Apparently for no reason at all, or at least no reason that has anything to do with what used to be euphemistically referred to as a national interest. One of the most astonishing articles to appear recently was featured in The WashPost’s outlook section today, Thomas E. Ricks’ “The War in Iraq isn’t over. The main events may not even have happened yet.” Link http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/02/13/AR2009021301648.html?hpid=opinionsbox1 . Ricks is a professional cheerleader for Generals Petraeus and Odierno, whom he appears to regard as reincarnations of Napoleon and Hannibal all rolled together with a little Ulysses S. Grant. He also is the special military correspondent for the WashPost…need I say more?
The article in question tells us that the Generals expect the US to be in Iraq with a substantial force through 2014 or 2015, the election of Obama and his pledge to withdraw in 18 months notwithstanding. It also ignores the Iraqi demands that we should leave. When I saw Ricks name on the byline I didn’t even want to read the piece, but forced myself to do so. I fully expected a bullshit argument about how the US had to stay in Iraq to oppose terrorism or counter Iran, but was somewhat disappointed. In the course of 3,000 or so words Ricks did not provide a single reason why the United States should remain in Iraq apart from a comment that leaving Iraq would let “the genocidal chips fall where they may.” So the United States is in Iraq to stop genocide. If that is so, we should probably send troops to the Sudan, Sri Lanka, and the Congo just for starters. What we are really seeing is that the generals increasingly have their own agenda and it ain’t bringing the troops home. They provide good access and notable comments to a lot of enablers in the media like Ricks who like a robust story full of blood and guts and want to make sure the good old global war on terror goes on and on. It might be simplistic to ask “If Usama bin Laden is the enemy and he is located in Pakistan why have we been fighting wars for seven years in Iraq and Afghanistan?” Sometimes the simple questions are the only ones worth asking.