Strategic Patience, Camille

How many fingers is commander in chief Obama holding up? He has flushed every one of his promises to wind down our wars all the way to the mess tent, yet he insists that we nod in eager agreement when he tells us he’s keeping them.

Like many citizens, I voted for Obama twice. When he won the party nomination from Hillary Clinton, I thought, “Ding! Dong!” When he won the election, I sacrificed a cigar to my Maker in thanks for Him not allowing one of the planet’s most dangerous lunatics to become its most powerful head of state.

Then Obama announced he’d keep Uncle Bob Gates and “King David” Petraeus and Michael “Moon” Mullen and the rest of the Pentagon’s Long Warriors on the job and I thought, “Uh oh!” Then he appointed Hillary to become secretary of state and my thoughts began to contain adult language.

I made the sound of one hand slapping a forehead when Ray “Desert Ox” Odierno announced in February 2009 (via Petraeus hagiographer and former journalist Tom Ricks) that he wanted to see a U.S. force of “around 30,000 or so” skulking about smartly in Iraq until 2014 or 2015, well beyond the status of forces agreement (SOFA) deadline for all U.S. troops to be out of Iraq by the end of 2011. Odie’s projected occupation schedule also busted all withdrawal promises either Candidate or President Obama had made, but the White House chose to let Odie’s insubordination go without reprimand.

Few people took note of Odie’s open defiance of an international agreement and an order from the top of his chain of command, but that’s almost understandable. You need to construct a timeline to figure out what promise Obama made when, when he changed it, what he changed it to, and which promise he was breaking when he claimed to have kept it. Obama tells us these days that the redeployment of the last “combat brigade” from Iraq fulfills the promise he made while stalking his present office. But what was that promise, exactly?

The echo chamber is saying that Candidate Obama promised something to the effect that he’d bring “combat” troops home from Iraq within 16 months. But what he actually said on Oct. 27, 2007, at one of those godawful town hall freak shows was “I will promise you this, that if we have not gotten our troops out by the time I am president, it is the first thing I will do. I will get our troops home. We will bring an end to this war. You can take that to the bank.” (The YouTube video of that speech has been all but purged from the entire Internet for “terms of use violation.” One can’t help but ponder what sort of Orwellian high jinks brought that about.)

Somewhere along the firing line, “our troops” became our “combat” troops, then our combat brigades became “training and assistance” brigades and their combat mission went into “re-mission” and morphed into “stability operations.” The next thing you know, our troops will transmogrify into goodwill divas on an extended farewell tour.

Michael R. Gordon of the New York Times, who made his bones with the neocons when he and Judith Miller helped Dick Cheney pander the Niger-gate hoax, tells us in an Aug. 19 article that “By October 2011, the State Department will assume responsibility for training the Iraqi police, a task that will largely be carried out by contractors. With no U.S. soldiers to defuse sectarian tensions in northern Iraq, it will be up to U.S. diplomats in two new $100 million outposts to head off potential confrontations between the Iraqi army and Kurdish Peshmerga forces.”

The “diplomats of fortune” will no doubt come from whatever Blackwater Inc. happens to be calling itself at the time, and they will almost certainly provide other “stability services,” like “preserving” the aforementioned $100 million outposts and “enabling” Iraqi soldiers on “social services and fact gathering” missions and “ensuring the enhanced cooperation of guests of the government.”

But it’s not like the sad sacks from State and their mercenary bodyguards are expected to replace active-duty military troops altogether come January 2012. The U.S. Air Force has long-standing plans to stick around and help Iraqi pilots fly the F-16s we agreed to sell them. I can’t wait to hear Pentarchy* spin physicians explain that it’s okay for the Air Force to be in Iraq after the deadline because Air Force discipline is so lax it isn’t really a military service. That would at least be in line with what the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps have been saying for decades. But expect representatives from the other branches to keep their wild blue Bubbas company in Iraq after the SOFA nods out.

Petraeus’s lapdog-of-war Ryan Crocker, former ambassador to Iraq, tells us via access-poisoned Gordon that now matter how good the State Department turns out to be at running its first war (freaking heh!), it’s important for the U.S. military to maintain a “presence” in Iraq because, um, um, um… because it will encourage Iraq’s generals to stay out of politics. Yeah, that’s the ticket.

Crocker is so full of gas he could airlift the Statue of Liberty back to France. Does he honestly expect anyone to believe that there’s a general on the planet who isn’t a politician?

Crocker says that if the Iraqis ask us to stay past the December 2011 SOFA deadline, “It is going to be in our strategic interest to be responsive.” The Iraqis are already asking us to stay, one of the most notable among them being Lt. Gen. Babaker Zebari, who became chief of staff of the Iraqi army by virtue of his political skills. Zebari says his forces won’t be ready to defend his country until 2020 at the earliest, even though determining what nation on earth would be bull goose loony enough to invade Iraq after watching the world’s “best-trained, best-equipped” military get its brass handed to it there is beyond the pale of cogent imagining.

Crocker had plainly been nipping at the talking-points bottle when Gordon interviewed him. “We need to have strategic patience here,” he said. Strategic patience. That’s quite clever. That’s a crisp one. What won’t those neocon think-tankers dream up next? Operational aplomb? Tactical sangfroid?

As I’ve watched the never ending war story unfold over the past 20 months, and cringed every time Obama played slut puppy for the Pentarchs, I’ve sought solace in the reflection that at least Pops McCrackers and Tea-Bag Barbie aren’t in the White House.

Alack the day, though. I’ve arrived at the conclusion that we might be better off if Obama had lost the election. Sure, we’d still be stuck in Iraq forever if McCain had won; but we might not be in the same boat in Afghanistan.

And yeah, Bob Gates would still be on the job as well as Mullen and Petraeus and Odierno. But Hillary Clinton wouldn’t be secretary of state.

And yep, Sarah Palin would be a heartbeat away from the Oval Office, but Joe Biden wouldn’t.

*Pentarchs are the oligarchs of the Pentarchy, that cabal of sandbox generals, bathtub admirals, beltway bandits, AIPAC rats, Warlord Fauntleroys, New American Centurions, Long War legislators, Dr. Strangeloves, G.I. Joe Six-Packs, Pavlov’s dogs of war, and other patriotic psychopaths whose narrow self interests and well-funded efforts have made the long dreamed-of permanent American security state a reality.

Author: Jeff Huber

Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (retired), was a naval flight officer who commanded an aircraft squadron and was operations officer of the USS Theodore Roosevelt, the carrier that fought the Kosovo War. Jeff earned a master of arts degree in post-modern imperialism at the U.S. Naval War College. His weekly satires on U.S. foreign policy high jinks are archived at his blog, Pen and Sword. Jeff's critically applauded novel Bathtub Admirals, a lampoon of America's rise to global dominance, is on sale now. Jeff lives with dogs in a house by the beach on Chesapeake Bay in Virginia, and in the summer he has a nice tan.