Iran + Iraq = Ironic
"As this law [of extremes] begins to lose its force and as this determination wanes, the political aim will reassert itself."
--Carl von Clausewitz
Young Mr. Bush has managed to irretrievably lose his Iraq misadventure, saving his successor the trouble of trying to put off defeat indefinitely.
Last week, at a meeting with ambassadors from the United Arab Emirates, Prime Minister Nuri al Maliki proposed a short-term memorandum of understanding on the presence of U.S. forces in Iraq that includes a formula for American troop withdrawal.
The Bush administration bull feather merchants accelerated to full pluck.
According to White House spokesman Tony Fratto, Maliki's statement was consistent with the goals of the Bush administration. "The prime minister is reflecting a shared goal that we have," Fratto said, "which is that as the Iraqi forces become a more self-reliant force, we'll see reductions in U.S. forces.”
Gordon Jondroe, another Bush spell caster, said, "Negotiations and discussions are ongoing every day. It is important to understand that these are not talks on a hard date for withdrawal."
Nice try, fellows. What Maliki actually said was, "We are looking at the necessity of terminating the foreign presence on Iraqi lands and restoring full sovereignty," and that the goal of Jondroe's aforementioned negotations was to reach an agreement on "the departure of the forces" or "a timetable on their withdrawal."
Maybe Fratto and Jondroe were hoping Maliki was drunk when he said those things, and would apologize the next day about any confusion he may have caused, and say he didn't remember what he told those ambassadors but whatever he said, please ignore it. If so, Iraqi national security adviser Mouwaffak al-Rubaie sucked the wind out of their sails when, after a meeting with Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani in Najaf, he said, "We will not accept any memorandum of understanding that doesn't have specific dates to withdraw foreign forces from Iraq."
So much for the New American Century.
The Aim Reasserts Itself
The Bush administration still hasn't supplied us with a consistent explanation for its woebegone invasion of Iraq. Young Mr. Bush has admitted that Saddam Hussein had no hand in the 9/11 attacks, even though his blow up toy Joe Lieberman continues to insist that "We're in a war against Islamist extremists who attacked us on 9/11."
Iraq war architect Paul Wolfowitz confessed in May 2003 that weapons of mass destruction became the casus belli of the Iraq invasion merely because it was "the one issue that everyone could agree on." That it took until summer of 2008 for the U.S. to remove the last of Hussein's uranium stockpile from Iraq illustrates the lack of seriousness with which anyone in the Bush administration actually regards weapons of mass destruction in general and nuclear proliferation specifically as a threat to the United States.
The real aim of the Iraq invasion is to be found in the neoconservative manifesto Rebuilding America's Defenses, published by Bill Kristol's infamous Project for the New American Century (PNAC) in September 2000.
According to the PNAC, charter members of which included Dick Cheney, John Bolton, Zalmay Khalilzad, Doug Feith and Scooter Libby, the need for an increased U.S. military footprint in the Middle East "transcend[ed] the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein." The "unresolved conflict with Iraq" merely provided "the immediate justification" for an influx of forces, and 9/11 provided the "new Pearl Harbor" they needed to convince the rest of America to support their ambitions.
So it is that John McCain, the neoconservative movement's crown prince, waxes manically about keeping American G.I.s in Iraq for "a thousand years." (In case you're wondering, no, McCain didn't come up with the thousand-year mantra all by himself. Like so many neocon slogans, that one came from an earlier politician who spoke of establishing a thousand-year something-or-other.)
Hence, whenever the neocons speak of their Iraq misadventure in terms of "victory" and "defeat," what they're really talking about is whether or not they get to park U.S. troops there forever.
The Persian Ploy
World-class sociopaths that they are, the neocons will continue to generate excuses and deflect blame for their failure to create "open arms" in Iraq. "Internal Iraqi political pressures" has already received generous bandwidth. The Bush spin machine was quick to declare that the administration is considering increasing the pace of the pullout from Iraq (as if they were actually considering a "pull out" in the first place), not as a reaction to Maliki's invitation to pack sand, or because the force is collapsing from the deployment tempo, but because the extra troops are needed in Afghanistan.
When somebody mentions extra troops are needed in Afghanistan because things have been going to hell there since we abandoned it to invade Iraq on fuzzy pretexts, the echo chorus will blame NATO for not giving us enough of the right kind of help, and when somebody mentions that we're lucky NATO is helping us at all after Donald Rumsfeld called Europe "irrelevant" back in 2003, well, somehow all that will become Barack Obama's fault for not supporting the Iraq invasion, and the need to take troops from Iraq and send them to Afghanistan will one way or another reflect how successful the "surge" was and how right John McCain was to support it.
When that unholy house of cards collapses under the weight of its own illogic, the administration will fall back on its favorite scapegoat: Iran. Why not go to the well again? They've been lying to us about the Iranian's involvement in the deaths of American G.I.s in Iraq and their supposed desire to acquire nuclear weapons for over a year and a half now, and thanks in large part to the mainstream media's assistance, they're still getting away with it.
The neocon artists will likely also get away with telling American that Iraq told us to leave because that's what Iran told Iraq to tell us. They won't tell America that the Iran they're talking about is the same Iran that in 2003 told us they'd stop supporting militant groups in Lebanon and Palestine and to help stabilize Iraq. Had we dealt with Iran then, our Middle East Miasma would be our Fertile Crescent Conquest, but Dick Cheney told them to go away. "We don't talk to evil," the Dark Lord said.
Alas, poor irony.
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.