Friday, March 22, 2013

Mission Not Accomplished

A little more than a decade ago our nation blundered into one of the biggest foreign policy disasters in its history. In a place where Marcus Licinius Crassus  and Flavius Claudius Julianus Augustus (Julian The Apostate) came to grief the United States of America found out that the waters of Babylon are still just as treacherous as they were in ancient times.

While the Iraqis did not manage to turn George W. Bush into a wall decoration like they did to Publius Licinius Valerianus Augustus (Valerian) they did make The Shrub a by-word for gross incompetence.

But it take a village to make a village idiot. George W. Bush had a lot of help in making the mess in Mesopotamia. The nifty Neocon idea of overthrowing Saddam Hussein and installing “freeeeedom!” had its roots all the way back in the reign of Bubba. It was the Big Dog that made it official U.S. Policy that Saddam be show the door.

President William Jefferson Clinton never did put a “sell by” date on the idea of regime change in Iraq, making the notion more of a wish than a serious consideration. In the wink and nod game that was Oil For Food, Saddam’s family made out like the bandits they were, and the Iraq people got stuck with the bill. The regime did not change, Saddam was still there-- larger than life and twice as ugly.

Still, in the U.S., the damage was already done. The official policy of the U.S. was regime change. The policy laid on the table like a loaded gun in a Chekov play; and wouldn’t you know there was just the political actor more than willing to use that gun.

That man was not Incurious George, the upwardly failing Scion of George H. Bush, but Richard V. Cheney, the other dry drunk in the Administration. A man whose sole purpose in life seems to be to prove the cliche that “Truth is stranger than fiction,” Cheney’s fingerprints can be found all over the Iraq invasion.

Cheney was a NeoCon in good standing and has a huge chip on his shoulder going all the way back to the Nixon Administration. Being a big fan of the Imperial Presidency Cheney was itching to restore the overarching power of the executive and had found his sock puppet in that endeavor; Bush the Younger.

Cheney proceeded to set up WHIG, the White House Iraq Iraq Group, a cabal/conspiracy to find a casus belli for war with Iraq. By cherry picking raw intelligence Cheney was able first convince Bush and then the nation that the Mushroom Cloud was coming to a neighborhood near you if Saddam was not put to bed and pronto.

Thanks to Osama bin Laden and his unhappy campers toasting marshmallows in the mountains of the Hindu Kush, Cheney and Bush had the set up they needed, the 9/11/01  Terrorist Attack on the U.S. In a rush of hyper-patriotism, anger, and desire for revenge the U.S. Public was sold a bill of goods: the Iraq War.

If one can be dispassionate about such things, one can admire the evil genius of Cheney and Bush. Cheney created the policy and Bush sold it. Give The Shrub his due, the man played hardball politics like no other man in office of President since LBJ. He placed the feckless Democratic opposition in a no-win political vice and kept tightening it. Even bright, dedicated Senators who should have know better, yes Hillary Clinton I am talking to you, voted for the war. The dereliction of duty by the Legislative branch was both nauseating and utterly predictable. Bush was riding sky-high polls and the 4th branch of government, the check that was supposed to be the Media, was AWOL or worse a 5th columnist collaborator in the rush for war.

A few words on the press. The abject failure of the press to do its job, to apply even a soup├žon of skepticism to the Bush Administration’s talking points was appalling. They also saw those sky-high Bush approval ratings and had no stomach to do their job, to act as a seawall to the jingoistic tsunami that Bush was creating. Instead, for ratings, they decided to join the flag waving and the general blood-lust of the moment. Thus was paper-thin evidence like the aluminum tubes , Yellow-cake uranium from Africa, and mobile Anthrax Labs given a pass. Stories that would not pass muster in a Bond film, that is in fiction, were treated as infallible doctrine handed down by the deity and the host of angles.

But a strange thing happened on the way to be showered with flowers and kissed by a grateful Iraqi people; the whole thing went to hell in hand basket. The unwarranted and reckless rush to war turned sour. Shock and Awe did not turn the natives into pliant supplicants to our Imperial will. The coalition of the Willing was found wanting. There were not enough troops on the ground for a proper occupation, and it only got worse from there.

The outright waste and theft allowed by Paul Brener’s house of horrors, otherwise known as the Coalition Provisional Authority, was a case study in how not to rebuild a nation. Lead by a hodgepodge group of NeoCon goof-balls and Libertarian Wing-nuts, the CPA was Grover Nordquist’s wet-dream of government drowned in a bathtub. It was glorious, right up to point when the IEDs started exploding. To this day Iraqis still fear the things that go boom in the night, and the afternoon, and the morning. To this day the Iraqi still suffer from a lack of government, living in a twilight Mad Max land where the gun and the bomb are law.

The government is still a shambolic mess. The Kurds have gone their way, the Sunni Triangle is still a hot mess, and the Shias are divided amongst themselves. In the middle of the maelstrom is the U.S., still not really gone. The more obvious symbols of U.S. Hegemony gone horrible wrong are gone, the hundreds of thousands of U.S. military are gone, but don’t be fooled, 17,000 diplomats are still hunkered down in the world’s biggest embassy. There also are some 5,000 mercenaries, oops sorry “Security Contractors”, running around, hell for leather, in the land of the two rivers adding to fun and frolics.

So forget all that nonsense about how Obama has ended the war. The withdrawal was negotiated by Bush, with a end date certain. Obama tried to weasel out of that by changing the SOFA, but in a rare display of independence the Iraqi government said “no.” Obama continues to run that Embassy of 17,000 personal, and to hire those, cough, cough, “Contractors.”  We are no longer waist deep in the gore of Iraq, but we are still at least ankle deep if not shin deep. Happy tenth anniversary, mission still not accomplished.
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