We went in for ideological reasons, not due to any real threat. “Major combat operations” are over, there is no war as far as the Pentagon is concerned, but casualties continue to accelerate. The number of killed or wounded United States troops now approaches 19,000 and the number of killed Iraquis alone, excluding wounded, exceeds 100,000 according to the latest from Johns Hopkins, Columbia, and Mustansiriya University Baghdad. (Although as an aside, I can just hear the Republican Christian Gooddoers now: “You’re trusting numbers from a Baghdad university? That’s a joke. Everyone knows those sand niggers are primitive evildoers who can’t learn. A sand nigger university study. Well La Di Da.”) The same study says that a clear majority of Iraqi civilians blame the civilian carnage on the “Coalition of the Willing” (read: United States) troops, and that same majority wants us gone now.
President Bush suddenly says, in contrast to what he has said for the last eighteen months, that things are not going so well in Iraq after all (I guess that’s what happens once elections are over: candidate confessionals). Powell now says we should be prepared for additional years of heavy troop deployment in a combat zone. But of course, we’ll stay the course — while soldiers get blown up by civilian suicide bombs and tell CNN that the key is to set your jaw, appear strong at all times, and always have your weapon loaded and ready to shoot at civilians who may be about to deploy ordinance. At the same time, the “insurgents” are now running PR campaigns and distributing videos to the embattled, willing, and increasingly cynical majority of the Iraqi public, telling them (quite believably, given a patriotic or nationalistic streak even half as strong as the one that seems to pervade the United States these days) that it is the duty of every citizen to fight this western occupation.
Meanwhile, our alliances with other Arab states are suffering, because if we do eventually give up on maintaining a puppet Iraqi cabinet and allow the Iraqis a legitimate national election in the post-Saddam era that we have created, it will be the Iran-friendly Shia majority of Iraq that dominates and wins the election, and they will immediately join Iran in the nuclear-proliferation-against-the-United-States-and-Israel game.
So, as has already happened once too often in United States history, the powers that be believe that we have to win, this time in order to halt the spread of a radical, anti-western, nuclear-friendly ideology — a halt which will thereby preserve the stability of the area (because we won’t then have to continue to threaten it) — and we can only win by continuing to combat the majority of the civilian public, who we can simply re-label as “insurgents” if they happen to have the balls to defend themselves against The Greatest Military The World Has Ever Seen.
Once again, we have to kill the village to save the village… from us. History repeats itself.
Okay, folks, I’ll make it simple for you. This is another Vietnam, barring the one decision that could change it all for the better, right now, today: we could do the right thing and withdraw as soon as we recognize the catch-22, as opposed to doing what we did in Vietnam (and what it looks like we’re going to do here) — kill civilians for years and years while we try to think of what else to do, determined not to lose face or admit mistake or wrongdoing, determined to somehow discredit and replace (with McDonalds and department stores, no less) the identity ideologics and political sociologics of an entire non-white citizenry that we petulantly (and nervously) find to be foreign and distasteful.