December 25, 2007

Christmas in Iraq—here‘s what it’s like:

“A suicide truck bomb killed at least 20 people and wounded 80 in the northern Iraqi city of Baiji on Tuesday, the police and U.S. military said. In the province of Diyala north of Baghdad, a suicide bomber wearing a vest packed with explosives struck a funeral in the city of Baquba, killing 10 people and wounding five, the U.S. military said. Iraqi police said the blast wounded 21 people.”

Reading further into this Reuters report, we learn that this took place in famed Diyala province, the trophy province, if you will, of the War Party, the model of what the “surge” (i.e. escalation) in the fighting has accomplished. We also learn that

“The bomber’s target was the checkpoint, manned by members of a local neighborhood watch and the Oil Protection Force, rather than the residential complex. Neighborhood patrols, which are mainly Sunni and include many former insurgents, have been credited by the U.S. military with helping to reduce violence. But they have increasingly come under attack by al Qaeda militants.”

Aha! So the War Party is right, after all: the main enemy in Iraq is Al Qaeda, and we’ve supposedly won over the “good” insurgents, now dubbed “former” insurgents. Oh, but wait …

Aside from the hellish irony of the suicide bomber devastating the site of a funeral, we learn that it was the funeral of a father and son who “had been killed hours earlier in a shootout with U.S. forces. The U.S. military said its troops had killed two ‘armed individuals’ and was investigating whether they were members of a neighborhood patrol.”

Ok, let’s see if I’ve got this straight: Al Qaeda bombed a funeral for “former” insurgents who had just been killed in a shoot-out with the Americans. This is the reality of Diyala, the War Party’s much-touted model province.

So who are we fighting, and who are the “good” guys in this sectarian maze—and what, precisely, are we trying to do in Iraq? Imagine you are a soldier in iraq at this very moment: who is the enemy? Or, more likely: who isn’t?

We’ve dropped 150,000 or so of our soldiers into the middle of a war of all against all, a multi-sided sectarian conflict with US troops increasingly caught in the crossfire. Such a war—without any clear goals, or any conceivable end—is inherently unwinnable, and it’s proponents are setting us up for defeat.

Accusing war critics of “defeatism” is simply a case of projection: the real defeatists are those who adopted war aims that were either based on fabrications—those famous “weapons of mass destruction”—or else not achievable, i.e. implanting “democracy” by force in a land that had never known anything close to it.

The Christmas bombing in Diyala underscores the utter failure of the “surge”—although the success or failure of the administration’s escalation strategy isn’t only or even primarily to be measured in terms of what happens on the ground in Iraq. What happens on the ground in America is what really matters, and in that sense the “surge” has taken the war off the front pages and “settled” that issue, or at least tamped it down momentarily, as the presidential primaries begin to heat up.

The War Party doesn’t want to make this election a referendum on the war, and our foreign policy of relentless aggression: look what happened last time. Yet they managed to derail the Democrats’ ostensibly antiwar agenda, and if they can nominate two candidates who don’t fundamentally differ on the longterm proposal to stay in Iraq—say, fifty years or so, as we did (and continue to do) in Korea—then they’ve short-circuited popular antiwar sentiment and done an end run around the majority. 

They lied us into war with a series of outrageous fabrications and dubious “intelligence,” and now they’re keeping us at war by creating imaginative narratives that have little or no relation to the truth. This Christmas morning I hesitate to remind you that they call Lucifer the “father of lies,” yet there you have it.


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