Thursday, December 07, 2006


The Betrayal Part

Jules Crittenden describes how he learned about the parts of war, and wonders if we are witnessing the start of the Betrayal Part.

I very much appreciate Jules’s reflections, and the context in which he considers what may indeed be the start of the Betrayal Part of this war. No surprise that few will note the start of such a phase. History’s harshest betrayals seem always to start in such stealth or obliviousness, and only gradually reveal the inexorable slide towards the treachery implied at its inception.

Jules spent March 2003 with a tank unit, embedded in Iraq. He learned a lot of the parts of war from that experience, and from events since:

Nothing is easy in life, this is what we learn, everything's a fight, and that's why, by the time we're in our 40s, most of us stop believing in giveaways and easy outs. We have to have faith, but we have to be smart, and we have to be able to adjust.
Now, in this war of ours in Iraq, the pressure is not for a smart adjustment. Four years into war, people are tired of it. As Americans, with notoriously short attention spans, a lot of them maybe are bored it. The pressure now, no matter how the Iraq Study Group cares to couch it, is for abandonment. To pull out slowly. To ask a lot of American soldiers not to die for a cause, but to die for a mistake. The mistake of giving up. To go hat in hand to enemies who know they only have to wait in order to win.
This is beginning to feel like another part of war I had not experienced, something as terrible as all the other parts, the death and the loss, because of it means for those things. I know enough about history to know this is what happens, maybe more often than not.
So is this going to be the betrayal part?
There are a lot of things I still don't know about war. Some of them I dread more than I dreaded the expectation of death in combat. My son, 10 years old, has grown up in a world of war more intense than I grew up in. He was five and watching TV when he saw the Twin Towers on fire. His uncle was a soldier, helping to keep us safe, we told him. Then his dad went away to war. He met people who had been in war, even people who had been horribly wounded in war.
And he has said things to me like, "When I grow up, if I don't get killed in battle, I want to be a Major League pitcher."
I'm proud of a boy who talks like that, and heartbroken that he has to. I know the day may come when my boy has to go, and I'll learn things about war that hundreds of thousands of American parents have learned in the past few years. And will he then have to learn all these gut-wrenching things? And what about the betrayal? Will he have to learn about that as I fear we might be about to?

I too am proud of and heartbroken for younger Crittenden. I hear similar things from Little Manly, who tells people that he wants to go into politics or law, or serve as an officer in the Army (maybe all three). He’s learned an awful lot about the parts of war, too, some that I experienced, and some he experienced on his own, while I was deployed. He listens to news with intense interest, and processes what he hears within a very thorough knowledge and understanding (for his nearly eleven years) of American and World History.

He often asks me how things are really going in Iraq, why we need to be there, what happens if we leave. He will probably hear about the Iraqi Survey Group (ISG) Report, and ask me what it says, what it recommends, and whether it’s “right.”

I am disappointed ISG Report, or more accurately: I object to the emphasis in its rhetoric, some errors in motivating assumptions, and the avoidance of key obstacles that impede their notions of the “New Diplomatic Offensive.”

The ISG Report is a document entirely political, and emphatically the product of diplomacy and compromise. Thus, it contains little of anything meaningful for implementation.

The extreme but predominate anti-war left will likely reject the ISG Report, as it affirms Iraq as of critical importance to National Security. True conservatives should object to the report, if only because of a few (but striking) false assumptions and misstatements and errors in points of fact. This inevitably results from basing much of its assessments on propaganda and other media crafted versions of “realities” on the ground in Iraq, while studiously understating the role of Syria and Iran in creating and maintaining “insurgent” and Al Qaeda offensive operations in Iraq.

No doubt the military by and large won’t find it particularly objectionable. For the most part, recommendations involving the military simply confirm military tactics and operational objectives. “Keep doing what you’re doing,” seems to be the message, along with “just do it faster and more and don’t be surprised if we don’t let you finish, since we don’t have any confidence in Iraqi self-determination and self- preservation.” I guess if you follow the same courses of action, but do them more quickly, you can plausibly say you’ve “changed” rather than “stayed” the course.

Not to say the Report doesn’t point US Iraq policy in a new direction, it does, it elevates diplomacy and negotiated settlements with Iran, Syria, the Palestinians and the assorted players (and terrorist sponsors) in the broader Middle East, above all other means of achieving “success.”Diplomacy as the cure all for all unpleasantness in International Relations. Talk about lowered expectations.

No doubt our declared enemies desire such a redirection of US national strategy and priorities. Diplomacy is the greatest weapon they can use against us.

Diplomacy got us four long decades of Communist oppression throughout the world. Diplomacy earned us a nuclear North Korea. Diplomacy has ensured endless violence and a depraved culture of corruption and brutality in Palestinian communities. It’s too bad the Nobel Committee can’t get a refund on Peace Prices for select individuals. I think the charitable foundations formed by Jimmie Carter and the heirs of Yassar Arafat’s ill-gotten billions should rightfully be asked to return the Nobel prize money.

I suppose it’s unavoidable that a bipartisan assessment would lead to recommendations that would have to be described in terms equivalent to “A New Approach.”

The contents and recommendations aren’t at all new. In particular, the military oriented ones represent tweaks or slight changes in emphasis, and the US military has been steadily acting along the recommended lines for years. One can’t even call the bloviating show of “bipartisanship” new, as one must struggle to remember that all pertinent votes on Presidential Authority to use the military in Iraq, funding, and other counter-terrorism legislation has all passed consistently by overwhelming majorities, near unanimity, in what was superior, bipartisan performance art.

Until I heard James Baker harp for the third or fourth time on morning talk shows, declaring how the ISG Report will be the only bipartisan feedback the President will receive, I hadn’t realized how much I dislike the man, and much he represents. If Baker is the embodiment of Realism in National Security policy formulations, than any sense of the “real” in International Relations translates into a reality inhabited only by master politicos and stateless bureaucrats, not the poor slobs who must live in the messes they create.

It’s no small wonder that terrorist masters and their propaganda organs achieve their strategic objectives so effortlessly, when the governmental “elites” succumb to fatalism and defeatism, as precondition to negotiations with the devils responsible for the brutal outcomes they say they want to avoid.

It must be that it is somehow more “realistic” to think that liberal (in the classic sense) Democracies will ultimately concede to their own emasculation and destruction. Baker wants to use the example of the old USSR, “we talk to our enemies, not just our friends.” The example he might consider instead would be Tojo of Japan or Hitler in Nazi Germany. I don’t remember any negotiations then, that didn’t start with “unconditional surrender” as a precondition.

Some enemies conduct the “affairs of state” with implacable evil, malevolent intent, or complete unwillingness to surrender the willful oppression and brutality of others. Stateless enemies are even less amenable to the trappings of diplomacy, as they have no real bounds or constraints, not even of self preservation or survival.

Yet the ISG forthrightly assumes that Iran and Syria do not want to see chaos or state dissolution in Iraq, even while it also admits in passing that Iran has sponsored insurgent and Al Qaeda violence against Iraq and Coalition forces in Iraq. For previous generations, such state behavior would be grounds for declaring war. Not for the ISG, who think our enemies give every appearance of seeking destruction, and indeed achieve destruction, but somehow won’t be happy to live next door to the rubble they’ve created.

This may indeed be the only “bipartisan” feedback available. But that’s only because one of our two major parties refuses to deal with the critical national security issues of our day with any seriousness. Partisan differences used to start at the water’s edge. Now, international boundaries demark how much partisan advantage can be exacted, and our former Opposition Party realizes they merely need to turn up the volume and discard domestic consumption filters, and adopt the rhetoric of our enemies when abroad. Why worry that criticism of the current administration is indistinguishable from the propaganda of our sworn enemies? They have elections to win and power to wield.

Linked by Blogotional

Labels: ,

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Subscribe to Posts [Atom]