Friday, February 29, 2008

We're winning the war?

Yea! Spotty, we're winning the war in Iraq!

Where did you get that idea, grasshopper?

That's what Dave says.

Sigh. Hasn't Spot told you to take what Dave says with a grain of salt?

Well yeah, Spotty, but he sounds so sure, although I can't find the comment from Dave that I was going to quote.

That's all right grasshopper; that is Dave's sentiment. You have to realize, though, that Dave suffers from what Spot will call cheerleader's myopia. Janet has a bad case of it, too. For a different perspective, Spot recommends Chris Hedges, the former New York Times reporter and author, writing in truthdig:

The United States is funding and in many cases arming the three ethnic factions in Iraq—the Kurds, the Shiites and the Sunni Arabs. These factions rule over partitioned patches of Iraqi territory and brutally purge rival ethnic groups from their midst. Iraq no longer exists as a unified state. It is a series of heavily armed fiefdoms run by thugs, gangs, militias, radical Islamists and warlords who are often paid wages of $300 a month by the U.S. military. Iraq is Yugoslavia before the storm. It is a caldron of weapons, lawlessness, hate and criminality that is destined to implode. And the current U.S. policy, born of desperation and defeat, means that when Iraq goes up, the U.S. military will have to scurry like rats for cover.

The supporters of the war, from the Bush White House to Sen. John McCain, tout the surge as the magic solution. But the surge, which primarily deployed 30,000 troops in and around Baghdad, did little to thwart the sectarian violence. The decline in attacks began only when we bought off the Sunni Arabs. U.S. commanders in the bleak fall of 2006 had little choice. It was that or defeat. The steady rise in U.S. casualties, the massive car bombs that tore apart city squares in Baghdad and left hundreds dead, the brutal ethnic cleansing that was creating independent ethnic enclaves beyond our control throughout Iraq, the death squads that carried out mass executions and a central government that was as corrupt as it was impotent signaled catastrophic failure.

"[D]estined to implode." "[S]curry like rats for cover." Arresting images, no? Hedges goes on the say this:

The Sunni Arab militias, though they have ended attacks on U.S. forces, detest the Shiite-Kurdish government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and abhor the presence of U.S. troops on Iraqi soil. They take the money and the support with clenched teeth because with it they are able to build a renegade Sunni army, a third force inside Iraq, which they believe will make it possible to overthrow the central government. The Sunni Arabs, who make up about 40 percent of Iraq’s population, held most positions of power under Saddam Hussein. They dominated Iraq’s old officer corps. They made up its elite units, including the Republic Guard divisions and the Special Forces regiments. They controlled the intelligence agencies. There are several hundred thousand well-trained Sunni Arabs who lack only an organizational structure. We have now made the formation of this structure possible. These militias are the foundation for a deadlier insurgent force, one that will dwarf anything the United States faced in the past. The U.S. is arming, funding and equipping its own assassins.

Why can't we just keep paying these guys off, Spotty?

Because we can't afford it, grasshopper. There was an article in the UK Guardian, just yesterday, called The true cost of war. In describing a forthcoming book by Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz, the article says:

Stiglitz and Bilmes [his co-author]  dug deeper, and what they have discovered, after months of chasing often deliberately obscured accounts, is that in fact Bush's Iraqi adventure will cost America - just America - a conservatively estimated $3 trillion. The rest of the world, including Britain, will probably account for about the same amount again. And in doing so they have achieved something much greater than arriving at an unimaginable figure: by describing the process, by detailing individual costs, by soberly listing the consequences of short-sighted budget decisions, they have produced a picture of comprehensive obfuscation and bad faith whose power comes from its roots in bald fact. Some of their discoveries we have heard before, others we may have had a hunch about, but others are completely new - and together, placed in context, their impact is staggering. There will be few who do not think that whatever the reasons for going to war, its progression has been morally disquieting; following the money turns out to be a brilliant way of getting at exactly why that is.

In other words, boys and girls, we will run out of the willingness and the ability to pay for this; it is hard to say which first. Here are some of the figures from the book, The Three Trillion Dollar War:

The amount the US spends on the monthly running costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan - on top of regular defence spending

The amount paid by every US household every month towards the current operating costs of the war

The amount Halliburton has received in single-source contracts for work in Iraq

The annual cost to the US of the rising price of oil, itself a consequence of the war

$3 trillion
A conservative estimate of the true cost - to America alone - of Bush's Iraq adventure. The rest of the world, including Britain, will shoulder about the same amount again

Cost of 10 days' fighting in Iraq

$1 trillion
The interest America will have paid by 2017 on the money borrowed to finance the war

The average drop in income of 13 African countries - a direct result of the rise in oil prices. This drop has more than offset the recent increase in foreign aid to Africa

Because, Stiglitz says, the saving rate in the US is zero, zip, zilch, nada, we have to put the entire war on the foreign credit card. Having pups in college is bad enough, grasshopper, but George Bush in the White House is entirely unsupportable.

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