Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Logic, reason in short supply

January 1, 2007

Logic and reason in acute short supply

The 135,000-strong US force could not overpower the Sunni insurgents — whose community represents around 20 per cent of the 25-million population in Iraq. How could a 155,000 or 165,000-strong US force — including the proposed 20,000-30,000-strong addition — take on the heavily armed Shiite militiamen — whose community represents over 55 per cent of the Iraqi population?
These are simple numbers. The strength of the Sunni insurgents and anti-US Shiite militiaman need not necessarily be proportionate to their percentage of the Iraqi population. However, it is simple logic that a force which failed to subdue the minority Sunnis would not be able to successfully take on the majority Shiites plus of course the Sunnis with a 20 per cent increase in the numerical strength (unless the US force is permitted to use weapons of mass destruction to carry out indiscriminate massacres of tens of thousands of Iraqis and reduce the population of Iraq by a few millions).
US military commanders have opposed, many in private and some in public, the proposed "surge" in troops planned by President George W Bush, who is not only listening to them but is also punishing them, both directly and indirectly, for speaking out.
Bush's obvious determination to "stay the course" in Iraq defies all political and military odds.
It was the popular sentiment against the war in Iraq that led to Bush's Republican camp's defeat in November's mid-term elections. The Democrats have taken over the US Congress and are threatening to withhold funds for the war. The Iraqi Study Group has recommended that the US should withdraw from Iraq. Recent opinion polls show that just around 20 per cent of American believe that there is any sense in continuing the US military presence in Iraq. And the number of American soldiers dying in action in Iraq is climbing.
Even in his alliances with Shiites in Iraq, Bush is finding it extremely difficult to proceed as is evident in the failure of Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki to check the ethnic cleansing campaign run largely by Shiite militiamen but also to a limited scale by Sunnis, or even to protect innocent civilians, both Shiites and Sunnis.
It is also clear that the Bush plan involves targeting the Shiite Mahdi Army of Moqtada Sadr for elimination, and that could trigger a series of events that would find the US military bogged down in a war of attrition from which there would be no easy escape.
Why should then Bush proceed with a plan that he should know is not going to make any real difference to the doomed military option in Iraq except increase the number of American (and Iraqi) casualties in the chaotic country?
Many Washington insiders, including named and unnamed White House aides and senior Pentagon officers, believe that Bush's decision to send 20,000-30,000 additional soldiers to Iraq is purely political with little regard to the reality on the ground in military terms. That would indicate that the president is willing to gamble with the lives of American troops and Iraqi civilians in order to serve whatever he thinks is his political priority. That priority seems to be his alliance with the neoconservative and pro-Israeli camp at the expense of his obligations to the American people and his responsibility as the chief executive officer and military commander of his country.
It has been reported that the neoconservative and pro-Israeli camp skillfully used the Bush administration's failure in Iraq (through hard-hitting neocon commentaries in the media among other means) in order to convince the president that the best way to fight the Iraq insurgency was an unprecedented aggressive counter-move supported by the buildup of troop levels. And we now see that Bush has embraced this proposal against the wise counsel of experience military officers.
General John Abizaid, who bowed out as head of the Central Command last week, could not have put it better when he told Republican Senator John McCain during a congressional hearing that it would not be wise to send more troops to Iraq.
Abizaid went on record telling McCain: "I met with every divisional commander, General (George) Casey, the core commander, General (Martin) Dempsey, we all talked together. And I said, in your professional opinion, if we were to bring in more American troops now, does it add considerably to our ability to achieve success in Iraq? And they all said no."
No wonder Bush replaced Abizaid. The president does not want to hear anything opposed to his views. That is the biggest problem that the US faces today — a president who refuses to accept reality, logic and reason and who is taking his country on a path towards more catastrophes for his own people. But it also becomes the biggest problem not only for the people of Iraq but also the entire Middle East since they would all be caught in the direct and indirect fallout of the catastrophic course of the Bush administration's military misadventures.