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Iraq.

*sigh*

Ok. So here's what happened.

President Bush had a huge surplus when he took office on January 20, 2001. After 9/11/01, he claimed that Iraq had WMDs and his "sources" confirmed this. Iraq was the next terror center that was going to take a shot at the USA.

How that all came about is muddy to say the least, but one thing we do know: Bush had an army, he had the funding, and he had motivation to jump in, before the United Nations could do a proper search to determine if there actually was anything there. Why would they be so keen to force the issue before they were sure? Well, again, that's another issue which we can't prove, but it sure seemed like the agenda was to get into Iraq whether or not there was any reason to do so.

By bombing Baghdad and moving troops in to secure the area, what was accomplished? Government contractors could be sent in to start rebuilding. Government "liberators" could be brought in to start liberating. And Iraq would presumably be in the USA's debt for all of the good works we were doing, and would need to pay us back in the most obvious way possible: that of the vast oil fields that are there, and the rights to pump that crude into the vehicles of all those SUVs that were so popular in the early part of the 21st Century.

But, as is always the case in any western involvement in the Middle East, things didn't go according to plan. And despite all of the time, energy, money and lives that have been given in this cause, it's the USA that has paid dearly for the involvement in this country and it doesn't seem like there is any hope of repayment by Iraq for what we have done. In fact, Iraq is very happy letting the US continue to spend our cash there to support this cause, while it sits on a very hefty surplus of its own.

That brings us to President Obama and his plans to fix things. The budget that is out there now is a problem because it is, for the most part, continuing what GWB started. Our military budget is still huge and our investment in Iraq doesn't seem to be going away.

My only thought about this is that maybe Obama has found some way to coax Iraq into giving us the oil, or at least paying in some other way in exchange for our continuing support, and that this will help balance things a bit. I can't imagine that he wouldn't work on reconfiguring the budget in some more significant way without that being a part of the equation.

My problem is that this feels a little bit like a gambler in a cold streak to me. We have been losing and losing at this Iraq table with Bush placing the bets of human lives and American money over and over for the duration of his presidency. Now Obama steps in, sees how far in the hole we are, and is somehow hoping that his luck will change everything around? He's going to keep betting there?

I mean, it's possible that Obama will have more success when it comes to this situation, through his diplomatic style and his better understanding, but I'm worried that this could backfire in a big way and that we'll be even more swamped, and the support he is enjoying from the American Public will evaporate.

This is a huge job; it's going to take a lot of work, planning, focus and tough choices. So, we need to be clear. How is this budget going to bring us closer to where we need to be and how is all of this going to play out for our military, our country and everyone in it?

Comments

( 18 comments — Leave a comment )
low_delta
Feb. 28th, 2009 12:38 am (UTC)
Someone told me that he attended a lecture by some military general who assured the audience that there was a really good reason for us being in Iraq, but he couldn't tell us because it was top secret. Sounds like a load of crap, of course, but you've got to wonder when every several months, for the last year, Obama backed further down on his promise to bring our troops home immediately. His current plan doesn't sound much better than what a Republican would have done.
penpusher
Feb. 28th, 2009 01:21 am (UTC)
I always felt the only real reason to enter Iraq was to get the oil. The "war crimes" that Saddam Hussein was accused of paled in comparison to some of the other countries around the globe we could have taken on, had we wanted to be true "humanitarians" and the trumped up WMD claims were proven to be false, so if it wasn't for the oil, it was a complete waste, and we still don't have any oil for all that effort.

Throwing good money after bad is how it feels, and this is a huge concern for me.

As for the "top secret" reason for being there... I mean, strategically if there is a democracy allied with the USA in the region, it could provide support and help if we wind up conducting more military action, but based on how the people within the borders of Iraq have been dealing with us, I don't know that it could ever be solidified.

Or maybe the reason is just grabbing the oil, though there's nothing top secret about that!
low_delta
Feb. 28th, 2009 04:31 am (UTC)
There's a document created by the Neocons, sometime back in the... early nineties?... where their stated goal was to have a military base in a friendly middle eastern nation (not Saudi Arabia), and be a stabilizing presence. One would have to believe that their true goal was a stable oil supply. Obviously, since there were no friendly countries there, we would have to make one.
paris_of_priam
Feb. 28th, 2009 08:21 am (UTC)
Ironically, Jordan, Lebanon, Qatar, the U.A.E., and Turkey were pretty friendly with the U.S. BEFOER they invaded Iraq. *Shrug*
paris_of_priam
Feb. 28th, 2009 02:59 am (UTC)
Here's another general who did a better job of explaining it when he said "they didn't know what to do, but we've got a great army and we can take down governments. So, if the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem has to be a nail." (That and the oil, of course. I think the possibility of having WMDs there was no higher than number 3 on the list of reasons for invading.)

Reasons for invading:
1. Intimidation. (Intimidating middle eastern countries into not sponsoring terrorism. Not that Iraq ever did much of that. It was really Saudi Arabia that was the big problem as far as that's concerned, but nobody wanted to kill the Goose that laid the golden egg. As Richard Clark said in his book "Against All Enemies," they'd decided to invade Iraq the day after 9/11 even though they knew the attack came from Afghanistan, and that it was the equivalent of invading Mexico after Pearl Harbor in 1941, because it's closer than Japan.)

2. An excuse to end the oil embargo (which the P.N.A.C. group had been planning before Bush even took office.)

3. To spread secular democracy through the middle east, on the premise that secular liberal democracies are not good breeding grounds for terrorist sentiment. (Another P.N.A.C. idea that LOOKED good on paper, to a bunch of neo-conservative professors who've never even BEEN to the middle east.)


Wes Clark explaining why the invasion took place:


Reasons for staying:
The neo-cons assumed that once Sadam was gone, Ahmed Chalabi could just move in and, overnight, convert Iraq into a secular Jeffersonian democracy. When it was obvious that wasn't going to happen many people, including Joe Biden (probably a fluke) and Peter Galbraith suggested the only way to stop the region from exploding into violence (requiring the U.S. to stay there for YEARS to keep a lid on it) was to partition Iraq into three sections. A Kurdish north, Shiah south, and a more complicated center. The center would have to be split up into sections of Sunni and Shiah, like Berlin was after WWII, with tribal militia men guarding their own sectors. The neo-cons rejected that idea, thinking if they just had six more months (and six more, and six more...) the religious and tribal violence would stop. Four years later they finally came to the realization that it wasn't going to, and the partitioning option was the only one that would work. (Albeit UNOFFICIALLY. They haven't officially divided the country on the MAP, but that's essentially what they've done.)

So, that's essentially what David Patraeus has been doing for the last two years. Partitioning up the Sunni triangle, and Baghdad itself into sectors, each controlled by their own militia.

Why stay? Because the U.S. troops are the only ones still keeping peace between the militias, until the partitioning is over, and they've solidified their positions. If they left now, the region would just explode again. Powell was essentially right when he said "you break it, you own it." I'm sure Obama would live to leave tomorrow, but he wouldn't want to see the whole region explode as a result of it.
herwonderfulday
Mar. 25th, 2009 03:39 am (UTC)
edit: sorry.. i responded to the wrong thing.. heh.

Edited at 2009-03-25 03:39 am (UTC)
paris_of_priam
Mar. 25th, 2009 05:38 am (UTC)
It's okay, I'd never pass up an opportunity to oogle French revolutionary boobs. :)
twopiearr
Feb. 28th, 2009 02:17 am (UTC)
I suspect there's a much simpler answer:

despite his political capital with the citizens of the US, Obama yet lacks the political capital to make things happen on the hill, so the path of least resistance is to go along to get along.
paris_of_priam
Feb. 28th, 2009 03:04 am (UTC)
I agree with you, in a way. As Commander in Chief he doesn't need Congress' permission or cooperation to withdraw the Army from Iraq. He does, however, need Congress' cooperation to pass his healthcare reforms, and other good ideas. He's going to need a hell of a lot of his political capital in reserve to do that, and he'd blow quite a lot of it by removing the Army from Iraq. So, I suspect his timetable for getting out of Iraq is being determined by how fast he can get his important domestic proposals through Congress. He'll use up all his political capital doing that, and when his account is empty, he'll pull the plug on Iraq, since he doesn't need Congress' cooperation for that.
stacymckenna
Feb. 28th, 2009 03:03 am (UTC)
well, he is also planning with a set timetable to get troops out, so since his approval rating internationally is already WORLDS ahead of GWB's, the goodwill engendered by his presenting plans and schedules for removing troops might help with our trade agreements...
stevegreen
Mar. 2nd, 2009 05:46 pm (UTC)
Isn't the money sucked up by Bush & Cheney's mates (Halliburton, etc) going to be at least partially replaced from Iraq's future oil sales?
liahz
Mar. 23rd, 2009 03:41 am (UTC)
I miss your voice posts.
herwonderfulday
Mar. 25th, 2009 03:40 am (UTC)
have you disappeared again?
penpusher
Mar. 29th, 2009 08:54 pm (UTC)
I'm vaguely around...
herwonderfulday
Mar. 29th, 2009 08:56 pm (UTC)
Just making sure!
chippiex
Mar. 26th, 2009 02:42 pm (UTC)
my photo party tonight
D, Haven't been here in ages...

I'm having a show tonight at the Sapphire Lounge, 249 Eldridge street 8-10pm
zoephoto.com

Hope you can make it (on terribly short notice : (

cheers, zoe (chippie x)
penpusher
Mar. 29th, 2009 07:47 pm (UTC)
Re: my photo party tonight
paris_of_priam
Apr. 11th, 2009 02:22 am (UTC)
Hey, Dean, did you notice that the White House has a youtube channel now?

http://www.youtube.com/user/whitehouse

You might have seen me cross post in a couple of communities about it. I think it's important for Obama supporters to watch it, so that the comments section doesn't just get taken over by a half dozen anti-Obama trolls, which is what's happening at the moment.
( 18 comments — Leave a comment )

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