Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Iraq Status Of Forces Agreement: It's Not Time To Break Out The Party Hats

Shock and Awe . . . Toppled statue . . . Mission Accomplished . . . Coalition of the Willing . . . Not enough troops . . .

I sometimes wonder what Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Richard Perle feel when they see a photograph like this one. Silly of me, I guess, but it's my own way of trying to imagine whether they have the faintest understanding of the evil that their little adventure in Iraq unleashed.

I suspect that they do understand in an abstract-ish sort of way. Even though their heads are light years up their asses, it must be hard to ignore news stories noting that some 4,200 Americans have been killed over the last five and a half years, as well as hundreds of thousands of Iraqis.

They now include the little girl in the photograph, whom my friend Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Est├ęs has christened the Little Iraqi Madonna. She was was murdered on Sunday as the Iraqi cabinet was endorsing the Status of Forces Agreement with the U.S. as a consequence of a suicide bomber who blew himself up at a checkpoint in Diyala Province, but the real assassin was neoconservative hubris.

. . . Judith Miller embeds . . . Home by Christmas . . . No WMD . . . Stuff happens . . . Liberators become occupiers . . . Not enough troops . . .

Unless you read the foreign press, you are not likely to know that Diyala is "a hotbed" in military parlance and unlike walled-off Baghdad, continues to seethe with sectarian animosity. This is because with the relative success of the Surge strategy and drop in U.S. casualties, the stateside media has assiduously ignored the state of affairs in Iraq, reducing their staffs and closing their bureaus.

The mainstream media focus on the SOFA ratification has been that it passed "overwhelmingly," "with near unanimity" and "without dissent."

Left unremarked on was that the vote actually was not near unanimous because a number of cabinet members could not be present. They live in Amman or elsewhere outside Iraq because they fear for their lives.

. . . Saddam captured . . . Liberators become occupiers . . . Abu Ghraib . . . Training ground for terrorists . . . Not enough troops . . .

There will be no breaking out the party hats and the good stuff at Kiko's House over SOFA.

There will be no chortling over Bush the Coward having to back back down on a troop withdrawal timetable that he had so adamantly opposed in a final slap to the Iraqi sovereignty that his invasion was supposed to assure. Nor that in the end that the feckless Nouri al-Maliki played Bush and not the other way around.

An Iraqi blogger notes in a post-U.S. election analysis that it was "Republican leaders who liberated my people from tyranny," but that the ascendancy of Barack Obama was a victory for Americans who demonstrated that country matters more than party.

It remains to be seen if that too is true of Iraqis.

. . . More stuff happens . . . Purple fingers . . . Fallujah lost . . . The Decider . . . Fallujah retaken . . . Civil war . . . Not enough troops . . .

Because the agreement has a December 31, 2011 troop withdrawal deadline, there is much spilling of ink among pundits over whether SOFA ties Obama's hands since he hewed to a 16-month withdrawal deadline during the campaign while John McCain was floundering around from position to position like a hooked fish on the deck of a trawler.

Obama's hands are not tied. For one thing, the deadline is not written in stone, and for another, he can still hold to his deadline because the 2011 date is merely the time by which the last American boot is supposed to be homebound.

In any event, there are no winners in this game, certainly not the Little Iraqi Madonna, and I am especially repelled by the people who are high-fiving over SOFA because they know that the inevitable bloodshed as the U.S. begins drawing down its troops will be on the Iraqis' hands and not the new president's.

. . . Haditha massacre . . . Ethnic cleanings . . . Missing billions . . . Militias rule . . . Morale never better . . . The Surge . . .

The signal failure of neoconservatism, which translates inextricably into the greatest failure of the Bush administration, is that its foreign policy precepts were based on an abject misreading of history, which combined with years of accumulated grudges and most especially Bush 41's failure to march all the way to Baghdad in 1991, was a recipe for disaster in 2003.

Obama will not commit a folly of this enormity because, among other reasons, he has no intention of refighting the Vietnam War as the neocons have. Still, he cannot shrink from the real possibility that there will have to be new U.S. military intervention abroad on his watch. (Can you say Congo?)

But isn't it ironic that after eight years of neocon vitriol that American power is likely to diminish but American influence is likely to grow?

Photograph by STR/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images


Anonymous said...

It was to the benefit of neither candidate to discuss the war. That is why it was slid under the rug.
Happy talk in the press is a major part of the "surge strategy".

Anonymous said...

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