Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Back to Iraq

Seymour Hersh, in the New Yorker, has a piece on pulling out of Iraq.
...Many of the military’s most senior generals are deeply frustrated, but they say nothing in public, because they don’t want to jeopardize their careers. The Administration has “so terrified the generals that they know they won’t go public,” a former defense official said. A retired senior C.I.A. officer with knowledge of Iraq told me that one of his colleagues recently participated in a congressional tour there. The legislators were repeatedly told, in meetings with enlisted men, junior officers, and generals that “things were fucked up.” But in a subsequent teleconference with Rumsfeld, he said, the generals kept those criticisms to themselves....
Iraq is still a mess. In fact, we may now be looking at a low-level, under-the-radar genocide that any pullout would give sanction to. See this New York Times piece on assassinations in Sunni neighborhoods.
As the American military pushes the largely Shiite Iraqi security services into a larger role in combating the insurgency, evidence has begun to mount suggesting that the Iraqi forces are carrying out executions in predominantly Sunni neighborhoods.

Hundreds of accounts of killings and abductions have emerged in recent weeks, most of them brought forward by Sunni civilians, who claim that their relatives have been taken away by Iraqi men in uniform without warrant or explanation.

Some Sunni men have been found dead in ditches and fields, with bullet holes in their temples, acid burns on their skin, and holes in their bodies apparently made by electric drills. Many have simply vanished.

Some of the young men have turned up alive in prison. In a secret bunker discovered earlier this month in an Interior Ministry building in Baghdad, American and Iraqi officials acknowledged that some of the mostly Sunni inmates appeared to have been tortured.

I have never advocated an immediate pullout in Iraq. But I'm stuck with that useless minority Democratic observation that we should have never been there in the first place. The pragmatist in me says that the further step is what to do when the broader US, for the sake of its own dignity if nothing else, now has responsibility for not leaving the "fucked up" mess the Bush administration has created. The administration is looking for any way out that can be managed by their expert propagandists. This includes -- as always with the Bushers -- denying reality in the name of unicorn-ish fairy faith in a bizarro-world God who allows artificially drawn and historically contingent national boundaries to be the determinant of good and evil in the world. This is a lost war and there will be and ought to be an eternally ingrained picture of Bush in front of the "Mission Accomplished" sign as the grand symbol of the idiocies of this administration and the sad moment in American history of this ridiculous and dangerous presidency.

But what to do? That's the difficult question, and no one has a very good answer. An immediate pullout is important for the troops, but it is also an abnegation of US responsibility. It's a responsibility we anti-war folks didn't want, but we're in it now. So, what to do.... The first thing to do is tell the truth about the Iraq situation and tell this truth to both the American public and the Iraqi public. I don't think this is possible from the Bush Administration. Not that they're incapable of it, but that they're so entangled in their own lies that they're flies in a spiderweb. The truth is that the administration has so screwed up Iraq that it doesn't have an answer to the question of what to do. Bush then ought to commit public hara kiri in shame -- this would be the honorable thing to do. I know this isn't much of an answer. I don't have one. And the administration clearly does not have one. I watched a bit of CNN yesterday and saw Carville and some other talking head suggesting Bush do a version of fireside chats to explain what's going on in Iraq. That's the best they can do -- muster up a new form or forum of propagandic spin for a failed and immoral policy. Ick.


See also this interesting post by Elyas at Ablogistan.


troutsky said...

Im not as sure about the "abnegation (great word) of US responsibility" reasoning. I think it important we question all our assumptions on this.The primary task is to do no harm, as when you cause a serious accident and you wish to help your victims but you are unqualified.The best thing you can do is let someone who knows what they are doing help.You accept the blame for what happened and live with the guilt and make damn sure it never happens again.In this case , no one else exists to step in (again. our fault)but we have to ask what analysis concludes us to believe the void of our absense causes increased (short term, long term?) violence and turmoil for Iraqi people? Who can know this and how?

Anonymous said...

That's a good point, Troutsky. The assumption is that the US leaves chaos by ducking out. But the chaos might just be chaos from an American perspective. That is, if Iraqis want a theocratic Shiite state, even though that runs entirely counter to US administration desires, then isn't there a sense in which "chaos" is merely perspectival? This seems like a relativistic response, however -- from multiple directions. A conservative, religiously oppressive regime is undesirable not only for we liberal Westerners, but also for lots of Iraqis, perhaps especially female Iraqis. But that might very well be the aggregatively democratic end-result. What the US wants is an economically and culturally liberal Iraq, and not necessarily a democratic Iraq. The typical American conflation of economic liberalism and democracy just makes the whole thing more confusing. I think that is what has the Bush administration trapped. And us -- since we risk being relativists on one hand or imperialists on the other. A really bad set of options this administration has given us.


سحاب Sahab said...

thanx to write this