Monday, June 19, 2006

The Most Apt Analogy

Commentators consistently impute more rationality to the Bush foreign policy than the record warrants. They write as if the goal of our occupation of Iraq was to set up a stable regime and then leave, even though the administration is on the record that it plans to remain in the area and the military is constructing elaborate installations with room for 50,000 or 60,000 troops. It is hard to believe that even the fantasists that run our government imagine that the U.S. has the political will or the economic and military resources to turn Mesopotamia into a permanent entrenched camp in the midst of a hostile region. Stupidity, however, is a great enabler of optimism.

Snow and other administration spokesmen have recently taken to likening the current impasse in Iraq to the Battle of the Bulge as if the activities of the insurgents were the last, desperate counterattack of a strategically defeated enemy. The problem with the analogy is that we are not contending against a single organized power like Hitler’s Germany. With remarkably few exceptions, everybody in the neighborhood hates us, including most of our current allies in the ersatz People’s Republic of Iraq. It’s possible that we can defeat any particular group, but so long as we insist on continuing our occupation, there will always be new groups, armed and financed by public and private sources in the surrounding nations. We simply don’t have the armed forces required to pacify the entire Middle East, and we don’t have the economic resources necessary to bribe the Iraqis into willing submission.

The accurate analogy here is not the Battle of the Bulge. It’s an ingrown toenail.

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