Our one remaining local independent daily newspaper ran a question for readers this week:
"President Bush feels optimistic about Iraqis securing their nation and setting up a functioning government. How do you feel about the war?"
I don't know if they will print this:
The pResident thought Brownie was doing a great job, he reads people's souls by looking in their eyes. Clearly, George W Bush is off his rocker. He thinks God talks to him and he decides with his gut.
But let's pick this apart regardless.
How do you feel about the war?
The War is over. We Won! Two and a half years ago, remember? Mission Accomplished? There are no more WMDs threatening US from Iraq, nope. And that bad man, Saddam, he's out. And we got his sons, too. So that's done. We Won, Yay!
So why didn't our troops come home? Why are our kids still getting killed and maimed? What are we doing over there?
It's called Occupation.
...Iraqis securing their nation
To Occupy is to take hold of; to make use of; to take up room or space.
In otherwords, to seize and hold. We invaded their country, blew it to bits, looted it's treasure and set up a puppet government that pleases no-one. Now we patrol the streets in armed and armored convoys, looking to all the world like conquerors in our new colony.
Add in the religious element; The majority of Iraq is Muslim, like most of SouthWest Asia. Bush has loudly declared his Christianity and so have many of the people around him, including several Generals. We are seen as Crusaders, Bush even used the word. In Arab culture, there are few words more charged. Religious zealots across the Muslim world use our occupation as a rallying cry and some foreign fighters are drawn to the chaos. A whole new generation of Jihadists are being trained in Iraq now. Our occupation has increased world terrorism and introduced it to Iraq where it hadn't been before.
Occupied people fight back. It's asymmetrical warfare, we hid behind stonewalls dressed like farmers, sniping, while the Redcoats came in rows and columns, the US forces have tanks and cruise missiles, the resistance has IEDs and abductions. Anyone that works for the Americans or their puppet government are collaborators, that is, fair game. Anyone that gets too close to our patrols or moves too fast can end up blasted to swiss cheese by our overwhelmed troops.
As long as our troops are there, they will be a destabilizing force and ready targets, close at hand.
From an Iraqi point of view, securing their nation means first expelling our troops.
...and setting up a functioning government
Unfortunately, our invasion and occupation has set off a civil war along three large faultlines, each fractured by divisions within. Peace is not likely to come soon to Mesopotamia. The idea that we could impose democracy, at gunpoint, on people that have lost so much ground in the past two decades was delusional from the start. It will be quite interesting to see what forms of government emerge from the rubble after we've left.
Meanwhile, we are constructing a massively fortified palace in Baghdad and a dozen other huge military bases around the country, most notably in the oil producing regions. Bush and the Chickenhawks refuse to even consider a timetable for withdrawal because they don't plan to leave. They keep mumbling "Complete the Mission" and "Finish the Job" but they have never honestly answered what the mission is.
If their plan is, as they have recently stated, to keep upwards of 50 000 troops incountry for many years, occupying these bases and that would be to manipulate the local government, to control the flow of oil and natural gas from that region, that plan is also delusional. The vast majority of Iraqis want US to be gone yesterday, another three, five, ten, years of grinding occupation and the insurgents won't be hiding among the civilians, the civilians will all be insurgents.
We, the People of the United States must exercise our democracy and rein in our out-of-control executive. We must establish a date for an orderly end of the occupation and stick to it. The People of Iraq will create a real government of their own only after we butt out.