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Tag Archives: Iraq
Beinart chats with friends in high places: Liberal “hawks” like him played a major role in enabling the Iraq debacle
In 2003, the United States launched an unprovoked invasion of Iraq, a country that had neither attacked nor threatened it — and we, and the Iraqis, are still living with the consequences. Going to war in Iraq was made possible — easy, even — for the Bush Administration not only by Republican hawks and neocon extremists (the wannabe Army Corps of Social Engineers) baying for blood, but even more importantly, by supposedly sober and moderate liberal voices — the Peter Beinarts, Ken Pollacks, George Packers and the editors of the New York Times — not only failing to challenge the basic logic of the case for war, but providing their own more elegant (although equally brutal when stripped of their high-minded rhetoric) rationalizations for invading Iraq.
It was the liberal “hawks” and the New York Times, by failing to ask the right questions of the case for war, that did more to make the war a “thinkable” option for America than any neocon. They allowed the question to be posed simply as one of whether Saddam had weapons of mass destruction or not. And because nobody could give an absolute assurance in the negative, the argument became “better safe than sorry”. The liberals and the New York Times offered no challenge, and asked no questions, of the basic assumption that if Saddam had, in fact, had a couple of warehouses full of VX gas and refrigerator full of anthrax, that necessitated launching a war that has resulted in the deaths of hundreds of upward of half a million Iraqis (and thousands of Americans) and left America weaker and more vulnerable.
And the bad news is that they’re doing it again on Iran. Continue reading
The war in Iraq is drawing to a close — and hardly on the terms of those who initiated it. It’s end is being hastened by Iraqi democracy, and by the retrenchment of U.S. power globally, accelerated by the sharp economic downturn Continue reading
Extract from a piece I did in the National this week on the floundering effort to negotiate a U.S.-Iraq security deal to replace the current UN Resolution that expires in December:
The problem, for the US and for those Iraqi political factions most dependent on its presence, is that the vast majority of Iraqis oppose a long-term US presence, which to them feels like an occupation. The demand for the US to agree to a departure date enjoys overwhelming support – and public opinion is clearly reflected in the response of Iraqi parliamentarians to the security deal with Washington.
What the Bush administration is encountering here is the unkind reality of just how few friends America really has in Iraq. Sure, it has an alliance with the government of Mr Maliki, the prime minister, and with its largest party, the Supreme Islamic Council. And it also has cordial relations with some of the Sunni nationalist parties and, of course, with the Kurds.
But none of these groups shares the US agenda for Iraq. Instead, each has responded to the US presence as an opportunity to pursue its own ends. Each has engaged in tactical alliances with Washington in the hope of using US power against its foes in the intra-Iraqi power game.
By seeking a permanent security deal with Iraq, Bush has forced Iraqi politicians to show their hands. And none wants a long-term U.S. presence
The testimony of General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker this week — and the ensuing congressional debate — were so utterly predictable, so bland and so basically unchanged from what we heard a year ago, that I thought I’d check in on what I wrote a year ago on the matter, under the title “Why the U.S. Can’t Leave Iraq.” And so much of it applied, with such minor variation, that I thought if Petraeus and Crocker — and a supporting cast of senators — can roll out pretty much the same speeches and analysis as they did a year ago, then why the hell shouldn’t I?
Here it is again, then, exactly as it appeared on April 26, 2007:
The debate in Washington over troop withdrawals from Iraq is largely a pantomime for domestic political consumption — the Democrats are maneuvering to disassociate themselves from an unpopular war that a majority of their senators originally backed, and that they know can’t be ended any time soon but for which they don’t want to share the blame come election year 2008. The reality is that the U.S. can’t leave Iraq for the foreseeable future without fundamentally altering the basic goals of its Middle East policy over the past half century, and the Democrats talk of “benchmarks” and “deadlines” is unlikely to be taken seriously by the Iraqi players — except to the extent that they need to humor the Americans. The failure of the Iraqi government to make significant “progress” towards achieving the Bush Administration’s benchmarks may be routinely reported here has a sign of infighting among them or their political weakness, but the reality may be that they have no intention of acting out Washington’s script. Continue reading
It should come as no surprise that Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s disastrous offensive against the Mahdi Army of Moqtada Sadr in Basra has had the exact opposite effect of that intended — strengthening rather than weakening Sadr, and making clear that he, and the Iranians, have far greater influence of Iraq’s future than does the Iraqi government or the U.S. That’s because Maliki’s shared the fate of pretty much every similar initiative by the Bush Administration and its allies and proxies since the onset of the “war on terror.”
The pattern is all too common: The U.S. or an ally or proxy launches a military offensive against a politically popular “enemy” group; Bush and his minions welcome the violence as “clarifying” matters, demonstrating “resolve”, or, in the most grotesque rhetorical flourish of all, the “birth pangs” of a brave new world. Each time, the “enemy” proves far more resilient than expected, largely because Bush and his allies have failed to recognize that each adversary’s power should be measured in political support rather than firepower; and the net effect of the offensive invariably leaves the enemy strengthened and the U.S. and its allies even weaker than before they launched the offensive. Continue reading
American Taliban council of war
Five years into the catastrophe (for millions of Iraqis, and ultimately, for millions of Americans) in Iraq, has the media really asked itself how it enabled this war. Not only was it patently obvious that there was no evidence to back up the case for war, there was no questioning of its basic premise, i.e. that certain categories of weapons in the hands of a rival regime forced the U.S. to “preemptively” invade another country without provocation Continue reading