Russ Wellen: Cut And Run Or Carve It Up?
Cut and Run or Carve It Up?
By Russ Wellen
Solving Iraq entails thinking that's not only outside the box but over the top.
More and more Americans who voted for the current president are suffering from "buyer's remorse." Likewise, many of us think we were bamboozled into letting the administration trade in Afghanistan for Iraq.
Meanwhile, the US supposedly pays compensation for each citizen of Iraq who is killed. But there's no warranty on the country, which we ran into the ground.
If ever there was a lemon of a war, this is it.
Still, our presence in Iraq may never invoke the outrage from Americans that Vietnam did. After all, there's no draft. Nor did natives of Southeast Asia kill 3,000-plus Americans on our own soil like those from the Middle-East did.
Most of us are unopposed to preemptive war on principle. But we can no longer stomach the idea that our soldiers are dying in a war which epitomizes that support-group chestnut "half measures avail us nothing."
But, concerned it will be spun as a victory by the terrorists, we balk at calls for withdrawal. Then there are the commentators and congressmen who, despite how implausible they sound, guilt-trip us about abandoning the Iraqi people.
Let those concerned with abandonment try this story on for size. "No One Dares to Help," written by an anonymous Iraqi reporter for the Los Angeles Times, describes the aftermath of a shooting in his neighborhood. An injured man lay in the street, but no one dared step forward to help him.
He "managed to sit up and wave to passing cars. No one stopped. Then, a white Volkswagen pulled up. A passenger stepped out with a gun, walked steadily to the wounded man and shot him three times."
If that scene isn't the definition of abandonment, ask the families of the 6,599 Iraqis (reported) who died in July and August just how reassuring they've found American troops in their fabled city.
In fact, not only doesn't it prevent violent death, our presence seems to bring out the worst in the killers. As U.N. special investigator Manfred Nowak attests, torture in Iraq may now be worse than it was under Saddam Hussein. That sound you hear is the splat of the at-least-Iraq-is-better-off-than-under-Saddam argument hitting the ground after it was tossed out the window.
But Saddam may have set an unconscious benchmark for brutality in the minds of Shiites he oppressed. Likewise, American abuses at Abu Ghraib may have paved the way for Iraqis to season their savagery with a soupcon of the erotic. More likely though it was an accident waiting to happen.
In his fiction, an Army Ranger acquaintance who served in Iraq describes insurgents he encountered: "Sex fiends. . . beating their wives, raping their sisters, living in their own filth. . . . It was as if all the freaks in a region had started a terrorist organization."
In July, Patrick Cockburn, correspondent for The Independent, wrote of Iraqis who kidnap children and, despite collecting ransoms, rape and kill them. Then of course there's Nic Robertson's infamous CNN report -- call it apocryphal at your own peril -- of a 15-year-old girl whose head had been severed and, in its place, a dog's head sewn.
First, by personalizing killing, cutting your victim's throat is unprofessional. Whatever happened to the cold-blooded executioner with both an axe and nerves of steel?
Second, not only doesn't "ghoulish" do justice to the substitution of an animal's head for a human female's, but neither does "necrophiliac." In fact, if ever there was an occasion to invoke the term "Satanism" without fear of being called a crank, this is it. Even if we did create the preconditions, stooping to this level of barbarity is their choice.
Therefore, both to stop these psychopaths, as well as out of respect for their victims, most Americans shun the "cut-and-run" bunch. But there's an alternative -- the carve-it-up crowd.
In his new book "The End of Iraq," Peter Galbraith proposes a plan that also finds congresspersons like Senator Joseph Biden and Representative Maxine Waters, leader of the House Out of Iraq Caucus, on board. He'd like to see Iraq divvied up into northern Kurdistan, a southern Shiite zone, and a western Sunni region.
The idea is neither new nor without merit. But, should it be attempted, footage of Iraqis migrating en masse to their designated zones -- as in "Exodus, movement of jah people" -- could backfire. In fact, it might even evoke the pity for Iraqis that casualty numbers have failed to.
Meanwhile, in March, Congress commissioned the Iraq Study Group to shake up our present policy. But don't expect to see the imaginations of great minds at play. The group is led by James Baker -- yes, that James Baker, the Bush family's designated fixer.
Meanwhile, among its members are former CIA director Robert M. Gates, retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, former Virginia senator Charles Robb, and, last but not least -- wait, make that definitely least -- Edwin Meese, Reagan's attorney general.
In the end, as Robert Dreyfuss explains in his September Washington Monthly piece "A Higher Power," we have two choices. Either we stay and fight, whatever the cost in lives and money, or we redeploy and ask Iraq's neighbors and the United Nations to step in. (Kindly contain your snickering.)
Persuading others (aside from our colony, Great Britain) to join us in our excellent Iraq adventure has always been little more than attempted extortion. At this point, what possible incentive exists for the UN and other countries to bail us out?
How about bringing war criminals to justice? Good idea, but unlikely to fly with most-wanteds Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld.
However, Baker has just been authorized to speak to a "high representative" of Tehran's government. From right to left and east to west, this can't help but be viewed as a promising development -- for Iran, though, not Iraq. Needless to say, while Baker is negotiating with a country, it won't be attacked.
Still, the administration, which always stands ready to snuff out any outbreaks of peace, might reel him back in and attack Iran anyway. Which, believe it or not, might be the answer to George Bush's prayers for Iraq.
Should an attack occur, Sunnis and Shiites alike will be shaken awake from the mass delusion that they're each other's enemies. Putting aside their differences, they'll unite against the US.
But how does that help the administration?
Despite the renewed offensive against US troops in Iraq, Bush & Co. can declare that sectarian violence has ended and pull them out. We can then redeploy our ground troops to Iran.
Wait, isn't Iran supposed to be an air war? Sure, just like Vietnam and Afghanistan. No-holds-barred bombing campaigns just broke the earth. In their wake, ground troops followed, sowing the seeds of liberty (or death -- its evil twin).
Meanwhile, this just in from the we-can-dream-can't-we department. . . since Iraq has fallen under the spell of Iran, why not just give it to Iran?
"What have you been smoking?" you ask. The US is as likely to give up a stake in a country as oil-rich as Iraq as it is to sever its ties with Saudi Arabia. Well, if all hell breaks out in the entire Middle East, there won't be a whole lot of drilling and refining going on for the foreseeable future. What do we get in return?
Iran agrees to halt uranium enrichment.
But what about Iraq's Sunnis? They'd be at actual risk of genocide.
Here's a solution even more preposterous than proposing the administration give up an oil-rich state: Ask it to ask something of the American people (as opposed to taking from us, that is).
Designate that every municipality in America provide sanctuary for one Sunni family from among those that, lacking the wherewithal to leave Iraq like many in the professional class, haven't left. Many of the men, known or suspected assassins in their own right, would perforce go on immediate probation.
Iran gets a new nation, if a fixer-upper, and Small Town, USA gets it very own pet Sunnis (careful, they bite). See? All it took was a little imagination.