Monday, June 16, 2008

The Frankly Futile Neo-Con Offensive

There are times when I wonder about the appropriateness of applying war metaphors to neo-conservatives like the Kagans, Robert Kaplan, Michael Yon, and the many laptop heroes of the Weekly Standard.

But the neo-cons are on the offensive again.

And, once again, it looks like they're going to lose.

Much like the neo-cons oversold the invasion in 2003, they're now overselling the surge.

According to the neo-cons, the surge is "oh so close" to securing "victory" in Iraq and they're united in frustration over the failure of the media to trumpet all the successes. For Frederick Kagan, this means that John McCain should become the next president because of his early advocacy of the surge.

What's happened in Kagan's mind is that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has become the Teddy Roosevelt of Iraq. Directing the Iraqi Army personally at one point, al-Maliki has pacified Basra and the Sadr City slum in Baghdad and is now moving on the last al-Qaida stronghold of Mosul. Added to the success of the Anbar Awakening in the Sunni area of Western Iraq and Kagan argues that the surge is meeting American objectives.

As a result, Kagan believes that Iraq has met the Bush administration's stated goals of being a sovereign country, having a democratic form of government, and being an ally of the U. S. in the war on terror.

In many ways, Kagan's position is just more of the same big lies. Certainly, violence is way down in Iraq and Iraq has come back from the state of Somalia-like anarchy that existed in late 2006. But it's also pretty much a mirage. The Maliki/American strategy in both Basra and Sadr City has been to have the Iraqi Army confront the Shiite Mahdi militia with ultimatums to stand down from their "normal" street patrols. What tilted the confrontation in the direction of al-Maliki was that the Iraqi Army was backed up by American military power that was threatening to turn Basra and Sadr City into Iraqi versions of Grozny and Sarajevo.

But the Mahdi Army is still organized and still armed. So are the Sunni militiamen in Anbar and the Kurds in the North. In other words, the U. S. military basically put a tight cover on the Iraqi pressure cooker. Much like the "phony war" in Europe in 1839-1840, Iraq now has a phony peace in which the Iraqi government has terrorized the Shiite population into acquiescence.

But I think neo-con overselling makes withdrawing American troops look like a better idea than ever. Taking the neo-cons at their word, we no longer need 150,000 troops in Iraq, and will consequently be able to withdraw over the next two years without negative consequences.

And that's what Barack Obama would do.

If Obama is elected, he'll begin withdrawing a brigade at a time 60 days after his inauguration and complete the withdrawal in 2010.

That means that the Iraqi government has two more years to prepare to handle their own affairs without their affairs without the iron fist of an occupation army.

Given the progress that the neo-cons are claiming, that should be no problem.

6 comments:

Mark Smith said...

Yon doesn't work for The Weekly Standard.Never has. You can't even get that simple fact right, so is it any wonder you can't get anything else right, especially about Obama's intentions regarding Iraq.

He does NOT intend to withdraw any troops in the manner and time frame you have written. Try to stay up to date with his LATEST statement about Iraq.

Seems it not just the "neocons" who know the surge is working, so do all the members of the MSM that have covered the war from bureaus in Baghdad. Google "60 Months In The Red Zone". Get a clue!

You teach? That's scary!

Ric Caric said...

Perhaps you were deceived by the lack of a comma after "Yon." I didn't mean to say that war-romantic Michael Yon worked for the war romantics at the Weekly Standard.

Surprising that he doesn't though.

Here's the current statement from Obama's web site:

"Obama will immediately begin to remove our troops from Iraq. He will remove one to two combat brigades each month, and have all of our combat brigades out of Iraq within 16 months. Obama will make it clear that we will not build any permanent bases in Iraq. He will keep some troops in Iraq to protect our embassy and diplomats; if al Qaeda attempts to build a base within Iraq, he will keep troops in Iraq or elsewhere in the region to carry out targeted strikes on al Qaeda."

I've heard him say in a recent speech that he's wait 60 days before beginning withdrawing a brigade at a time.

However, the web site says "immediately" which probably means "immediately after his inauguration" on Jan. 20, 2009.

The withdrawal would be complete 16 months after an Obama inauguration. That would be July 2010 pretty much as I claimed in my post.

In relation to the surge, I emphasized that the surge has accomplished some things and my position that we've got a "phony peace" isn't that far from the pronouncements of Gen. Petraeus or Ambassador Crocker.

But the surge hasn't accomplished what the warmonger faction wanted which was to justify an indefinite occupation of Iraq. At this point, Iraq has an elected government and they're in relative good position compared to 18 months. We can withdraw our troops in relatively good faith given that the U. S. invasion resulted in 100,000 plus deaths, 2 million exiles, opened the gates for violent sectarianism, and destroyed big chunks of many Iraqi cities.

But we can thank the surge that things aren't even worse.

Scottye said...

He does teach, but he has one major prerequisite, basic reading comprehension.

Tim said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tim said...

Ric, Kaplan has a piece on the "Current" section of www.theatlantic.com that is just monstrous in its stupidity. I own at least 4 books by Kaplan and I read them all prior to the Iraqi invasion. I remember thinking how anyone who read Kaplan's books would oppose such an invasion. Democracy is not instilled at the point of gun, Arabs have grown increasingly nationalistic, and the institutions required for a stable government did not exist and could not be created overnight.

Imagine my surprise to find Kaplan himself supporting the war. In any event, the invasion and occupation of Iraq unfolded much like anyone who wasn't a neocon (or listened to them) thought it would. Reading Kaplan's piece on the Atlantic's site, though, all I could think of is how dishonest these people are.

The US troops in Iraq are keeping the peace (car bombs in Baghdad notwithstanding), because in true Imperial fashion, we are paying the Sunnis to not kill us or the Shia. it is that Anbar Awakening (offered in 2004 by the Sunni) that is keeping the peace (temporarily).

The Kagans and Kaplans of the world have yet to face the fact that they were wrong about invading Iraq in the first place, they were wrong about the insurrection, they were wrong about the Surge (have I missed the political stabilization?), they were wrong about Basra (Sadr ordered his men to stop fighting when US Stryker brigades and air strikes got involved...he can beat the Iraqi Army, but he knows he can't beat US firepower), but they still DEMAND to be listened to?!?

Only 7 more months of their feckless bleating will need to be endured. Then, the long winter of their discontent will begin and can enjoy four or more years of these "genius's" lamenting their failures and calling the rest of us names.

Since that means they won't be killing anyone, it's an improvement.

Obviously, I meant killing with their policies. I doubt the pudgy Kagans and their gang of warriors would get anywhere near a gun.

[asked later if was making a chickenhawk argument, Tim admitted he was. "Sending someone else to fight for a cause is so George W"]

Ric Caric said...

I saw that Kaplan piece. It was exactly as wretched as you say.