Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Hate War - Always - we must - part 8

(MG) Melanie, posting at Just a Bump in the Beltway, brings this article by Harold Meyerson to our attention.

The Reality-based Community

Dying for an Iraq That Isn't

By Harold Meyerson
Wednesday, May 30, 2007; A13

Of all the absurdities attending our unending war in Iraq, the greatest is this: We are fighting to defend that which is not there.

We are fighting for a national government that is not national but sectarian, and has shown no capacity to govern. We are training Iraq's security forces to combat sectarian violence though those forces are thoroughly sectarian and have themselves engaged in large-scale sectarian violence. We are fighting for a nonsectarian, pluralistic Iraq, though whatever nonsectarian and pluralistic institutions existed before our invasion have long since been blasted out of existence. In the December 2005 parliamentary elections, the one nonsectarian party, which ran both Shiite and Sunni candidates, won just 8 percent of the vote.

Every day, George W. Bush asks young Americans to die in defense of an Iraq that has ceased to exist (if it ever did) in the hearts and minds of Iraqis. What Iraqis believe in are sectarian or tribal Iraqs -- a Shiite Iraq, a Sunni Iraq, an autonomous Kurdish Iraqi state, an Iraq where Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani or Moqtada al-Sadr or some other chieftain holds sway.

These are the Iraqs for which Iraqis are willing to kill and die.

Whatever their merits and their shortcomings, they are at least rooted in reality. These Iraqs have adherents and territory. The Iraq for which Bush compels Americans to fight has neither.

One of the mysteries of the current discussion of how best to get out of Iraq is that so many otherwise clear-eyed critics of administration policy say we should withdraw our combat troops but leave units behind to train Iraqi forces. As rational policy, it's vastly preferable to leaving combat forces there as well, but it leaves unanswered the question of which Iraqi forces, exactly, we should train. Those of the current Shiite-dominated Nouri al-Maliki government, which has employed Shiite forces to terrorize Sunni areas? What exactly would we train these forces to do? Be more tolerant of the Sunnis? Would that we could, and would that we could train Sunnis to be more tolerant of the Shiites, but these are matters not subject to training.

When Gen. David Petraeus testifies to Congress in September, he should be asked how many nonsectarian units the Iraqis are fielding, in actions that effectively build a nonsectarian Iraq. If the answer is zero, Congress could declare that it is U.S. policy to bolster Shiite Islam -- or, alternatively, Sunni Islam -- with the force of our arms. Or maybe, just maybe, it could begin mandating the withdrawal of American forces.

This is facing reality. Iraq's future is, and always was, in the hands of the Iraqis. It is blinkered American exceptionalism in the service of a right wing myth of American superiority which limits Bush's (and the press's) ability to see reality plain.

The myth of American exceptionalism feeds hearts and souls of wings both right and left, plus a good portion of the center, too. It's a foundation myth, harkening back to John Winthrop's preaching that America should be like a beacon on a hill, a light shining forth unto the nations.

(MG) The myth is pernicious. The myth is insidious. The epic battle for the American soul is contested on both the left and the right -- and on both sides there are those who believe that America should be an example and those who believe America should act as an implement to render change in the world.

(MG) The first strikers, those who view American military might as the way to truth and justice clearly "win" the propaganda battles required to hype the GAP (Great American Public) into war-gasmic fever pitch.

(MG) But what good is military might when you have no moral ground to stand on?

(MG) And what kind of an example are we to the nations?

(MG) Well when you ask such questions of a Muslim immigrant, you get an answer. "This is a free country. If you do good here, nobody bothers you. If you call the police, they come. You don't have to pay bribes like in my [former] country."

(MG) We take for granted a system that has been corrupted, and appears to be crumbling before our eyes. But that's an infrastructure issue. We the people need to get out and fix it, from the bottom up. The true power ultimately resides at the base. Like building a new house. The first place you have to muck it up is the hole into which you intend to pour the foundation.