Thursday, September 13, 2007
setting the stage
If you go through the Petraeus report, the key passages are those that deal with Iran. Petraeus continually points the finger at Tehran as an explanation for the lack of "progress" in Iraq. He claims to have "disrupted Shia militia extremists" – you know, the ones that sit in the Iraqi parliament – and to have captured the leaders of "Iranian-supported Special Groups, along with a senior Lebanese Hezbollah operative supporting Iran's activities in Iraq." Who is this operative, and what are these "Special Groups"? Apparently, they are too special to be named in testimony before Congress. The "ethno-sectarian competition," Petraeus avers, is being pushed toward violence, in part because of "malign actions by Syria and, especially, by Iran."
What actions? No answer is given: not that anyone is asking, at least not in the Congress or among the presidential candidates of either party. Prior accusations that IEDs found in Iraq were manufactured in Iran have proved sketchy, at best, and pure invention, at worst. Yet Petraeus' words are simply taken as gospel, much as Colin Powell's peroration of Scooter Libby-produced lies performed in front of the UN was hailed as a home run. Years from now, will we look back on the Petraeus-Crocker dog-and-pony show with the same bitter regret that nobody – or almost nobody – doubted them?
You can bet the ranch on it.
Refuting this farrago of half-baked fantasies doesn't require any special knowledge, only a basic understanding of the current situation in Iraq and a bit of common sense. For example, why would Shi'ite militias go after the Shi'ite government in Baghdad – when, in reality, they are the armed wings of the parties that make up that government?
Even more egregious is the contention that "it is increasingly apparent to both Coalition and Iraqi leaders" that "Iran seeks to turn the Iraqi Special Groups into a Hezbollah-like force" to "fight a proxy war against the Iraqi state." Is that why Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki traveled to Iran recently, where he walked hand in hand with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, then took off for Damascus, where he was warmly greeted by the last of the Mesopotamian Ba'athists?
A proxy war is being fought in Iraq, but it isn't one pitting the Iranians against the Iraqis: the U.S. is the proxy, fighting on behalf of Israel against Iran and Syria.
That's what all this malarkey detailing how the Iranians want to "Hezbollah-ize" the Iranian-run "Special Groups" is about. So now we're fighting Hezbollah, a group that arose because of the Israeli occupation of Lebanon, and is concerned exclusively with ridding their country of Israeli troops and influence.
The "surge," as the escalation of the war is being euphemized, is working, albeit not in the way the hapless Democrats and the American public understand it. "Progress" in Iraq, insofar as this administration is concerned, means we're closer to war with Iran. That has always been our target, and now that we've got the Ba'athists out of the way, we don't mind allying with the "dead-enders" against the real enemy: the Shi'ite mullahs of Tehran.
In answer to questions from the senators, Petraeus gave away the show when he bluntly stated, "We cannot win Iraq solely in Iraq." Oh no, we have to conquer most of the rest of the Middle East, including Iran, Syria, and who-knows-where-else before we can even begin to talk about winning in Iraq.
as raimondo points out, what has seemed apparent for many months to me is now finding read observers among republicans of andrew sullivan and national review. sullivan is finally rightfully appalled at the brazen hubris and the conscienceless engineering of conflict; nro has been, of course, generally eager to broaden the imperial twilight slaughter of endless petrostrategic warfare without victory and maintenance of the israeli beachhead since before i can remember.
that petraeus would fabricate most anything he needed to make the administration case for perpetuating the imperial occupation and (they hope) slow pacification of iraq and its vital energy resources -- all the more valuable in the advancing age of peak oil -- is hardly a revolutionary concept, the undue reverence of jingoistic and economically illiterate americans notwithstanding. moreover, he is certainly in a position to make uncontested and unverifiable statements about conditions on the ground in iraq. it should be well understood that the administration has purged military leadership repeatedly to get the yes-men they want in place, with names like shinseki and abizaid finding even slight dissent impolitic and career-ending. petraeus was never in any danger of being candid before congress; at best, he might rise to the level of 'plausible'.
perhaps worse is his adoption of the casual republican meme that 'things would get worse if we left'. to be sure, they very well might. but they well might if we stay, and they may indeed improve if we leave. what would be sure, however, is that american troops would not be slowly decimated amidst the civil war that the administration so irresponsibly used them to enable. petraeus has utterly no idea how or if continuing the american presence in iraq makes things better or worse, and his pretending that he does undermines his credibility completely and makes him out to be the republican shill he is.
but that his obfuscation points so clearly at the intended next step -- to open a heretofore covert war -- is no less horrifying for his lack of candor and perspective. having lost in iraq, the bush administration would expand a war they can't win, a war that is gradually bankrupting the nation, a war that is tearing the volunteer military asunder, a war that has exposed the united states as just another evil empire, a war that has riven the homeland with fear and political animosity.
there is, moreover, something more subtle but no less sinister. the use of petraeus as an administration salesman is another step back toward the open politicization of the military, a trend in american development that had (previously to the bush administration) largely recessed from the american scene since vietnam and westmoreland, retracing from the perilous high point of eisenhower and macarthur. this must be an unwelcome trend in any democracy, but particularly one committed to a global empire and harboring a monstrous military-industrial-energy complex.