Lawyers, Guns and Money offers this post on a panel discussion on the future of the Iraq War. Its panelists, including Juan Cole, Steven Biddle, John Meirsheimer, and James Wirtz of the Naval War College, offered the most grim of assessments for the future of Iraq. Civil war. Ethnic cleansing. Partial withdraws.
When the photos of that American, ahem, "embassy" in Baghdad appeared online for a day - which I assume was the work of a concerned employee of the design firm, and I wonder why nobody's tried to ferret that person out - the total reality of this permanent war hit me. We are never leaving.
We. Are. Never. Leaving.
It's that clear. This is meant to be forever. What else can a behemoth like that complex - the size of Vatican City - deliver to Iraqis who have no running water, only one hour of electricity, no infrastructure. A pleasure palace? This disastrous war will haunt the United States for the entirety of this century. It may even be the thing that destroys it, the way that Afghanistan destroyed the Soviet Union. More pessimism, I'm afraid.
Here's the problem. We have no political opposition. The Democrats are the Waylon Smithers Party, beholden to the whims and moods of one C. Montgomery Burns. We want Smithers to turn on Mr. Burns? Fat chance.
We can tell ourselves that the Dems would start to show some courage once they hold all three branches of government, and 60 seats in the Senate. But what are we basing that on? They will still be fearful of the GOP establishment, the punditry, the mass media echo chamber - all of which are one and the same. They won't end this war in 2009 for the same reason they won't end this war today. Fear and cowardice. The big bullies will pick on me after school! Waaah!!
And has anyone noticed that the army is at the breaking point? By this time next year, it won't be able to sustain the conflict without a military draft. And Cheney is going to start another war with Iran?
Who do you think will be the one to sign the papers reinstating the draft?
Come on. You know who it will be. You know that person will be swayed by weeks and months of hype and bullying, that conscription would "show leadership" and "strength" and that if said President doesn't back down, "victory" and "respect" are soon to follow. We'll only be there for a little while longer. Just a little longer. Just a little longer.
Finally, a little leeway towards the Dems. They read the papers and polls, and hear that Americans are staunchly opposed to this war. But when they look out the windows and gaze upon the streets, what do they see? Nothing. No one.
What was the key difference between Iraq and Vietnam? Millions of Americans, in the streets, shouting until their lungs gave out. Where are they? Where are the college kids? Surely they know they'll be the ones to die...die for oil, profit, and cowardice. Where is everyone?
This is what happens when you no longer participate in your democracy, kids. You can't just check out and assume the machine will fix itself. Because if you do, you'll discover one day that the fix is on you. And you won't be able to escape the way your parents did a generation ago. You can't flee to Canada. Your daddy isn't rich. There are no Champagne Units in the Guard for you. The Guard is in Iraq, getting blown to bits. As long as you don't work and struggle and fight to end this mass slaughter, you too will become one of its victims.
Welcome, my son. Welcome to the machine.