Monday, November 27, 2006

Iraq War Now Longer for America Than WW II - And Continuing to Get Worse

While Americans enjoyed family, friends, football and turkey over the long weekend, a regrettable milestone was hit: As of yesterday, the Iraq war, which has gone on for a bit over three years and eight months, has now lasted longer than the U.S. involvement in World War II.

Senator John Warner (R-VA) made that observation in a November 15 meeting of the Senate Armed Services Committee, which he chairs, when he noted that Sunday would mark the day when U.S. involvement in Iraq exceeded that of World War II.

"I remember the period well. I was a young sailor in the following year of that war," said Warner of World War II. "And accordingly, I note that on November 26th, 2006, this year, but a few days away, our involvement in Iraq will surpass the length of this historic World War II period."

America's only longer wars have been the Vietnam War (eight years, five months), the Revolutionary War (six years, nine months), and the Civil War (four years).

At least 300 Iraqis were killed over the extended weekend, including 200 in a series of bombings on Thursday. Six Sunnis were burned alive by Shiite militiamen on Friday after leaving worship services -- and right in front of Iraqi soldiers who did not intervene.

Meanwhile, two U.S. Marines were killed Saturday in Anbar province, raising to at least 2,875 the number of U.S. servicemen who have died since the beginning of the Iraq war. Fifty-six American troops have died so far in November.

One of the only Republicans in Congress with a shred of integrity when it comes to this war is Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel, who has been a steady critic of the Bush administration's conduct of the war for the last two years. Writing in a Washington Post editorial yesterday that "the future of Iraq was always going to be determined by the Iraqis -- not the Americans," Hagel made the point that "there will be no military victory or military solution for Iraq."

Here's more from Hagel:
"The time for more U.S. troops in Iraq has passed. We do not have more troops to send and, even if we did, they would not bring a resolution to Iraq. Militaries are built to fight and win wars, not bind together failing nations. We are once again learning a very hard lesson in foreign affairs: America cannot impose a democracy on any nation -- regardless of our noble purpose.

"We have misunderstood, misread, misplanned and mismanaged our honorable intentions in Iraq with an arrogant self-delusion reminiscent of Vietnam. Honorable intentions are not policies and plans. Iraq belongs to the 25 million Iraqis who live there. They will decide their fate and form of government."
Near the end of his column, Hagel says what most Americans now understand: "The United States must begin planning for a phased troop withdrawal from Iraq."

This kind of realism has never been much of a surprise coming from someone like Hagel who, unlike most in the Bush administration, is actually a Veteran who has seen combat.

Meanwhile, there was an interesting piece on CNN over the weekend in which correspondent Michael Ware, who has been on the ground in Baghdad for some time, makes it clear that what is going on in Iraq is obviously a civil war.

Here's Ware when asked by anchor Kitty Pilgrim about the disconnect between what he sees there every day and assertions by the Iraqi government and the U.S. military in Baghdad that Iraq is not a civil war:
"Well, firstly, let me say, perhaps it's easier to deny that this is a civil war, when essentially you live in the most heavily fortified place in the country within the Green Zone, which is true of both the prime minister, the national security adviser for Iraq and, of course, the top U.S. military commanders. However, for the people living on the streets, for Iraqis in their homes, if this is not civil war, or a form of it, then they do not want to see what one really looks like.

"This is what we're talking about. We're talking about Sunni neighborhoods shelling Shia neighborhoods, and Shia neighborhoods shelling back.

"We're having Sunni communities dig fighting positions to protect their streets. We're seeing Sunni extremists plunging car bombs into heavily-populated Shia marketplaces. We're seeing institutionalized Shia death squads in legitimate police and national police commando uniforms going in, systematically, to Sunni homes in the middle of the night and dragging them out, never to be seen again.

"I mean, if this is not civil war, where there is, on average, 40 to 50 tortured, mutilated, executed bodies showing up on the capital streets each morning, where we have thousands of unaccounted for dead bodies mounting up every month, and where the list of those who have simply disappeared for the sake of the fact that they have the wrong name, a name that is either Sunni or Shia, so much so that we have people getting dual identity cards, where parents cannot send their children to school, because they have to cross a sectarian line, then, goodness, me, I don't want to see what a civil war looks like either if this isn't one."
Said Pilgrim in response, " That is the starkest description I have yet heard, Michael."

Ware closed by also making it clear that, as it stands now, the Iraqi government is not capable of governing, saying that "the U.S. military is desperate to put any kind of reasonable face on this apparition that they call the Iraqi government."

You can see the Ware clip at Crooks and Liars.

Hope you all had a good holiday weekend… Now it's back to the real world, folks.