Four Years Later
What has been accomplished in the last four years? Oh, sure there’s an Iraqi constitution and a “duly elected” parliament, Saddam is dead, and I’m sure somewhere there is a school being painted, but if we were to ask Iraqis and Americans, “Are you better off now than you were four years ago?” what do you think their answer will be?
Four years after this unnecessary war of choice began, the Iraqis are dying by the hundreds every month, and the US is financially unstable with a military that’s caught in the middle of a civil war and near the breaking point, with wounded soldiers overwhelming the system.
The great and grand War on Terror has been used to restrict our freedoms and justify human rights abuses, and no one – with the exception of El Pollo Loco and his crew of cheerleaders and war profiteers – is seeing any sign that things in Iraq will improve.
From Tim Lambon in the New Statesman, embedded with US troops:
It’s hard to describe the noise when a whole cabinet of crockery is emptied on to the floor. Even harder not to shout in indignation when the American soldier who intentionally tipped it forward, until the plates and dishes slid smashing to the floor, says without regret, “Whoops!” and crunches over the shards past the distraught owner. “Cordon and search” they call looking for Sunni insurgents and their arms and explosives. But at what cost to the battle for “hearts and minds”?
The sweep was a co-operative action between Delta Company of the 2nd Battalion 12th Cavalry and the Iraqi Army’s 246th Battalion. The plan was for the Iraqis to lead and the Americans to provide security and back-up. With engines throbbing, the force waited for 45 minutes at the start line for the Iraqis to arrive.
“And you think they haven’t been calling their buddies in there to tell them to shift their sorry asses?” growled Sgt Penning in disgust. By the time we rolled into the middle section of the Baghdad neighbourhood of Ghazaliya, there wasn’t a single shot being fired in our direction. Any insurgents were long gone. […] Occupied or not, if no one quickly answered the demands to open up, gates, doors and windows were smashed down or blown open with shotguns.
Inside, damage was done to anything breakable. Living-rooms became a jumble of furniture. Beds were overturned, cabinets thrown down, shelves emptied on to floors and beds: an orgy of destruction and arbitrary searching.
Four years after the invasion of Iraq, the high and growing demand for U.S. troops there and in Afghanistan has left ground forces in the United States short of the training, personnel and equipment that would be vital to fight a major ground conflict elsewhere, senior U.S. military and government officials acknowledge.
More troubling, the officials say, is that it will take years for the Army and Marine Corps to recover from what some officials privately have called a “death spiral,” in which the ever more rapid pace of war-zone rotations has consumed 40 percent of their total gear, wearied troops and left no time to train to fight anything other than the insurgencies now at hand. [emphasis mine]
“We have a strategy right now that is outstripping the means to execute it,” Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker, Army chief of staff, testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday.
“The readiness continues to decline of our next-to-deploy forces,” Cody told the House Armed Services Committee’s readiness panel last week. “And those forces, by the way, are . . . also your strategic reserve.”
Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was asked last month by a House panel whether he was comfortable with the preparedness of Army units in the United States. He stated simply: “No . . . I am not comfortable.”
The U.S. war in Iraq enters its fifth year today. That, and 3,197 U.S. military deaths reported by the Pentagon as of 10 a.m. Friday, are among the few numerical certainties in a conflict characterized from the start by confusion and misuse of key data.
In January, after years of fluctuating deployments, President Bush told the nation that an additional 21,500 U.S. troops were needed to quell escalating violence in Baghdad. As of Friday, that total had reached 28,700. [emphasis mine]
Some government calculations have been meticulous, even when belying claims of progress. Weekly tallies of oil produced, electricity supplied and construction projects completed have invariably fallen below stated goals. The military has provided public accounts of failing troop readiness and recruitment. [emphasis mine]
Bush has vowed that “as Iraqis stand up, we will stand down.” Yet the administration’s calculations of the size and capability of Iraqi security forces have often been difficult to follow.