Monday, December 19, 2011

Between Iraq And a Hard Place

The Iraq War is over. The last convoy of American troops has crossed the borders into Kuwait. And Barack Obama has already turned it into a campaign ad - a video called "A Promise Kept" which is not about the promise of freedom nor America's promise to the people of Iraq, but about Barack Obama keeping his campaign promise to pull the troops out, no matter what his generals said.

It is perhaps the most sneering and self-serving way for the president to end an American war imaginable. A war which Barack Obama called the "dumb war," the "rash war," and "the war of choice, not necessity."

You'd think that a war described as pointless by America's commander-in-chief would therefore be easy to wrap up. But the ever self-aggrandizing Obama chose to take to his presidential podium and declare that "It is harder to end a war than to begin one," neatly praising his own magnificence while taking yet another potshot at President Bush.

But does Obama's troop withdrawal really amount to "Mission Accomplished" if the mission is anything other than his re-election? Senator John McCain certainly doesn't think so, saying "It is clear that this decision was dictated by politics, and not our national security interests. I believe history will judge this president’s leadership with the scorn and disdain it deserves.”

History, however, will never doubt the integrity, honor, and sacrifices made by America's troops and their families over the course of this nine-year war. Over 1.5 million fought... more than 32,000 were wounded... and over 4,500 killed. There are no words sufficient to express our gratitude, nor our sorrow for their losses.

Whether those losses were in vain will be determined in the very near future as we find out whether Barack Obama's "Promise Kept" was to the Iraqi people, our nation's military, or only to Democratic voters who have been losing enthusiasm for their ineffectual president.

In the meanwhile, perhaps Mr. Obama's re-election team would like to raid their 2008 video vaults to make more "Promise Kept" commercials - showing how well the president has fulfilled his campaign promises to lower unemployment, balance the budget, end earmarks, bring peace to the Middle East, close Guantanamo, end partisanship in Washington, create a post-racial society, have the most transparent administration in history, and cause our planet's rising oceans to recede.

All of which were dumb promises. Rash promises. Promises of choice...and not reality.



John the Econ said...

Well, he needed at least 1 promise supposedly kept going into 2012. Of all of his promises made in 2008, this was clearly the easiest to accomplish. And expect a mainstream media blackout of the situation in Iraq for at least the next 11 months.

Angry Hoosier Dad said...

But...but...he killed bin Laden. Will nothing satisfy your blood-lust, Stilton? And what's this talk of 4500 dead US service-members? We all know the only one that mattered was the 1000th. After all, that's the milestone the media used to savage GW. The MSM was salivating, waiting for that one, remember? And how many of those warriors died because of the ridiculous ROE's imposed on them? Thank God we have a president who's willing to say "screw it" and just surrender to the Islamists. His only concern now is how to get Sharia through Congress...or around it.

Emmentaler Limburger said...

@AHD: Is it truly "surrender" when you are considered to be one of the enemy? This is clearly an Ă˜bama victory. Look for similar in Libya...

Jim Hlavac said...

Sadly, the only reason the 2nd part of the Iraqi war was fought was because the 1st part was never finished -- at the behest of the UN, Europe and our Arab "allies." The time to have taken out Saddam was back when Iraq invaded Kuwait, back when he set oil wells on fire, back during the 1st Bush presidency. The 2nd part of the war was merely a continuation of the 1st part -- with a mottled interregnum. So the war was not 9 years, but nearly 20. Or what were we to do -- keep the no-fly zones and the sanctions and the little bombings and lobbing cruise missiles into the place every so often, forever?

Remember when wars were fought to be won -- not just brought to some standoff where crazed dictators keep their power and screw their people?

But as for Obama's "wars are harder to end then start" -- geez, he had no trouble starting a war in Libya, where the musical chairs for the new dictator has started -- for there is no democracy in those places. And perhaps, if the man would allow oil drilling here, we would be independent of the Mideast (not that we get much oil from them anyway) -- and we could be selling our oil and natural gas to the world instead of importing it from other dictators the world over -- and let the Europeans (and China & Japan,) handle those things over there, for they're the ones getting Iraqi oil, not us. And where is our "exit strategy" from Europe? Why do we keep so many troops there, so that Europe grows soft again? And why are we still trying to clean up the mess Europe made in 1917 when they drew lines in the sand and created unnatural countries with peoples who simply hate each other lumped together? Frankly, let Iraq break apart, though it might be ugly in the short term, in the long term it could only be for the good, but we are afraid of the devil we don't know, and quite afraid of the devil we do know too -- for we have simply abandoned the purpose of war -- which is to change regimes. It's been going on since Korea. And we're blamed, while the world pretends to be innocent, and we kiss the tuckus of the UN, instead of sending them packing, and getting things done. Meanwhile, because Iraq is unnatural, the internal war will ratchet up now, and the UN will blame us, and we'll wind up there again, yet fettered still by those with no skin in the game.

John the Econ said...

Thank you @Jim Hlavac for pointing that out. The time to take out Saddam was when we already had the assets, people and momentum in place. It will probably be at least another 50 years before more objective historians will be able to openly say this, but the subsequent problems in the region were because Bush 41 wimped out under pressure from the usual chorus of protest from the UN, Euroweenies, and the Anti-American Left at home. The would today would be much different had we done then what had to be done, when it was already mostly done, and at a fraction of the cost!

The biggest flaw with Irag-War-The-Sequel was that Bush 43 & Cheney pulled out and dusted off the war plan from a dozen years previous and thought they could just pick up where we had left off. 2nd mistake was that they thought they could do a complete invasion & sweep on the cheap, using a fraction of the troops and resources that it honestly required. Unfortunately, that approach ended up costing us far more than doing it right from the start would have.

And quite frankly, if I was President, I would severely question myself if the UN ever approved of anything I did.

Pete(Detroit) said...

Jim, I tried to make exactly that point about Saddam. Guy I know was going all off on "never found any WMDs" ('cause they were trucked to Syria by the Russians - but that's a whole other conspiracy tale). I had to point out that WMDs was #28 on the list of reasons to go back into Iraq (and probably should have been left off entirely - certainly would have been easier PR). Basically, we signed treaty the first time "we'll stop kicking your ass if and ONLY if you do X, Y, Z" he was not holding up his end, we were morally obligated to go back and start kicking his ass again.
I got called 'stupid' for believing we should uphold / enforce treaties.
Meanwhile, we have bigger issues - Iran is getting closer to Nuke all the time, and it's run (partially) by people who see starting WW3 as the express elevator to paradise. We can't "talk them out of using the bombs" (to paraphrase Ron Paul) because they want to destroy Israel more than they want to live.
Then there's Pakistan.
Then there's the wackjobs in DC who clearly do NOT 'get' that the well is DRY, we are BROKE, they need to stop spending NOW.

I really, REALLY like doing my hunting and gathering b/n aisles 3 and 15 - it's MUCH more convenient than having to catch / clean everything on my own. If we get to the point of social collapse, hundreds of millions will die. Seriously, how may of us would 'make it'? 1 in 4? In 10?
Then again, how many would WANT to...
Guess the "overpopulation bomb" folks would be happy...

On the other hand, under the 'Promise Kept' column, you CAN add 'lowered the seas'. Certainly O's EPA has done everything possible to keep new smokestacks from operating, and shutting down functional ones as much as possible. If you buy into the >koff< "theory" that man made CO2 (and other 'pollutants') were causing "global warming" and "making" sea level rise, well, STOPPING them MUST be lowering it, right?
Of course, there was no indication of it rising in the first place, but as it still isn't changing, isn't that like jobs "saved or created" and we can "deem" the ocean to have lowered as it has not increased as it was expected to?

Pete(Detroit) said...

And by "us" surviving, I meant society at large, of course. Most of the posters here seem to be reasonably intelligent, competant, and self aware / responsible. That is, the kind or folks who might have a clue how to get water if it quits coming out of the tap, how to stay warm w/o central heat, that sort of thing.
Certainly the welfare drones won't.

CenTexTim said...

A couple of things to keep in mind: one, the troop withdrawal deadline (Dec. 31, 2011) was specified in the Status of Forces Agreement signed by George W. Bush towards the end of his presidency; two, during his campaign obama pledged to have all U.S. combat troops out of Iraq by mid-2010. In August 2010, with over 50,000 U.S. troops remaining in-country, obama changed the designation of seven remaining brigades from "combat" to "advise and assist."

In other words, obama met his campaign promise through a word game. He ended the Iraq war by following the plan of his predecessor. Of course, none of this will be noted in the glowing media accounts of his 'success.'

Earl said...

Jim, I also thought of you while reading a WSJ tribute editorial to Vaclav Havel who died Sunday at age 75. This past president of post-Communist Czechoslavakia should have been awarded a Nobel Peace Prize. Unlike our current Nobel Peace Prize-winning president, Havel spent years in Communist prisons for calling on his government to fulfill civil and human rights commitments supposedly guaranteed in its constitution. Also unlike our current president, Havel (in 2003) called for a united stand against Saddam Hussein arguing that, "the trans-Atlantic relationship must not become a casualty of the current Iraqi regime's persistent attempts to threaten world security." (France was not amused.) According to the WSJ, Havel won many awards in his lifetime. Notable was Germany's prestigious Quadriga Award which he won in 2009 and then returned earlier this year when the 2011 award went to Vladimir Putin. He was a true hero to freedom-seeking people around the world.

Pete(Detroit) said...

Thanx, Earl - nice update!

Stilton Jarlsberg said...

@John the Econ- You're right that we're not going to be getting any mainstream news about Iraq in the foreseeable future.

@Angry Hoosier Dad- You've hit a real sore spot of mine when you talk about the media sensationalizing the 1000th dead soldier... and their subsequent blindness to body counts once Obama took office.

@Emmentaler- Anything that Obama does is, by definition, a victory. And time will tell just whose victory it was.

@Jim Hlavac- (applause!) Great post. You've combined history and perspective very tidily and very accurately. And you make a great point that we've had troops stationed all over the world for decades...yet we had to get everyone out of Iraq by Christmas in order to make sure that Obama could release his campaign ad.

@John the Econ- I agree that we should have taken Saddam out when Bush senior was in office. I'm sick of the U.N. in every way, shape, and form.

@Pete (Detroit)- I personally felt like the whole WMD thing was oversold at the time, and that Saddam needed his ass kicked for a host of other reasons. But there's no question that he had WMDs in the past...and I think it's entirely likely that he had them (and shipped them out of the country) just before hostilities started.

You raise another huge issue about what will happen to everyone if the feces really hits the fan. As the old saying goes, just one nuke can ruin your whole day. Only if one goes off, I imagine that a lot more will in very short order. But what is this administration doing to reduce the likelihood of war? Not a freakin' thing. In fact, I'd say they're throwing gas on the fire.

Side note: Newt Gingrich has been talking about the importance of hardening our electrical grid from the threat of EMP (Electro Magnetic Pulse) from a nuke (or even natural solar activity). I've mentioned it here before: we could protect ourselves for about a half-billion dollars. If we fail to do so, our entire computer economy can be knocked out of existence by an Iran or North Korea with one nuke atop a crappy SCUD missile fired from off our coasts.

But are we protecting our vital and vulnerable systems? NooOOooo - we're giving money to Solyndra. (Insert primal scream here)

@CenTexTim- See, there's another good point: this was Bush's original timetable...and I daresay that every military success Obama has had (including the kinetic ventilation of Osama bin Laden) owes more to Bush than to the dweeb currently in the Whitehouse. But I don't want to seem hypocritical when criticizing Obama for sticking to Bush's timetable: rather, my concern is that while Bush would have reconsidered the timetable based on the situation on the ground, Obama had no interest in doing so (and in fact, rejected the advice of his top military advisors).

@Earl- Thanks for adding Vaclav Havel to this discussion, not just because of his stance on Saddam Hussein (which was 100% accurate) but also because the crux of today's topic is leadership, selflessness, and moral courage. Havel had it, Obama doesn't.

Anonymous said...

Like, practically 20 seconds after the last hummer crossed into Kuwait, Iraq's Prime Minister launched a coup to take full control of the country. Yeah... mission accomplished, Barak.

As U.S. troops exit, Iraq's political crisis deepens

Stilton Jarlsberg said...

@Anonymous (immediately above)- This explains why Obama was in such a hellbent hurry to get his "Promise Kept" ad out...if he'd (more tastefully) waited a full week, he might not have wanted to remind people who it was that just pulled the rug out from under Iraq.

Proof said...

"It is harder to end a war than to begin one," Yeah. Particularly if you are clueless to what you are doing.

pryorguy said...

Thanks to all who posted today....very informative; I was aware of much of it, but always good to learn a few things. It just makes too much sense NOT to be accurate!

The world situation is steadily rolling along towards the 'dire' marker (if we are not there already), after which, if we get to that point, life as we all know it will be a thing of the past, even if we are here to experience it.

Let us pray that we get REAL leadership by an AMERICAN who loves this land! It is perfectly obvious that obama does not.

Stilton Jarlsberg said...

@Proof- It's also harder to end a war than begin one if you insist on winning it.

@Pryorguy- I echo your sentiments; outstanding posts from everybody on this topic. As I told Mrs. Jarlsberg, some days I feel like I contribute the first stone to a batch of "stone soup," after which everyone else adds their own great contributions which give more substance and insight to issues than I could ever do on my own.

And "real leadership by an American who loves this land" doesn't seem like it should be setting the presidential bar too high this time around (although it was the same height last time, and Obama failed to clear it).

Pete(Detroit) said...

"Real Leadership"
Gawd DAMN what a concept.
People bitch'n (not necessarily here, just in general) about Newt being a bit 'erratic' or 'excitable' at times. Ya know, it might not be entirely a bad thing to have a president who has a reputation for 'going off' a bit when pressed... might get some respect back..