WHAT ARE WE DOING IN IRAQ?
Dennis L. Cuddy, Ph.D.
The President has just announced a troop surge in Iraq as part of his new strategy. It's curious that in October he said "we're winning" in Iraq, but now he's got a new strategy ! Why change if you're winning?
I have already described in previous articles the incompetence of the administration in recognizing the level of sectarian violence about which I have warned a long time ago. The question now is what will a surge of about 20,000 troops accomplish?
Supposedly, they are to root out insurgents. But they are in Sunni areas, and any attack on the Iraqi Sunnis will not make us more popular in their eyes. It will also inflame Sunnis outside Iraq, where they comprise the majority of Muslims around the world. An attack on the Iraqi Sunnis will likewise be seen as our siding with the Shiites, who the Sunnis believe want revenge for all Saddam Hussein did to them. The reason insurgents (e.g., Al-Qaeda) are being harbored by the Sunnis is to help protect the latter from just such revenge by Shiite "death squads."
If we try to be even-handed, and attack these Shiites, how would we do it? The administration says we will "clear out" certain areas. Does that mean Sadr City in Baghdad? And how would sayyed Muqtada al-Sadr, the primary supporter of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, react to that? Would there be retribution against Maliki (and his family) for allowing the Americans to do this?
And how would we identify members of the Shiite "death squads," as many of them have become members of the Iraqi National Army? If a U.S. soldier enters a house and finds an automatic weapon, the Shiite can claim he's a soldier in the Iraqi National Army. He's not going to have a "death squad" poster on his wall. Suppose the U.S. soldier finds a handgun. Handguns aren't killing Americans in Iraq, and the Shiite's family can say that's their only protection against thugs when the father leaves home.
The Bush administration says our presence in these neighborhoods will bring stability which will allow the time to train the Iraqi army. But 20,000 troops are not enough to stablize every neighborhood in Baghdad, much less all of Iraq. And our training of the Iraqi National Army will also train the Shiites and Sunnis comprising that army to be better able to fight each other. This is because the real problem in Iraq isn't the insurgents, but the sectarian differences. The Iraqi Constitution is based upon Islamic religious law. As I have stated before, it's as if Protestants in the U.S. were forced to live under Catholic religious law or vice versa, because there is no "separation of mosque and state" in Iraq.
So if a surge of 20,000 troops will not bring "victory" in Iraq, what are we doing there? Remember that one of the goals of the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) is a "permanent military presence" in the region. Despite our claims that we are not "occupiers," most Iraqis see our construction of huge military bases and a huge Embassy there as representing exactly that----occupation ! This occupation, though, depends upon the Iraqis' perceived need for our military presence, and the President's new strategy will accomplish that.
In addition, PNAC's plan is not just for Iraq, but for the whole region, including Iran and Syria (to which Saddam probably sent his chemical Weapons of Mass Destruction). Thus, watch for an "incident" regarding Iran. For example, several Iranians have just been taken into custody in Iraq, and Iran has demanded their release. If they are not released and Iran takes some additional military involvement in Iraq, that could provide the "incident" will allow the Bush administration (dominated by the PNAC philosophy) to respond militarily.
The Iranians would not take such action by the U.S. without response. They easily could block the Straits of Hormuz, through which 20% of the world's oil supply travels each day, leading to dire economic consequences to American allies, if not the U.S. itself. In addition, Russia and China would not sit idly by as a military escalation occurred between the U.S. and Iran.
I am sure the PNAC-Bush administration has war-gamed all this, and feels the risks are worth it. But there are always unknown factors, such as what damage a few well-trained Iranian agents could do inside the U.S. in terms of setting fires, derailing trains, contaminating food, etc. It's a dangerous gambit, and if they're wrong (as they have been before), I am afraid we all will reap the disastrous consequences. For part 2 click below.
Click here for part -----> 2,
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Dennis Laurence Cuddy, historian and political analyst, received a Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (major in American History, minor in political science). Dr. Cuddy has taught at the university level, has been a political and economic risk analyst for an international consulting firm, and has been a Senior Associate with the U.S. Department of Education.
Cuddy has also testified before members of Congress on behalf of the U.S. Department of Justice. Dr. Cuddy has authored or edited twenty books and booklets, and has written hundreds of articles appearing in newspapers around the nation, including The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times and USA Today. He has been a guest on numerous radio talk shows in various parts of the country, such as ABC Radio in New York City, and he has also been a guest on the national television programs USA Today and CBS's Nightwatch.
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So if a surge of 20,000 troops will not bring "victory" in Iraq, what are we doing there? Remember that one of the goals of the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) is a "permanent military presence" in the region.