Encouragement: Every American who can needs to read the ISG Report -- if not for its conclusions, then at least for its description of where we stand. It's 84 pages of unusually straightforward prose, intended for everybody with basic reading skills, and it's available for free pdf download here:*
This is the first time a reasonably objective overview of the situation has been available in print, and I'd really encourage folks to give it a glance.
Brief snark: if that's the word for it. I am deliberately keeping this primer as nonpartisan as possible, as the Report itself is -- I agree with the latter's conclusion that we can't hope to handle the difficult coming days without some national consensus, and I don't wish to undermine that hope. That said:
Reading the summary that begins the report it is difficult to escape the paranoid-feeling suspicion that such an overwhelming blow to American power almost cannot have come about by accident. I mean, think about it: we went in and -- I don't want to say deliberately, but certainly systematically -- destabilized the single region most vital to our energy consumption; the policy we're pursuing there is virtually guaranteed to destabilize it further, quite possibly prompting the regional conflagration Defense Secretary-designate Bob Gates has warned us against (not to mention the terrific jihadi recruitment effort it's proving to be); and all of this is done while we absolutely guarantee that U.S. military victory is flatly impossible.
Look, Americans have endured horrific casualties without shrinking, when there was a clear point to doing so: the Pacific theater alone (WW II) devastated the Marine Corps beyond anything we've yet seen in Iraq. Americans supported the Pacific campaign anyway because it had a point: our maimed and dead made their sacrifices so that we could, however slowly and painfully, make our way to the Japanese home islands, and ultimate victory.
Iraq is not like that. Iraq isn't even like Vietnam, where our casualties came from search and destroy missions against a mixture of insurgents and local rebels.
Day after day, Iraq is a fucking shooting gallery, and our brave men and women in uniform are targets.**
Look, if this IS the world war, or at least multigenerational struggle, the President and Don Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney have insisted it is, why aren't we taking the steps necessary for actual victory, however unpopular at home? Raising an army capable of defeating the enemy, even if that means a draft? Raising the funds needed to pay for it, even if that means whopping tax hikes, most especially at the corporate and high-income end? Instead, as their last official act before ceding control of Congress, the outgoing Republican majority refused to finish nine of the eleven budget bills for the current fiscal year...and instead made darn sure there were more tax CUTS.
Nor does it make sense to me that the refusal to raise taxes or institute a draft comes from an attempt to maintain unified American support for the war. The current administration and outgoing Congress have spent years, now, doing their damnedest to divide the American electorate in as hateful a way as they can...and support for the war as currently waged is at a breathtaking 27% (with 71% disapproval). You never see numbers like that. The whole thing is beyond me.
OTOH, if this is not the world war/multigenerational struggle the administration (and, largely, GOP) have claimed,*** why in heaven's name oppose the ISG's suggestions as a "recipe for defeat"? I mean, seriously: if you're not willing to "win," why oppose compromises designed to salvage what we can?
If this bundle of policy is a mistake, it is one of the biggest mistakes in world, let alone U.S., history. If it is not a mistake, it is high treason. I'm damned if I can decide which it is.
I find the motives here obscure to any non-paranoid analysis I can muster. If anyone has any theories, I'd be more than delighted to hear them.
After this thread, back to nonpartisan discussion -- I promise. :D
93 93/93 -- AJ
* Schmamazon has the hard copy for like $6.50. I ordered one, but am also making my bleary-eyed way through the pdf file online.
** Though not the main targets, of course, who are ordinary Iraqis. More on this -- and on the induced, rather than organic, nature of the "civil war" now developing there -- in later posts.
*** Or even if it is, come to think. Btw, I'm leaving aside in-depth discussion of troop levels for later posts.