Robert Kagan's in Pain, and I'm Here To Help
by Karen Kwiatkowski
Robert Kagan is belly-achin'. He's having "Withdrawal Pains." Or maybe he's just deeply lost in a game of toy soldiers and no longer listening to his inner Jefferson.
Actually, I think Kagan strangled his inner Jefferson years ago.
Now a senior associate with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Kagan energetically endorses "muscular Wilsonianism." More than that, he sees America as global judge, jury and executioner.
In the long, hot, neoconservative summer of 2002, he lectured the Europeans on the meanings of strength and weakness, suggesting they played Venus to our Mars. He also observed,
The United States does act as an international sheriff, self-appointed perhaps but widely welcomed nevertheless, trying to enforce some peace and justice in what Americans see as a lawless world where outlaws need to be deterred or destroyed, and often through the muzzle of a gun. Europe, by this old West analogy, is more like a saloonkeeper. Outlaws shoot sheriffs, not saloonkeepers. In fact, from the saloonkeeper's point of view, the sheriff trying to impose order by force can sometimes be more threatening than the outlaws who, at least for the time being, may just want a drink.
For Robert Kagan, we are nothing but the sheriff trying to impose order in Iraq. He admits we are self-appointed, and na´vely suggests that we are widely welcomed. The majority of Iraqis, of course, don't agree. In fact, the Brookings Institute Iraq Index lists all kinds of Iraq information, including the August 2005 British military poll that showed 82% of Iraqis were strongly opposed to the coalition — read that as American military — presence.
More to Kagan's point on law enforcement and security, less than 1% of the Iraqi's believed that coalition forces were responsible for any improvement in security. Ouch!
Apparently, American global law enforcement is performed via an illegal and unfounded invasion, the torture and imprisonment of thousands, the destruction of cities, hospitals and ancient museums. American sheriffing apparently includes dissipation of the political structures, army and state factory system. Not transformation into something new, just dissipation into nothingness. Making things right in Iraq also seems to include high walls of dirt and concrete around our own alien passages and bases, and the construction of artificial political and ethnic walls between average Iraqis. It seems, in the eyes of independent journalist Dahr Jamail and many others, to include the active pursuit of a divide and conquer strategy on the ground, one that is resented by the majority of Iraqis.
But, what the hell! Kagan isn't doing any of this, not personally anyway. But he cares, he really, really cares. That's why he wrote his latest commentary in the Washington Post.
He writes, with only a hint of panic, that "There could be no greater mistake than drawing down the U.S. force now, at a moment when there is real hope for success if the United States perseveres."
He goes on to list various numbers of American troops in Iraq over time. He gets that wrong, by the way, indicating there is a steady force of "130,000 to 150,000 troops in Iraq." There are some 158,000 of our troops in Iraq now, with 2,000 more inbound to "assist" with the elections. In Central Command, there are currently 230,000 personnel employed in support of operations in the Central Command area of responsibility, some 27 countries in the region.
Kagan also fails to define success, beyond "producing a secure Iraq capable of standing on its own feet." He does not say an "independent" Iraq. "Standing on its own feet," he says, supporting US bases and oil interests, that's the ticket!
The Kagan monthly column for the Post is a plea for the President to get with the program — the neoconservative program — and stop talking about troop reductions. Troop reductions are not going to happen, says Kagan.
And he should know, of course. He's one of the handful of people who really and truly understand why American soldiers, bureaucrats and contractors are occupying Iraq, building bases, interfering with their "sovereign" government, guarding the oil fields and allocating the oil contracts. It isn't about Mars or Venus, or democracy or stability. It isn't about terrorism, unless terrorism can help convince economically pressured American taxpayers and worried American families to stay the stupid course mapped out all those years before Dubya stumbled into the White House.
Kagan says we must not leave. He says "that's crazy talk!" But in fact, if we leave, nothing but good, or at least better, things will happen. Iraq will — at that very moment — begin the long process of recovering and rebuilding, and she will achieve her own security and stability. Iraqis have a long and successful history, by the way, of surviving invaders. After we leave, IEDs won't be necessary in Iraq's major cities, as they are set precisely to kill and maim Americans and our Iraqi lackeys, and to discourage those considering becoming our lackeys.
Kagan is playing with toy soldiers on a green felt battlefield. The rest of the country, inconveniently for the increasingly nervous Jacobins in Washington, has suddenly grown up. We see dead people, and we are tired of idiotic foreign policy allegories of sheriffs and outlaws, cowboys and Indians, Venus and Mars.
The vast majority of Americans already know we had no reason to invade and occupy Iraq, beyond neoconservative fantasies and false loyalties, establishmentarian greed, a cowardly Congress and a remarkably stupid and irresponsible President.
Robert, in your next article for the Post, how about telling us why, after a contrived invasion and an illegal and brutal occupation, it is truly in America's interest to actually stay in Iraq — and also when you'll be suiting up and deploying there yourself.
December 6, 2005
Karen Kwiatkowski, Ph.D. [send her mail], a retired USAF lieutenant colonel who spent her final four and a half years in uniform working at the Pentagon's Near East/South Asia bureau. She lives with her freedom-loving family in the Shenandoah Valley, and among other things, has written on defense issues with a libertarian perspective for militaryweek.com, hosts the call-in radio show American Forum on Saturday nights, and blogs occasionally for Huffingtonpost.com. To receive automatic announcements of new articles and upcoming guests on her American Forum radio program, click here.
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