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Justin Raimondo: NO EXIT?

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  • ummyakoub
    An American soldier in Iraq asks: Why are we still here? NO EXIT? by Justin Raimondo Support at home for the U.S. military presence in Iraq is dropping
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 5, 2003
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      An American soldier in Iraq asks: 'Why are we still here?'

      NO EXIT?
      by Justin Raimondo

      Support at home for the U.S. military presence in Iraq is dropping
      dramatically as our troubles mount on the battlefield. 56% of
      Americans now say Iraq was "worth going to war over," while 42%
      disagree – a long way down from 73% to 23% in April. The reasons are
      illuminating. Quizzed as to what motivated their reversal, 24% of
      respondents to a Gallup poll said because it looks like the
      administration lied about weapons of mass destruction. An equal
      number say the invasion resolved nothing and was a "waste of human
      lives." 11% volunteered the opinion that we need to stop policing the
      world. Having supposedly "won" the war, Americans are finding the
      fruits of "victory" no sweeter than outright defeat.

      These sentiments are probably more widespread in the U.S. military
      than anywhere else. You'll remember that prominent high-level
      officers made no secret of their opposition in the run-up to this
      war, and their hard-headed pragmatism is clearly echoed in the ranks.
      Last week, the Washington Post cited the words of a sergeant in the
      Fourth Infantry Division, north of Baghdad, that ought to send a
      chill up the nonexistent spines of the Chickenhawk Brigade:

      "What are we getting into here? The war is supposed to be over, but
      every day we hear of another soldier getting killed. Is it worth it?
      Saddam isn't in power anymore. The locals want us to leave. Why are
      we still here?"

      U.S. Viceroy Paul Bremer has this answer for them:

      "We are going to fight them and impose our will on them and we will
      capture or... kill them until we have imposed law and order on this
      country. We dominate the scene and we will continue to impose our
      will on this country."

      If Bremer keeps this up, he isn't going to last much longer than his
      predecessor, General Jay Garner, who was nixed almost before he even
      took office. According to Gallup, of those who say it was worth it
      going to war, 27% averred it was necessary to remove an evil dictator
      and 18% volunteered that we needed to "free the Iraq people"
      and "stop oppression." The blowhard Bremer is riding for a fall, but
      the same can be said for the whole imperial project.

      30% of war supporters were convinced because of the need to "protect
      the nation" and "stop the threat to world peace" supposedly embodied
      by Iraq. As the countdown to war proceeded, the arguments used to
      justify the invasion were all of immediate import: the President and
      his team pointed to an imminent military threat. Bush explicitly
      conjured up a rather fanciful vision of a fleet of WMD-laden drones
      capable of reaching the continental U.S. As Senator Robert Byrd
      reminded us recently:

      "Iraq's threatening, death-dealing fleet of unmanned drones about
      which we heard so much morphed into one prototype made of plywood and

      If whoever fed Bush that whopper isn't out of a job, then one has to
      wonder who's at the control panel in Washington. As we approach
      another presidential election year, the integrity of this
      administration is at stake, and faith in the existence of Iraqi WMD
      is on the wane. CNN reports:

      "About 45 percent said they lacked confidence that Iraq's alleged
      weapons of mass destruction would be found, up from 15 percent in
      March. The poll also found little difference in the number of those
      who believe the Bush administration deliberately misled the public
      about Iraqi weapons – 37 percent now, up from 31 percent earlier in
      June. More than half said it would matter a great deal if they were
      to become convinced that they were misled."

      There is the potential here for a radical turnaround in public
      opinion, and the War Party is running scared. They thought they would
      have time to consolidate their position and even have the opportunity
      to start moving in on their next target. Instead, however, they have
      been thrown on the defensive, with chief warlord Donald Rumsfeld now
      forced to admit – not long after the presidential proclamation
      of "victory" – the fighting will continue "for some time." Oh, but
      please don't use politically incorrect terminology to describe the
      U.S. predicament: we are not to refer to the simmering conflict in
      Iraq as a "guerrilla war," scolds Rummy, and "quagmire" is completely
      out of the question:

      "There are so many cartoons where press people are saying 'Is it
      Vietnam yet?' hoping it is, and wondering if it is, and it isn't.
      It's a different time, it's a different era, it's a different place."

      Iraq isn't Vietnam, this much is true, which means it could just as
      likely be far worse than Vietnam. When we fought the Viet Cong,
      Communism was already a dying religion. But Islam is a different
      matter. As for "hoping it is" another Vietnam, how typical of a
      government official to blame the victims of his policies for the
      disastrous results.

      "What are we getting into?"

      Rumsfeld and the War Party have no answer to the sergeant's question,
      not an honest one at any rate. They lied by omission to the American
      people by downplaying both the human and the economic costs of our
      Pyrrhic victory. America's men and women in uniform are the greatest
      victims of a reckless policy. This is just the beginning, and
      military families sense it. A recent headline in the Michigan Grand
      Rapids Press, "Fighting in Iraq is supposed to be over, but local
      moms know better," sums up their feelings. A military mom scoffs at
      Bush's "Top Gun" performance aboard the Abraham Lincoln: "Mission
      Accomplished" read the banner ostentatiously festooned across the
      great ship, another big lie they now deny, but

      "It doesn't feel that way to Sand Lake resident Karen Smith. She
      hears the reports – six British killed in a riot, a U.S. soldier shot
      in the head at a suburban Baghdad sidewalk store, another shot in the
      back on night patrol. And she wonders how much longer her son, Army
      Sgt. Shane Smith, will be told to stay, says Smith, 49.

      "'I think we need to leave. I think we need to do what we can and get
      out of there. They are turning on us. We have got to get out of

      "It's a sentiment echoed in homes of many military families across
      West Michigan, as doubts creep in about a mission with no clear end
      in sight."

      Far from ending the war, the occupation of Iraq is only the first
      phase of a neoconservative Dr. Strangelove-style plan to "transform"
      the Middle East. And we aren't going to have any grumbling in the
      ranks not if Rep. Peter Hoekstra, a Republican representing Ms. Smith
      and her family, has anything to say about it. The Grand Rapids Press
      quotes Hoekstra, R-Holland, scolding the families of military
      personnel who dare complain:

      "Americans have gotten used to lightning-quick wars and minimal
      casualties. These folks did sign up for the U.S. armed forces and one
      of the real possibilities is military combat."

      Yeah, so just shut up and die, buddy – that's what we're telling our
      soldiers. That is the message this administration – having slashed
      veterans' benefits and opposed giving soldiers on the front lines a
      break on their college loan repayments – is sending to the military

      You can bet your bottom dollar they'll be trying to collect on that
      college loan long after Johnny comes marching home: maybe mutilated,
      or otherwise permanently traumatized. Perhaps in a body-bag.

      Listen up, soldier – your fate is of no importance to the
      warmongering clique that never served a day in the military and yet
      presumes to nurture Napoleonic ambitions. They lied about the reasons
      for this war, and you are paying the full price of it. You and your
      families, who live on a begrudged pittance, are but pawns on a
      chessboard and just as dispensable.

      In the last grand adventure run by the Best and the Brightest, the
      federal government reneged on a solemn pledge to pay all medical
      bills of soldiers in combat. This time around, I wonder what new
      tricks they'll try. I write this on July 1, the 30th anniversary of
      the end of the draft, a day on which the President surrounded himself
      with soldiers who had re-enlisted in the midst of a seemingly endless
      war. It was in this setting that he announced a new determination to
      ignore the growing chorus of criticism and stay the course:

      "They have attacked coalition forces and they're trying to intimidate
      Iraqi citizens. These groups believe they have found an opportunity
      to harm America, to shake our resolve in the war on terror, and to
      cause us to leave Iraq before freedom is fully established. They are
      wrong and they will not succeed."

      They will face "ruin," he averred, just as surely as "the regime they
      once served." But this attempt to characterize the organized
      guerrilla activity as neo-Ba'athist "remnants" is offered without
      much evidence. British casualties due to hostile fire are roughly
      proportional to American losses: both are occurring at a rate nothing
      short of alarming. Yet the southern part of the country, where the
      Brits hold sway, was never pro-Ba'athist. The pro-Iranian Shi'a, who
      constitute the majority of Muslims in Iraq, represent another kind of
      threat to the occupation.

      Rumsfeld is in deep denial if he refuses to acknowledge that we are
      fighting what is bound to be a protracted conflict against a
      heterogeneous, broad-based opposition not restricted to the Sunni
      population in central Iraq. Whether we call it a war
      against "guerrillas," or "terrorists," or "remnants," or whatever,
      dude, it is going to take far more troops than perhaps even General
      Eric Shinseki imagined. It was, you'll remember, the former Army
      chief of staff who warned that several hundred thousand troops would
      be needed. Rumsfeld drove him into retirement for his impertinence.

      The ceremony honoring 30 re-enlisted soldiers, chosen as backdrop for
      announcing that the war will be prosecuted to the end, was fraught
      with ironic significance. Now that Bremer is asking for more troops
      to be sent, Shinseki is vindicated – but where will all these
      centurions come from? It is 110 degrees in the Iraqi desert, and
      volunteers for an indefinite stay are likely to be in short supply.

      As public support for the non-war in Iraq dwindles, the duration of
      the U.S. military mission is becoming a major political question.
      Where is our exit strategy? That is the major question that needs to
      be asked of every political candidate. We need to find out how many
      of the Democrats are one of these "let's rebuild Iraq" types who want
      to prettify an occupation as some sort of good deed, just as long as
      we modestly assume the fig-leaf of the UN. Many activists are
      impressed with Howard Dean's bold opposition to the war plans of this
      administration, but he needs to be asked under what circumstances the
      U.S. should withdraw – and how soon.

      The invasion of Iraq is an accomplished fact, but what is not yet
      accomplished is the goal of ensconcing us there for 5 to 10 years, as
      Senators Richard Lugar and Joe Biden aver. Just back from a trip to
      our newest overseas possession, they looked grim as they reported
      that this administration had woefully underestimated – or perhaps
      even deliberately downplayed – the difficulties inherent in the
      occupation. They sighed, wistfully, at the inevitability of it all –
      and effectively washed their hands of any responsibility.

      But the extended stay of U.S. troops in Iraq, on the grounds that we
      have some sort of responsibility to ensure "order" and "stability,"
      is a recipe for disaster. Our military presence is the cause of the
      chaos, not the cure: the social fabric, always delicate, has been
      ripped asunder by the war, and the application of more force cannot
      mend what has been broken: it can only bruise the patient further.

      Conservatives have no trouble understanding this concept as it
      applies to government action in the U.S., but for some reason insist
      on applying a different principle to government action abroad.

      We cannot export our system around the world at gunpoint. Such an
      endless, thankless task would exhaust our resources, both human and
      financial, beyond the bounds of reason. Worse, empire-building would
      corrupt us as a people, infecting our culture and subverting our
      political institutions. The semi-permanent occupation of Iraq is not
      a foregone conclusion: there is yet time to turn back from this
      reckless course, and do a u-turn on the road to empire.

      We supposedly "liberated" the Iraqis from a regime whose legendary
      evil grows with each retelling of the familiar atrocity stories. But
      what about us Americans, who, like poor Sisyphus, are faced with a
      task that is not only endless but also thankless? Who will "liberate"


      Writing in a recent issue of the New York Review of Books, Clifford
      Geertz trenchantly observed:

      "Stephen Schwartz, who has also run into political difficulties in
      the capital, and stirred thereby a teacup-storm on the right, is a
      strange and outlandish figure."

      As if to confirm Geertz's diagnosis, Schwartz immediately came out
      with another fulminating screed, Part XVIII of his long-running
      series trying to frame various individuals as a part of a Vast
      Conspiracy involving terrorists and - coincidentally -- all of his
      own worst enemies, chief among them being, apparently, little old me.

      You'll remember that last time he constructed an elaborate fantasy in
      which I was supposedly the inspiration behind an incident that,
      according to him, had involved the threat of physical violence
      against him by incensed Muslims. The sheer power of my words, it
      seems, had the effect of inciting a crowd somewhere in Long Island to
      contemplate delivering Schwartz to the same fate suffered by his
      hero, Leon Trotsky. Oh yes, and I was also supposed to be intimately
      involved with a terrorist group known as Jamat al-Fuqra. This time,
      it's Lashkar-i-Taiba, an obscure anti-Indian group, and Ismail Royer,
      an American citizen whom I have never met, and who was recently
      arrested for allegedly supporting terrorist activities. Here is
      Schwartrz's idea of a Raimondo-Royer-Jamat al-Fuqra connection:

      "The role of Raimondo in this maneuver remains extremely interesting.
      Raimondo has inexhaustibly assailed me because, like Royer, I have
      taken an Islamic name, although unlike Royer, I have never used it
      for deceptive purposes. Royer employed Raimondo's propaganda as a fig-
      leaf to cover his own attempt at intimidation."

      "Interesting" does not even begin to describe the logic that attempts
      to link me to a terroristic conspiracy on the grounds that Royer had
      once sent him "a defamatory quote" from a "notorious Saddamizer and
      admirer of Axis seditionists," namely me. "Strange and outlandish,"
      Schwartz certainly is – and, in making a second career out of
      smearing me, more than just a little bit sinister.

      Schwartz has elevated his own crazed narcissism into a full-blown
      delusional system, in which everything is a conspiracy against poor
      heroic Schwartz, around whom the entire universe revolves. If you can
      stand it, take a peek inside the Schwartzian mind, as he rails
      against his enemies, heaps praise on himself, and reveals himself to
      be a pompous, self-important fool.

      – Justin Raimondo




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