Once More Into the Breach?

EDGARTOWN, Mass — A senior White House official said on Wednesday that the United States would consider using American ground troops to assist Iraqis in rescuing Yazidi refugees if recommended by military advisers assessing the situation.

That is the opening paragraph of the top story on the New York Times’ website right now. President Obama’s recent authorization of air strikes in Iraq on rebel positions was greeted with a shrug, but it was also accompanied by a promise that there would be no return to ground combat. This makes sense. We’ve been bombing Iraq off and on for over twenty years. Outkast’s B.O.B (Bombs Over Baghdad) was recorded one year before the 9/11 attacks. Four, FOUR!, consecutive U.S. presidents have ordered air strikes in Iraq. Three of those four have presided over ground actions. If it weren’t for Afghanistan and a couple of other hotspots, bombing Iraq would be about all that’s keeping the heavy munitions industry afloat. Bombing Iraq has become normal, just something we do. Continue reading “Once More Into the Breach?”

No Winners

Politics can wear a person down. The endless push and pull, the lack of continual progress, and the realization that most of our leaders are in it for themselves and their paymasters, is enough to make even the most impassioned observers develop hard hearts. I look at the state of the capital today, and I have a difficult time mustering either enthusiasm or outrage. Politics is what it is. We, the people, are the sucker at the poker table. But, unlike in real life, we cannot just get up and leave. We are trapped here. Continue reading “No Winners”

I’m Glad It’s Not My Decision

Ten years ago, the United States started a war against Iraq on false pretenses. The Bush administration lied about and manipulated intelligence to convince the American public that Saddam Hussein’s regime had weapons of mass destruction (chemical weapons), and was actively trying to attain others (nuclear weapons). What boggles the mind is that, in the runup to that war in 2002-2003, it was transparently obvious to anyone paying attention (or not blinded by the cult of Neoconservatism) that the Bush administration was manufacturing its justifications for war. The result we’ve become all-too familiar with: a protracted war which we did not win, drained the Treasury, and cost the lives of over a hundred thousand people. Continue reading “I’m Glad It’s Not My Decision”

The Iraq War

Ten years ago today the American military began its invasion of Iraq. Ten years on the war still incenses. Politics today is in the grip of hyper-partisanship. The GOP is blatantly obstructionist, the Democrats flailing as they try to play small ball with legislation and the economy. The rancor in Washington and in the media is poisonous. Our leaders are growing increasingly cloistered in that world of theirs, and seem either blissfully unaware of the damage they’re doing to the country, or, worse, unconcerned. It’s a disheartening time. But, I would rather see a broken government than the one that so efficiently led us into war in Iraq. Continue reading “The Iraq War”

The Iraq War Is Over

This past weekend, the last American troops crossed the border from Iraq into Kuwait. It has been almost nine years since the invasion of Iraq commenced in March of 2003, much of it passing through the same spot on the border the troops crossed on their way home. The costs of the war have been measured and reported, to the point they have become abstractions. 4,800 American and coalition dead, somewhere around 30,000 belligerents dead, over 100,000 civilians dead, and over $800 billion drained from the national coffers. It was a war of choice begun on false pretenses. We toppled a toothless dictator at enormous cost to ourselves in the form of lives, treasure, moral standing, and freedoms at home. We destabilized a region of the world hardly known for its rigidity, and emboldened Iran, one of our more consistent enemies. Continue reading “The Iraq War Is Over”

Bring ‘Em Home, Then Cut Their Budget

The United States of America had a higher expenditure in defense spending in 2010, $687.1 billion, than it had in 1988, when military outlays reached $531.6 billion (both numbers in constant 2009 USD. Figures obtained via The SIPRI Military Expenditure Database.). This means that the United States is spending more of its treasure in combatting stateless terrorist organizations consisting of no more than a few thousand extremists, and that pose zero existential threat, than it spent at the end of the 1980s staring down the Soviets in the Cold War, a state of undeclared animosity that threatened not only the existence of the United States, but the continued survival of civilization itself. Continue reading “Bring ‘Em Home, Then Cut Their Budget”

So the Iraq War Is Over, Right?

Richard Engel was there as the 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division (the 4/2 from here on out), poured through the border from Iraq into Kuwait last week. He’d been in and out of Iraq since before the invasion in 2003, and it was fitting that such a public face of the reporting of the war be present as the last combat troops left their theater of operations. The war made his career, and deservedly so. Engel was doing his best to add the proper amount of gravity to what the viewer was seeing on the screen, with ample backup from anchors and retired generals back in the MSNBC studios. The moment of those troops leaving should have been a profound one, but was, per usual, overplayed by the talking heads in the studio. Even Engel was not immune, there on the ground, bearing witness to what could not have been anything less than a true anchor point in his life. He was improvising on the fly, flailing in his attempts to convey to the viewer that what was playing out on screen did indeed have import. But really, it didn’t mean a damn thing. It, like everything else of real consequence in current events, got between the media machine’s efforts to make all stories equally sensational, and a public immune to the gesticulations of an apoplectic, even epileptic, tactic. Continue reading “So the Iraq War Is Over, Right?”

Once More Into the Breach

First off, I have to address past opinions expressed on these pages. I was against the Iraq surge. Back in an article from December of 2006, I wrote, in reaction to the report of the Iraq Study Group, which advocated withdrawal from Iraq, that the report “...does not advocate defeat, rather, it recognizes that defeat has already happened. Any attempt to pretend otherwise does nothing but extend our folly.” Continue reading “Once More Into the Breach”