A 'must read' OpEd in the NYT by some Iraq Vets, a Specialist and a buncha Sergeants. When my Sergeants spoke, I listened. We should all do that now as well.
A few nights ago, for example, we witnessed the death of one American soldier and the critical wounding of two others when a lethal armor-piercing explosive was detonated between an Iraqi Army checkpoint and a police one. Local Iraqis readily testified to American investigators that Iraqi police and Army officers escorted the triggermen and helped plant the bomb. These civilians highlighted their own predicament: had they informed the Americans of the bomb before the incident, the Iraqi Army, the police or the local Shiite militia would have killed their families.
As many grunts will tell you, this is a near-routine event. Reports that a majority of Iraqi Army commanders are now reliable partners can be considered only misleading rhetoric. The truth is that battalion commanders, even if well meaning, have little to no influence over the thousands of obstinate men under them, in an incoherent chain of command, who are really loyal only to their militias.
A battalion commander with no influence over his troops? Holy shit. In my day (yeah, yeah, button it...) we heaved the rocks and spears at whomsoever our C.O. said to.
And we've "trained" 129 battalions of Iraqis this way? That's fucked up.
Political reconciliation in Iraq will occur, but not at our insistence or in ways that meet our benchmarks. It will happen on Iraqi terms when the reality on the battlefield is congruent with that in the political sphere. There will be no magnanimous solutions that please every party the way we expect, and there will be winners and losers. The choice we have left is to decide which side we will take. Trying to please every party in the conflict — as we do now — will only ensure we are hated by all in the long run.
In the end, we need to recognize that our presence may have released Iraqis from the grip of a tyrant, but that it has also robbed them of their self-respect. They will soon realize that the best way to regain dignity is to call us what we are — an army of occupation — and force our withdrawal.
One wonders what the Chimp's reaction will be when - not 'if' - the Iraqis say they desire us to leave. At once. I think it will be that the poor beknighted fuzzie-wuzzies don't know what's good for themselves, and need their white saviors to show them the way to enlightenment, which we will gladly trade for their oil and we will be there until we get it and that's that.
Much more. Please go read.