Humiliation In Iraq

The Iraq debate in Washington is all about "cutting and running" versus "stay the course". The war in Iraq now is being spun by domestic American politics. However, notwithstanding the food fight in Washington, there is still a real war raging in Iraq. The politics in Washington is still overshadowed by events in Baghdad. Such is the predicament of the Bush Administration. It has led the United States into a conflict that it cannot control.

Last week President Bush, fresh from his victory lap in Baghdad, announced his determination to "stay the course" in Iraq:

"One message I will continue to send to the enemy is, ‘Don’t count on us leaving before the mission is complete,’ " Bush said at a White House news conference.

"Don’t bet on American politics forcing my hand, because it’s not going to happen," he said. "I’m going to make decisions not based upon politics but based upon what’s best for the United States of America."

"What you hear from me no matter what these polls and all the business look like, is that it’s worth it, it is necessary and we will succeed," Bush said.

After surprising Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki in Baghdad, Mr. Bush was undoubtedly feeling his oats. He was back to the tough talking Commander-in-Chief that his handlers believe wins votes.

The Republicans in the House last week outmaneuvered the Democrats by passing a resolution connecting Iraq to the War on Terror and supporting Mr. Bush’s policy in Iraq:

The House voted 256 to 153 yesterday to back President Bush’s policies in Iraq after two days of passionate and partisan debate that saw Republicans try to recast an unpopular conflict as part of a broader war on terrorism and totalitarianism.

Forty-two Democrats bucked their leadership to join a virtually united Republican Party and to declare that the United States must complete "the mission to create a sovereign, free, secure and united Iraq" without setting "an arbitrary date for the withdrawal or redeployment" of U.S. troops

The Republicans in the House succeeded in devolving a much-needed debate on the war in Iraq to campaign slogans for the upcoming Congressional elections in November.

Earlier the Republicans in the Senate flexed their political muscle by rejecting any notion of an Iraq withdrawal:

Across Capitol Hill, Republicans and Democrats alike provided a preview of potential strategies for discussing the three-year-old conflict in the run-up to November’s midterm elections.

As the U.S. death toll in Iraq reached 2,500, the Senate soundly rejected a call to withdraw combat troops by year’s end, and House Republicans laid the groundwork for their own vote.

In a move Democrats criticized as gamesmanship, Senate Republicans brought up the withdrawal measure and quickly dispatched it — for now — on a 93-6 vote.

By week’s end, the Democrats were cowering.

Over the weekend, Senate Democrats regrouped and today presented an Iraq pullout plan to try to regain the political upper hand. The Democratic plan calls for the United States to begin pulling out troops by the end of the year but does not set a deadline for complete withdrawal. With this plan, the Democrats hope to show the voters in November that they are serious thinkers and not wimps who just want to "cut and run".

But, the political debate in Washington ignores the reality in Iraq. The reality in Iraq is that the Bush Administration has succeeded beyond its wildest dreams in installing an Islamist regime in Iraq. The Islamists in Iraq have played the Bush Administration masterfully. They have used the American occupation as cover to do a little bit of house cleaning (ethnic cleansing) and have consolidated power within the military and the police forces. Having consolidated power, now it is time to give the Americans the boot.

In a particularly well-timed op-ed in the Washington Post, Mowaffak al-Rubaie, Iraq’s National Security Advisor, shows the United States the door:

With the governors of each province meeting these strict objectives, Iraq’s ambition is to have full control of the country by the end of 2008. In practice this will mean a significant foreign troop reduction. We envisage the U.S. troop presence by year’s end to be under 100,000, with most of the remaining troops to return home by the end of 2007.

So, there’s your timetable: Leave Iraq by the end of 2007. This kind of clarity from the Iraqi government makes the debate in Washington, to borrow our Attorney General’s word, "quaint".

Mr. al-Rubaie also kicks a little bit of sand in Dick Cheney’s eyes by labeling Americans as "occupiers", albeit by indirection:

The eventual removal of coalition troops from Iraqi streets will help the Iraqis, who now see foreign troops as occupiers rather than the liberators they were meant to be. It will remove psychological barriers and the reason that many Iraqis joined the so-called resistance in the first place. The removal of troops will also allow the Iraqi government to engage with some of our neighbors that have to date been at the very least sympathetic to the resistance because of what they call the "coalition occupation." If the sectarian issue continues to cause conflict with Iraq’s neighbors, this matter needs to be addressed urgently and openly — not in the guise of aversion to the presence of foreign troops. [Emphasis added by me.]

This turn of events should not come as a surprise to anyone who has been following events in Iraq over the past few years. Although it may come as a surprise to the still significant number of Americans who believe we are bringing "freedom" to the Iraqi people. It should also not have been a surprise when the Iraqi government declared last week that they would grant amnesty to insurgents who had killed American troops. Even though the Iraqis backtracked from that declaration, it was nonetheless symptomatic of the environment in Iraq where Americans have long been viewed as occupiers.

We have handed the reigns of power in Iraq to the al-Dawa party and the SCIRI, both Iranian backed and nurtured parties. We have handed power to the very terrorist organization that killed American soldiers in Kuwait and Lebanon in the 1980s. Mr. al-Rubaie himself was the spokesman for this terrorist organization in the 1980s. In his latest incarnation, Mr. al-Rubaie speaks not only for the al-Dawa party but also the Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani. So much so, the President of the United States, on his Thanksgiving visit to Baghdad, had the following exchange with Mr. al-Rubaie:

American officials in Iraq are well aware of al-Rubaie’s ability to navigate in both worlds; when President Bush landed in Baghdad for Thanksgiving dinner, clearly he’d been briefed. As al-Rubaie remembers their encounter, the president pointed at him and said, "Dr. al-Rubaie, I want you to convey this message to Mr. Sistani. Tell him that I pray to the same god he prays to… Tell Sistani I have nothing but praise for your religion. I have many millions of Muslims in my country back home." [Emphasis added by me.]

I am sure Mr. Bush’s evangelical friends on the right really appreciate that Mr. Bush prays to the same God as Muslims.

To complete the humiliation in Iraq, the same terrorists who killed Americans in the 1980s are now telling us to get out of Baghdad. I wonder if Mr. Bush will consider such an exit to be in the best interests of the United States. I have long argued that the United States does more harm to Iraq and its own credibility by staying in Iraq. Our credibility is already damaged in Iraq. Withdrawing from Iraq under our own terms would not have damaged our credibility that much more. However, being told to leave by the Iraqi government will round out the humiliation. That is exactly what is now happening.

It appears that Mr. Cheney was partially right about "last throes" in Iraq, only it is our occupation that is in its last throes.

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10 Responses to Humiliation In Iraq

  1. Aunty Ism says:

    The Rawhide mentality of the NeoCowboys is creating monsters on both sides. Organized withdrawal makes more sense than imposing our will on an unwilling people. It will mean more chaos and civilian deaths either way, and they may need some international community assistance. Let Haliburton pay for it.

  2. Alfredo says:

    Mash, Thank you for this insightful, fact-based analysis of the current situation in Iraq. It underscores how the MSM is failing to hold the Bush administration accountable for its (mis)adventure in Iraq and to report on the real stories. I also wonder what Bush et al really mean when they use the word “progress” in describing its efforts in the war on terror now that, as you note, power in Iraq has devolved to known terrorist organizations.

  3. Aunty Ism says:

    I cut the cable, get my news and editorials from websites, and insightful observations as I often find here.

  4. I git my news frum the Republicans..It is the only source you can trust…

    Mash, I thought you learned how ta love the bomb?…

    Dont you unnerstand we is thar in Iraq fer freedom?

    Y’all librals jez want ta burn flags and cut and run…dont ya remember the statue?

    The statue Mash! Them thar Iraqis tore it down with us!

    Mission accomplished jez meant “A mission was accomplished”…

    Or maybe you would prefer that Iraq use thar WMD’s on us…or give ’em ta terrorists and th’ like…

    They hate us fer our freedom

    GW has a plan…stay the course…

    2500 is jez a number

    Dont ya see the insurgency is in its last throes

    After we win We’ll be greeted as liberators, with candy and flowers!

    After all, Iraq did the 9/11…why dont you want ta avenge all them thar Patriots what died in th’ 9/11? Why do you hate them?

    When are y’all librals gonna lurn? Stop hurtin the war by sayin mean thangs about GW…

    Ever time ya say bad thangs about GW, a terrorist gits emboldened!

    After all, Jesus told GW ta invade Iraq…Are you sayin Jesus wuz wrong?? I dont thank so…

    Why do you hate Jesus?

    Come back ta Jesus and support the war on terror…:d

  5. Oh and I almost Fergot the best one ta put you in yer place:

    We is fightin them over thar so we dont have ta fight them over hyar!

    You dont want ta fight em over hyar do ye?

    I dont thank so!

  6. Ingrid says:

    Mash..excellent piece. welcome back! (soccer’s over I gather? Haven’t followed it..)
    I will actually print this out so I can read it in peace and think about it..great references and a lot to think DO need your own column Mash !!

  7. Mash says:

    Aunty, “NeoCowboys” is a great one – I like it better than “neocon”. Its more descriptive.

    Alfredo, I just wonder if it is now solely about winning in November for the Bush admin. The question is, how many lives are they willing to sacrifice to win an election?

    Ingrid, soccer is still on. But, thankfully, my daughter is better, so I can spend time writing.

  8. Mash says:

    Jeremiah, damn your logic! I need a swift kick on my freedom lovin’ ass every now and then to put me back on the right path.

    Only one problem though. Mr. Bush was praying to the God of the Iraqis ?!? What would Jesus think of that? I’m soooo confused. Set me straight with your ninja logic! :d

  9. I will admit, sumtimes you is a smart libral….You jez dont unnerstand….

    I believe the quote you are a quotin’ went like this hyar: Bush says,
    “Dr. al-Rubaie, I want you to convey this message to Mr. Sistani. Tell him that I pray to the same god he prays to…”

    I will lay it all out in one of them thar silly jisms that I read about at the libary…Y’all librals an terrorists unnerstand logic dont ye? OK:

    1) Jesus is the one true god and Bush preys ta him
    2) Sistani preys ta God
    Tharfour, Sistani preys ta Jesus

    What Bus hwuz a sayin is that Sistani preys ta’ Jesus, he jez dont know it!

    I thank that thar proves that Bush wuz right…

    Stay th’ course Mash…We caint afford ta wobble now what with th’ insurgentsy in th’ Last throws….

    Gotta go…them terrorists wont nunchuck themselfs!

  10. Pingback: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying » A Parting Of Ways In Iraq

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