iraq: now what?

my mom IMed me a couple days ago about a meeting she went to down in ojai to support cindy sheehan (good video). (they are organizing nationwide candlelight vigils for this wednesday at 7:30PM).
the iraqi parliament delayed the draft of their constitution today. the two most contentious issues are the role of religion in the new government (the shi’ite majority want a stronger presence of islam) , and questions of regional autonomy for the northern kurds and southern shi’tes (hint: guess where there is a lot of oil). if a solution is not reached that satisfies both the shi’ites and the sunnis, the insurgent attacks are likely to increase. the insurgency isn’t about al qaeda and terrorism; it is a civil war, a battle for control of the country and its phenomenal oil wealth. our troops are standing in the middle of chaos created by the destruction of the country’s political and social order.
kissinger sees paralells between iraq and vietnam, and mccain and biden are calling for higher troop levels to get the job done. a big “problem” for democratic states is that they don’t have the stomach for prolonged wars. i suppose you could say that another big problem for democracies is that they are far to easily brought INTO wars, especially when a majority of voters are not well versed on foreign policy or history, and are easily whipped into war whoops with -isms (communism, terrorism, islamism). well now we are in iraq. and the reality of the situation is that we can’t leave. although the estimates of iraqi troop strength are wildly varied, there is no question that if 135,000 american and 23,000 foreign troops are finding it impossible to keep order in the country, a similar number of poorly trained and equipped iraqi soldiers wouldn’t be able to do the job, and they don’t have anywhere near those number anyhow. internal order is one problem; external threats are a larger one. remember the iran/iraq war?
cindy sheehan wants answers from george bush. unfortunately, i don’t think she’ll ever get them, at least not straight answers. the white house has never been honest about the iraq war, and it isn’t going to start now. the answer, i think, that is closest to the truth is that we aren’t pulling the troops out. not now, not soon, not in the future, unless we are driven out. if you give the administration the benefit of the doubt, then they are massive fuckups who didn’t have much of a plan, and inadvertently wound up getting us stuck in a nation-building occupation. if you, like me, think a little more cynically, then the mission of the iraq war all along has been the establishment of a permanent large u.s. military presence in the middle east, the center of the world’s largest remaining oil reserves.
i might join in one of these vigils on wednesday, but i can’t say i agree that we need to pull our troops out now. the time to protest this war was before it started, which i did. pulling out now isn’t really an option. i think we should support our troops, not by blindly supporting the conflict they are engaged in, but by putting pressure on bush to level with them about why they are there and how long they will be there. that answer is not one that many are prepared to accept.
and maybe pause to think about the plight of people like the 2005 marine of the year, returning from the helliish situation WE created and sent him to, and finding it a difficult adjustment.






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