Monday, May 21, 2007

Give up the NeoCon Dream

The Pentagon has plans to invade Canada. It has plans to evacuate the staff and Marine guards at the US Embassy to the Vatican if the Pope decides to get unruly. It has plans to land forces in Cuba once Castro kicks the bucket. It has plans for many things that are beyond the laughable and absurd. These plans will never be implemented but somewhere, someone took the time to draw up a basic plan for most contingencies.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with this. I want my national security apparatus to have an active scenario generation capacity both for threat assessment and to give the smart majors and lt. colonels at the Army War College interesting things to write about in their thesis or dissertations. I get worried when there is not a plan or at least a skeleton of a plan put together for a very plausible scenario as that illustrates blindness and deliberate refusal of acknowledging the plausibility of a particular course of action.

NPR is reporting that the US military has NO PLAN or planning process in place for a full and complete withdrawal of US military forces from Iraq. Instead the largest drawdown of US ground forces from Iraq envisions leaving a 40,000 to 50,000 man garrison in several large bases.

carefully worded public statement this month from Gen. Peter Pace, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Testifying before the Senate, he was asked if the Pentagon has made any contingency plans to withdraw from Iraq.

"We have published no orders directing the planning for the overall withdrawal of forces," Pace replied. "We do have ongoing replacements of forces, and we do change the size of the force over time so that that system is available to either plus-up or draw down, but we have published no orders saying come up with a complete plan for total drawdown."....

A series of military installations could be maintained around Iraq, with a total of total of 30,000 to 40,000 U.S. troops, for a long period of time — maybe a few decades. There are currently about 160,000 U.S. troops in Iraq.

The bases would be located in various strategic locations, ones that served by air landing strips, for instance. The bases would be sealed and U.S. forces wouldn't be on patrols as they are now.

Any political arrangement that is not a US supported authoritarian dictatorship will mean that internal Iraqi political support for long term US bases with a division or more of ground troops and a couple of wings of fighter bombers will be nearly nil. This means US logistics routes will be questionable and under attack whenever a political party needs to demonstrate its toughness and indepdence. This means US bases and flightlines will be mortarted and rocketed on a regular basis. This means more of the same.

More of the same has not worked for us. As Kevin Drum noted earlier this week Iraq has been a fundraising and recruiting boon for Al-Qaeda as the US invasion, occupation and humiliation of a major Arab state reinforces the meta-narrative that Al-Qaeda has been trying to sell for the past fifteen years. The occupation of Iraq inflames the general Arab population and reinforces its sense of powerlessness that is bolstered by US support for other authoritarian regimes in the region. A multi-decade long occupation of Iraq as that is what stationing 40,000 US troops in three or four major airbases will be seen as an occupation and not a territorial integrity assistance mission, does not help the US become safer.

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