Saturday, December 24, 2011

IRAQ-NONE DARE CALL IT VICTORY--As the US troops came marching home from Iraq, President Obama marked the occasion with a gala speech at Ft Bragg, North Carolina; the first lady was on the podium with him. Thanking the assembled cheering soldiers for their service, he characterized their return as one with honor and heads held high. At no time did the word victory cross the president's lips.

Does it follow that if the Iraq fiasco was not a victory, was it a defeat? It certainly was not a stalemate. Unlike the US chaotic departure from Vietnam under fire, however, US troops had an orderly withdrawal. Disorder in Iraq followed immediately after the last uniformed troop crossed out of Iraq into Kuwait.

Blasts rocked the country killing 68 and wounding 200 people to include children. Both Shiites and Sunnis were casualties. The unification government was shattered when Al-Maliki, a Shiite leader of the fragile Iraqi central government, issued an arrest warrant for the Sunni vice president, Tareg Hashemi. These events unfolded only days after the formal end of the US occupation. The reality is that the US force in Iraq appeared to be stop in the bottle--the stopper was now pulled out.

US response was one of aghast. It dispatched General SAVEUS Petraeus to Iraq in the cover of darkness to put Humpty Dumpty back together again. When that did not work, Obama rushed General Ordinero to Iraq in the brightness of day. Whether officially admitted or not, there still are reportedly 17,000 contractors in US pay; two bases remain there; and 4000 troops are still in Iraq. So complete withdrawal of US forces is myth that will blow up in the president's face when the insurgents zero in on this US residual force. Otherwise why would Obama send two four-star US Army generals back into the fray ? Both of these generals have had multiple bites of the apple without serious pacification, so why send them back ?

Except for those Iraqis paid by the US and its mercenaries, the US has little goodwill left in the Sunni and Shiite lands. Abu Gharib atrocities and the smashing of Fallujah finished long term US friendship in Iraq. Any Shiite appreciation for killing Saddam will steamrolled over by el Sadr and his Iranian allies. Kurdistan remains as a place where long term US interests could succeed, but that is a roll of the dice with Syria, Iran and Turkey playing in its backyard. VEEP Biden has always championed an independent Kurdistan, so that truncated state may be the best hope of the US in Iraq.

The US, with its abject support of Israel ,never did have much support on the Arab street even before its invasion and destruction of Iraq. Its invasion just polished off any influence. US bought Arab leaders mainly with military aid ,but that policy is evaporating in the Arab Spring.

Each day US influence in the area ebbs the US foreign policy is dysfunctional as it is in many cases projected through the American military industrial complex. Our trade seems to follow force projection through weapon sales. Ironically, China with loans to the US is the enabler. In this process the US has temporary gains while China permanently commands long term world resource markets and rapidly expands its military forces.

US has left a shattered Iraq with a smashed infrastructure and wrecked economy. A 100,000 Iraqi killed. Its museums looted. Cityscapes are choked with ugly cement blast barriers. Sectarian violence is busting out everywhere. The central government has no mandate with key cabinet security posts of defense and interior unfilled.

If the US left a democratic baby, it was still born. For this disaster the US has spent over a trillion dollars; had 4,487 killed and 32,226 wounded many of which lost limbs. Sixty six percent of our wounded suffer from traumatic brain injuries and post tramatic stress. Most will need costly extended care. In realpolitik ,Iran now has hegemony in the area. Even Obama does not have the temerity to call this mess an American victory.

Obama claims he fulfilled a campaign promise of ending the Iraq war. With a US residual force of around 20,000 still in Iraq, this boast is hollow. That this residual force is not higher was precluded only by Iraq which refused to accept a higher number by denying more under a status of forces agreement.

Despite the fanfare, the Iraq war is not over. US armed personnel still in Iraq will become targets and the US will respond with force---the surge is still not working --It never did, except in GW Bush's brain.-Colonel Robert E Bartos USA Ret


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