Tuesday, January 10, 2006

2006 - The Year of Reality, Part One

Happy New Year Everyone. If only wishing could make it so.

I fear that 2006 will be the year of reality on several important fronts, especially the War in Iraq, the US stock market, and the worldwide housing boom bubble. I'll say a few words ( probably hundreds of words once the Damn Naker Blogger gets warmed up ) about the War in Iraq in this blog and get to the other reality defying events in follow up blogs.

I have tried to not blog on the unholy Iraq war as by now everything and every point of view imaginable must have been already expressed by other bloggers. But recent events have given me a desire to pitch in. I will not rehash all of the reasons why I have been opposed to this war from the get-go. I will sum up as best I can what we can expect in 2006.

President Bush has a noble view of what the war will bring. Peace and stability in Iraq, the region, and a blow against terrorists wherever they may be. Unfortunately, his vision is only that, a dream divorced from reality.

Until recently his salesmanship has been able to gloss over many of the unpleasant realities of Iraq and of the region. The little Emperor with great arrogance and ignorance has been able to paper over the lack of planning and his lack of experience in commanding an occupying force and of even more significance his lack of understanding about just how powerful the forces of tribe and religion are in Iraq and the region.

Arrogance and ignorance. It's a killer of a combination.

As evil as Saddem may have been he was a clever tribal chief who knew the realities of Iraq very well. This is why he was eventually able to fight his way to the position of dictator. He made himself so feared that he became the glue that held the country together. Only a ruthless bastard of a leader could hold together the various ethic groups in Iraq who have been at each others throats for the past 1200 plus years or so.

The United States has brilliant analyst's working at the CIA, the State Department, and in the Military. Without a doubt they warned President Bush that "the devil you get may be worst than the devil you've got", to use a Mideast phase, if you take Saddem out. President Bush the elder followed the analyst's advice after the Gulf War. But Bush Two and his neo-con buddies thought that they knew more than the professionals. Now the US is paying the price.

With each milestone (elections) over the past year the US government has been forecasting a winding down of the insurgency and increased stability.

Dream on.

With each election the country lurches ever closed to a full blown civil war. The Iraq politicians are every bit as corrupt as our own . They make statements designed for public consumption then continue to maneuver in the background to further their own pet causes --- like lining their pockets with US taxpayer's money. And to
advance the interests of their own tribe and families. They can't help it. It's expected of them by their peers.

Meanwhile, the real power figures in Iraq lurk in the background waiting to advance their religion. Make no mistake about it religion is the number one driving force in the Mideast and at the end of the day the Ayatollahs will have their say and way. The major question is if it will be the Sunni Ayatollahs or the Shiite Ayatollahs who are dominent and if the country is carved up into several independent regions. Either way it is bad news for dream on President Bush and his equally dreamy headed do gooder associates in Washington.

Why am I so sure about the role that religion will eventually play? In the early 90's I lived in Lahore, Pakistan for two and one half years. I don't pretend to be an expert on the region because of this limited experience but I did see up close and first hand the strong role that religion plays in everyday life. Muslims in the Mideast as elsewhere do take their religion seriously and often without question follow the directions of the Ayatollahs. For the Bush administration to downplay this influence or to think that we can replace it with our own vision of democracy is naive and dangerous.

So what's the forecast for Iraq for 2006?

More bad news. A further relentless breakdown of law and order. More suicide bombings. More and more powerful IED attacks. More deaths of US and allied forces and more deaths among the long suffering Iraq people. The outbreak of civil war. And the dawning of reality for the American solders, citizens, and even the Bush administration.

At some point American will likely declare victory and withdraw. If we try a partial withdrawal expect the remaining forces to be attacked unmercifully. There are powerful forces beyond the handful of foreign fighters (terrorists ) and the home grown insurgents that want us out of Iraq. Iran for example. Or Syria. And more than a few of our "friends". Do you really think the Russians want the US to have permanent military bases in the middle of the most prolific oil production region of the world?

I believe that in time President Bush's "bring them on" decision to venture into Iraq will do down in the history books as one of the worst strategic blunders of all time. On all fronts, militarily, politically, and economically.

As a Vietnam veteran I feel especially bad for the hundreds of thousands of brave American troops who have and are serving in Iraq. They are the best , most professional military force in the world and they have done their duty well, often serving with honor and dedication at tasks for which they had receieved no training. Like managing construction projects and deciding local disputes between rival factions.

It's their commander in chief who is as fault. Bush has sent our loyal military on a fool's task all in the name of national security. But after three years of warfare we are less secure with a weakened military than before we attacked Iraq. And real and present dangers to our national security have increased (North Korea and Iran) while our focus has been on Iraq.

Bush has deployed our valient forces into harms way into a battle we can not win politicially. And if we can not win policially in the end we lose the war. President Bush should ultimately be held accountable for his reckless acts. He has let the military down and the American people down at the most basic and serious level of a President's duty to serve his country with caution; the committing of American forces to war.

I predict that 2006 will be the year of reality. It will become increasingly clear attacking Iraq was a huge mistake. In the end the most likely outcome is that the Ayatollahs will prevail. Iraq will become, probably after many more years of bloodshed, more of an Iranian style theocracy than a Western style democracy.

If that prediction turns out to be true it is the worst possible outcome for America. The devil you get may be worst than the devil you've got.

Happy New Year. I wish that wishing could make it so.

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