Monday, June 6, 2011

5 more dead US soldiers in iraq -- are we winning yet?

just when you thought we were winning -- or perhaps more to the point, just when you stopped thinking about it at all -- the US military adventure force in iraq suffers another episode of multiple casualties. suddenly, our complacency is jolted, if only for about 30 seconds!
A rocket attack that killed five American soldiers in eastern Baghdad Monday inflicted the single worst death toll on US troops in Iraq in more than two years and renewed discussion of plans for the withdrawal of the remainder of US forces by year’s end.With some 47,000 US troops slated to leave the country by then, the attack could provide a new impetus for the Pentagon to push for an extension of the US military presence in the country.
US military officials have made it clear that while security on the ground in Iraq has improved in recent years, “there is still much work to be done and still plenty of extremists aided by states and organizations who are bent on pulling Iraq back into violence,” the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, said during a visit to Iraq in April.
for those of you who tuned iraq out in 2008, the "surge" had finally allowed the shiites to consolidate their hold over baghdad, and brought a seeming end to "active hostilities" that killed a lot of US military persons. the "mission accomplished" banner seemed finally to be vindicated by our brave fighting forces under crackerjack general david petraeus.

while the US retreated to its "enduring" -- and not permanent -- bases, iraq has teetered on the brink of more outright sectarian violence, going for months after elections without an elected government. there is no security in the country, and the level of services like electricity and clean water are still seriously lacking. the government recently announced, to put the icing on the cake, that iraq would be years behind initial goals for oil production.

in short, the situation there is seriously fucked up.

add to that this most recent incident. the particulars hardly matter, for in this case its enough to know that whatever lofty aspirations led the US to invade and destroy the once-prosperous nation of iraq, it has descended into a bloody wreck for which there is little hope of recovery any time soon.

in this context, we are looking at the agreement brokered between the US and iraq that mandates the last US combat troops must vacate their enduring bases by the end of the year. given the elasticity of the situation, it should be clear that washington is in no hurry to go anywhere. especially the enthusiasm in some of the DC establishment for war with iraq's neighbor and close friend, iran.

we were able to "shock and awe" the iraqi regime of saddam into submission, but the US is in a much different place -- militarily, economically -- in 2011 than it was in 2003. the neocons no doubt want their flank protected in the event of a regional war that an attack on iran would precipitate. after all, the US is on pretty thin ice without a shia uprising in the oil heartlands of the planet.

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