Can we quit pretending now? There is no "Iraqi" army.
While I understand the desire of our resident conservatives and their conservative brethren to "stay the course" in Iraq, I note an inherent denial of reality in many of their posted comments.
Steve Foley's latest effort includes this statement:
The way I see it, this is the Bush plan! God forbid anyone saying so... but it's right there... We’ll stand down when they stand up!
And haystack adds this dramatic flourish in his diary :
The Speaker of the House calls the Iraq war a problem that needs a solution. She doesn't see this as a war that needs to find a victor. Her colleagues see our withdrawal BEFORE Iraq can secure itself as the best means to forcing them to pick up the pace in trying to do so.
Ender, on the other hand, offers a more realistic assessment in his front-pager from November 27:
That said I am not sure whether there will be any decisive attempt to turn the deteriorating situation around via military means, or if there is no will left to do what it takes, or even if "doing what it takes" is even possible.
Iraq will drag on, and might get better, or probably get worse, but I am tired of defending our actions there. Because those are not actions of a leading superpower - but of an impotent has-been. And to give that perception is unforgiveable. I'll watch and follow and hope that things turn for the better, for the sake of our troops who are stuck fighting for the fuzzy ideals our leaders represent, without a knowledge of what victory truly is.
Does it mean that I support bringing the troops back? No. I support whatever is in the best interest of America - whatever the hell that is.
Ender isn't sure what to do, but he is not trumpeting the virtues of the "stand up/stand down" strategy, or claiming that the U.S. can't leave until Iraq is able to "secure itself" (whatever that means).
But here is the naked, ugly truth:
There is no Iraqi army to speak of. No Iraqi police presence worthy of providing even a modicum of security in most of Iraq. No Iraqi forces loyal to a central government. There are, however, plenty of armed and trained Iraqi forces loyal to various imams. Plenty of trained and armed Iraqi forces acting as death squads and imam-sponsored militias. Plenty of Iraqi forces too timid to face battle. Plenty of Iraqi forces who have been trained and armed... and are never seen again.
Don't believe me? Let's do a little reading...
Lawmakers Criticize Training And Deployment of Iraqi Forces
Report Casts Doubt on Ability to Replace U.S. Troops
By Walter Pincus
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, November 27, 2006; Page A15
Two senior members of the House Armed Services Committee and several former Defense Department officials yesterday criticized poor U.S. training and deployment of the Iraqi army and police as a major reason the Baghdad government cannot provide security to its people.
"What's really fallen down . . . has been the police," said retired Gen. Wayne A. Downing, who headed the Army's Special Operations Command and briefly served after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the Bush White House handling counterterrorism.
"We reconstituted the Iraqi police pretty much in their old image," he told NBC's Tim Russert. "They are corrupt, they are feared by the people, and we recognize this." Downing said that once a Baghdad neighborhood is cleaned up, "we turn it over to the Iraqi police, Tim, and within weeks it's right back to the way it was before."
One of Cordesman's central issues is that public statements by the Defense Department "severely distorted the true nature of Iraqi force development in ways that grossly exaggerate Iraqi readiness and capability to assume security tasks and replace U.S. forces." He also writes that "U.S. official reporting is so misleading that there is no way to determine just how serious the problem is and what resources will be required."
Cordesman says the Pentagon's Aug. 31 status report, which was sent to Congress, lists 312,400 men "trained and equipped" among the Iraqi army and national and regular police. But it adds that "no one knows how many . . . are actually still in service." At the same time, he writes, "all unclassified reporting on unit effectiveness has been canceled."
They've canceled reporting on Iraqi troop effectiveness. Why? Because previous reports were completely fabricated -- outright lies.
Still don't believe me? Read this from today's Los Angeles Times:
'Fear took over' in Baghdad raid
U.S. advisors lament Iraqi troops' conduct. America's exit strategy hangs in the balance.
By Solomon Moore, Times Staff Writer
December 4, 2006
Instead, the soldiers of the Iraqi army's 9th Mechanized Division and their American trainers had walked into a deadly ambush Friday. From upper-story apartments, insurgents stopped the soldiers' advance with grenades and shoulder-fired rockets. Others launched coordinated mortar strikes, hitting one of two nearby Iraqi field posts.
"Fear took over" among the Iraqis, Staff Sgt. Michael Baxter said.
"They refused to move. We were yelling at them to move," he said. "I grabbed one guy and shoved him into a building. I was saying, 'God get me out of this, because these guys are going to get me killed.' "
The offensive was initially billed by U.S. officials in Baghdad as an Iraqi-led success and a case study in support of the Pentagon's increasing reliance on using American troops as military advisors as a way to shift security responsibilities to Iraqi soldiers.
But interviews at their joint Rustamiya base with U.S. advisors and Iraqi soldiers involved in Friday's battle revealed a different story. The operation was hastily prepared and badly executed, they said, and plans to let the Iraqis take the lead in the battle were quickly scrapped.
"It started out that way," Baxter said. "But five minutes into it, we had to take over."
There is much more in this article. Please take a moment and read the entire piece. The Iraqi troops of the 9th Mechanized Division, touted by the Pentagon as "Iraq's best hope for an eventual U.S. troop withdrawal," shot wildly (including tank blasts at random buildings) and ran when faced with attack.
Nevermind the fact that sectarian rifts lead to them to refuse to serve in certain areas of the country, and the desertion rate is astronomical:
The U.S. military is ramping up its training program to add 30,000 Iraqi troops by mid-2007 to make up for soldiers who have abandoned their posts or died. The new recruits are also intended to supplement the small number of Iraqi troops willing to travel away from their home bases despite dangerous conditions or the possibility of being ordered to fight against members of their own sect.
Most soldiers in the 9th division, for example, are Shiites, and U.S. and Iraqi officers said they doubted the troops would obey if ordered to fight in Shiite neighborhoods of Baghdad such as Sadr City.
"In August, when we started Operation Together Forward to secure Baghdad, we called on a bunch of units to assist," said U.S. Army Col. Douglass S. Heckman, the commander for the 9th Division Military Transition Team. "This division was the only one that moved into the operation. The others balked."
But Friday's battle suggested that even Iraq's best trained and equipped division is far from having the ability to operate independently. Heckman said attrition and liberal leave policies meant that only 68% of the 9th division is even on duty at any given time.
If you read my previous diary highlighting a (very) long piece from the most recent issue of the Boston Review by Nir Rosen, you know that there is little or no fealty to any concept of a central government in Iraq. As Rosen, who has traveled extensively across Iraq -- well outside of the Green Zone -- attests, the country has been at a full-scale civil war for some time, the administration's phony battle over nomenclature notwithstanding.
So this is what we have to show for the nearly 3,000 American lives and hundreds of billions of dollars we've funneled down this rathole to date:
- For all intents and purposes a non-existent Iraqi fighting force (at least one that is on our side of this mess),
- a fully-funded, well-armed group of militias and police death squads determined to "ethnically-cleanse" large swaths of the country,
- Iraqi forces that can neither be relied upon, nor trusted, by their American counterparts.
And last week, Bush is touting a "ramping up" of our training efforts? What the hell have we been doing the last two-plus years? And why should we expect the results to be any different given the fact that there is no central government?
As for the dire predictions and doomsday scenarios presented by both Steve Foley and haystack, I will simply add that their displayed lack of knowledge of the various Islamic sects at work in Iraq betrays their dire warnings. haystack carried on about "caliphate," but the truth is that Shia and Sunni are deadly enemies and the establishment of any such caliphate will occur over the dead bodies of thousands and thousands of well-funded Shia and Sunni. As I asked haystack, don't you remember the millions of dollars we spent arming the Sunni Saddam Hussein in his long and incredibly deadly war with Shia Iran?
To claim, as Steve and haystack do, that there is a monolithic Islamic identity ready to take over all of the Middle East is to ignore the realities -- cultural, political and historical -- of the long battles between Muslim sects. Not to mention that Shia are even fighting Shia and Sunni are fighting Sunni for control in Iraq (read my previous diary for details).
There is no upside any longer for our continued presence in Iraq. The civil war there is ongoing and we are viewed as the enemy by both sides (save for the Kurds who want their own state anyway, much to the dismay of the Turks). It's time to get out and let the civil war play its course.
There is no Iraqi army. There is no "stand up/stand down." There is no stable government, nor will there be as long as we are present.
So let's get out. I fail to see how anyone can claim with a straight face that "supporting the troops" is entailed in our policy of placing our forces in the middle of a civil war, an untenable and truly "no-win" situation.