Monday, December 05, 2005

The Piper

We are a country in love with clichés, figures of speech, maxims, you name it. In America, things come home to roost. If you build it, they will come. What goes around, comes around. If you have to ask, you can’t afford it. We don’t do the crime if we can’t do the time

In the case of the Iraq war, it’s time to pay the piper.

Comparisons of Iraq to the Vietnam War are increasing. I’ve seen several remakes of Nixon’s “Vietnamization” speech of 1969, and it’s a bit eerie. Dems in Washington smell blood, and some of the more professional fence sitters (Hi, Hillary!) are sliding off the pickets. Personally, I think this country runs best when the congress and the Whitehouse are controlled by different parties. After this last fiasco, I’d like to see a fiscal conservative of any stripe replace the theo-wags in the House (Yes, Mr. Santorum, I’m talking to YOU, and no, I’m not Satan), and a Dem with vision at the helm. Gore would do nicely.

But, we were talking about maxims, weren’t we? Specifically, piper paying, I believe.

This is where any similarity to the Vietnam War ends. We have summarily created growing enemy combatant forces, training grounds and funding in Iraq where there were none. (See the things come home to roost thing, above. You see, we built it. Now, they are coming.) In Vietnam, we schlepped some fancy names on it, and finally, years too late, we pulled our troops out.

Confronted by a demoralized army on the battlefield and by growing opposition at home, in 1969 the Nixon administration started withdrawing most of its troops in order to facilitate what it called the "Vietnamization" of the country. The rest of America's forces were pulled out after Secretary of State Henry Kissinger negotiated a "peace settlement" with Hanoi. As the troops withdrew, they left most of their equipment to the Army of the Republic of South Vietnam — which just two years later, after the fall of Saigon, lost all of it to the communists. – Martin Van Creveld, The Forward

It’s VERY expensive to move gear out of an arena. That’s why we left all that stuff in Vietnam. That, and because in order to conduct a classic withdrawal, moving piles of equipment over hundreds of miles, we put our military personnel at extreme risk. Factor in a country guaranteed to sink into an all-out civil war, whose love of America is thin, and whose population is growing daily with our true enemy, Al Qaida, and you have a horrific scenario of our own making. What goes around comes around.

Why do it?

Well, if you have to ask, you can’t afford it. Our 1960’s version of the military was vastly different than the one we field today. The technological advances in weaponry which enabled us to mass greater firepower and effectiveness with less personnel (not to mention the huge cost of these weapons), means we don’t exactly have that many of them. It’s critical to our national defense that we keep them, and that means we have to move them with our troops. Hence we are already committed to an expensive and deadly classic withdrawal strategy.

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. – Martin Van Creveld, The Forward

Once we’ve paid for all that, we still have to maintain a presence in order to keep the dogs at bay. Iran, complete with impending nuclear capability, will sniff around that door immediately, and this war that wasn’t about oil but really was about oil is going to require us to stay in a security capacity. The value of the region is too high.

The cost of this war for lies, ego and profit sickens me.

Tough nuts. The piper is at the door and he doesn’t take checks.

Impeach Bush.


At December 05, 2005 2:11 PM, Blogger Mags said...

It's very disconcerting, isn't it. We're stuck in this quagmire and extricating ourselves will require a level of strategic planning that I'm confident to say this current administration does NOT have.

You're such a great writer. Thanks for this post.

At December 06, 2005 8:41 AM, Blogger ~Betsy said...

Very well said, as usual, Jet. Bush needs to go and take Cheney with him. We cannot afford to sit around for three more years waiting for his presidency (reign) to end.

Remember how outraged the GOP was with Clinton receiving BJs in the oval office? They voted to impeach him for that, even though the only one hurt was Hillary. Can we manage to muster enough disgust with GW and his cronies to realize an impeachment? I'd put my energy and cash into whatever it takes to make it happen.

Who's going to start?

At December 06, 2005 12:12 PM, Blogger windspike said...


Wesley Clark has an article in the NYTimes op ed today (linked over at my location) that points out the big winners in W, Rove and Co's Iraq conflagration is Iran. Humm. That should be bad, no?

Here here on your last sentence. Time for him to go and we don't have another three years to waste on this man and his flunkies.

At December 07, 2005 10:10 AM, Blogger Jet said...

Thanks Mags. I do not see how we can cover the costs of our obligations and not crash our country economically. Color me despaired.

I think this adminstration makes Nixon's look like a bunch of truant schoolboys, Betsy. Regrettably, our fourth estate has become bottom line bottem feeders, which is why we rail against sex and shrug over torture. Blogs are the voice of sanity in the ratings abyss.

Iran as a big winner scares the hell out of me, Wind. They are organized, hungry, and they despise us. It's not a cheery portent.

At December 07, 2005 12:21 PM, Blogger Ken Grandlund said...

Nice post Jet, and succint as well. The whole situation is one big cluster, no matter how we go. But we do need to leave and we do need to get rid of the neo-con warmongers among us.

At December 11, 2005 9:24 AM, Blogger Unadulterated Underdog said...

Good post Jet! I particularly like the comparison to politicians as birds... I am never so nice as that.

The other day, I took a bunch of political tests and each one found me to be a Socialist. I found myself at odds with that in several ways but ultimately, I believe it's probably true. Here's why I disagreed though:

I want fiscal conservative, socially liberal minded leadership. I don't believe in massive government handouts but the things the Republicans refer to as handouts are zainy and sort of ridiculous. I mean, student loans subsidies? Disaster relief? Come on guys!

This is the reason that I sense a change of the tide coming. I believe that by 2008, the Democrats will control at least one if not both houses of Congress and maybe even the WH. To tell you the truth, we need a real house cleaning by perhaps a third party but I am realist enough to know this country is to conservative to allow that. Still, any change will be welcome after all of these lies were have been forced to wade through lately.

At December 24, 2005 5:22 PM, Blogger Gothamimage said...

Jet - you should stop by my blog - read the post about 1965 metrics - and make sure to click on the two hyperlinks on the post.

The chart will interest you.


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