Wednesday, November 30, 2005

I'll See Your Conundrum and Raise You a Paradox

The occupation of Iraq has exposed a number of unpleasant paradoxes, but none are larger than the fact that the insurgency appears to be growing at a faster rate than the Iraqi Army can be trained for the task of taking over for U.S. troops, which would further delay their departure.

If you didn't think President Bush would mention that in yet another marginally coherent "stay the course" speech this morning before yet another captive audience, this one at the Naval Academy, you were not disappointed.

But veteran editor-commentator James Fallows, who has spent almost as much time on the ground in Iraq as some U.S. troops, is all too aware of the paradox, which is at the heart of his disturbing new Atlantic Monthly article entitled "Why Iraq Has No Army."

Fallows' money quote:

The crucial need to improve security and order in Iraq puts the United States in an impossible position. It can't honorably leave Iraq -- as opposed to simply evacuating Saigon-style -- so long as its military must provide most of the manpower, weaponry, intelligence systems, and strategies being used against the insurgency. But it can't sensibly stay when the very presence of its troops is a worsening irritant to the Iraqi public and a rallying point for nationalist opponents -- to say nothing of the growing pressure in the United States for withdrawal.

Elsewhere on the paradox front:

Former Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi says that human rights violations in Iraq are as bad now as under deposed President Saddam Hussein.

The secular Shiite Muslim said Shiite-led security forces are out of control and responsible for death squads, secret torture centers and a level of brutality that rivals Saddam's secret police.

Allawi was stating the obvious, but his comments were stunning nevertheless considering that he was the U.S.’s hand-picked choice as interim PM in the run-up to national elections and gave a fawing Rove-esque speech in support of President Bush’s Iraq policy (sic) before Congress.

Allawi’s money quote:

People are doing the same as [in] Saddam’s time and worse. . . . It is an appropriate comparison. People are remembering the days of Saddam. These were the precise reasons that we fought Saddam and now we are seeing the same things.

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times reports that the U.S. military is paying Iraqi newspapers to print stories written by its "information operations" specialists and translated into Arabic that praise the work of U.S. and Iraqi troops. Says a Pentagon official who is opposed to the practice:

Here we are trying to create the principles of democracy in Iraq. Every speech we give in that country is about democracy. And we're breaking all the first principles of democracy when we're doing it.

Payments are in the $500-$1,500 range and are provided by a defense contractor to mask the Pentagon's role. Deadpanned a senior military official when asked about the practice by the Times:
Absolute truth was not an essential element of these stories.

As it has not been for the administrations entire Iraq policy.

1 comment:

cognitorex said...

Pandora's War

Great post Shaun.

Adding to your paradoxi and conumdrums would be this:
Once there were the three countries that comprised the axis of evil, N. Korea, Iran and Iraq.
By putting the US Military in the hand of incompetents N. Korea feels free to set off a nuke. Iraq becomes the training ground for Jihadists and we're moving towards asking evil Iran and its evil cousin Syria to intervene to save our butts.

In this Pandora's War of Bush et al we are so lost and defeated as to be now resorting to empowering terrorist states as the best available option.

If you score this debacle like it was a round robin tournament it would come out to:
N. Korea 20
Iraq disqualified
Iran 50
Syria 15
Israel minus 30
U.S.A. withdrew

If terrorist states are an existential threat to the west we just ceeded them home field advantage for decades.

Grotesque seems the best description for Pandora's War.

(cognitorex blogspot)