A certain self-consciousness reveals itself in this recent Ted Rall cartoon. The immediate set up for the image is three veterans sitting around a military or patriotic (likely referred to in his circles as jingoistic) bar. The scene evokes the stock conceptualization of a VFW or American Legion Post. The middle patron is missing his arm. All are wearing belligerent, seemingly ignorant t-shirts. The man on the left makes mention of the betrayal of the political class in the war, an allusion to the common theme in the German Army after the Treaty of Versailles. The second compares his treatment to that of the maligned generation of Vietnam vets. The last declares his intention to run for Congress. Perhaps, for the left, the most frightening inclination of all.
It’s the laughable paradigm in which Rall and his left-wing ilk regard us, as easily manipulated and reactionary fools, sacrificed on the alter of forces beyond our reckoning. This sort of pretentious elitism is witnessed time and again by those most divorced from the union of civic duty and personal sacrifice in the pursuit of the actual common good.
This silly dialogue reveals something else: fear of exposure.
Illustrating the cause for people like Rall’s concern is Fred and Kim Kagan’s excellent piece on the deteriorating situation in Iraq. It was precise in identifying the cause of the breakdown of peace and security for the people in Iraq since the end of the successful Bush/McCain “surge”. I’ll quote briefly:
With administration officials celebrating the “successful” withdrawal of American troops from Iraq, thanking antiwar groups for making that withdrawal possible, and proffering outrageous claims about Iraq’s “stability,” “sovereignty,” and the “demilitarization” of American foreign policy even as Iraq collapses, it is hard to stay focused on America’s interests and security requirements. Especially in an election year, the temptation will only grow to argue about who lost Iraq, whether it was doomed from the outset, whether the current disaster “proves” either that the success of the surge was inherently ephemeral or that the withdrawal of U.S. troops caused the collapse.
The withdrawal of all American military forces has greatly reduced America’s leverage in Iraq. U.S. military forces were a buffer to prevent political and ethno-sectarian friction from becoming violent by guaranteeing Maliki against a Sunni coup d’état and guaranteeing the Sunnis against a Shiite campaign of militarized repression. The withdrawal of that buffer precipitated this crisis and removed much of our leverage.
Like it or not, the timing of the moves against Hashimi et al. upon Maliki’s return from Washington has created a perception in Iraq that these actions were authorized by Washington.
After hundreds of billions of dollars and almost 4,500 American service member’s lives the Obama Administration scuttled the negotiations required to keep American forces in Iraq. After eight years of blood, sweat and treasure the end was decided by Democratic political pollsters in campaign season.
Explosions are ripping through Baghdad at a rate and ferocity not seen since 2007. The Shiite Prime Minister is purging his government of the Sunni members needed to retain a pluralistic state, literally the day after American withdrawal. The Kurds edge closer to open secession and the Iranian Quds Force establish safe houses across the country.
Peter Wehner in Commentary quite succinctly said:
What is happening in Iraq is sickening, in part because the gains came at such a high cost and in part because what is happening there was so avoidable. Obama was handed a war that was largely won. What America had given to Iraq is what the Arab scholar Fouad Ajami called “the foreigner’s gift.” But Iraq being Iraq, maintaining an American troop presence there, separate from engaging in combat operations, was necessary if Iraq was ever to become whole again. President Obama has undone much of what had been achieved there, almost in the blink of an eye. And when the history of his administration is written, it increasingly looks as if he will be fairly judged to have been the man who lost Iraq.
In an administration full of failures, this one may well rank among the highest. The human cost to Iraq and the strategic damage to America may be unimaginable. And so unnecessary.
And so, full circle, we come back to the paranoid fear of intellectual midgets like Rall. Knowing the devastating judgment an unbiased history will lay upon the Obama Administration for so callous an abandonment of the Iraqis at at the cost of so many American’s lives he attempts to preempt this searing truth with petty mockery and stumbling historical analogy. Keep your heads on the swivel and call out this caustic and hateful manipulation when you see it.