Sunday, June 15, 2014

McCain redefines defeat to equal victory

Senator John McCain recently criticized Obama for withdrawing American troops from Iraq. He asserted that the US won the war in Iraq but now, because of the withdrawal, we have lost. This is a strange opinion. The stated goal of staying in Iraq as long as we did was to give the Iraqis time to train their army to defend the country against threats to their security.

The surge worked, says McCain. But the surge was an offensive by 100,000 American troops that quelled an uprising in the Sunni part of the country. The injection of 100,000 well-armed troops certainly pacified that region for as long as the troops were there. McCain argues that we should have left sufficient forces in Iraq to pacify the whole country.

No doubt McCain believes, as did Bush 43, that armies can be held in the field indefinitely without accounting for them in the budget. The neocon instigators of the Iraq war assured the American people that the war would not cost $100 million--as others maintained--because the Iraqis had enough oil revenue to repay us when the war was over.

The same people who refused to levy taxes on the American people to pay for the Iraq war were proposing to levy taxes on the Iraqi people to pay for it. These people should understand that taxation without representation is tyranny, as colonial patriot James Otis declared back in the years prior to the American Revolution. They should understand it because they continually refuse to raise taxes on any Americans for any reason as a badge of honor.

The stated goal of remaining in Iraq after the defeat of Saddam Hussein was to give the Iraqis the ability to defend their own country. Since it is now clear that the hyper-partisan, Shi'ite regime that the Americans set up in Baghdad cannot defend itself from Sunni attacks, it must also be clear that the US won the war but Iraq is losing the peace.

The US vision of a united Iraq ignored the history of the region, where Iraq was never united as a country until Britain and France drew its borders after WWI. So there never was and never will be an Iraq in the same way there is a France, Britain, or US. A much more reasonable policy would have been to partition the country along partisan lines, with three smaller countries, Kurdistan in the north, a Sunni state in the west and a Shi'ite state in the east. Such a division could have stabilized the region with less bloodshed and less loss of treasure than the current failed solution.

It is astonishing how quickly the news services have labeled the Sunni partisans as al-Qaida or al-Qaida inspired, just as they once labeled Saddam as a supporter of al-Qaida and the instigator of the 9-11 attacks. The Sunni insurrection may be inspired by al-Qaida, but it may also be supplied by Saudi Arabians, who have the oil wealth to finance such a rebellion. A Sunni caliphate, such as the one envisioned by insurgents, would have a natural ally in Riyadh. Neocons are not going to admit that their pals, the Saudi royal family, may be behind the latest violence in Iraq.

US soldiers are naturally disheartened by the present turn of events. They have a right to be. But the neocons who started the war and lied about its possibility of success have no business blaming President Obama for the failure of their grand design, launched by President Bush in 2003. The neocons must accept the blame themselves for what they persuaded the rest of us to do. They should begin by apologizing to the Americans who fought in Iraq and the families of those who died there, because the Republicans are responsible for the idiotic plan that sent American armed forces to Iraq in the first place.

Senator McCain, against all the evidence, urges us to continue the plan we started. It worked, he says.

No, it didn't work. The plan will cost the American taxpayers more than $2 trillion, making it one of the most expensive failures in history.

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