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The Many Variables In Iraq

"The key variable thus comes down to this: do the Democrats in Congress have the courage and the communication skills to level with the people about why the war in Iraq is continuing after we have lost it? If not, they will have proven themselves as unfit to govern as the Republican majorities they replaced." Photo of Democrats house leader Nancy Pelosi courtesy AFP.
by William S. Lind
UPI Commentator
Washington (UPI) Jan 31, 2007
One way to look at the situation in Iraq is to try to identify variables, elements that could change. Without change, the war is likely to end with U.S. troops having to fight their way out, if they can. The military situation in Iraq is not a variable. All that can change is the speed of the U.S. defeat.

Some actions might slow it, although the time for such actions, such as adopting an "ink blot" strategy instead of "capture or kill," passed long ago.

Other actions could speed the U.S. defeat in Iraq, an attack on Iran chief among them. It now looks as if the Bush administration may have realized that an out-of-the-blue, Pearl Harbor-style air and missile attack on Iran's nuclear facilities is politically infeasible. Instead, the White House will order a series of small "border incidents," U.S. pinpricks similar to the raid on an Iranian mission in Kurdistan, intended to provoke Iranian retaliation.

That retaliation will then be presented as an Iranian attack on U.S. forces, with the air raids on Iranian nuclear targets called "retaliation." Fabricated border incidents have a long history as causes of war. Adolf Hitler used one as an excuse for his Sept. 1, 1939 attack on Poland.

As President George W. Bush made clear in his Jan. 10 speech on Iraq, his policies are not a variable. He will pursue the neo-conservatives' dreams all the way.

That leaves the U.S. Congress, and it may well be the key variable in the equation. 2008 is not that far away, and electoral panic continues to spread among Hill Republicans. Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., is the first conservative Republican senator to break with the administration, opposing the "surge." Conservatives have a central role to play here, because if they turn openly against the war, Bush will lose his base.

But the Democrats hold both houses of Congress, so the main burden of ending a failed enterprise will fall on them. At present, they seem unwilling to go beyond symbolic but ineffectual measures, such as passing "non-binding resolutions." Why? It may be that they are paralyzed by a false understanding of the war, one stated by Vice President Dick Cheney on "Fox New Sunday" when he said, "We have these meetings with members of Congress, and they agree we can't fail... "

In fact, we have already failed. The war in Iraq was lost long ago. In terms of the administration's objective of a "democratic Iraq," which Bush re-stated in his Jan. 10 speech, it was lost before the first bomb fell, because it was unattainable no matter what we did. Now, not even the minimal objective of restoring an Iraqi state is attainable, at least until Iraq's many-sided, Fourth Generation civil war sorts itself out, and probably not then. Events in Iraq are simply beyond our control; the forces our invasion and destruction of the Iraqi state unleashed far overpower any army we can deploy to Iraq, surge or no surge.

Once Democrats accept and announce that Congress cannot lose a war that is already lost, they will have the freedom of action they need to get us out. Polls suggest the public will go along; most Americans now realize the war is lost, regardless of what President Bush may say or do.

It is probably true, as Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., constantly reminds us, that chaos will follow an American withdrawal. But that chaos became inevitable, not with America's withdrawal (it is already happening, even with U.S. troops present), but with its destruction of the Iraqi state. Again, the Democrats need to make this point to the American people, and make it often.

Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, put it best. According to the Jan. 5 Washington Post, he said in an interview, "I have reached the tentative conclusion that a significant portion of this administration, maybe even including the vice president, believes Iraq is lost. ... Therefore, the best thing to do is keep it from totally collapsing on your watch and hand it off to the next guy -- literally, not figuratively."

I believe Sen. Biden is correct; I said the same thing in an earlier column. If the question the Democrats put to the American people is, should we allow thousands more American kids to get wounded or killed so the Bush administration can put our withdrawal off until it is out of office, the public's answer will be clear. Killing our kids for national objectives is one thing; doing so for political advantage is something else.

The key variable thus comes down to this: do the Democrats in Congress have the courage and the communication skills to level with the people about why the war in Iraq is continuing after we have lost it? If not, they will have proven themselves as unfit to govern as the Republican majorities they replaced.

William S. Lind, expressing his own personal opinion, is Director for the Center for Cultural Conservatism for the Free Congress Foundation.

Source: United Press International

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Iraq Beset By Soaring Civilian Death Toll
Washington (UPI) Jan 30, 2007
How many civilians have died or are dying in Iraq? No one knows for sure. But the figure is definitely in the scores of thousands -- and the rate and scale of killings appears to be rapidly accelerating. The Web site as of Monday, Jan. 29, said that a minimum of 55,136 civilians had been killed by military intervention in Iraq. It gave its estimated maximum figure as 60,821.

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