US Senate Goes Long on Iraq

While most of the sturm and drang about yesterday’s seemingly senseless Senate resolution has focused on implications for war with Iran, a closer look at the text reveals the other agenda of our Parliamentary Putzes – the codification of a long term US military presence in Iraq.

First the text: 

(b) Sense of Senate.–It is the sense of the Senate–

  (1) that the manner in which the United States transitions and structures its military presence in Iraq will have critical long-term consequences for the future of the Persian Gulf and the Middle East, in particular with regard to the capability of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to pose a threat to the security of the region, the prospects for democracy for the people of the region, and the health of the global economy;

  (2) that it is a vital national interest of the United States to prevent the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran from turning Shi’a militia extremists in Iraq into a Hezbollah-like force that could serve its interests inside Iraq, including by overwhelming, subverting, or co-opting institutions of the legitimate Government of Iraq;

  (3) that it should be the policy of the United States to combat, contain, and roll back the violent activities and destabilizing influence inside Iraq of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran, its foreign facilitators such as Lebanese Hezbollah, and its indigenous Iraqi proxies;

  (4) to support the prudent and calibrated use of all instruments of United States national power in Iraq, including diplomatic, economic, intelligence, and military instruments, in support of the policy described in paragraph (3) with respect to the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran and its proxies;

  (5) that the United States should designate the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps as a foreign terrorist organization under section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act and place the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps on the list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists, as established under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and initiated under Executive Order 13224; and

  (6) that the Department of the Treasury should act with all possible expediency to complete the listing of those entities targeted under United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1737 and 1747 adopted unanimously on December 23, 2006 and March 24, 2007, respectively.

Not just simply a tantrum against Iran, the Senate resolution is, more importantly, a formal recognition of what many US legislators have long known would be the eventual fallback plan once the Surge inevitably failed: permanent occupation of Iraq.

Plan B: ‘Go Long’.

Following Donald Rumsfeld’s long overdue departure last November, the Pentagon released a study outlining what it believed were our three remain strategic options for Iraq: Go Big, Go Long, or Go Home

Of course, they’ve already tried Plan A: Go Big, unsustainably surging their way to higher US and Iraqi casualties with no tangible effect.  And while our Senatorial swooners sure do love a man in uniform, all the bluster they could muster about Move On’s highly charged ad could not hide the fact that the Surge Protector’s triumphal visit to the Hill had already been short circuited by an obvious US power failure on the ground in Iraq.

But if you think that the unqualified failure of the Surge means the Senate is ready to skip Plan B: Go Long and move right to Plan C: Go Home, think again.  As Winston Churchill once said, “You can always count on Americans to do the right thing – after they’ve tried everything else.” Or, as the dead cowboy might say, “Why stop shooting yourself in the foot when there is still another slug in the chamber?”

  Plan B, here we come.

Pay close attention to the first part of the first paragraph of the Senate resolution:

(1) that the manner in which the United States transitions and structures its military presence in Iraq will have critical long-term consequences for the future of the Persian Gulf and the Middle East, in particular with regard to the capability of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to pose a threat to the security of the region, the prospects for democracy for the people of the region, and the health of the global economy;

Notice the wording. The US is going to ‘transition’ its ‘military presence in Iraq’.  Nothing about ‘withdrawal’ of our military presence. Simply a ‘transition’ to a new ‘structure’ in Iraq.  And here’s the kicker: ‘that will have critical long term consequences for the future of the Persian Gulf and the Middle East’. 

Translation:  We’re not getting out of Iraq any time soon.  We’re just pulling back to those shiny new permanent bases strategically situated to protect the Iraqi oil infrastructure.

Also take a look at the fourth paragraph:

(4)to support the prudent and calibrated use of all instruments of United States national power in Iraq, including diplomatic, economic, intelligence, and military instruments, in support of the policy described in paragraph (3) with respect to the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran and its proxies;

Oh those sly Senators, sneaking in ‘military’ at the end of the list of ‘instruments’ of US power ‘in Iraq’, a list purposefully ordered by touchy-feeliness to invert the relative importance they place on each (as measured by Treasury expenditures).  Almost makes you think they didn’t want you to notice, huh?

The Great ‘Surge’ Con

It is becoming increasing clear that many in Congress have known all along that the Surge would fail, and that that failure has been specifically designed to pave the way for what the Senators know was the real goal of the General’s September dog and pony show on Capitol Hill.  That is, to sell Plan B: the long term occupation of Iraq. 

Indeed, even while last Summer’s propaganda blitz was gushing Go Big, the transition to Go Long was already well underway.

U.S. military officials here are increasingly envisioning a “post-occupation” troop presence in Iraq that neither maintains current levels nor leads to a complete pullout, but aims for a smaller, longer-term force that would remain in the country for years.

This goal, drawn from recent interviews with more than 20 U.S. military officers and other officials here, including senior commanders, strategists and analysts, remains in the early planning stages.  It is based on officials’ assessment that a sharp drawdown of troops is likely to begin by the middle of next year, with roughly two-thirds of the current force of 150,000 moving out by late 2008 or early 2009. The questions officials are grappling with are not whether the U.S. presence will be cut, but how quickly, to what level and to what purpose.

The thinking behind this “post-occupation” force, as one official called it, echoes the core conclusion of a Joint Chiefs of Staff planning group that last fall secretly considered three possible courses in Iraq, which it categorized as “go big,” “go home” and “go long.” The group’s recommendation to reshape the U.S. presence in order to “go long” — to remain in Iraq for years with a smaller force — appears to carry weight in Baghdad, where some of the colonels who led that planning group have been working for Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq since February.

Thus we start to get an inkling of the true reasons for the Surge. While Petraeus has been planning to Go Long since as far back as February, the oil oglers and their Senatorial surrogates see a danger that, once a draw down of US forces begins, the momentum for a complete withdrawal may be irresistible.  Thus the initial need for a preliminary surge to establish a greater presence that could then be pulled back without endangering the entire long term operation.

The group has devised a hybrid plan that combines part of the first option with the second one — “Go Long” — and calls for cutting the U.S. combat presence in favor of a long-term expansion of the training and advisory efforts. Under this mixture of options, which is gaining favor inside the military, the U.S. presence in Iraq, currently about 140,000 troops, would be boosted by 20,000 to 30,000 for a short period, the officials said.

The purpose of the temporary but notable increase, they said, would be twofold: To do as much as possible to curtail sectarian violence, and also to signal to the Iraqi government and public that the shift to a “Go Long” option that aims to eventually cut the U.S. presence is not a disguised form of withdrawal.

Yet another bait and switch con perpetrated on us by our own government.  They pretend we are in to win in Iraq, when all they really want to do is pave the way to stay.  Seen in this light, last Spring’s supplemental authorization of $124 billion makes perfect sense, not as a last chance throw for victory, but as a long term investment in permanent occupation.

(The concern about a runaway troop withdrawal also puts last week’s bizarre Congressional knuckle rap on ‘Move On’ in perspective.  Without a propped-up General Petraeus leading the Big Dig-In, the impetus for complete withdrawal becomes that much more powerful.  So to make the long term Iraq strategy work politically, the warmongers need to preserve Petraeus’ image as a forthright and courageous soldier ‘just doing his job’ – regardless of, or perhaps because of, the fact that the original ‘Go Big but really Go Long’ con was actually the good General’s idea from the get go.)

What about Iran?

At this point you may be asking yourself, ‘after all of the death, destruction and dismay four years of US military presence in Iraq has inflicted on that poor country as well as on our own, how can the warmongers possibly hope to justify to the American people that it is absolutely necessary to keep US troops in Iraq long into the forseeable future?’

And that’s where Iran, the Iago of International Islamic Insurgency, comes in.  According to the Senate, our newest nebulous nemesis seeks to exploit the US’s self-inflicted strategic blunders by:

(2) …turning Shi’a militia extremists in Iraq into a Hezbollah-like force that could serve its interests inside Iraq, including by overwhelming, subverting, or co-opting institutions of the legitimate Government of Iraq.

Notice the analogy to Hezbollah here, a reference not lost on wavering Democratic Senators worried about blowback from a certain powerful DC lobby, should any of them happen to get it into their silly Senatorial heads to vote the ‘wrong way’.

Our (new) mission in Iraq is thus clear:

(3)  to combat, contain, and roll back the violent activities and destabilizing influence inside Iraq of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran, its foreign facilitators such as Lebanese Hezbollah, and its indigenous Iraqi proxies;

Again Hezbollah makes an appearance, and while Lebanon doesn’t actually border the country we are currently occupying, the threat Hezbollah poses to another non-bordering Middle East country seems, to the Senate at least, a perfectly valid reason to spend billions dollars and thousands of lives on a permanent US military presence in Iraq.

Sections (4), (5), and (6) are more Lieberman variations on the Iran theme, although as Turkana and Armando point out, some of the most offensive notes were cut from this clunker of a composition.

What Now?

The Pentagon did not wait for formal Senate approval of the Go Long strategy to announce, the day before Petraeus’ testimony, that it was building a new permanent base and  six other ‘fortified checkpoints’ on the Iraq-Iran border.

The base, with living quarters for some 200 soldiers, will be built six kilometers (four miles) from the Iranian border and will likely be completed by November, Major Toby Logsdon, the US officer overseeing the project, told the Journal, without giving a location.

The US military also plans to install X-ray machines and explosives-detecting sensors at the Zurbatiya border crossing, the main crossing between Iran and Iraq.

Also planned are six fortified checkpoints on the major highways leading from the Iranian border to Baghdad, to be manned by soldiers from the former Soviet republic of Georgia, according to the Journal.

On August 24 Lynch said some 20 members of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards were inside Iraq training Shiite extremists to launch attacks on US and Iraqi security forces.

See that? As few as 20 Iranians inside Iraq are considered justification for locking down every road linking the two countries.  Never mind that the vast majority of US casualties are caused by attacks from Sunni militias ho receive much of their support from other Sunnis in Saudi Arabia and Jordan – two countries which, as LithiumCola points out, General Petraeus conveniently omitted when he testified about sources of Iraqi insurgent support.

Yet even though the Pentagon is going ahead on its own initiative with more brick and mortar bases, the Senate resolution is still important for the continuing viability of the Go Long strategy. Why? Because the House of Representatives, to its credit, is not quite so keen on the idea of US troops taking up long term residence inside Iraq, and recently voted to defeat a GOP amendment that would have permitted funding for permanent bases.

That is why the Senate has to be careful here.  The Senators know that the idea of permanent Iraq bases is not popular with voters, and that to actually mention funding them is bound to create a noisy ruckus with the House. So instead the Senate passes a seemingly innocuous ‘Sense of’ resolution that is a loud shout at Iran but also, and more importantly, a quiet but significant wink to (and test vote for) the Go Long strategy. 

In short, the Senate resolution is formal recognition that the foundation for our permanent occupation of Iraq has begun in earnest, regardless of what the voters, the House, or anyone else has to say.  Iran meanwhile is the distraction that makes it all happen.

(x-posted at Big Orange)

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    • Night Owl on September 27, 2007 at 11:11 pm
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    • nocatz on September 28, 2007 at 12:11 am

    http://www.docudharm

    All this time I thought I was so pessimistic only because I read all of Chalmers Johnson’s books. 

  1. Your analysis sure seems to make sense of the senselessness of it all. They are hoodwinking us as usual and it seems pretty clear now that Plan C is going to last a long, long time. The US won’t leave until every drop of oil is extracted, no matter who sits in the White House.

    Plan C from Planet Exxon. Welcome to the new world odor.

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