Friday, December 02, 2005

James Wolcott Says 


The Great Escape
Posted by James Wolcott

Everyone seems to agree that despite Bush's vainglorious posturing about achieving victory in Iraq (his "determined jaw" sure must be getting tired), he's going to be presiding over a backdoor bug-out choreographed to look like an orderly withdrawal which will fool no one except the remaining lemmings at Lucianne.com (which is trying to cheer up the White House today with a big smiley-face).

Fred Kaplan, stocking up on questions for the holidays over at Slate, wonders:

"The question is: How does [Bush] plan to do it? Which troops will come out first? How quickly? Where will they go? Under what circumstances will they be put back in? Which troops will remain, and what will they do? How will they keep a profile low enough to make the Iraqi government seem genuinely autonomous yet high enough to help deter or stave off internal threats? Who will keep the borders secure, a task for which the Iraqi army doesn't even pretend to have the slightest capability? What kinds of diplomatic arrangements will he make with Iraq's neighbors—who have their own conflicting interests in the country's future—to assure an international peace?"

Anticipating Kaplan's questions, Martin van Creveld--professor of military history at Hebrew University, author of The Transformation of War and The Rise and Decline of the State; perhaps the most influential thinker in the field of Fourth Generation warfare--lays out a scenario in The Forward (via John Robb's always incisive Global Guerrillas) that only Hieronymous Bosh might find pretty.

First, van Creveld compares the U.S.'s options today as compared to its similar predictament when we exited Vietnam.

"Whereas North Vietnam at least had a government with which it was possible to arrange a cease-fire, in Iraq the opponent consists of shadowy groups of terrorists with no central organization or command authority. And whereas in the early 1970s equipment was still relatively plentiful, today's armed forces are the products of a technology-driven revolution in military affairs. Whether that revolution has contributed to anything besides America's national debt is open to debate. What is beyond question, though, is that the new weapons are so few and so expensive that even the world's largest and richest power can afford only to field a relative handful of them.

"Therefore, simply abandoning equipment or handing it over to the Iraqis, as was done in Vietnam, is simply not an option. And even if it were, the new Iraqi army is by all accounts much weaker, less skilled, less cohesive and less loyal to its government than even the South Vietnamese army was. For all intents and purposes, Washington might just as well hand over its weapons directly to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

Clearly, then, the thing to do is to forget about face-saving and conduct a classic withdrawal."

But we can't lose face! Max Boot will be crying into his pillow every night should that happen, and the retired generals at Fox News will have synchronized coronaries. But with the dreadful clarity that comes from possessing a historical longview, van Creveld calmly presents the grim specifics of his scenario:

"Handing over their bases or demolishing them if necessary, American forces will have to fall back on Baghdad. From Baghdad they will have to make their way to the southern port city of Basra, and from there back to Kuwait, where the whole misguided adventure began. When Prime Minister Ehud Barak pulled Israel out of Lebanon in 2000, the military was able to carry out the operation in a single night without incurring any casualties. That, however, is not how things will happen in Iraq.

"Not only are American forces perhaps 30 times larger, but so is the country they have to traverse. A withdrawal probably will require several months and incur a sizable number of casualties. As the pullout proceeds, Iraq almost certainly will sink into an all-out civil war from which it will take the country a long time to emerge — if, indeed, it can do so at all. All this is inevitable and will take place whether George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Condoleezza Rice like it or not."

Add Joe Lieberman to that list, too.

There are those who will say that whatever one's position about the Iraq war, that this is not a time for recriminations and blame, that we must come together for the greater good and not rake over the past; that once the U.S. is largely out of Iraq, bloodied and humbled, it will be a time for healing, reflection, and comity.

Martin van Creveld is having none of that frilly talk.

"For misleading the American people, and launching the most foolish war since Emperor Augustus in 9 B.C sent his legions into Germany and lost them, Bush deserves to be impeached and, once he has been removed from office, put on trial along with the rest of the president's men. If convicted, they'll have plenty of time to mull over their sins."

Nuremberg II, anyone?

JW also says

The mood is even more saturnine at Lucianne.com, where they're usually popping the martini olives, taking delight in Karl Rove's thumbing his nose at the camera, Mark Steyn's latest batch of liberal-bashing, or Charles Krauthammer's most recent foray into moral philosophy. But the steady drip of Bush's poll numbers have raindropping on their heads, and today they called a prayer meeting. Under of photograph a head-bowed Bush is the solemn plea,

"No matter what party you support, this man is our President
right now and needs our help in prayers.
This country belongs to all of us. In God We Trust"

It is truly a sad day when Lucianne Goldberg has to host a pity party for the president she that and her Orc readers have been worshiping as the flyboy savior for five years. If I believed in the power of prayer, I would pray for Bush to fire Rove and Rumsfeld, shutter Guantanamo, and stop acting as if global warming was a fiction, but I have no reason to believe Bush would heed the prayers of average citizens any more than he pays attention to anyone who dares bring him news that threatens to puncture his faith-based bubble. Prayers are wasted on a spoiled prince who believes he has a special pipeline to God. To Bush, prayers are just another form of flattery, part of his entitlement.
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