Monday, April 21, 2008

Unraveling Iraq: Twelve Answers to Questions No One Is Bothering to Ask About Iraq


Can there be any question that, since the invasion of 2003, Iraq has been unraveling? And here's the curious thing: Despite a lack of decent information and analysis on crucial aspects of the Iraqi catastrophe, despite the way much of the Iraq story fell off newspaper front pages and out of the TV news in the last year, despite so many reports on the "success" of the President's surge strategy, Americans sense this perfectly well.

Imagine what might happen if the American public knew more about the actual state of affairs in Iraq - and of thinking in Washington. So, here, in an attempt to unravel the situation in ever-unraveling Iraq are twelve answers to questions which should be asked far more often in this country:

As the colons indicate, there's an explanation of each one.

1. Yes, the war has morphed into the U.S. military's worst Iraq nightmare:

2. No, there was never an exit strategy from Iraq because the Bush administration never intended to leave - and still doesn't:

3. Yes, the United States is still occupying Iraq (just not particularly effectively):

4. Yes, the war was about oil:

5. No, our new embassy in Baghdad is not an "embassy":

6. No, the Iraqi government is not a government:

7. No, the surge is not over:

8. No, the Iraqi army will never "stand up":

9. No, the U.S. military does not stand between Iraq and fragmentation:

10. No, the U.S. military does not stand between Iraq and civil war:

11. No, al-Qaeda will not control Iraq if we leave (and neither will Iran):

12. Yes, some Americans were right about Iraq from the beginning (and not the pundits either):

Noticeably missing were representatives of the group of Americans who happened to have been right from the get-go. In our country, of course, it often doesn't pay to be right. (It's seen as a sign of weakness or plain dumb luck.) I'm speaking, in this case, of the millions of people who poured into the streets to demonstrate against the coming invasion with an efflorescence of placards that said things too simpleminded (as endless pundits assured American news readers at the time) to take seriously - like "No Blood for Oil," "Don't Trade Lives for Oil," or ""How did USA's oil get under Iraq's sand?" At the time, it seemed clear to most reporters, commentators, and op-ed writers that these sign-carriers represented a crew of well-meaning know-nothings and the fact that their collective fears proved all too prescient still can't save them from that conclusion. So, in their very rightness, they were largely forgotten.

Now, as has been true for some time, a majority of Americans, another obvious bunch of know-nothings, are deluded enough to favor bringing all U.S. troops out of Iraq at a reasonable pace and relatively soon. (More than 60% of them also believe "that the conflict is not integral to the success of U.S. anti-terrorism efforts.") If, on the other hand, a poll were taken of pundits and the inside-the-Beltway intelligentsia (not to speak of the officials of the Bush administration), the number of them who would want a total withdrawal from Iraq (or even see that as a reasonable goal) would undoubtedly descend near the vanishing point. When it comes to American imperial interests, most of them know better, just as so many of them did before the war began. Even advisors to candidates who theoretically want out of Iraq are hinting that a full-scale withdrawal is hardly the proper way to go.

So let me ask you a question (and you answer it): Given all of the above, given the record thus far, who is likely to be right?

"Right" is whatever gets votes this year. Damn, why couldn't there be a different word for 'wrong' than 'right', as in 'right wing'?

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