Iraq: Republican Confusion

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Sen. John Warner (R) held a press conference Thursday, Oct. 5, on Iraq, having just returned from there. The Sen. was full of contradictions reflecting the situation in Iraq and the absence of a strategy by the Bush administration and Congressional Republicans.

Sen. Warner is chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee and a key member of the Senate's Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.

He said this was his 8th trip "and it was markedly different." He said he could not travel in Iraq as before due to the levels of violence and lack of security. He called it a "Very serious situation." There is progress being made in certain areas... but, so many communities lack drinking water and proper sanitation." He described the state of Iraq by saying the "situation is drifting sidewise."

To say it is going sidewise, is a gross understatement by Sen. Warner given the 100% increase in number of violent incidents this last year over last.

He continued: "Always remember the end game. Anybody wants to talk about pullout and set timetables, we better set, the only timetable is to make certain that they are up and standing in a viable government and those oil fields will not become the treasury for the world terrrorist movement."

Here we have the limited understanding and fear factor which are paralyzing Republicans and the White House. In the above quote, Sen. Warner reveals the image that prevents them from entertaining any other options besides staying the course. The image of revenues from Iraq oil falling into the hands of terrorists. But, if one thinks about it, it is plain to see that one of our realistic options is to pull back to allow the civil war to play out.

The reason being that if, at some point in the future, terrorist sympathizers or organizations should gain, or attempt to gain, control of Iraqi oil fields, there is absolutely nothing to prevent the U.S., and no doubt a host of other coalition nations, from going back and taking those people out in a real damned hurry. They cannot control the oil from afar. To control the oil, they must either control the Iraq government which we would not permit, or be physically in control of the oil fields or distribution pipes which makes them an easy and visible target.

But, their fear is more fundamental. The great Republican fear is that the Iraqi government we helped install, will itself, share revenues with terrorist sympathizers and supporters or terrorists organizations, depending on which Sunnis or Shiites within the government control the contracts and share the revenues. There are now hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who do sympathize with a number of organizations like Hezbollah and al-Queda.

We have to remember that oil revenue from Iraq was safe from terrorists with Saddam Hussein in power. (Save for a few $25,000 reward offers to suicide bombers moving against Israel.) But, now, Republicans have unleashed a government which no matter how it is set up and structured in Iraq, is going to result in oil revenues being funneled by Iraqi recipients to terrorist organization support. There is just no getting around this fact, nor is there any acceptable solution to preventing it, other than the United States remaining an occupying force in Iraq with a gun to the Iraqi government's head to tightly control where the oil revenues go.

A reporter asked: How do we keep Iraq from becoming a quagmire?

Warner replied our commanders "know what has to be done, and they are going about doing it now. And it will take some time. We have just got to stand behind them and give those military operations the time needed to succeed." This was the mantra of the LBJ adminstration during the Viet Nam war that cost him his presidency. It was the Nixon mantra that culminated in our exit without victory.

Now take note that above Sen. Warner is saying our government, commanders, and troops are the answer to success. Then he goes on later to say: "You know, it gets down to the Iraqi people themselves, making the decision themselves that they have the sovereignty and they have got to make it work."

Now, he reverses, and says Iraqis will decide when we leave and whether or not success in Iraq is achieved. This is the ambivalence and confusion that surrounds Republicans and the White House's thinking. They have not even come to a decision as to whether our commanders are in control of the game plan or the Iraqis.

They have not decided when and if there is a cutoff date after which, we concede that the Iraqis are not up to making it work. And they have no plan for what to do if that becomes the case, other than to leave our troops there and our commanders continuing to force a military solution to what is essentially an absence of a government capable of defending itself from its own people.

So are we winning or losing? In response to a question about how we put pressure on the Iraqi government to get control, Sen. Warner discussed some of the current military campaigns. He said:

"One is the Baghdad campaign. That's the campaign which we're losing. Unfortunately, significant numbers of our men and women killed and injured. But that campaign is going forward. But, the military point out that until you come to grips with Sadr's army in one of the quadrants of Baghdad... then you'll not have a success. And Malaki seems to believe we can possibly negotiate with Sadr in such a way as to diminish his military without the use of force. Well, time will tell. And those answers will come here in a matter of weeks."

Then in a follow up question he was asked about his reference to our losing the Baghdad campaign. He denied saying that we were losing in a very long winded way. Are we winning or losing? Obviously, there is some confusion about this issue.

Asked about Sen. Biden's partition plan, Warner replied:

"In two or three months, ... if this level of violence is not under control and this government able to function, I think it is the responsibility of our government internally, to determine, is there a change in course that we should take, and I wouldn't take off the table any option at this time. ... The partition has some, at first glance, some interesting challenges to it, I'd say, and you'd better go through the whole situation. The bordering countries are not going to sit around and allow the state of Iraq to be chopped up."

At least the good Senator is beginning to entertain other options which only seem to be forthcoming from Democrats like Senator Biden. However, what really is at issue is whether or not partitioning Iraq could make it easier or more difficult to control the flow of oil revenues to terrorist organizations. An issue the good Senator would not touch upon.

He was asked, What is the message to the American people going to elections in just a few weeks. He responded:

"We're not to give up up hope, yet. Let's give it more time to work. We've made an enormous investment in that country. Beginning with over 2,700 killed and 28,000 wounded back here. And the enormous amount of money. Weve got a big investment. And we cannot let this country fall into the hands of international terrorism so that they get a ready bank for all the money. I guess you come down to the words that, if you ask me my goal, is somehow finish this situation so that government can function and that history will record that the men and women of the armed forces of our US did not die or suffer from their wounds in vain. That it was a proper commitment in the cause of freedom to protect us back here at home."

This is the most damning of Senator Warner's remarks regarding our Republican government's thinking, and it reveals a mindset that was part and parcel of the protracted conflict in Viet Nam. There is a circular logic here that leaves no exit from the war. It goes like this: We have a huge investment there, so, we must continue making ever larger investments in losses of life, limb, and financial resources to protect the losses we have already incurred. The larger the losses, the greater the need to incur more.

Later, he said it point blank: "I do not want to see that investment lost."

When asked how did Iraq get to this point, what went wrong?, he responded:

"We did not realize that they just somehow could not bring it together as quickly as we anticipated on a time table to exercise the full range of sovereignty. I suppose if we had gone back and studied the culture..."

My thought was: Duh, You think?

He continued: "Maybe somebody did it. [Studied the culture] But somehow we never got it in this body, the briefings on here's what's gonna' happen if we achieve some measure of military stability...military stability as it related to Saddam Hussein's army and forces.... But suddenly those forces were disbanded. Suddenly those forces disappeared and in their place started the insurgency and the civil war. "

Later when asked about his reference to the civil war, he said: "There's no clear definitive definition of civil war. I think It's dangerous for myself or others in positions of responsibility to suddenly, based on a trip of just 24 hours, pronounce the judgement that there is a civil war. .... I avoid the use of that term."

This, in direct contradiction to his reference to what he called "the insurgency and the civil war."

It took me quite a few hours to listen and transcribe Sen. Warner's comments above. I would normally not be so motivated. But after hearing his press conference on C-Span, I could not believe my ears. The contradictions, the reversals, the confusion, and the Viet Nam war's circular logic that cost 10's of thousands of more American lives than were necessary for an outcome that could have been achieved years earlier, demanded that I record this for readers to peruse.

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This page contains a single entry by David R. Remer published on October 6, 2006 10:41 AM.

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