Monday, April 23, 2007

Sure would be nice to have a "Plan B" about now...

On Sunday, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki announced that construction of the “wall” around the Adhamiya neighborhood would stop, saying it was too reminiscent of “other walls.”

He did not elaborate, but he did not need to. The reference to the fence separating Israelis and Palestinians was obvious. “I oppose the building of the wall and its construction will stop,” Mr. Maliki told reporters during a joint news conference with the secretary general of the Arab League, Amr Moussa. “There are other methods to protect neighborhoods.”

Meantime, the messages coming from the American command were in disarray. Lt. Colonel Christopher Garver declined to verify whether construction would continue or not, stating that the military remained “in dialogue” with the Maliki government. At the same time, Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV was backing away from the “concrete caterpillar” as fast as he could, practically denying the idea was ever more than that – an idea. “The military does not have a new strategy of building walls or creating gated communities.”

(Yet last week it was all the rage...)

The fact is, sequestration of neighborhoods was reported in the LA Times in January; but it actually goes back to Vietnam and the idea of “Strategic Hamlets” – a notion that failed miserably then, too, by the way. (The only example I can come up with of it actually working was the British in Malaysia, but talk to a sociologist about the dynamics that made it possible there that do not exist in Iraq).

Opposition to the wall has gathered steam since the American military announced it, and on Sunday both Sunni Arab and Shiite groups sharply criticized the idea. The Sunni Arab Iraqi Islamic Party and the Shiite group linked to the anti-American cleric Moktada al-Sadr both announced that they opposed dividing Baghdad by sect. In sharp statements, they said the wall would increase sectarian hatred and fuel efforts to partition the country.

“Surrounding areas of the capital with barbed wire and concrete blocks would harm these areas economically and socially,” the Islamic Party said in a statement sent by e-mail to news organizations.

“In addition it will enhance sectarian feelings. This will cause great damage to the neighborhood’s residents and have a negative effect on these areas instead of solving problems. It will deepen the gap between the people and encourage sectarianism.”

Abu Firas al-Mutairi, a representative of the Sadr movement in Najaf, said: “The Sadr movement considers building a wall around al-Adhamiya as a way to lay siege to the Iraqi people and to separate them into cantons. It is like the Berlin Wall that divided Germany.”

“This step is the first step toward dividing the regions into cantons and blockading people there,” he added. “Today it happens in Adhamiya. Tomorrow it will happen in Sadr City,” the Shiite slum in Baghdad that is a stronghold of Mr. Sadr.

There is a great deal of disarray amid the chaos these days, it seems. Things appear to be coming to a head. The dynamics are shifting perceptibly. Every new day unleashes fresh horrors. As American men and materiel are wearing out in the desert, the insurgents adapt. They gain strength and strategic skill. I’m sorry, but I can’t see any scenario in which the situation improves and Americans are still in the country.

The congress needs to hold firm and refuse to authorize any more funding without an exit strategy.

For the love of Mike, the way the sands are shifting it makes absolutely no sense to pour more blood and treasure into this mess without binding conditions. I'm frankly offended that they would even dare to ask for such a thing! I mean really, aren't you the least bit put off at the insistence on a blank check when they haven't gotten one thing right so far? What the hell?

Enough is enough. Deal with the fact that we aren’t going to win because that isn’t even an option. Stop with the sacrifice of young men and women on the altar of Bush’s vanity. The refusal of the president to deal with reality is causing a lot of deaths among young Americans. They are constituents of the members of Congress. It is time they serve them and bring an end to this madness. Let the 30% who are never going to come around anyway continue their shouting down the well of delusion. Is trying to placate those people enough reason to continue the escalated death of Americans? I don’t think so. They are unreachable. Write them off and move on. We have to stop the war without them. They are going to yammer on no matter what. They are still yammering about Vietnam, for crying out loud. you think there is any possible way they won't do the same damned thing this time? I don't. Not if their past work is any indication.

For those who have to tell themselves that something was "won," fine. Here’s your chance to declare victory and go home. Please take it.

Thank Mr. Maliki for standing up and telling the military “No.” Then roll up your gear, and bug out.