STUDYING IRAQ FOR DHIMMIS
General Ingenuity Joe strikes again:
A working prototype of Iraq Study Group Recommendation #79.
photo by Buck Sargent
It’s important to remember that “stability” is Arabic for “the mess we’re in.”
-Mark Steyn, America Alone
December 6, 2006: a date which will live in irrelevancy.
Now that four out of five critics have agreed to agree that the President's latest elective surgery is poised to kill the patient on the operating table, I finally made time to digest that redundant monstrosity of pomposity known as the Iraq Study Group Report of the Hamilton-Baker Commission. (Also referred to by anyone who's spent more than four days on the ground as The Complete Idiot's Guide to Iraq). Less people have white-lied about finishing Moby Dick than this myopia-inducing dirge, but then I don't believe even Sir James reads what he signs his name to these days, other than his own royalty checks of course.
By now it's no secret that the ISG's half-baked Ham-Bake is little more than a neverending litany of duh on arrival recommendations that are not only far from novel ideas, but have already been implemented for quite some time now. For starters:
The United States should significantly increase the number of U.S. military personnel, including combat troops, embedded in and supporting Iraqi Army units.Well, duh. Embedding military transition teams (MiTTs) throughout Iraqi units has been a staple of U.S. policy for at least the past two years, at least in deed if not word. It has been in essence the reverse of our mission creep in Vietnam, in which our early years of involvement consisted predominantly of advisory elements followed up with an escalation of combat ground forces. In Iraq's case, the opposite has been tried. A large invasion and occupation force has slowly been phased out in return for an increased training and advisory role.
This is not uniformly true throughout the theater, and is not necessarily reflected in the number of U.S. forces forward deployed -- the supply and support tail percentages have swelled in recent years to obscure this result. But of the 150,000 some-odd U.S. troops soon to be the official total in Iraq, fully half of them are in de facto non-combat duties. What this means is that they live and work on the large concentrated FOBs in a daily environment and threat level barely distinguishable from a stateside posting. The number of soldiers who venture outside the wire on a routine basis are in facto shockingly few in number.
The very eponymy of the rear-area pejoratives du jour should be enough to give lie to the journalistic trope that there are neither front lines nor safe zones in this war. It is an exaggeration that serves all the Force-Pro Fobbits, Big League CHUers, Green Zone Goblins, and Green Bean Gobblers equally, measured directly by how many times deskbound TOC-roaches, embed-wetting reporters, or KBR commandos breathlessly describe on their MySpace pages their own heroic braving of enemy rocket or mortar attacks that even the cherriest line soldier would sleep through.
Intraservice rivalries aside, what this all translates to is that the Iraqis have been on their own out there for quite some time now, helping explain both the relative success in the northern areas as well as the abject failure in the Sunni Triangle and Baghdad in particular. Bottom line: many of them simply weren't ready to fly solo and we've been remiss in pushing them into it too fast and too furiously, especially as a matter of domestic political necessity rather than military logistical imperative. After we stood them up, they fell down.
While the Pentagon publicists were busy talking up the handover of the initiative to Iraqi forces last fall, our own Stryker unit was spending a depressingly large segment of our time in Baghdad as heavily armed census takers with only a smattering of token Iraqi troops to serve as our Arabic secretaries:
"Alright, sayyid, now how many AK's do you own? Just one? Got it. And this is your car? And you live here with your wife and brother? No children? Wait, your brother has two children? Oh, they were both kidnapped. Very sorry to hear that. Okay, well... you get all that down, M'hammed? Alright, let’s move on to the next one..."Even the residents understood the fundamental absurdity of our game plan:
"Mistah, why you search the people's houses today when Ali Baba [the bad guys] leave one week before you come? He come back next week after you leave and will attack the people again. Why you not go after Ali Baba where he live? [Meaning Sadr City]. Why, mistah?"What could you say to that except throw your hands up and shrug your shoulders? An ordinary middle-aged and underemployed Iraqi engineer who can encapsulate the folly of our mission within a paragraph of broken English. Meanwhile, the the ten-member cast of The Realist World and its crew of extras was apparently busy putting the finishing touches on their million dollars-per-page words of wonder-wisdom:
The situation in Baghdad and several provinces is dire... The level of violence is high and growing. There is great suffering, and the daily lives of many Iraqis show little or no improvement. Pessimism is pervasive.Indeed. Especially in this report!
Yet the biggest disappointments in the progress of the war remain the biggest disappointments within Arab societies in general. Stuff happens, but this stuff ain't new. Name a single Arab country to date that can boast of a flawlessly managed self-government, a volunteer army created from scratch complete with a somewhat functional NCO corps, simultaneously holding an ex-dictator to account while resisting the appeal of a new one to take his place in the interim, and all while surrounded by decidedly unfriendly next-door neighbors who'd like nothing more than for them to fail spectacularly and aren't shy about helping it along.
That's what I thought.
But what say you, Messrs. O'tamia?
Iraq’s neighbors and key states in and outside the region should form a support group to reinforce security and national reconciliation within Iraq… Given the ability of Iran and Syria to influence events within Iraq and their interest in avoiding chaos in Iraq, the United States should try to engage them constructively.Dr. Phil, call your office. Form a support group! Surely they can't be serious. (They are serious, and don't call them Shirley). But Iran's already been lavishly donating to their support group of choice -- it's called Jaish al-Mahdi. But on second thought, the ISG is absolutely correct. We should be trying to engage them constructively. Which approach do you prefer: bad cop or worse cop?
In spite of their occasional head-scratching assertions that Iraq's busy-bodycount-producing neighbors arent' seeking chaos within their own 'hood, the Pap Blue Ribbon panel does eventually go on to concede that both Iran and Syria are delighting in helping bog us down there. Of course they are. And why shouldn't they? OIF Deuce effectively became Operation Swept Under The Persian Rug the second some guy with four names that probably included Hussein figured out that if you buried an artillery shell under some roadside trash and blew it up when an American column drove by that some other guy with aftermarket body armor and blow-dried hair would jump out of his Nomex socks to broadcast its aftermath across the globe before the shrapnel finished cooling.
If there's anything a group should be formed to study, it's how a nation with a cast iron stomach that could down Krouts for breakfast, Japs for dinner, and Commies for a midday snack could suddenly develop into such a bellyaching diaperpower with a blistering case of war rash.
While a case can be made that we've overplayed our hand in the War on Terror by fixating on fixing our broken pottery, at this point I still believe misunderestimating our enemies to be quite malapropriate. And one shouldn't have to TiVo the History Channel in perpetuity to recognize this.
Just as we delighted in bleeding the Soviets dry through a proxy fight in mid-eighties Afghanistan, the Iranian mullahs and the Baby Baathist regime are providing us a taste of our own medicine in mid-oughts Iraq. Like it or not, it's one for all or all for naught. Quitting the fight now doesn't just mean conceding victory there. It's conceding victory everywhere.
But why stop there? While we're at it, let's finally get with le programme and mothball our military, open up Infidel Reparation Accounts, preemptively apologize to the Muslim grievance lobby, and petition the EU for retroactive membership. Because what jizya think the other side is fighting for? I can tell you one thing: if you've ever kicked around little green footballs, you'd know it isn't free minds and free markets.
Which is precisely the point, ¿n'est-ce pas?
Mark Steyn's latest must-read volume makes the case that Muslim demographics will in our lifetimes begin to overwhelm much of the Western world, to include the entirety of Europe -- conquering via birthrates on a scale incomparable to Islamist murder rates. And in his grim estimation, "America alone" will be the last man standing. "To see off the new Dark Ages will be tough and demanding," he closes. "The alternative will be worse."
He's wrong. To those of us who've been privy to such an alternative in its purest and most wicked forms -- other than a Countdown w/Keith Olberman podcast stuck on repeat...
...little else could be worse.