Iraq Doesn't Need Any More Heavy Weapons
I know everyone is abuzz today about how the Baker/Hamilton commission's bleak report on Iraq represents the beginning of the end for Bush's disastrous blunder. True, there is now light at the end of that bloody gauntlet. But more US kids will have to die before it's over, not for strategic, but for entirely face-saving reasons.
And, if you listened carefully to statements from both administration and Iraqi officials over the the last couple of weeks, you heard the lid on the KY jelly jar being loosened for one last reaming - of you, your kids and your grandkids.
It's a "new plan," a plan to "beef up Iraqi military" so it can take over from US forces. You heard Iraqi Prime Minister Al-Maliki last week claim that the only reason his forces have not stood up to the insurgents so far is because they don't have any "heavy weapons." He wants heavy weapons -- tanks, Humvees, artillery, that kind of stuff.
Maliki's request fell on eager -- no, desperate -- ears. George W. Bush, now painted into a corner by his own incompetence, is now looking for any way to hold off Iraq's inevitably collapse until after he leaves office. And Maliki's request for more military gear was just the ticket, especially now that the Baker/Hamilton has sanctified the notion of encouraging and enabling the Iraqis to fight for themselves.
Of course, Iraq can't even pay it's own utility bills, so guess who's going to have to borrow a few billion dollars more to pay for those heavy weapons Maliki wants?
Bush's new strategy, which has already begun to emerge, will be a two-pronged ruse: 1) Increase training of Iraqi troops, and 2) Provide them "the means" to function after US forces leave. ("Means" = heavy weapons.)
Bear with me here as I free associate on this "new course forward:"
Let's see -- first let's talk about "heavy weapons."
Over the past three years the harsh Iraq environment has worn down our own military's stock of heavy weapons to the breaking point. Nearly $8 billion in US heavy weapons, tanks, trucks, Humvees and trucks, are now up on blocks awaiting repairs at US headquarter and supply depots around the world. Our soldiers in Iraq are now so short heavy equipment that the Pentagon has been looting National Guard and Reserve units to make up the shortfall. Gutted reserve units now need their own $7 billion infusion of heavy weapons to replace theirs which are now being degraded in Iraq.
So, just what can we give Mr. Maliki? The heavy weapons and gear now on the ground in Iraq, of course. We could just leave it behind when our own troops split. Forget for moment that we will have to then replace it all for our own armed forces. Let's instead consider what the Iraqis will do with those heavy weapons.
Well let's see. Maliki is a Shiite. So is that little two-legged tumor, al-Sadar. Shiites are to Iraq what racist segregationists were to the US south a century ago -- only meaner. Sunnis are Iraq's minority. What does common sense suggest the Shiite-government of Iraq has in mind for those heavy weapons. (You only get one guess.)
Which is precisely why, at such as critical tipping-point moment, al-Maliki is not begging for more US troops. And he's not begging US troops to stay in Iraq either. All Maliki is asking for now are "heavy weapons" for his 350,000 US-trained and supplied Iraqi soldiers.
On top of that al-Sadar has his own 60,000-man Shia militia. These are the folks who have been kidnapping Sunnis off the street. Most are later found shot in the head, but only after militia soldiers amused themselves by making holes in them with electric drills. (Imagine the creative uses those dudes will come up with once they have heavy weapons!)
Meanwhile up north the Kurds, who have been stabbed in the back by the US more than once, will go berserk at the very notion that the US is providing the Shiites the heavy military gear. That's all the Shiites need to reclaim the Kurd's newly acquired oil fields -- which of course is another reason al-Maliki wants heavy equipment.
I guess my point here is Bush is about to make things worse in Iraq -- again. We should not give Maliki "heavy" anything. We've already armed and trained his new army with the kinds of weapons necessary to bring law and order to Iraq. I suggest he be told to get on with that task because that's all he's getting from Uncle Sap. (Thank goodness it takes too long to train helicopter pilots or we'd be giving them choppers too.)
New York Times -- and one-time supporter of the war -- Tom Friedman, said today that the trouble real problem we face in Iraq is that Iraqis living together as a unified nation is our first choice. But for Iraqis that is their second choice. Most Iraqis first choice is that their particular tribe, Sunni, Shia or Kurd, get everything they want. (Which for Sunnis and Shiites is, pretty much, everything.) The Shiites want full control of Iraq. The Sunnis want to return to the good old days when they ran roughshod over Iraq. The Kurds want nothing to do with either of them, just their own country and every drop of oil under it.
"We lost," Friedman, said today. "It's over. We should no longer sacrifice our first-choice soldiers to further the second choices of the Iraqis."
Amen. Get out. Sooner rather than later. And take our heavy weapons with us.
A couple of other free-associative observations on all this:
- We all know now that the Bush administration lied to us about WMD in Iraq. Now, thanks to the Baker/Hamilton report we learn they've been lying to us about the true level of violence in Iraq. They looked at one particularly violent day in Iraq during which the administration reported 93 violent incidents. The real number was over 1100 violent attacks. (Not exactly a rounding error.)
- Ever wonder why, from the very start of this mess, the Bush administration made one breathtaking mistake after another? There was a clue in the Baker/Hamilton report. We have 1000 Americans working at the US embassy in Iraq out of which only six of them speak Arabic. There's 4 million Arab-Americans, but the Bush administration could only round up 6 (s-i-x) to work at our embassy in Baghdad.
- On 9/11 3030 Americans were killed, resulting in the Bush administration's "war on terror." The same year the leading causes of death for Americans was tobacco -- the source of 435,000 deaths, or 18.1% of total US deaths that year. Rather than declare war on tobacco Bush administration lawyers argued the court should reduce the $135 billion fine against Big Tobacco to $10 billion.
- The same year as terrorist killed 3030 Americans, 17,000 Americans -- more than 5 times as died on 9/11 -- died from illicit drug use. Yet just this week I read this dispatch from our war front in Afghanistan:
WASHINGTON -- The Pentagon, engaged in a difficult fight to defeat a resurgent Taliban in Afghanistan, has resisted entreaties from U.S. anti-narcotics officials to play an aggressive role in the faltering campaign to curb the country's opium trade...Military units in Afghanistan largely overlook drug bazaars, rebuff some requests to take U.S. drug agents on raids and do little to counter the organized crime syndicates shipping the drug to Europe, Asia and, increasingly, the United States, according to officials and documents. (Afghanistan now provides upwards of 90% of the heroin coming into the US, and this years crop has been a record. )
So, let me get this straight. We will go to war against anyone that kills 3030 Americans in one year by flying planes into office buildings, but have no interest in going to war against those that kill 17,000 Americans every year by providing them deadly drugs.
Meanwhile, now self-financed by this booming drug trade, the Taliban is making a strong comeback in Afghanistan.
Maybe it's time for the Baker/Hamilton commission to get to work on an Afghanistan report.
Yes Virginia, George W. Bush is a moron. No need for special commission to verify that. The evidence -- and bodies -- mount by the hour.