Iraq Event Horizon
event horizon: the boundary of a black hole beyond which nothing can escape from within it
-- Merriam-Webster Online
After five years and change of turned corners and dead enders and last throes, is it possible that we're approaching an event horizon in our Middle East miasma? Stuff seems to happen faster than anyone can deny it occurred these days, and from the sound of things, it won't be too long before we're committed to getting out of Iraq in smart fashion or sucked into staying there until kingdom come.
The New American Decade
It hardly seems possible, but it was over ten years ago—January 26, 1998 to be exact—that Bill Kristol's Project for the New American Century (PNAC) wrote their infamous letter to President Bill Clinton demanding that he invade Iraq and oust Saddam Hussein. Clinton blew them off. Whether that was an act of wisdom on his part or he was simply occupied with more pressing matters we'll never know.
The PNAC was undeterred, however, and in September 2000 it published the neoconservative manifesto Rebuilding America's Defenses, which called for America to secure global peace through military occupation of the entire planet. The PNAC was notably interested in using the "unresolved conflict with Iraq" as a fuzzy pretext to increase our military footprint heart of the Middle East. The PNACers knew, though, that it would be difficult to get America go to along with their yahooliganism "absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event." On September 11, 2001, they got the "new Pearl Harbor" they were looking for.
On March 19, 2003 young Mr. Bush launched the invasion of Iraq, justified by "slam dunk" evidence that Saddam Hussein had an active weapons of mass destruction program and was probably at least sort of involved in the 9/11 attacks. Shortly after the invasion commenced, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld announced, "We know where the WMD are." On April 9 the Army staged the toppling of Saddam Hussein's statue in Baghdad, and on May 1 the Navy staged Mr. Bush's "Mission Accomplished" ceremony onboard the USS Abraham Lincoln.
Later that year, Mr. Bush declared, "We found the weapons of mass destruction" even though the CIA knew we hadn't. When violence began to flare, Rumsfeld said, "stuff happens." Time passed and stuff kept happening. Rummy blamed the trouble on "pockets of dead enders." Bush said, "Bring 'em on." They came.
In January 2004 the CIA said that the "stuff" was turning into a civil war. Bush said the CIA was "just guessing" about that civil war stuff. 2004 was also the year Lieutenant General David Petraeus took over training Iraqi forces and started handing out AK-47s like they were soccer balls. About 190,000 of the weapons disappeared themselves into the hands of Shiite militiamen. In October of 2004 the CIA concluded that Saddam Hussein did not possess stockpiles of WMD at the time of the U.S. invasion and had not begun any program to produce them.
2005 was a banner year for our woebegone war in Iraq. Dick Cheney declared the insurgency was in its "last throes." Mr. Bush said that "As Iraqis stand up, we will stand d`own." In November, the administration unveiled its new Victory in Iraq strategy. Lipstick neocon Joe Lieberman said Mr. Bush had turned a corner in Iraq.
On February 2, 2006 Rumsfeld said he did not believe Iraq would be a long war. On February 4, 2006 the Washington Post published an article titled "Ability to Wage 'Long War' Is Key To Pentagon Plan." On May 1 of that year, the third anniversary of "Mission Accomplished," Mr. Bush said the war had reached "a turning point" (mission accomplished again!). On August 19 Operation Iraq Freedom surpassed World War II in length. On August 21, Mr. Bush said, “We’re not leaving [Iraq] so long as I’m the president.” That day, he also admitted that Iraq had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks. On August 29 Donald Rumsfeld called Iraq war critics "quitters." On November 8 he resigned as Secretary of Defense.
Also that year, Senator Arlen Specter admitted that Iraq was in a state of civil war. In November, the Pentagon began planning an escalation strategy that became known as "The Surge" and alternately as "Son of Stay the Course."
Bush announced the surge in January 2007. In February David Petraeus took over as the top U.S. military officer in Iraq and began handing out arms and bribe money to Sunni militants. Having armed, trained and funded both sides of Iraq's civil war, Petraeus proceeded to echo the administration in blaming Iran for arming, training and funding militants in Iraq.
Hello, I Must Be Going
The pace picked up. Dick Cheney started trying really hard to pick a war with Iran. New Defense Secretary Bill Gates got Admiral William Fallon installed as head of Central Command to keep Petraeus under control. Fallon let everybody know he thought Petraeus was an a** kissing little chicken s***, and that Dick Cheney was crazy, and that the surge was stupid because we needed those extra troops to get things in Pakistan and Afghanistan under control, and that he wouldn't let a war with Iran happen on his watch, so he got fired. Bush nominated the a** kissing little chicken s*** to take Fallon's place, and the a** kissing little chicken s***s in the Senate confirmed him.
Bush and Cheney said it would be appeasement to talk directly to the Iran about things unless they gave up their inalienable right to develop nuclear power, but they didn't mention how they'd characterize the bribes Petraeus was handing out to Sunni militants in Iraq. Democratic candidate for president Barack Obama said he'd talk to Iran without ridiculous preconditions, and his opponent, Senator John McCain, said that just showed how ridiculous Obama's notions of foreign policy were, that offering to negotiate without making ridiculous preconditions would only lead to negotiations. McCain's supporters said that showed how McCain had more foreign policy savvy than Obama.
Obama also said he'd withdraw troops from Iraq in 16 months. McCain said he might keep them there for fifty, a hundred, a thousand or a million years. Obama, like Fallon, said that we need to pull troops out of Iraq to focus on Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Suddenly, in early July, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said any status of forces agreement would have to contain a timeline for U.S. troops to leave Iraq, and later he said that he liked Obama's plan to have American G.I.s home in 16 months, and brother, did the stuff hit the fan after that!
People tried to say that Maliki hadn't said what he said, that he'd been mistranslated, or that he'd been snot slinging drunk when he said those things, or that he'd been possessed by aliens or demons when he said them, and what have you, but everybody pretty much got the message.
The neocons ramped up to full spin, trying to swing momentum back in their direction. Young Mr. Bush agreed to set a "time horizon" with Maliki, and the a** kissing little chicken s***, sensing the wind shift, allowed as how, yeah, maybe he should look at starting to bribe bad guys in the bananastans now, seeing as how well that had worked for him in Iraq.
Some in the warmonger camp were devastated, though. One high ranking ex former retired administration official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the silliness involved, said that upon hearing the news of a departure timeline Joe Lieberman cried like a girl and Lindsay Graham fainted dead away in his closet.
It's tempting to conclude that we've crossed the event horizon in the Middle East, that the end of the Iraq war has begun and it's too late for team Bush to start a war with Iran. Remember, however, that the neocons still have Karl (The Brain) Rove and Dick (The Dick) Cheney on their side, and the only neocon bastard more devious than either of those two is Lucifer (The Archangel).
It may be that we'll never quite cross the event horizon in Iraq, that if anything happens at all, it will happen with a whimper so soft that we won't know if we stayed or went, because the neocons will have cooked up some new and improved fiasco that once again has us so distracted we can't tell whether we're coming or going.
Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) writes at Pen and Sword . Jeff's novel Bathtub Admirals (Kunati Books), a lampoon on America's rise to global dominance, is on sale now. Also catch Russ Wellen's interview with Jeff at The Huffington Post and Scholars and Rogues.