You Forgot Iraq
If there was any upside at all to the wave of suicide bombings and assassinations that were carried out all over Iraq yesterday, it was in reminding us that Afghanistan is no longer the sole front in the war on terror. Not by default, not by any stretch of the imagination.
Iraq, and the al-Qaida offshoot that loves it, is here to stay.
Indeed, sometimes it's difficult if not outright impossible to think of Iraq in 2005 terms, to not twitch at this distant news filtering down to us and to take George W. Bush to task for his rash, ill-planned and blatantly illegal occupation of Iraq. Yesterday's violence that had claimed over 200 lives and sent hundreds more to already overburdened hospitals was a dramatic spike that made for the deadliest day in Iraq all year long. Back in 2005, such days were virtually commonplace.
But this is no longer George W. Bush's war any more than Vietnam was solely Johnson's or Nixon's war. And the more George W. Bush fades into memory and rightly assumes his place on the ash heap of history, the more it becomes the war of the incumbent commander in chief. It is not George W. Bush to whom we look for answers and solutions to the morass that is Iraq but Barack Obama.
And since the elections late last winter that eerily paralleled those of the January 31st 2005 elections, Iraq's hopes, already battered by violence, increasingly rest on the shoulders of a former spy of the CIA and Britain's MI6, Dr. Ayad Alawi, a man roundly rejected and tossed from his provisional Prime Minister post when Sunnis avoided the polls by the millions. But Alawi's coalition and narrow two seat victory in the last election still leaves his political future, and Iraq's, up in the air. The former physician and spy who'd worked in collusion with British and US intelligence to undermine Saddam Hussein got to whereever he is by triangulating and tapping into the dissatisfaction of Sunni voters who'd rejected him five years ago, Sunni voters who are even less enchanted with the disastrous reign of Nouri al Maliki than they were of the secular Shia helping to oust Saddam.
With a US President and his August 2011 deadline now in a shambles and with pundits and policy-makers now grumbling about having to extend our involvement in Iraq and with the balance of power teetering and the leadership just as uncertain, only one thing is clear: Yesterday's violence all but guarantees that the troop drawdown will be pushed back, that we'll have to violate the SOFA agreement more than we already have and in order to maintain our larger footprint in Afghanistan, we'll have to allocate more troops back in Iraq and further stretch our military to the breaking point it was already at when Bush left office.
It will result in more hardship on American families with loved ones in the Gulf and central Asia, it will result in more trillions disappearing into the various rabbit holes more commonly referred to as the pockets of war profiteers, it will further batter our reputation in the international community that had barely begun being healed with the hands of our once bright and gifted leader.
And as long as the Taliban and al-Qaida in Iraq are idiotic enough to continue slaughtering innocents and guaranteeing an American troop presence they vow to end, we will continue playing the game by their rules, leading with our chin regardless of the cost to innocents in both Iraq and our own nation.