Monday, June 7, 2010

Stuck in the mud of Iraq

I just finished reading The Gamble, Thomas Ricks' second book about the debacle--I mean the Iraq War-- that we are stuck in.  I'm glad I read the second book.  I read the first book, Fiasco--essentially Part I--a year ago; quite a while after it came out.

For the sub-title to Fiasco, the first book, Ricks should have written "In which I--a pro-military Republican--detail how badly Bush, Cheney, Wolfowitz, and Rumsfeld have fucked up the Middle East".

I have really enjoyed both books, and cannot recommend them enough.  My perception--not my opinion--but my image of who I think Ricks is has changed from the frist page of Fiasco to the last page of  The Gamble.  When I grabbed Fiasco and started reading it, I assumed that Ricks is a classical Morrow-style reporter who is liberal in his personal views (the inevitable consequence of having both a functioning brain and heart) who none-the-less adheres to his journalistic duty to be objective.  Apparently, a lot of flag-waving morons out there have their own version of that belief: he's a no-good liberal commie pinko bastard.  At least said offending right-wingers admit that haven't actually read his book, before proceeding to crucify him. 

Well, that's ironic.

In the last 2 chapters of The Gamble, written during the 2008 election cycle, Ricks fires both barrels at anti-war liberals inside and outside the U.S. Government.  Apparently he's pissed at Obama for being against the war.  He does rightly point out that it's easy to run for president on a campaign promise to withdraw from Iraq next week, but once you're in office you realize that you're stuck with Bush's war.

So, let me axe you a question, Bubba:  what exactly would you expect a Democrat running for president to say during the 2008 election??? 

Just curious.

Ricks rips into a bunch of Democrats for not supporting the military, who were (are) over there, bleeding and dying in Iraq.

As opposed to the dumbass NeoConservative Republicans who sent them over there to die.

Ricks points his ire at's September 2007 "General Petraeus or Betray Us?" ad as the most egregious example of stupid liberals accusing a good, decent honest American patriot of treason, without knowing the facts.

Here's the problem, Tom Ricks: at the time that put the ad in the paper, we were at a point in American history where the White House and the Pentagon had planned, initiated, and bolloxed up an unnecessary, unjustified war.  I mean--come on--you, yourself flat out say that in the first half of Fiasco.  By the time Petraeus sat down in front of the senators to testify, there were already 4,000 deaths--all in a war sold to us as necessary to keep Saddam Hussein from getting The Bomb.

After 4 years of "the government" lying to us, and getting a lot of 19 year olds killed, could you really expect the American public to believe some dude we never heard of--in a uniform decked out with ribbons and awards--to tell us the truth?

At the time, I too was convinced that the surge wouldn't work.  Okay, so the surge worked.  Even so, Ricks himself says in The Gamble that even though the incomepetent generals and admirals who organized and started the war got shoved aside (retired, fired, or promoted up into a position where they can't do any more harm) , and the new, younger, hipper, cooler studs with better ideas (Sean McFarland, Dave Petraeus, Dave Kilcullen et al) initiated a style of warfare that kept us from getting our ass kicked out of Iraq, that country is still a mess.  The best case scenario in Iraq is that we leave 10 or 20 years from now, and they don't get into bed with Tehran.

In plain English, while we have re-learned (Ricks details in Fiasco how there are hundred year old books on counter-insurgency, written by the French and others-- that our military ignored because--you know--we're Americans, so we're smarter than everybody else) how to fight insurgencies, the long-term problem of "fixing" Iraq (the Iraq that we broke) is not going away. 

I find myself in the embarassing position of admitting that my wife was right, back then.  She said that we can't just pack up, and leave Iraq.  We made a mess, and have to take responsibility for it.  I wanted us to pull out, and leave the Iraqis to kill each other at will.  Having read both of Ricks' books, I can see why my wife was right.

Shit.  My 5 year old son could graduate from high school in 2023, and go off to fight and die in Iraq.

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