Going Down With The Ship
The Levin-Reed amendment failed this morning, and with it so did the entire menu of Democratic options regarding Iraq. The Senate Republicans simply won't budge.
It's curious, this intransigence. The Petraeus hearing clearly bought some time, and they'll tout that the 20,000 or so troops coming home by next summer (which is, you know, a long way off) represents some kind of progress. But the warning signs in Iraq are actually horrific. Due to the Blackwater shooting, the country is on lockdown, with US diplomatic personnel unable to leave their homes. Even the CIA can't walk the streets without Blackwater's cover; that's right, the licensed-to-kill years-of-training CIA can't even walk around. The mercenary company exists in a legal black hole that Congress is only now beginning to understand, making their exit from Iraq unlikely. If the Maliki government can't even expel contractors from their own country, the people of Iraq are quickly going to decide "what good are they as a government," and in addition American forces will increasingly become targets, even more so than they are now. This isn't the only contractor problem, as we learn today that deals totaling $6 billion dollars are under CRIMINAL review by investigators. The procurement system is a treasure trove for profiteers, and as that money doesn't go toward reconstruction or security, the people of Iraq are again angered.
And this is the least of their worries. There are Iraqis whose entire family are being systematically killed, and there are two million Iraqis living as refugees abroad, in addition to the other two million who are internally displaced. They are running out of money and goodwill in places like Syria and Egypt, and this humanitarian crisis could spark more regional tension; meanwhile the United States has a quota to take in a MEASLY SEVEN THOUSAND refugees, and hasn't even managed that; 68 Iraqis have been admitted as of March. We talk about the responsibility we owe to these people, yet the ones who would likely be killed as a result of a pullout, the ones who have been working with the US military, are meaningless to us.
Meanwhile this "Anbar miracle" is just window dressing, and actually has the potential to make things more dangerous. The Sunni sheikhs have no interest in compromise with the Shiites in the government, and indeed are cooperating with the Americans because they think they have beaten them. Meanwhile the constant talk about success in Sunni-controlled Anbar endangeres the lives of our troops.
I worry that’ll be the case on the political scene, as well. Sunni political and tribal leaders are increasingly throwing in their lot with U.S. forces here against Al-Qaeda in Iraq and other insurgent types. But, to get them to come over to our side, the American military has fed them a steady diet of anti-Shi'ite propaganda.
Arrests and killings of Shi’ite militants are announced from loudspeaker blasts; President Bush’s bellicose rhetoric towards Shi’a Iran is reported on friendly radio programs. But the majority of this country is Shi’ite. Are we setting ourselves up as the enemies of the majority here? Are we priming the pump for an all-in sectarian battle royale? It seems like a possibility.
In a country flush with weapons on the black market, most of them put there by US contracts, the idea of allowing both sides of the civil war to be heavily armed is just shocking.
So why have Republicans bought it, when the public certainly hasn't? Why are they content to go down with the sinking ship? Who knows, maybe they think we need the oil that badly, or maybe they've simply been duped by one too many dog-and-pony shows. They believe what they want to believe. But it's clear to me that the best of a lot of horrible options in Iraq is for the military to disengage and for diplomacy to take root, whatever that results in.