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Mission accomplished forever

 
Military.com
October 07, 2008
Jeff Huber
 
"Your plan is a white flag of surrender in Iraq... The surge worked." -- Sarah Palin
 
Like so many neoconservatives, Sarah Palin has an odd notion of what winning and losing wars means when you're history's first global hegemon.
 
"Surrender" in Iraq would consist of all of our troops dropping their weapons and raising their hands, and allowing the evildoers to take them to one of Saddam Hussein's old prisons and strip their clothes off, and put ladies' underwear on their heads, and threaten to allow German Shepherds to attack them, and make them form human pyramids, and hook electrodes to their genitals and then rape them with chemical light sticks, and then chain a couple of them from the ceiling by their wrists and beat them to death, and if anybody gives the evildoers any guff about their treatment of prisoners, they blame it on a few bad apples and get away with it. And when our soldiers ask to appeal their imprisonment in a court of law, the evildoers tell them they don't have any legal rights because the evildoers have unilaterally declared them illegal.
 
That, fellow citizens, is what "surrender" in Iraq would consist of, and I want to go on record as saying I'm foursquare against it. I won't presume to speak for Barak Obama or Joe Biden specifically or of the Democratic Party in general, but I think it's a safe bet that they're against that sort of thing too, so that gosh darn Sarah Palin really ought to quit talking like they aren't.
 
Like her prospective boss John McCain, Sarah speaks of "victory" in Iraq as if such a thing could be conjured.
 
Here's what would qualify as a victory in Iraq: Saddam Hussein meets young Mr. Bush on the flight deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln, and sits at a table in front of the ship's island, under the sign that says "Mission Accomplished," and writes his name on a bunch of papers that say the U.S. can establish permanent military bases in his country and take all the oil there and our soldiers and mercenaries and civilian contractors can pull any kind of shenanigans they want in Iraq and the puppet Iraqi government we set up can't do anything about it.
 
Unfortunately, that can't happen because Saddam Hussein is dead. Too bad none of the war experts at neocon central thought about needing somebody to surrender to us when we went off half-cocked and did that regime change stuff. Or maybe somebody at neocon central did think of that and didn't say anything. Too bad either way, huh?
 
Oh, well, no use crying over spilled, uh, milk. All those soldiers of ours who got killed over there, they would have died in traffic accidents anyway, right? As to how many Iraqis have died because of our invasion of their country, some say the number is over a million, but it's impossible to say for sure, so don't worry your pretty head about it.
 
We can't go back in time and reset the problem, so there's no way for us to win in Iraq, but that's not an impediment to John McCain. He's still trying to win in Vietnam; once he pulls that off, winning in Iraq should be a piece of cake.
 
Fee, fi, fo, fumble
 
Like beauty, success exists in the eye of its beholder, and that's fortunate for those like Sarah Palin who profess to believe that the surge in Iraq has "worked." It has worked so well that Mr. Bush has extended it into the regime of whoever winds up succeeding him.
 
The measure of success most often cited as proof that the surge has "worked" is the decrease in violence. As General David Petraeus boasted shortly before he turned over command of Iraq in early September, "there has been enormous progress. We have gone from a situation where 14-15 months ago there were 180 attacks a day in Iraq. Now there are on average about 25 attacks a day." Iraq has roughly the size and population of California. Imagine the reaction Petraeus would generate if he said that thanks to his "enormous progress," San Diego Catholics and Los Angeles Lutherans were only bombing each other 25 times a day.
 
Not only are Petraeus's results other than stellar, the process by which he achieved them were, to put it politely, nefarious. Petraeus's modus has been consistent throughout his tours in Iraq, as commander in Mosul, as officer in charge of training Iraqi security forces and as commander of the Iraq theater. He gives a lot of guns to militiamen then bribes the militiamen not to use the guns on anyone he doesn't want them to use them on, then he makes unsupported accusations against Iran of arming and funding Iraqi militias.
 
Upon assuming command of the Iraq theater of operations form Petraeus, General Ray Odierno cautioned that the "gains" made in Iraq are "fragile and reversible." The Pentagon's latest quarterly report on Iraq echoes Odierno's sentiments almost verbatim, saying that while "political, security, economic, and diplomatic trends in Iraq" are positive, "they remain fragile, reversible, and uneven." It's interesting how the guys who write those reports always say the same things the generals say. I'll never figure out how that works, will you?
 
In keeping with the good news/bad news theme, the report says that "While security has improved dramatically, the fundamental character of the conflict in Iraq remains unchanged—a communal struggle for power and resources."
 
At the core of this communal struggle are those militias we spoke of a moment ago. The Sons of Iraq or the Awakening or the Concerned Local Citizens or whatever we're calling the Sunni Civic League and Gun Club this week is getting restless. They still don't have jobs. The U.S. wants the Shiite controlled government to hire them on with the Iraqi security forces but the Shiite government doesn't want to do that because they want to hire Shiite militants, not Sunni militants. But if the Sunni militants don't have jobs then they'll likely go back to fighting the Shiite militants and the Shiite security forces that the Shiite government won't let them join. That "fundamental character" of Iraq isn't going to change until Mr. Spock and the Vulcans reveal themselves and share their matter/antimatter technology with us.
 
Hence, thanks to the way Petraeus conducted the surge, we'll need to stay in Iraq for a virtual eternity to keep a lid on things. That dovetails neatly with the neocons' prime directive, which all along has been to establish a permanent military footprint in the heart of the Middle East. Anything short of that would amount to failure, or defeat, or waving a white flag of surrender; and in that light, Sarah Palin is correct: the surge worked perfectly.
 
Hey, would John McCain be dumb enough to pick a running mate who didn't know what she was talking about?
 
***
 
Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) commanded an E-2C Hawkeye squadron and was operations officer of a Navy air wing and an aircraft carrier. Jeff's essays have been required reading at the U.S. Naval War College where he earned a master's degree in preemptive deterrence in 1995. His satires on military and foreign policy affairs appear at Military.com, Aviation Week and Pen and Sword. Jeff's novel Bathtub Admirals, a lampoon of America's rise to global dominance, is on sale now.
 
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