Monday, June 26, 2006

On the Iraq front:

The slaughter goes on with 170 more bodies of Iraqi civilians turning up in the Baghdad morgue this past week and 17 US troops dead, including 2 who were kidnapped, tortured and beheaded. PM Nuri al-Maliki presented his reconciliation plan which calls for a number of moves designed to get the insurgency to give up its arms and join the political process, which includes convincing the Shiite militias to get integrated into the security forces. Naturally, none of this pie-in-the-sky stuff has a chance in hell of being adopted.

Just before al-Maliki released this grand plan, the center of Baghdad erupted into a flaming sea of fire and death as competing militias fought each other on Haifa, the main drag -- a la Beirut 1970's style ---as US and Iraqi army units intervened to put a stop to it and yet another city wide curfew was declared, which brought Iraq's capital city to a standstill. Can't you just feel the progress going on?

Something tells me no matter what the hell we do, whether we stay or go, we're going to keep losing troops in ever larger numbers as the insurgency gets more and more effective and we begin to draw down, which is inevitable. The less troops we have the more stretched they're going to be and the fewer troops there will be for force protection. Sure we can project our power through the air, but that will lead to more civilian deaths, like this sort of tactic is doing in Afghanistan (and in Gaza). This in turn will engender more recruitment for the insurgents and put more pressure on the government of al-Maliki to throw us out.

And the fewer troops we have the less influence we'll have and that vacuum will be filled more and more by the Iranians. Today, on NPR's Day to Day, Ted Koppel had an interesting commentary which provides a lot of food for thought, all of it bad food for thought. He talked to some Jordanian security people, who are understandably nervous about our bungling and the growing influence of Iran in the region. The way they see it, he says, W.'s insistence on bringing democracy to the Middle East is a recipe for disaster. According to an anonymous intelligence official he interviewed, the Shiite crescent that everyone is so worried about is more likely to be a Shiite full moon.

The official, "Mr. X.," says the Iranians and their Iraqi minions will use democracy like toilet paper; use it once and then throw it away: like Hamas is trying to do in the PA, for instance. "Mr. X" says Hosni Mubarak may be an old-style corrupt dictator, but if we were to force him to open up Egypt to democratic reforms, the Muslim Brotherhood would take over there, as well; and then we would have the Brotherhood in Egypt, Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in Palestine (they're Sunnis but terrorists), and Iran would be in total control of almost the entire region. [He didn't say this, but presumably, the Kurds would go their own way in the north and the Iranian backed Iraqi Shiites would take over the South and fund their ethnic cleansing of the Sunnis with their newly found oil profits.]

And he says the threat of an Iranian bomb is a red herring, because such a capability would be neutralized by Israel's far larger arsenal. (This is what I've been saying all along, but does anyone listen to me?) "Mr. X" says the only way the US can counter Iran is to get at them through Iraq, but this would mean enlarging the US presence in Iraq significantly. Obviously, there is no political will for that to happen, so the only other option is an equally bad one, let Iran become the major regional power and just deal with them.

See, if the Republicans were really all about 'staying the course,' they'd call for the resumption of the draft and send another 100,000 or 200,000 troops into Iraq and finish the job once and for all. As is it is, we're just throwing good money after bad and pouring American blood down the drain.


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