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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

It´s the War, Stupid

So the choice is between a terrible decision and one that is even worse. The terrible decision is just to begin leaving, knowing that even more innocent civilians will be killed and that we’ll be dealing with agitation out of Iraq for years to come. The worse decision would be to wait another year, or two, or three and then take that terrible course. If we thought a longer commitment and presence would lead to a better outcome, then the extra commitment might be sensible. But nothing occurring in Iraq in the last year has given rise to any hope that things are getting better rather than worse. (This, by the way, is the reason I have changed my mind: the absence of evidence that the chances for a “decent” departure will improve.)

-James Fallows in The Atlantic November 30, 2006


This is what I have been saying since the first day American troops entered Iraq. All exaggeration, lies, and hyperbole concerning “The Surge” aside, I have never seen anything in Iraq that looks even remotely like an improvement. What I have seen is a steadily escalating disaster that has all but destroyed the American economy and now threatens to do the same with the rest of the economies of the world. If anyone could have looked into the future on the eve of the Iraq invasion and shown the American people the harsh realities we face today as a result of the war, everyone in the Bush administration would have been tarred and feathered. The terrible thing is that many people predicted almost the exact outcome. If anyone in the Bush circle would have listened to James Fallows from the start, we´d be in a lot better shape today.

Since the beginning I have asked this simple question: Was there a single conservative pundit who predicted that the war would go badly? I didn´t hear one conservative opinion at the outset of the war that stated that Iraq would be anything less than a cakewalk, a homerun, or whatever bright-and-cheery adjectives that were used to describe this war that was to finance itself from the oil revenues. In the halcyon days of “Mission Accomplished,” many conservatives actually called upon liberal opponents of the war to apologize to the American people for their negative views. I don´t expect conservatives to apologize for being horribly wrong; I just want them to get the fuck out of the driver´s seat and let someone else take over.

In talks with my two brothers about the war, we have often expressed our opinion on the American exit strategy from Iraq. It could be modeled on the Spanish exit after the election of Zapatero. It goes something like this: just get the fuck out. Load up everyone and everything we can into some C5 aircraft, take off, and blow up everything of any military use we are forced to leave behind. Leave all of the KFCs and Burger Kings built for the troops and then fire every one of the government contractors who have been living like a gigantic tick on the ass of the American taxpayer.

Saving the American economy is only one of the reasons we should run from Iraq as fast as we can. The most important reason for leaving is that we cannot “win” in Iraq, even if we stay for the 100 years that John McCain suggests. There will always be a large element in Iraq and the rest of the Middle East that will never accept an American military presence in their midst. I can´t say that I blame them.

American military occupation was what got us into this mess in the first place, if you remember correctly. After the first Gulf War (I disagreed completely with that war as well) we left a sizeable contingent of American troops in Saudi Arabia. This is a country that is supposedly an ally of the United States yet treats one half of its population (women) like political prisoners, denying them basic rights, such as the right to drive a car. Kuwait, the country we rescued from Saddam Hussein´s aggression, also has a fairly terrible record of human rights. You can say the same for every other country in the region. I never understood the idea that we could somehow instill democracy in the region through force when we can´t even convince our alleged allies to allow their female citizens to obtain a driver´s license. It´s not like this is the only bad thing about Saudi Arabia, but it´s a good place to start.

The funny thing is, remember when conservatives scolded war opponents for comparing it to Viet Nam? Now we are looking back on that horrible conflict in Southeast Asia with rather fond memories compared to the shithole we find ourselves in now. I mean it´s funny in a horrifically tragic kind of way. Bush makes Richard Nixon look like Abe Lincoln. It wouldn´t take much to make an improvement over our exit strategy in Viet Nam. We couldn´t have planned a more ignominious departure than the one we chose in Viet Nam. Yet somehow that wasn´t the end of the world like Viet Nam supporters predicted. When we finally leave Iraq after failing to meet our ill-formed objectives, the country is sure to fall into chaos. My question is, “How will we know the difference?”

In a very direct way, skyrocketing oil prices resulting from the war have further strengthened a number of despicable regimes in OPEC while crippling the U.S. economy. The United States has replaced Israel on the Muslim world´s shit list, and bored Muslim teenagers from Morocco to Afghanistan have begun to search anti-American, jihadist websites instead of looking at naughty Britney pics while they are online. America used to be the great Satan, as far as Muslims were concerned. Then Bay Watch came along and the extremists forgot about the great Satan bit and concentrated on Pamela Anderson´s boobs like everyone is supposed to do. I´m sure that even Osama bin Laden tossed off to her in that red one-piece bathing suit at least a couple of times. When we pull out of Iraq we can ask Pamela Anderson to undergo yet another breast enhancement in the name of national security.

Instead of the Peace Corps, our government can enlist the services of thousands of liberal, educated Americans to travel the world and tell people about the new Bay Watch with the even bustier new Pamela. They would be like Mormon missionaries but not creepy in any way. While these ambassadors are roaming the globe they can also try to convince people that most people in America never agreed with Bush and his policies. Hell, most people didn´t even vote for him. We could finance this program with the money we save by taking away one single contract from Haliburton. I´ll shut up now.

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