Politics Liberal Rhetoric on Iraq Continues to Piss Me Off
posted by February 15 at 11:35 AMon
Of course, I acknowledge, it’s completely silly to expect political discourse to adhere to facts and defer to reason. But it’s seriously disappointing to me that liberals and Democrats—my party! I’m deeply partisan! Ask anyone on the Stranger Election Control Board!—talk in such idiotic generalities about the Iraq war.
I was against the invasion. It was an enormous mistake. And no matter what kind of mealymouthed excuses John Edwards comes up with, any evidence that Saddam Hussein was in possession of WMDs and was on the verge of using them against the U.S. or its allies was utterly, transparently flimsy. No one should have trusted Colin Powell’s presentation at the U.N. It was structured as propaganda, and anyone with half a brain could see that. Indistinct satellite photos? Please. Aluminum tubes? Pathetic. Some terrorist receiving medical treatment in a major city? Even if you accepted all these allegations as true (and practically anyone outside the borders of the United States voiced some skepticism), they proved nothing. Everyone in Congress who voted to authorize the war has some serious explaining to do.
Nonetheless, I completely deplore the logic that says, in essence, “We destabilized a country, removing its government and disbanding its army. Shockingly, sectarian violence exploded over who would fill the power vacuum. So… screw ‘em, let’s leave!”
Despicable rhetorical flourish number one: The phrase “civil war.” Yes, Iraq is in the midst of a civil war. What are you, deaf and blind?
But witness the way this ridiculous rhetoric works. (This example is actually from a Republican—North Carolina Representative Howard Coble—providing the chilly comfort that Ds don’t have a monopoly on stupidity.)
“I’m personally very high on President Bush, but on the matter of troop escalation, I am not in agreement…. [The Iraqis] rejected freedom and chose civil war and the longer we maintain a presence there, the more they will rely upon us. The time has come, in my opinion, for the baton to be handed to the Iraqis.”
Look, bleeding heart liberals. Listen. WE STARTED THE CIVIL WAR! The United States’ flawed, miserable policies in Iraq led directly and inexorably to a state of civil war. It’s our fault. It’s all well and good to say that no more American lives should be lost in this conflict, but how many Iraqis will have to die because we ignited a violent power grab, failed to provide security, and then blamed the resulting chaos on the unwitting citizens?
Every day in the news there are clear signs of the quick, brutal deterioration that would happen if the U.S. were to withdraw troops. Here’s NPR’s excellent Anne Garrels on a Ft. Lewis Stryker squadron in the mixed neighborhood of Dora:
When the squadron commander Lt. Col. Jeff Peterson took over South Dora, he could not trust the predominantly Shiite police battalion. Evidence linking them to Shiite militias was overwhelming. And his troops had to watch their own backs.
“In many cases, we felt like the national police were targeting us,” he said.
Peterson arrested seven police officers he suspected of being behind murders and kidnappings, particularly of Sunnis. They likely weren’t the only ones involved, but he thinks the arrests did send a strong message.
“The (Iraqi) commander and I had some difficult times. After these officers were arrested, I basically went to him, and told him that we would continue to monitor the activities of his battalion. That my desire to partner with him, my desire was to make this battalion as good as I possibly could make it, but at the same time, we were going to be watching.”
His officers have to be careful about what information they give the police, especially when going after Shiite militias with whom the police have close ties.
“We had to conduct operations in such a way that we maintained security until the very last minute,” Peterson said. “We had to be very careful about disclosing the targets, and our routes to the targets. So, I mean, it’s a tough, tough circumstance to be in.”
Peterson has banned the Iraqi police from carrying cell phones on operations so they can’t make calls that could compromise a mission.
Relations between the Shiite police force and the Sunni population were so bad that Peterson decided to lock the police out of a key Sunni neighborhood.
“I thought, given the situation where there was so much distrust, we just had to separate them for a while.”
The results were immediate.
“Murders went down, mosque attacks went down,” Peterson said. “So, immediately, there was a sense of relief amongst the population — that they were no longer going to be subjected to national police running around, and essentially, terrorizing the people.”
Now, when the police are in Sunni neighborhoods, they are always accompanied or monitored by U.S. forces.
Col. Peterson says the increase in U.S. troops made a huge difference. They are able to cover much more territory, get better information on both Sunni and Shiite threats, and monitor the police more closely. But Lt. Steve Harnsberger says it means his soldiers are doing a double job.
You want to hand control of Iraq over to a police force that shows all signs of being infiltrated by Shiite militias and has a nasty habit of terrorizing Sunni neighborhoods? Oh, that sounds like a fantastic fucking idea. That sounds like it will definitely save precious lives—just not the lives of innocent Iraqis.
Want more? Try today’s New York Times story about a sweep of Shiite neighborhoods by American troops and a handful of Iraqi security forces. All you kneejerk liberals who think Iraqis can’t wait for us to get out? Try listening to this guy:
“If the Americans keep doing it, they can make a difference,” said Ali Muhammad, 37, an ice cream shop owner who lives in Ur. “But they have to stay. Otherwise it will never work.”
Or this guy:
Mustafa Jasim, 27, a Sunni, said that the idea of bases in the neighborhood convinced him that the Americans would not leave immediately. “With them here, now I can feel safe,” he said.
Despicable rhetorical flourish number two: “Escalation” versus “surge.”
Sure, my colleagues are just as guilty as the rest of the liberals in this stupid country. But the word “escalation” is flat-out misleading. As Fnarf pointed out in the comments in the above link, an escalation implies permanency. Bush’s “surge” is meant to be temporary. (Note: I think making it temporary is stupid too.) And “escalation,” if used, should always be used in the context “troop escalation.” It’s not an escalation of the war—it’s supposed to contain violence, not inflame it. This is just a pathetic scuffle over words, not ideas. And certainly not strategy.
I am a die-hard Democrat. But I have to say, I hate the Democrats right now.