Now don't get me wrong. If The Surge results in lower casualties for both Americans and Iraqis and hastens our withdrawal from that forlorn land, then I want it to succeed despite my complete misgivings about the decision to invade Iraq in the first place. One is heartened by the low casualty rate of late, including only 19 American troop deaths in May. One is disheartened when one considers mazes within mazes that is Iraq today, twisted loyalties, divided loyalties, questionable alliances, alliances come and gone, the virtual certainty that what appears to be true isn't, and the unalterable fact that only one casualty in Iraq is one too many in a war that never should have happened in the first place.
This is the cynicism we all share in the sixth year of this dreadful, endless war with one Presidential candidate stating that we will be in Iraq for a hundred years or more. Moreover, after seven years of war that defines the Bush administration Americans are growing weary of abject failure, and we look askance at any good news coming out of either Afghanistan or Iraq. We are also dubious of any plan orchestrated by the Bush/Cheney regime. Taking all this into account, it is quite difficult to be optimistic about Iraq.
Since it began, the war in Iraq has had many fits and starts, causing hope only to have hope dashed by reality. In short order, American troops captured Baghdad on April 9, 2003. Surely, with the capital captured, we have won, right? Good, let's bring our troops home. That did not happen. On May 1, 2003, our Commander-in-Chief declared "Mission Accomplished" and that major combat operations had ended. Okay, fine, now our people can come home. That did not happen, either. Bush's declaration implied that Iraqi armed forces had surrendered.
In truth, not one Iraqi division has ever surrendered. They went home with their weapons and all the ammunition they could carry and became resistance fighters, thus following the orders of Saddam Hussein who knew from the beginning he could not defeat the U.S. using conventional means. On Dec. 14, 2003, Saddam was captured. Earlier, in July, his sons, Uday and Qusay, were killed in a U.S. raid in Mosul. The head of the serpent has been vanquished. The resistance has lost its capital, its leader, and its leader's heirs. Their lack of will to continue the fight must be surely lacking. Now our troops can come home soonest.
That did not happen. 2004 was one of the bloodiest years in Iraq accompanied by the disclosure of prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib prison that was abhorred by astonished Americans at home. We now leap over hundreds of event-filled and deadly days to May 2006 where, finally, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki presides over a permanent constitutional government. Iraq now has its own sovereignty back for the first time since the fall of Saddam. Now our troops can come home.
Unfortunately, by this point, even the most optimistic among us know that would not happen. Americans were becoming realists, savaged by a war they did not want that was entered into by a ruthless President who ignored intelligence and obeyed only his neocon masters, and Americans knew our troops were not coming home anytime soon. In capsule form, albeit mired in simplicity, this provides a landscape of frustration for many Americans in this endless war.
So it is then, in the summer of 2008 with a historic election upcoming, Americans view with suspicion the lull in violence, noting that the amount of violence in Iraq during this lull would be a major disaster in just about any other nation in the world, the notable exception being Afghanistan, which is amidst a forgotten war. To keep the article within parameters, I am biting my tongue with enormous effort where Afghanistan is concerned.
At the top of the list of groups who view that a temporary lull in devastation and killing for political advantage is al Qa'ida. Not al Qa'ida of Mesopotamia, a product of the Bush invasion of Iraq, but the real al Qa'ida, hosted by Osama bin Laden along with his cohort, Ayman al-Zawahri, the producers of 9/11, who are ensconced in the secure mountains and valleys of western Pakistan, our ally. Remember them? To properly understand the war in Iraq, one must view it from the standpoint of bin Laden. In his mind, this war is an epochal battle between good and evil, the courageous Islamic mujahidin versus the infidel, the most reviled regime in the world, the Great Satan, otherwise known as the United States. In this respect accompanied by a total lack of empathy for the secular Iraqi people, who are guilty as charged of apostasy, this war must go on and on until the U.S. economy and American psyche is bankrupt. Because of the abysmal strategy of the Bush administration to divert military resources from Afghanistan before capturing bin Laden, the al Qai'da leadership, and the leaders of the Taliban to launch an illegal and immoral invasion of Iraq, bin Laden has two excellent chances to accomplish this extraordinary feat; the war in Iraq, of course, but also the failed war in Afghanistan, where, in bin Laden's terms, things could not be better. Both al Qa'ida and the Taliban have their own surge going there. Also, it should be noted that eight years of war in Afghanistan caused the Soviet Union to withdraw in defeat and contributed mightily to that regime's fall in the early 1990's. That should be of some concern to Americans. The fighting there is in its seventh year.
Moreover, bin Laden and his deputy, al Zawahri, are politically astute. Al Qa'ida never does anything, bin Laden and al Zawahri never say anything before taking into account the political consequences of their actions. Sadly, 9/11 and its aftermath is a resounding affirmation of this truth.
However, bin Laden's dream of economically and psychologically bankrupting America is dependent on the American elections. In bin Laden's view Barack Obama is a question mark. He has no clue as to what Obama will do. Indeed, before the war in Iraq began, Senator Obama argued against the invasion. On the other hand, McCain is a sure thing. Senator McCain, in his own words, has vowed to continue Bush's policies regarding Iraq, even expanding on them and possibly ordering a military strike on Iran, an event that would cause extreme ecstasy around al Qa'ida campfires. There is another plus involving McCain. To hear him tell it, The Surge was his idea in the first place. His remarks during 2003 and 2004 substantiate this. If The Surge is a resounding failure during the summer and fall of '08, McCain has not a prayer for victory on Nov. 4. If it appears to be a success, he has a chance.
It would not be the first time bin Laden interfered in Western elections. During the early morning hours of 3/11, 2004, in Spain, Jose-Maria Aznar's pro-war Popular Party (PP), a supporter of U.S. interests in Iraq who had dispatched a significant number of Spanish troops to Iraq, was a virtual winner in the elections to be held three days later. During the morning of Madrid rush hour, several bombs went off between 7:37 and 7:39, killing 191 Spanish commuters and injuring 1755. The attack was linked to al Qa'ida. Three days later elections were held on schedule with their shocking results. Aznar lost, and the Socialist candidate (PSOE), Jose Luis Rodriques, who had promised to withdraw Spanish troops from Iraq, won in a surprising fashion that shocked Washington to its core. We just lost a valuable ally in a desperate war.
As dawn broke across the United States on Oct. 29, 2004, four days before the Presidential elections, Sen. John Kerry had a slim lead over President Bush in most polls. This was a bit too iffy for the political strategist, Osama bin Laden, who urgently wanted the al Qa'ida poster boy, George W. Bush, to win the election. Subsequently, he released a video that depicted a scathing review of Bush actions and denounced his decisions since 9/11 while announcing his responsibility for the well-calculated, insidious attack on the U.S. that will live in American minds forever. Bin Laden's message on the 29th was ominous and prescient.
He spoke of his desire to bankrupt the U.S., saying:
[It is] easy for us to provoke and bait this administration. All that we have to do is to send two mujahidin to the furthest point east to raise a piece of cloth on which is written al-Qaida, in order to make the generals race there and cause America to suffer human, economic, and political losses ... This is in addition to our having experience in using guerrilla warfare and the war of attrition to fight tyrannical superpowers, as we, alongside the mujahidin, bled Russia for 10 years, until it went bankrupt and was forced to withdraw in defeat.
Bin Laden further accused Bush of misleading the American people during the following three years - "Despite entering the fourth year after September 11, Bush is still deceiving you and hiding the truth from you and therefore the reasons are still there to repeat what happened."
After this revealing video, Bush ostensibly embraced Kerry as a fellow patriot, then stated that if bin Laden is denouncing him, then he, Bush, must be doing something right. On Nov. 3, 2004, George W. Bush was re-elected to the Presidency of the United States.