Politics » Politics Feature

GADFLY: Standing Up? Standing Down?



Does this sound familiar: "As Iraqi troops stand up, U.S. troops will stand down.?" It's what we've been told for some time will be the "metric" of when American troops can withdraw from Iraq.  The real question is, does the administration really intend to effectuate this policy, and even if it does, is it even possible, and new information seems to indicate that the answer to both questions seems to be no. 

The fact is, the Iraqi troops aren't "standing up," and the best proof of that is that the Pentagon, which was fond of floating figures on how many Iraqi troops were trained, has suddenly decided it won't reveal that number anymore. You'd think that, if for no other reasons than political ones, the administration and its minions would want to keep feeding us the good news about how much progress is being made in Iraq (something they complain bitterly is under-reported by the traditional media). 

So what's their reason for not reporting the number of trained Iraqis anymore? Why, according to the Pentagon, it's because the number is CLASSIFIED.

Which, of course, begs the question, if that number is classified, why was the Pentagon regularly issuing reports stating the number of trained Iraqis? Was someone violating the law by revealing classified information when these reports were released, or were they the result of on-the-fly declassification?

And why is it the administration, has routinely sent out its flacks to tout the number of trained Iraqis, as recently as GOP head Ken Mehlman’s remarkable appearance on the Daily Show if the number is classified?  The answer is obvious: the Iraqis aren't being trained in anything either like the numbers we've been told or, even worse, in the numbers it's going to take for them to take over the laboring oar of providing security in Iraq, and the more apparent that becomes, the more the “we'll stand down when they stand up” is revealed as the sham it really is, and the more “classified” that failure becomes. 

The administration and, more importantly, its commanders on the ground, know the Iraqi army and police will likely never be capable, on their own, of restoring security in a country made insecure by our invasion and occupation. In his testimony before Congress, General Casey, our commander in Iraq, had to admit how few Iraqi battalions were battle ready, a scenario which has gotten even worse since his testimony. Administration assertions about Iraqi training and readiness have been frequently, and credibly, debunked

It's not like we don't have graphic evidence of the Iraqis' inability or unwillingness to fight, either. Who can forget the pictures of the mass refusal of recent "trainees" to serve, evidenced by their stripping off their uniforms, en masse, following their "graduation" ceremony in Fallujah?  A recent "pod" on the interactive television network Current TV  also highlights this problem, as seen from the perspective of soldiers "on the ground" who have been assigned the duty of training Iraqis. In the video, entitled "Inside Iraq: Training Iraqis,"  the film maker, an army lieutenant stationed in Iraq, depicts vignettes of the exasperating nature of his task, at one point telling the camera it's going to take, in his opinion, at least five years, and possibly ten, to adequately train the Iraqi military. 

All of this lends credence to the belief that there is, in fact, absolutely no interest by this administration in "standing down," or at least not any time soon. This war has been the greatest gravy train in history for what President Eisenhower called "the military industrial complex" (read:  Haliburton, et al). If there were any interest in bugging out of Iraq, would the government be building massive, permanent military bases in Iraq , or resisting any efforts to limit funding for such bases . And how about using the war as an excuse to conflate it with the threat of terrorism (i.e., "fighting them over there so we don't have to fight them over here"), as the House most recently, and dramatically, did in its election-driven resolution. Withdrawing from Iraq might also impede the revolving door that so many high level homeland security operatives have gone through to trade in their government positions for more lucrative jobs in private security consulting.

If you believe the administration has any intention of "standing down" in Iraq, then you'll believe it intends to abide by any of the hundreds of laws the President has signified his intention of disobeying.

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