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Aug 18

Written by: Diana West
Tuesday, August 18, 2009 5:32 AM 

Last week's column, which I am posting today (below), opens like this:

Question for Americans: How can we as a nation even consider using our military for another "surge" in Afghanistan when the "surge" in Iraq has left little more imprint on the sands of Mesopotamia than the receding tide?

On one of my final proofreads, I changed a word. Originally, it read, How can we ... even a consider  "surge" in Afghanstan

when the "surge" in Iraq has left no more imprint on the sands of Mesopotamia than the receding tide?

At the last minute, I hedged, thinking well, maybe there is just a teeny tiny bit of a post-surge US imprint, so I changed "no" to "little."

That, as this morning's Wash Post confirms, was a mistake. Seems the Iraqi government wants to hold a referendum in January on booting US forces out ahead of schedule, which to my mind promises to erase any and all residual US influence. I'm fine with this because I would like to see US forces leave yersterday and take their "surging" comrades in Afghanistan with them for a major realignment of US policy that would never again place infidel America in the unworkable, failed strategy of fighting for the soul of Islamic nations. What is disturbing about the story is the non compos mentis US/Pentagon reaction.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's move appeared to disregard the wishes of the U.S. government, which has quietly lobbied against the plebiscite. American officials fear it could lead to the annulment of an agreement allowing U.S. troops to stay until the end of 2011, and instead force them out by the start of that year.

The Maliki government's announcement came on the day that the top U.S. general in Iraq proposed a plan to deploy troops to disputed areas in the restive north, a clear indication that the military sees a continuing need for U.S. forces even if Iraqis no longer want them here.

Madness. And it gets worse:

...senior Pentagon officials played down Maliki's announcement, saying it was an expected part of Iraq's political process.

Iraq says: "We hate you; get out." The Pentagon says: "Look at all that political progress. How, um, `expected' it is." This is a pop psych book waiting to be written: Senior Pentagon Officials Who Love Too Much.


Senior Iraqi officials did not raise the possibility of the referendum with Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates when he visited the country earlier this month, Pentagon officials said.

Pathetic. Such desperation to read positive signs in negative behavior could inspire a new chick flick: Iraq's Just Not That Into You. The Post report continues:

Scores of Iraqis have been killed in recent weeks in villages along the 300-mile frontier south of the Kurdish region. U.S. military officials say the attacks bear the hallmarks of Sunni extremists, but local leaders have traded accusations to bolster their positions on whether specific areas should be under the control of Baghdad or the autonomous government of Kurdistan.

"Sunni extremists," huh. Again?

The tension, Odierno said, has created a security vacuum that has emboldened al-Qaeda in Iraq, a Sunni insurgent group that he said was almost certainly responsible for recent sensational bombings in the province. The number of civilian casualties in Iraq has increased since the urban pullout, Odierno said, largely as a result of attacks in the disputed territories.

"What we have is al-Qaeda exploiting this fissure between the Arabs and the Kurds," he said. "What we're trying to do is close that fissure."

Why? It will only open up again -- or close when one of Iraq's warring peoples wins out over the rest.

Here's the column, a tale of "Dimishing Returns":

Question for Americans: How can we as a nation even consider using our military for another "surge" in Afghanistan when the "surge" in Iraq has left little more imprint on the sands of Mesopotamia than the receding tide?

This, to clarify, is not the antiwar Left writing. I am writing from a pro-military, anti-jihad point of view that has long seen futility in the U.S. nation-building strategy in Iraq, and now sees futility in the rerun in Afghanistan. Problem is, the same blind spot afflicts both strategies: the failure to understand that an infidel nation cannot fight for the soul of an Islamic nation. This, in essence, is what President Bush and now President Obama have ordered our troops to do.

I don't suggest these missions are ever considered in such terms, which implicitly acknowledge intractable differences between Judeo-Christian-based Western cultures and Islamic cultures. Doing so, of course, is a taboo thing -- a grievous violation in the PC realm where decisions are made. But the omission helps answer my opening question. I seriously doubt Americans would approve of re-running the surge in Afghanistan if there were an honest reckoning of the religious, cultural and historical reasons why the surge failed to achieve its promised results in Iraq.

This is not to say the U.S. military failed. On the contrary, the U.S. military succeeded, as ordered, to bring a measure of security and aid to a carnage-maddened Islamic society. Given U.S.-won security, surge architects promised us, this same Islamic society was supposed to then respond by coming together in "national reconciliation." They were wrong. Not only did Iraqis fail to coalesce as a pro-American, anti-jihad bulwark in the Islamic world (the thoroughly delusional original objective), they have also failed to form a minimally functional nation-state. And the United States is now poised to do the same thing all over again in Afghanistan.

I write this as the volume of talk of an Afghanistan "surge" is getting louder, drowning out the quiet undercurrent of eye-opening reports now emerging on post-surge Iraq. Late last month, for example, the New York Times reported on a bluntly revealing memo written by Col. Timothy Reese, an adviser to the Iraqi military's Baghdad command. In it, Reese urgently argues that the United States has "reached the point of diminishing returns" in Iraq due, among many other things, to endemic corruption ("the stuff of legend"), laziness, weakness and culture of "political violence and intimidation."

Reese considers Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) "good enough" -- just -- to keep the Iraqi government from toppling. That's reason enough, he writes, to leave early, by August 2010 instead of December 2011. Reese describes a "fundamental change" in the U.S.-Iraq relationship since the June 30 handover -- a "sudden coolness," lack of cooperation, even a "forcible takeover" by ISF of a checkpoint. While Iraq will still "squeeze the U.S. for all the `goodies' that we can provide," he writes, tensions are increasing and "the potential for Iraqi on U.S. violence is high now and will grow by the day."

And that's the good news. The Washington Times this week reported on an even more dire prognostication to be published by National Defense University written by Najim Abed Al-Jabouri, a former Iraqi police chief and mayor. Al-Jabouri focuses on problems within the ISF, where, he writes, the divided loyalties of what is essentially a series of militias beholden to competing "ethno-sectarian" political factions could easily drive Iraq to civil war. He writes: "The state security institutions have been built upon a foundation of shifting loyalties that will likely collapse when struck by the earthquake of ethnic and sectarian attacks. Iraq's best hope for creating a long-term stable democracy will come from an independent national security force that is controlled by the state, and not by political parties competing to control the state."

Al-Jabouri insists the United States should exert its "leverage" to revamp the ISF, which, given Reese's evidence of plummeting U.S. influence in Iraq, seems farfetched even if it were a good idea. Which it is emphatically not. An infidel nation cannot fight for the soul of an Islamic nation -- a truism that, in a more rational (non-PC) world, might bring surge enthusiasts to their senses.








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