Friday, May 18, 2007

6,000

6,000. That, gentle reader, is the total number of trained Iraqi soldiers now available for the global war on terror. Five years and 500 billion plus of investments have made a mole hill out of a mountain. Only now do we know the real numbers. Remember the four or was it five divisions of the Iraqi army that were kind of-sort of-not-really-ready with the one or two divisions that were? Even that depressing figure was a lie, a feel good story. No, there are only the equivalent of ten battalions of fully trained Iraq soldiers ready for duty. Put another way, of the 120 battalions that make up the Iraqi army less than 10% can go it alone. The other 110 battalions need assistance from the US armed forces.

What does this mean? For one it means the surge is doomed. This is not Hate-America Defeatocrat propaganda, this is hard cold fact. General Petraeus’s surge depended on the Iraqis chipping in some troopers. Even with 170,000 troops the US alone could not come up with the manpower to reach the one troop for every 50 civilians goal Petraeus had set it. The Iraqis were supposed to fill the breach. So even by the narrow military calculus that the Bushies seem to measure everything in Iraq by we come up short. There are not enough Iraqi troopers to insure calm in Baghdad never mind Iraq. It’s simple numbers.

So where to find more troopers? The coalition of the willing is long gone. Even the Australians our firmest friends in the world are packing their bags and going home. We could hire more mercenaries er uh contractors in Iraq. But there are almost as many contractors firing bullets and taking hits as US soldiers. One of the dirty not so little secrets of the Iraq war is how privatized this conflict has become. Plus even if the US was able to find the bodies to fight the good fight we still have the political facts on the ground.

If the military situation wasn’t depressing enough the political situation is worse. No one is talking and there is no one to talk to even if there was something to discuss. The Sunnis have their insurgency and it is an amorphous affaire. The leadership is diffuse, no one person or even group of people speak for the Sunnies. Al Qaeda is definately not going to talk to us. Truth be told it is a miniscule part of the insurgency. So while we keep killing off the No. 2 man of Al Qaeda in Iraq (what a crappy job that has turned out to be, it must offer one hell of a benefit package for there to be any takers) the Sunni insurgency is doing quite well thank you very much. Five years into the occupation large portions of the Sunni Triangle are still no-go areas for US troopers. The Shi‘ite are getting restive again adding to Iraq’s woes. They have set loose their death squads on the Sunnis and US troopers. Ordinary Sunnis are ending up dead on the streets with evidence of horrible torture. US troopers are getting bombed and kidnaped with nauseating regularity. Muqtada al-Sadr is back, bigger than life and twice as ugly. Mookie wants the US gone. Mookie also is not about to compromise with the Sunnis. So with no one to talk to and no army to enforce it’s will; is it any surprise that the Iraqi parliament is leaving the scorching confines of the Capital for a two month vacation? Quite possibly it is the most sensible thing they have done in their short political lives. On most days they can’t even reach a quorum anyway so why even try in the dog-days of summer?

Of course the Bushies are having none of this. They sent the Dark Lord Of The Sith, Darth Cheny to bring the Iraqi law makers back into the fold. This, the surge and their new, shiny, freshly-minted war czar are supposed to save the Iraq situation. Just give it a chance, we are making progress. At approximately 1,000 troopers per year trained we will have the 500,000 soldiers General Shinseki said we really needed in Iraq in only 500 years.
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