“Don’t let the quiet fool you,” a senior defense official says. “There’s still a huge chasm between how the White House views Iraq and how we [in the Pentagon] view Iraq. The White House would like to have you believe the ‘surge’ has worked, that we somehow defeated the insurgency. That’s just ludicrous. There’s increasing quiet in Iraq, but that’s happened because of our shift in strategy – the ‘surge’ had nothing to do with it.”
Can you imagine that? But wait – it gets worse. It turns out that the State Department and the White House could have stopped the insurgency in its tracks in 2003, and they did not.
In part, the roots of the disagreement between the Pentagon and White House over what is really happening in Iraq is historical. Senior military officers contend that the seeming fall-off in in-country violence not only has nothing to do with the increase in US force levels, but that the dampening of the insurgency that took hold last summer could have and would have taken place much earlier, within months of America’s April 2003 occupation of Baghdad.
Moreover, these officers contend, the insurgency might not have put down roots in the country after the fall of Baghdad if it had not been for the White House and State Department – which undermined military efforts to strike deals with a number of Iraq’s most disaffected tribal leaders. These officers point out that the first contact between high-level Pentagon officials and the nascent insurgency took place in Amman, Jordan, in August of 2003 – but senior Bush administration officials killed the talks.
Why in the world would the Bush administration officials kill peace talks between tribal leaders and the Pentagon? Well, because the insurgents were being encouraged by the Evil Whose Name Must Not Be Spoken: Wahhabis from Saudi Arabia. Now, let’s see. Who ELSE is a Wahhabi from Saudi Arabia? (Hint: Attacked us on September The Eleventh, Two Thousand and One.)
At the center of these early talks was a group of Iraqis led by Sheikh Talal al-Gaood, a Sunni businessman with close ties to Anbar’s tribal leaders. Gaood, who died of a heart ailment in March of 2006, was a passionate Iraqi patriot who feared growing al-Qaeda influence in his country. Speaking over coffee from his office in Amman in 2005, Gaood was enraged by the “endless mistakes” of the US leadership. “You [Americans] face a Wahhabi threat that you cannot even begin to fathom,” he said at the time, and he derided White House “propaganda” about the role of Syria in fueling the insurgency.
Gaood, looking every bit the former Ba’athist – complete with suspenders and Saddam Hussein-like mustache was particularly critical of what he called “the so-called counter-insurgency experts among Washington policymakers who think they know Iraq but don’t.” As he argued: “The guys who come through here, very educated, come in their brown robes and say they are going to Iraq to kill the Americans. They are not Syrians. They are Wahhabis. They are from Saudi Arabia. But if you talk to American officials, it is like they don’t exist.”
Let me be very clear that I never supported this invasion, and took to the streets in protest in 2003. I thought it was illegal and unconstitutional, not to mention morally insupportable. But at least if we were going to do something so wrong and brutal, we could have done it with the least amount of damage to Iraq, the Iraqi people, and our military. Instead, like the King Midas of crap, Teh Deciderer’s touch turned the invasion into an occupation that has set the Middle East aflame and has turned our country into a nation of murdering, torturing cowards.
Heckuva job, Bushie.