant of both the Iraqi government and the American military, despite recent gestures made by Mr. Sadr that he wants to get involved in mainstream politics. 

American commanders have dropped the promise they made in April to kill or capture the cleric. Mr. Sadr is more popular than ever, having emerged as a folk hero during the revolt he led against the occupation. 

Fighting against everyone worked out about as well as you might expect, until in 2008 United States forces decided they would ally with the Sunni militias they had previously fought, while the Iraqi Government fell under the sway of Iran, who in turn controlled the Shia militias.

After great war hero George W. Bush left Washington to pursue his lifelong interest in toe paintings, the war smouldered until President Obama fulfilled his predecessor's commitment to end American combat operations in 2011.

Then the war started right back up again between the Shiite-dominated Iraqi Government and their Iranian handlers on the one side and increasingly extreme Sunni militias (including, wait for it, al-Qaeda), on the other:

Violence and political instability have escalated across Iraq since the withdrawal of American forces, as political and sectarian factions have fought for power and influence in a struggle that, within weeks, has threatened to undo the stability that allowed the pullout in the first place.

Enter, you guessed it, the United States again:

WASHINGTON — President Obama has authorized the deployment of an additional 1,500 American troops to Iraq in the coming months, doubling the number of Americans meant to train and advise Iraqi and Kurdish forces. The trainers and advisers are to help Iraqis and Kurds as they plan a major offensive expected next spring against Islamic State fighters who have poured into Iraq from Syria.

That's the dreaded ISIS. Remember them? Eventually they were pushed into a narrow corner of wasteland, but – our troops stayed on. 

And there's still there today, now apparently fighting Iranian forces again, thanks to the Former Loser Grifter's pointless strike on an Iranian general in Iraq.

Which leads to the question: why the f*** are we still there, 20 years after destroying the only stability the cobbled-together non-country of Iraq ever had?  Whom else can we fight?  When will we know when we win?  And what would winning look like?

The same Washington Post story quoted above included this rather obscure statement:

The future of the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq is the focus of ongoing discussions between U.S. and Iraqi officials.

If they come up with something, let's hope they let us know.

Happy Memorial Day.

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