Monday, June 18, 2007

OK, You've Been Trying To Kill Us for The Last Four Years, But If You Sign This Paper We'll Let That Go

Boy, we know just how the president feels. We've had those D'oh moments too. You know that, Oh jeez, why didn't I think of that before time, like when Bill Gates beat us to developing an operating system for computers, or Ben and Jerry's beat us to the Coconut Cream Pie Lowfat flavor. Hey, we didn't say they were all good ideas.

Anyway, it seems the president has finally figured out how to solve the troop shortage: Tell the Sunnis they're on our side now. Brilliant! A U.S. program to combat al-Qaida in Iraq by arming Sunni Muslims undercuts the Iraqi government and years of U.S. policy, and is a tacit acknowledgment that the country's violence is really a civil war, some U.S. military officials in Washington and foreign policy experts say. "Well sure, every policy will have some downsides," said a White House Spokesperson. "But you're the ones who wanted us to do something different."

The program, which Bush administration officials have hailed as a sign of progress in Iraq, has sparked heated debate among military and foreign policy analysts. "Look, these are the very same guys who tell you we're winning when the violence goes up because the insurgents are desperate, and we're winning when the violence goes down, because it's going down," said a state department official who asked not to be identified. "They have about as much a chance of coming up with a viable policy as I do of becoming Angelina Jolie's boy toy."

By giving weapons and training to Sunnis in Anbar and Baghdad who've been previously associated with Sunni insurgent groups, the program endorses unofficial armed groups over official Iraqi forces as guarantors of Iraqi security, military officers who oppose the program say. "Oh yeah, like Maliki's government was ever going to work in the first place," said the White House aide. "We can't handle natural disasters in this country, you think we know how to handle a man made one 6000 miles away?"

At the Pentagon, at least six officers who served in Iraq shook their heads when asked about the idea of arming the Sunnis. Three other officers banged their heads into walls, and one colonel threw himself down a flight of stairs.

"It is the U.S. basically acknowledging that Iraq is in a civil war," said Vali Nasr, an expert on Shiism at the Council on Foreign Relations, a nonpartisan foreign policy organization. "And that the (Iraqi) government is irrelevant."

"The president does not acknowledge that he is in a position to acknowledge that acknowledgment," said White House Press Secretary Tony Snowjob. "I can't make it any more clear than that."

In Baghdad, the mostly Shiite government already is saying it cannot be expected to disarm militias if Sunni groups are receiving arms from the Americans. "What? They don't trust us?
asked Snowjob.

Maliki told Newsweek that U.S. forces are making "mistakes by arming tribes sometimes." He said coalition forces don't know the backgrounds of tribes they're backing. Askari, his aide, said Maliki has given orders to Iraqi Security Forces to treat the U.S.-armed groups as "outlaws."

"Big deal," said Snowjob. "We don't know who we're fighting half the time now."

"There is risk, but we are at a point in this endeavor where we think, and the government of Iraq generally thinks, that some risk must be taken. You cannot just continue to do what we were doing, in some areas, and expect to have different results," said Lieutenant General Graeme Lamb, deputy commander for Multi-National Force-Iraq. When asked to elaborate, General Lamb said, "Well, when I say risk, I mean we haven't got a freaking chance, but if this doesn't work, plan B is to try and get the Sunnis hooked on baseball."

Lieutenant General Raymond Odierno, the No. 2 commander in Iraq, acknowledged that the government was worried about the new plan. "Sure they are concerned," he said. "They want to make sure that we are not forming a Sunni militia that will fight the government. And I say to them, of course they're not going to fight the government. They're going to turn the guns on us."

Odierno said that the Sunnis working with U.S. forces are checked closely and are asked to sign a statement that they will not fight U.S. forces or the government. "Sign a piece of paper," said a Maliki aide. "Can the Americans be that dumb?" another aide added, "Have you met their president?"

Abu Bilal, a leader of an Islamic Army cell working with the U.S. military there, said he is committed to expelling the "occupation." "We fight the occupation to liberate our lands," he said.
"In retrospect, it probably would have been better to have asked him who he thought the 'occupiers' were, us or al Qaida, before we gave him the guns," said Odierno.

1 comment:

James said...

I know this might require a step out of character - or a solid round of pretending it didn't happen - but I have tagged you.