Wednesday, October 22, 2008

End Game – Iraq

It is still uncertain whether the Iraq war is four-act or five-act tragedy. On December 31, 2008 the UN mandate ends authorization for the US intervention in Iraq. After that date unless the Iraqis agree to the extended presence of US troops, the US becomes a rogue nation, if it continues its occupation.

Bush is desperately driving his policy to retain troops there until 2012. So far the Iraqis are deflecting his efforts by procedural maneuvers and calling for Shiite mass movements against any agreement that fosters US troop presence. General Ordinero, commander of US forces in Iraq, has publicly complained that elements from Iran are bribing Iraqis to resist agreement. Ordinero is right, but so what? The whole country is greased by bribes. Cynically concluded, the most effective bribers win the issue.

Maliki, the Iraqi government chieftain, has surprisingly called Ordinero out on his declaration. The Iraqi Shiite hetman rebuked Ordinero publicly saying he has lost his effectiveness in Iraq. This does not auger well for agreement between the two parties. As a matter of fact, it does just the opposite unless either Maliki or Ordinero unlikely find other work.

The Iraqis understand the pressure on the US to get an agreement. This is real leverage despite the fact they have US guns pointed at their heads. What makes the dice roll faster is the US presidential election; it is clear that if Obama wins, the process of US withdrawal is accelerated; if Bomb Bomb McCain succeeds, from the Iraqi stand point, a 100 years more of control by infidels. The Iraqis are astute enough to understand that under any case, it is better that there is no agreement now than a deal with the Bush/McCain/Neocon regime which is always available; there is a good chance with an Obama win, the Yankees will go home and Iraqis can kill each other without US interference.

No kind of American/Iraqi security deal is expected until after the US presidential election November 4, 2008.

One of General Saveus Petraeus's legacies is over 100,000 Sunnis of the Awakening Movement armed and paid 300 USD a month by the US. Only about 5000 have been put under Iraqi government control. Now the US is insisting the Shiite-controlled central government pay these Sunni militias instead of the Americans – you wanna bet on whether it will? My money says it will not and let the US hold the bag it created. General Petraeus left a ticking time bomb.

Progress towards political reconciliation made by Iraqis is underwhelming; just three of the 18 Bush bench marks have been made; and, only 12 of the 18 Iraqi provinces are under Iraqi control. President Bush said all would be secured by Iraqis as of November 2007. In this context Maliki has called for the 4500 UK troops at an airport near Basra to get out because they are no longer needed in the Basra region.

It is difficult to find reporting on Iraq. Over 120 journalists have been killed there. Those who remain reside in the safety of Green Zone which is another world away from the bloody Red zone where all the action occurs. The bravest journalists are the dead ones and no one is eager to join their ranks.

My sense is that the war is ending and there is little the US can do to control its outcome. Oil and security deals inked now under duress will be curtailed or renegotiated under future Iraqi regimes. Our many bases will be turned over to the Iraqis. Our Baghdad embassy, 5 times larger than the Pentagon, will be made into an air-conditioned grand souk and draw millions of shoppers from Islam. Who knows? Perhaps a new mosaic floor with GWB’s image will be installed to walk on in the Rahshid hotel to replace the one of Bush's father installed by Saddam, and torn up by GW Bush. This HWB floor was demolished immediately as US forces entered Baghdad – ah, the priorities of the invasion.

The Bush/McCain /Neocon WHITE PAPER on Iraq would read along these lines: 1. Looting of Baghdad National Museum and Library of up to 10,000 items – IT WAS UNTIDY, STUFF HAPPENS; 2. Over 85,000 Iraqi killed – WAR IS HELL; 3. Over 2 million Iraqi refugees – FOG OF WAR; 4. Over 4180 US KIA and 35000 wounded – DEMOCRACY IS NOT CHEAP; 5. Over a trillion dollars spent on the Iraq war – IT WAS A GW BUSH ECONOMIC STIMULUS PACKAGE; 6. Abu Gahrib – JUST A FEW BAD APPLES; 7. Iraqi slaughter at Fallujah II – THE IRAQIS ASKED FOR IT.

The biggest future story will be the massive corruption by US and Iraq officials and contractors. Perhaps the journalists will get out of their bunkers to cover it.

Given the enormous human suffering on both sides and the outrageous financial costs to the US, you can spin the Iraq war anyway you wish, but dare not call it victory. Colonel Robert E Bartos USA Ret.

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