Monday, April 30, 2007

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US Domestic political posturing over Iraq

Take the long view and ignore the campaigning.

by Ferdinand III

Military adventures are often times lost in domestic political battles. The British and the Americans are famous for losing the opening battles of many wars and experiencing political dislocation which almost end the war’s prosecution. In most of these conflicts both states usually possessed leaders, parliaments and even a media that understood geopolitics; strength from power; and national self-interests. Importantly the rationale for war was constantly reiterated in spite of bitter early defeats and political posturing. This is not true of what is happening today with Iraq.

The uncertainty and futility of war breeds political opportunism. The British public despaired of winning the Boer War in 1899. So-called majority popular opinion was against the war. Politicians responded. Demands were made for negotiated settlements, recognition of Boer self determination, and a pre-UN international forum to arbitrate the dispute. However once the British got organized and adapted to Boer military tactics the real war was over in 12 months. Again politicians adapted and instead of being against the war, they supported ‘Boer recognition’. In any event South Africa very soon became an independent state, run by an Afrikaneer-British coalition of interests.

British public opinion was likewise divided over its occupation of Iraq post World War One. Iraq was a British protectorate post Great War, full of the same divisiveness and brutality we see today. In 1925 the British backed Iraqi government was given a 50 year guarantee of British support. In 1926 internal British plans were made for an evacuation. By 1932 the British, who had tried to rule Iraq on the cheap, were gone. A military dictatorship and much bloodletting ensued.

The British were forced out by the high budgetary costs of trying to stabilize Iraq but also by popular opinion which was against the occupation. By 1925 the British public were fed up with stories of British military casualties; endless strife amongst the Iraqis; and inter-tribal carnage. Calls to bring the boys home [or send the Indian sepoys back to Bangalore] were supported by media accounts of the ‘disaster’ in Iraq; and by politicians posturing that the Iraqi project was a colonial failure and that the budget could better be spent on something else. Today’s media and political circus over Iraq is hardly new.

Iraq is geopolitically quite vital. It is in the middle of a bad neighborhood called Islam. If the West is to defend itself against the fascist predations of Islamic ideology – a warrior creed which has murdered 300 millions in 1400 years of unremitting warfare – than Iraq is the perfect starting point. The British ignored this base fact in 1926, ignoring as well the importance of controlling western discovered and processed petroleum supplies.

Democracies are never comfortable with war. They view terrorism or Islamic fascism as abstractions, singular events, or rare outbursts of savagery. Most people don’t connect the dots to form an overall picture. They will allow politicians and media to inform their opinions and fill in the details but the great unwashed mass, are not nearly as dumb as the elite would like them to be. In an age of digital media, lies are soon exposed, and truisms do leak out [eventually].

There is one thing that the average person in the US, Britain or Canada does not covet – and that is defeat. Eight recent polls indicate that an overwhelming percentage of Americans do not want to pull out of Iraq on a pre-scheduled timetable. In fact, ‘according to a recent Pew Research survey, only 17% of Americans want an immediate withdrawal of troops (4/18-22, 2007). That same poll found a plurality of adults (45%) believe a terrorist attack against the United States is more likely if we withdraw our troops from Iraq while the “country remains unstable”.’

This is entirely sensible. The American public will support a war, as long as the objectives are clear, and progress is being made. American deaths in Vietnam were 18 times higher than those sustained so far in Iraq. The problem is that the American leadership emphasized WMD [when it should have listed the full 23 reasons in the declaration of war passed by both Houses and parties]; and has been absent on the national stage explaining why we need to be there; to win; and to ensure that a future Iraq is an ally, not a terrorist haven.

From Iraq there are some good on the ground newsblogs that present a radically different view than the usual anti-war [and anti-American] mainstream media gruel. One such newsblog featuring 2 reporters on the ground with US troops, interviewed recently Rear Admiral Fox, in Iraq since 2003 and who participated in the opening bombing campaign []. This blog provides a different view of a complicated and bloody conflict.

On this blog, Admiral Fox states some clear headed observations:
‘We don't have a conventional military threat. ..Iraq had more conventional ordinance than the United States. It was awash in bombs...and there were some non-military people we were fighting in the first round, but now the people we are dealing with .. only interested in terror and creating terror and mayhem. There are no rules of war, there is no sense of morality or restraint in terms of who's a viable target on their part.’

It is clear that Iraq is not a war. It is a campaign against Al Qaeda in Anbar province, against Baathist fascists in the north and in Baghdad, and against foreign Jihadists aiding both groups coming in from Syria and Iran. Car bombs and the odd skirmish do not denote a war. They delineate a guerilla campaign and anti-modern savagery. To leave Iraq now, is to hand fascist Islam a victory and make the world a decidedly worse off and riskier place.

In the Boer war the British were sure of themselves, their mission, and their power, to a far greater extent than they were post World War One. We see the same with the US military occupation of Iraq. US domestic political grandstanding by the Democrats might buy the one-world; George Soros; Rosie O’Donnell crowd’s support. But as with the British political grandstanding of 1925 it does nothing to secure Western and American interests and make the world a better place. In fact it would be a colossal defeat, one on the scale of the Suez crisis of 1956 which ended in a humiliation for France and Britain and brought on the modern era of Islamic-Arab fascism.

Sources on Polls:
From JB Williams at
According to a recent USA Today/Gallup poll, 61% of Americans oppose “denying the funding needed to send any additional U.S. troops to Iraq,” and opposition is up from 58% in February. (3/23-25, 2007).

A Bloomberg poll reveals 61% of Americans believe withholding funding for the war is a bad idea, while only 28% believe it is a good idea (3/3-11, 2007).

A recent Public Opinion Strategies (POS) poll found that 56% of registered voters favor fully funding the war in Iraq, with more voters strongly favoring funding (40%) than totally opposing it (38%); (3/25-27, 2007).

POS found also that a majority of voters (54%) oppose the Democrats imposing a reduction in troops below the level military commanders requested (3/25-27, 2007).

A separate POS poll finds 57% of voters support staying in Iraq until the job is finished and “the Iraqi government can maintain control and provide security for its people.” And 59% of voters say pulling out of Iraq immediately would do more to harm America’s reputation in the world than staying until order is restored (35%); (2/5-7, 2007).

A Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll show 69% of American voters trust military commanders more than members of Congress (18%) to decide when United States troops should leave Iraq. This includes 52% of Democrats, 69% of Independents and 88% of Republicans (3/27-28, 2007).
According to a recent Pew Research survey, only 17% of Americans want an immediate withdrawal of troops (4/18-22, 2007). That same poll found a plurality of adults (45%) believe a terrorist attack against the United States is more likely if we withdraw our troops from Iraq while the “country remains unstable”

Should a date for withdrawal be set, 70% of American believe it is likely that “insurgents will increase their attacks in Iraq” starting on that day. This is supported by 85% of Republicans, 71% of Independents and 60% of Democrats. (FOX News/Opinion Dynamics, 4/17-18, 2007).

An LA Times/Bloomberg polls reveals that 50% of Americans say setting a timetable for withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq “hurts” the troops, while only 27% believe it “helps” the troops (4/5-9, 2007).