As I was driving down the road today, I noticed a new car — still with paper plates — that already had a “Support Our Troops” sticker on it. It struck me as odd that “support[ing] our troops” has come to mean putting them in harm’s way, with inadequate armor, and under false pretenses, then leaving them there, among a hostile population determined to evict them. Meanwhile, a professor relayed to me a whisper that if the Bush administration should seek to redeploy American troops from Iraq — where they’re now largely ineffective amid a widening civil war and a de facto partitioning of the country — some forces might fire missiles at the runway, effectively trapping them. That would increase the difficulty of implementing any neoconservative plans for a wider war in the Middle East.
Condoleezza Rice now claims to be seeking a lasting cease fire in Lebanon; this, of course, is tantamount to seeking no agreement at all. It is an effort doomed to failure, and an effort even Rice surely knows is doomed to failure. This will, in effect, amount to a provocation, which will lead to further provocations, eventually offering the neoconservatives their excuse.
My professor wonders where they’ll get the troops. The United States, after all, is already overextended in Iraq and Afghanistan. But given sufficient provocation, it might just be that, in a “national emergency,” they can reinstitute the draft. There were rumors about this, vigorously denied at the time, prior to the 2004 election, with a lot of question, even then, about how the U.S. could find sufficient manpower to sustain its current military adventures, let alone maintain readiness for any additional contingencies. It’s also important to remember that the U.S. has troops stationed around the world, including some remaining in Cold War deployment patterns; some of these troops could undoubtedly be made available, particularly with indefinitely extended enlistments.
The Middle East Report (MER) notes that Russia and China now will be quite happy to let the U.S. (further) overextend itself; they are unlikely to get involved in the present conflagration. If the MER is right, we can expect to see very little grandstanding from either power, even as the U.S. redeploys troops to the Middle East.
One thing that won’t happen is United Kingdom support for this new and bolder adventure. What I’m seeing from United Kingdom and Irish news media is opposition even within the Labor Party to Tony Blair’s failure to call for an immediate cease fire. The Irish and the Scots have refused U.S. planes shipping bunker buster bombs to Iraq permission to land for refueling; these planes have had to stop in England. The Scots are hopping mad, promising a more peace-oriented foreign policy when they achieve full independence. Meanwhile, look for Blair to be sacked as prime minister soon. And I’m betting that his successor chooses a harder line against U.S. imperialistic adventures; there are plenty of Brits fed up with longstanding British government acquiescence to Washington, D.C.
After all, the British have faced their own bloodletting in Iraq, thanks to Blair’s lapdog approach to President Bush, and from what I hear, they hear a lot more about their casualties (as do the Canadians about casualties in Afghanistan), then we do about U.S. casualties. The conservative line will be much harder to sustain in many places around North America and Europe.
So if my forecast of a wider war in the Middle East actually comes off, the U.S. seems headed for some real humiliation — unless they go nuclear. Could it happen? I don’t know. But I do know that neoconservatives have a real problem with self-delusion; Truth with a capital-T sooner or later must come up against a reality check.
And more troops in for ever longer tours of duty mean more crimes against humanity — as if a wider war wasn’t enough of one already.