Tuesday, April 08, 2008

On the Question of Winning

I am watching the testimony of General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker this morning. It appears another in a long series of inquiries about the involvement and the progress and the status of United States involvement and occupation in Iraq that will provide no information that will clear up the ongoing question and definition of the stated goal of "winning".

I have yet to hear any of the Senators in the room clearly ask or demand exactly what "winning" means. I do not expect to get a clear answer to that question during this hearing or from any person associated with the current administration. WHY?

I heard Ambassador Crocker mention the "important interests" of the United States without, of course, explaining exactly what that means. I heard both General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker talk about the necessity of defeating al-Qaeda "of Iraq" (as though this was only a branch office of al-Qaeda "international"), and other "criminal" elements on the ground in Iraq. For about three years we "fought" the rebel Sunni militia fighters until we started making cash payments to these "enemies" to stop trying to kill American troops and their fellow Iraqi citizens who are Shite. Do we need to make these cash payments forever?

The current Government of Iraq is dominated by the Shites and the recent uprisings in and around Baghdad have pitted Shite militias against Iraqi government forces and have caused US troops to engage this "enemy" as well. The US alleges that all the Shite militia groups are being trained and armed by Iran (the probable next site for US occupation), our newest mortal enemy (with NO ties to al-Qaeda). The Sunnis don't mind any escalation of fighting between Shite factions. The Kurds are staying out of the way in the north. They have no great love for the Shites or the Sunnis. They desire their own Kurdish nation and may eventually get it.

Again and again, I ask the only important question. WHAT DOES WINNING MEAN? Just answer the question General Petraesus! Just answer the question Secretary Gates! Just answer the question President Bush! The United States troops that have been killed or wounded during this five plus years of occupation and "war" certainly deserve the answer to this question! What is the truth? What are these "important interests" that Ambassador Crocker and others keep mentioning? How is it possible for the most powerful military in the history of the world to be unable to "win"? We the people need a better explanation. Simply talking points about purported progress or surges or training goals for the Iraqi army and police just doesn't satisfy any longer.

Tell the truth! Can the United States actually stop violence between opposing factions in a foreign country and a foreign culture by occupying that country and fighting both sides of Iraq's internal conflict? If we have proof that Iran is providing our "enemy" in Iraq with training and weapons that are being used to kill American troops, why don't we attack and destroy Iran? They are either an active enemy or they aren't. Is the only way to "win" to KILL EVERYONE? Could we claim that we have "won" if suddenly all the Iraqi citizens from all sides told us they were going to stop fighting and killing each other and reconcile all their political and religious disputes that have divided them for centuries? Does "winning" mean that everyone must "like" us and promise to follow the United States vision of a "free" and "sovereign " nation?

We the people deserve to know the answer! Are we to completely cripple our National Treasury in these "wars" in Iraq and Afghanistan? The "war on terror" will certainly not end no matter what happens in Iraq. Who will be next? Iran? Pakistan? Syria? I suspect that those behind (in the back room) don't really care as long as there is a continuing stream of defense contracts and construction contracts and oil rights. The money always determines the course of foreign policy and intervention. It's never about democracy or the oppressed peoples or the deaths of brave United States troops (and the suffering of their families). If it was, our Government would take a stand and end this madness!