Sunday, March 25, 2007

We Who Are About To Die, Salute You!

Grey Eagle reports at the Milblogs, the likely outcome of the recent House Bill. As already noted, the President will veto this bill, effectively breaking the military bank. The Democrats knew exactly what they were doing. They have delivered their base with an "end to the war", while keeping the center by "supporting the troops" with funds. All of the angst over the "pork" is political strategizing to take advantage of the Democrats one weakness: their other campaign promises to cut "corruption" and be "fiscally conservative", managing and decreasing the national debt.

Of course, no one that follows the fiscal realities of the state could take such promises seriously since buying and trading on debt of the US or any other state is the highest stakes of investment. The US simply represents "blue chip" stock. Thus, there is no real incentive to decrease debt, though, to manage it to inflation at a similar rate as fiscal growth maintains a steady source of income from investment in bonds, treasury bills, etc, while not placing the US in jeopardy. Though, it is a precarious business and requires much grit.

Thus, the Democrats promises of "fiscal conservation" are barely lip service, along with the pretense at managing corruption in congress. Eliminating corruption should be unnecessary, yet, they know their own kind and know that they are all in it for the power and money. What they give to the citizens are the crumbs. To believe otherwise is to believe in faeries and elves.

Yet, somewhere between the things they want and the things they do, the nation continues on like the "great ship" that it is often referred to.

The true purpose of the bill is four fold:

1) Expecting the president to veto the bill, it will place the blame for "defunding" the forces on the President's doorstep. Particularly as the wrangling will continue over funds until someone is willing to compromise.

2) It will effectively slow down or stop all together the "surge" that nearly all of congress was opposed to. Petreaus will be forced to manage with the forces that he has in place. The entire security plan will fall totally on Petraeus's ability to bring up forces already in theater, moving them from support rolls into actual combat. Reserves that almost always exist, though rarely discussed. Further, it will require many more Iraqi troops to leave other areas. Petraeus as a diplomat will be the question. He may well have to convince the Kurds that they have a stake in the maintenance of a unified Iraq so that they will be willing to send additional troops. Victory, in fact, will ride on the next few months.

While the Democrats insist that the time tables and "benchmarks" are "incentives" for the Iraqis, in truth, they are whips upon our forces who, having no choice but to continue the mission as ordered, will break themselves, probably incurring much higher casualties. Their goal has always been "the mission", not retreat.

3) Depending on the length of time it takes to parse out the appropriations, the forces will also be forced to decrease their over all patrols and agressive actions in Iraq. They will slowly be constrained to force patrols within the immediate area of their bases, if not eventually confined to base except for small forces with specific tasks or missions. As the hope of the Democrats, to "engage" al Qaida only. Though, this is but a ruse as well since al Qaida in Iraq does not wear a uniform or badge, blends with the populace as well as with other insurgent groups. Which means, regardless of the posturing by the Democrats about fighting the "true" terrorists, there will be very little action against al Qaida. They will be allowed to flourish.

Further, inability to project force within the surrounding areas will leave our Forward Operating Bases vulnerable to attacks. Whether that is increased mortaring or actually concentrated forces will depend on the area the FOBs are in. Many will be forced to close an bring troops back into larger bases for protection. Again, undermining the Democrats political "strong on terrorism" ruse as the most vulnerable bases will be in the al Anbar province where most of the al Qaida in Iraq and various linked "jihad" groups are active and base from. However, it will be little noted or covered as such an issue since the Democrats and the media will paint this as an effect of the President's veto.

4) Finally, as our forces are forced to retreat into their bases for lack of reserves, arms, ammunition and number of viable vehicles (the rest needing repaired) and the security plan actually fails, whether or not the time table for withdrawal actually survives the next round of political wrangling, will be moot. In fact, the political situation in Iraq, along with the ungovernable violence that will ensue, will force our withdrawal as we will be unable to defend or influence the onslaught and commanders will, by their secondary objective, be forced to make decisions that protect our forces. Those decisions will be to withdraw forces to secure locations, most likely outside of Iraq or home.

For all the posturing about supporting the troops, these acts will lead to more, not less, American and coalition casualties. They will simply appear in clusters around or inside bases, as opposed to one to three a day outside on patrols. This is a sacrifice the Democrats are willing to make, along with our position as a strong nation with a near invincible army.

One may wonder why the Democrats would place our forces and the country in such a position. Many pundits have commented on the various advantageous the Democrats seek. They feel confident based on certain core beliefs, not simply because the Amercian body politic is unenamored with the war in Iraq, but because they genuinely feel that Iraq was not, is not and will not be a security issue for the United States. They are also working from the position that they have held from the beginning of the "War on Terror", that terrorists (in fact, Wahabi, Salafist Imperialists) do not require full on military action, regardless of state sponsors or concentrated areas, but require "surgical" removal, either through small special forces or through covert operations to remove certain leadership and financial elements. Either through covert killing, arrests (make no mistake, the capture and removal of terrorist linked individuals to "CIA" covert prisons or extra-judicious "rendition" was a Democrat creation and they will continue to use it, regardless of political outcry from allies) or through political and financial manouvers they hope will sway nations or others from supporting or financing such actors.

In fact, tribute to be paid to the new "Barbary Pirates".

Secondly, they view the outcome of Iraq as a "win/win" situation upon withdrawal regardless of whether it is politically stabilized or a genocidal civil war ensues with Iran as a major backer of the most likely to win: the Shia majority. This is exactly why the Democrats have been insisting on opening direct talks with Iran. The Democrats are anticipating their continued presence in congress as a majority as well as the probability of getting a Democrat in the White House. This is why Kerry was speaking to the Iranian representative at the Davos conference, among other issues involving attacks on our forces. Promises of talks with the Iranians may have lead them to insist on Sadr's withdrawal from Iraq and a stand down of his forces as their attacks on US forces using Iranian arms and money were escalating to potential confrontation.

The Iranians have nothing to fear from this action as they are betting on the failure of the security plan and the withdrawal of US forces as well. They have plenty of other political allies in Iraq and probably feel that Sadr could easily return as the "triumphant" head of a new force to "protect" the Shia in Iraq and reconstitute his power, ably pointing out the failure of US forces to do so. In fact, Iranian backed politicos have done this several times. This is why such organizations as DAWA and SCIRI were able to spin up so quickly and gain massive support within their respective regions for the last two votes. The leaders were in Iran and returned with money and guns, securing control of major government and financial institutions as well as businesses. A tested and successful practice of Hezbollah and other Iranian backed organizations through out the Middle East.

In terms of al Qaida in Iraq, there can be no mistaking the expected outcome post US withdrawal. The Democrats are expecting that the Iraqi security forces will be "let lose" along with the militias, to root out and destroy Al Qaida and any other jihadist or insurgent groups with extreme prejudice. The fact that this will include the killing of a large number of Iraqis (Sunni) as well as the probable refugee crisis, barely causes congress to blink. We are talking about the same group of people (almost exactly the same congressional leaders) that stood by and watched 1 million Rawandans be massacred. Many of these same people were involved in political activism that resulted in the withdrawal of US forces and the deaths of millions of Vietnamese, Cambodians and Loasians. Then there is Darfur.

Third, through these auspices, the Democrats are willing to bet on the increased power and rise of Shia Islamists to counter the Sunni Islamists. In effect, causing the Sunni and Shia to turn and face each other as the "closer" enemy. Something that Zawahiri and Osama bin Laden have routinely railed about in their caustic analysis of Muslim behavior in the last century. The Democrats are willing to accept a potential nuclear Iran and the rise of nuclear states in the ME such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

All good, wholesome detente politics, straight from the Cold War manual.

The Democrats are hoping to use Egypt and Saudi Arabia as military counters, but are also looking for financial leverage with Iran. Iran's economy is based on oil, gas and minerals. It has limited industrial capabilities. It's export revenues are dominated by 70% oil receipts. At the same time, over 70% of its population is on some sort of government stipend. The Democrats are looking into the future where they expect something similar to the "Ford in China" moment that began the normalization of relations and the future financial relationship that some feel has kept China from becoming a major military rival (until sometime in the near future where everyone is waiting breathlessly for China to become the number one economic force in the world, leading to their military dominance).

In fact, while Democrats and Republicans alike have been making noises about becoming less dependent on foreign oil, they are seeking ways to maintain relationships with oil exporting nations in the region while potentially opening (or re-opening depending on your view) another oil exporting front. Currently, US policy prohibits any direct financial contact with Iran, including prohibition on purchasing Iranian oil, leaving it largely to the Chinese and Europeans with additional financial ties with Russia. The Democrats are expecting that the Iranian rise will keep the other Middle East regimes dependent on our financial and military backing maintaining favorable leverage for trade and oil prices.

Although, the rise of Iran as a power in the region and as an important oil exporter with increased influence, if not control of OPEC, we should expect the price of oil to continue to rise at unprecedented rates as Iran continues to exploit it for financial gain. The Iranian people who want real democracy? They will have to wait.

As for Iraq, it will a powerless pawn in the region unless it can gain control of the corruption and sectarian strife long enough to develop its real economic power in oil.

Third, the Democrats hope to have an immediate gain. Whether a withdrawal occurs or, on the long shot, Petraeus's strategy works, going into the 2008 presidential race framed by a peaceful Iraq and/or US withdrawal, the Democrats will claim that their efforts brought an end to the war or, at least, US involvement in Iraq. There is the very large possibility that Iraq will simply disintegrate into all out warfare with many regional actors financing one faction or the other. The Democrats will claim that the President's actions are the cause. In all ways, the Machiavillian manouvering and positioning would make the Medici's seem like kindergartners.

While all of this may seem somewhat logical and reasonable, there are immediate sacrifices. Not withstanding the probable slaughter and refugee issues as well as Iraqi independence being handed over to the Iranians, there can be no doubt that Al Qaida in Iraq and its compatriots will see these political actions, funding issues and effects on our military capability as reasons to increase their activities against our forces in order to maintain their appearance of victory over US forces. They will hope to hasten the US's departure so that the Iraqi government and its security forces are weak enough to allow them to consolidate their forces enough to stave off a major Shia offensive and maintain their hold in al Anbar. Certainly, a Shia or government offensive with major Sunni casualties would consolidate Al Qaida's popularity, not only in Iraq, but in the region with many Sunni as they will be seen as "defenders of the faithful".

Our military power as a negotiating chip will be largely mitigated. A positive in many minds who fear the apparent "militarization" of our foreign policy, our status as a super power and the tumult of a rapidly changing world.

We will hope that the last six years without a direct attack on our soil will continue, that our security measures are effective and we will return to treating terrorists as a police and intelligence issue wherein the deaths of our citizens, should it come, require only another manouver, another covert action, another day, month and year that al Qaida, Zawahiri and bin Laden will continue to exist while their myth grows and their followers in proportion.

Afghanistan? Oh, Afghanistan, that invisible, forgotten war. It will go the way of Iraq. Iraq war funding and Afghanistan war funding are the same appropriations bill. Afghanistan, where Teddy Kennedy announced it was a "quagmire" six weeks into the war and a few days prior to the fall of Kandahar. The Democrats did not want to be in Afghanistan either. They will work on accomodation with the Taliban next.

Those who died on 9/11, their families who lost so much and those who risked life and limb in Iraq and Afghanistanwill not have justice, will not be revenged and will not have the final acknowledgement that their sacrifice meant the destruction of a threat against their families and the future generations of the US, but will be simple stepping stones on the return path to detente politics. Nothing more, nothing less. Sacrificed for the presidential race in 2008. An ignoble end for such honored citizens.

The citizens of Iraq who have risked much more than the US and suffered a hundred times more painful death and destruction will have to hope for peace and watch many more die before they have it. Our casualties will continue as a "rear guard" action ensues. In the words of Senator Kerry over three decades ago, "How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?"

Some would say, "ask General Pelosi."

The soldiers' reply, "We who are about to die, salute you!"

Cross referenced at the Castle

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