July 18, 2009
The Price of Presidential Poltroonery
On July 2nd, the Iraq government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki unilaterally issued guidelines to the withdrawal of forces agreement; nothing could make more clear how much we have lost by not having President George W. Bush to kick around anymore.
The sudden guidelines, which took American military commanders completely by surprise, included the demand that we cease all joint patrols with Iraqi forces:
In a curt missive issued by the Baghdad Operations Command on July 2 -- the day after Iraqis celebrated the withdrawal of U.S. troops to bases outside city centers -- Iraq's top commanders told their U.S. counterparts to "stop all joint patrols" in Baghdad. It said U.S. resupply convoys could travel only at night and ordered the Americans to "notify us immediately of any violations of the agreement"....
The new guidelines are a reflection of rising tensions between the two governments. Iraqi leaders increasingly see the agreement as an opportunity to show their citizens that they are now unequivocally in charge and that their dependence on the U.S. military is minimal and waning.
The new "guidelines" also reflect demands from Iran. What's next -- no Jewish Marines allowed in Iraq?
I am convinced this Iraqi betrayal would never have happened under President Bush; of all people in the world, Iraqis are most acutely aware of George W. Bush's resolve, his toughness, and his refusal to compromise American security, even to accomodate the vanity of an ally.
But the new administration is a different kettle of monkeys: Maliki understands that President Barack H. Obama is in full diplomatic retreat virtually everywhere, from Russia to North Korea to China -- even to our allies in Europe and Latin America. (Were I a psychologist or psychiatrist, I might speculate that his insensate hunger to meet other heads of state anytime, anywhere, for any reason, and without any preconditions is perhaps best understood as an unconscious need to be loved and approved, possibly due to being abandoned by his father; but I'm not, so I won't.)
In particular, Maliki sees the Obamacle kow-towing to Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, even to the extent of releasing the very Qods Force officers who have been directing the violence and murder by splinter groups of the Mahdi Miliia against not only American and Coalition forces but Iraqis as well:
The strict application of the agreement coincides with what U.S. military officials in Washington say has been an escalation of attacks against their forces by Iranian-backed Shiite extremist groups, to which they have been unable to fully respond....
A spate of high-casualty suicide bombings in Shiite neighborhoods, attributed to al-Qaeda in Iraq and related Sunni insurgent groups, has overshadowed the increase of attacks by Iran-backed Shiite extremists, U.S. official say....
The three primary groups -- Asaib al-Haq, Khataib Hezbollah and the Promised Day Brigades -- emerged from the "special groups" of the Jaish al-Mahdi (JAM) militia of radical Iraqi Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, which terrorized Baghdad and southern Iraq beginning in 2006. All receive training, funding and direction from Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force.
"One of the things we still have to find out, as we pull out from the cities, is how much effectiveness we're going to have against some of these particular target sets," the military intelligence official said. "That's one of the very sensitive parts of this whole story."
Sensitive -- you think?
Does anybody believe that Barack Obama is ever going to crack down on Iran, in Iraq or anywhere else, so long as there is the faintest thread of a possibility in the One's mind that he can "talk Iran out of" building a nuclear bomb?
Does anybody think Obama would fight to preserve effective rules of engagement from depredations by the Iraqi Council of Representatives (acting as a stalking horse for Iran) -- or even from our own congressional defeatists trying, once again, to cripple our fighting ability?
Or would he just shrug and go with the flow? Especially if he is completely engrossed in trying to enact his domestic agenda to nationalize health care, the entire banking system, and all energy use; raise taxes back to Carter-era rates; and triple the national debt?
I think our military is quite chary of picking a fight with a tough enemy like Qods Force, unless they can be certain that the Commander in Chief will back our hand 100%. Since certainty is certainly lacking, considering the new CinC, I'm not sanguine about our willingness to go after those "three primary groups" of Shia attacking American forces in Iraq.
Worse, Iraqis are extremely sensitive to signs of their allies going wobbly; in the Middle East, an "ally" is a temporary arrangement subject to change at a moment's notice. If Iraqis gain the faintest sense that we cannot be relied upon, then they will find an ally who is more steadfast. Looking around, now that Bush is gone, there are but two other players in Iraq who have been there from the beginning and who appear determined to stay until the bitter end: al-Qaeda and Iran.
I worry that if Obama continues to send a message of weakness, vacillation, and subservience, the Iraqi Shia, in the face of an increasing tempo of attacks from the former, will naturally turn to the latter:
Maliki has occasionally criticized interference by Shiite Iran's Islamic government in Iraqi affairs. But he has also maintained close ties to Iran and has played down U.S. insistence that Iran is deeply involved, through the Quds Force, in training and controlling the Iraqi Shiite extremists.
U.S. intelligence has seen "no discernible increase in Tehran's support to Shia extremists in recent months," and the attack level is still low compared with previous years, U.S. counterterrorism official said. But senior military commanders maintained that Iran still supports the Shiite militias, and that their attacks now focus almost exclusively on U.S. forces.
With the replacement of George Bush by Barack Obama, the mullahs, the bloodthirsty, megalomaniacal, Twelver mullahs, may win after all; and all that blood and treasure will be flushed away. But the most galling part is this: After physically wrenching a brilliant victory around to a humiliating defeat, does anyone expect the One to accept responsibilty for his own stupid decisions?
Of course not; he'll blame Bush. Obama will crow that this proves he was right all along; the war was unwinnable from the start!
There is one possible saving grace: The troop-withdrawal agreement necessarily contains a lot of vagueness and ambiguity (this is, after all, the Middle East). We might interpret it to make Iraq's unnegotiated "guidelines" to withdrawal invalid.
Naturally, that would be a higher level decision than a mere military commander could make. It's political; it transcends strategy. Such a decision requires some stubbornness, resolution, military acumen, and just a little spine. And it must come from the political command, through the Department of Defense, the State Department, the intelligence agencies, and ultimately from the president himself.
Hatched by Dafydd on this day, July 18, 2009, at the time of 6:37 PM
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The following hissed in response by: BD
Ultimately, we get the government we deserve.
As easy as it is to condemn Obama's campaign as dishonest and the press as flacking for him all through the campaign, we (meaning "the electorate", not "you & me") elected this guy President.
His shortcomings weren't disguised. He'd run nothing except a campaign, hadn't distinguished himself in any office, was extraordinarily naive about foreign policy, showed himself to be an opportunist on numerous occasions - - - and none of that mattered because he was "cool" & hopey/changey and all that rubbish.
The electorate decided it wanted to feel good about itself by electing this guy.
Now we get to live with it.
The following hissed in response by: Da Coyote
The Obamaloon's performance goes beyond incompetence. His joke of an administration keeps making attempts to "try" the Bush administration for previous crimes. Let us remember this after the upcoming strife within our own country. I want us to remember all that has happen, and try those responsible. With very serious penalties.
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