A piece in the December 27, 2007 Cleveland
Plain Dealer, "Vote on fate of Kirkuk postponed," by Tina Susman
and Asso Ahmed of the L.A. Times, reported that
"Kurdish lawmakers agreed Wednesday to a six-month delay in a referendum
on whether the oil-rich city of Kirkuk should join the semi-autonomous region
of Kurdistan or remain under Iraqi central government control
"Also Wednesday, the head of the Iraqi parliament's constitutional review
committee, Humam Hamoudi, said he would request a three-month delay in rewriting
the national constitution. That would mark the fourth time the target date
been put off
"The delay in the constitutional revision could hinder progress on other
As the Iraqis kick the can down the road, so do the Americans. The American-funded
Sunni militia, aka the Concerned Local Citizens or the Awakening, has grown
to 72,000 volunteers in nearly 300 communities in Iraq. They have been credited
with reducing violence in some of Iraq's most violent areas. But many people,
including some Sunnis, worry that the groups could destabilize Iraq.
The concern is a valid one. With our usual charming naiveté, we seem
to think the Sunnis have become our friends. But they are merely using us to
help them get ready for the next round with the Shi'ites and, in the case of
Kirkuk, the Kurds.
In fact, kicking the can down the road, more formally a strategy of delay,
makes good sense in the face of Iraqi realities provided we do something
with the time gained. Regrettably, it appears we are doing little but sitting
on our bayonets, waiting, like Mr. McCawber, for something to turn up.
What might we do with this pause between phases of the Iraqi civil war? Obviously,
get out. Violence is not likely to diminish much further; at some point it will
almost certainly start to rise again. What better moment can we hope for than
the present to announce "Mission accomplished" and head for the door?
The Bush administration will not make a decision to withdraw no matter how
favorable the opportunity. It has adopted the ugly baby approach, planning to
hand the war off to its (probably Democratic) successor.
But what of the Democrats who control both Houses of Congress? Why do they
keep funding the war, as they just did again?
The reasons are several, and none of them are pretty. Obviously, Democrats
think they will garner more votes in November if the war is still going on with
no end in sight. Running against "Bush's war" appears more promising
than ending it.
Most of the leading Democratic Presidential candidates are ambiguous, at best,
about ending the war in Iraq if they win. Why? In part, because just as the
neocons now dominate Republican circles, so the Democratic Establishment is
in thrall to the neoliberals. Both cabals of neos favor a world-dominating American
empire, run of course by themselves. We are reminded once again that while there
may be, at least on paper, two parties, there is one Establishment. It does
not look favorably on ending the games off which it feeds.
Then there is the matter of a certain Small Middle Eastern Country which likes
the war in Iraq, and hopes for a war on Iran as well. Said SMEC speaks with
a loud voice in Democratic Party circles, the voice of campaign contributions.
Never does money speak more audibly than in an election year.
So the politicians will sit and wait while the time we have so dearly bought
in Iraq runs out. In no human activity is time more precious than in war. Frittered
away, it can never be recovered. There is good reason why Napoleon said, "I
may lost a battle but I will never lose a minute."
If we are to make good use of the time kicking the can down the road has bought
us, it falls to the senior military to do so. The moral burden of command demands
that they go public and say, "If we are going to get out of Iraq, the time
to do so is now." Some of them may get fired for it, although General Petraeus
is probably (again, for a time) untouchable. The Bush White House still will
not be moved, but squirm as they might the Democrats in Congress would almost
have to act or risk a revolt of their base, which is not very happy at the moment
in any case.
Regrettably, as we saw throughout the war in Vietnam, American generals are
more likely to step up to the trough than to the plate.