Thursday, May 31, 2007

Stop 'Em At The Thirty-Eighth Parallel; Smash Those Yellow Reds To Hell

Bush Compares Iraq to Korea (AP)
President Bush envisions a long-term U.S. troop presence in Iraq similar to the one in South Korea where American forces have helped keep an uneasy peace for more than 50 years, the White House said Wednesday.

The comparison was offered as the Pentagon announced the completion of the troop buildup ordered by Bush in January. The last of about 21,500 combat troops to arrive were an Army brigade in Baghdad and a Marine unit heading into the Anbar province in western Iraq.

Brig. Gen. Perry Wiggins, deputy director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said there are now 20 combat brigades in Iraq, up from 15 when the buildup began. A brigade is roughly 3,500 troops. Overall, the Pentagon said there are 150,000 U.S. troops in Iraq. That number may still climb as more support troops move in.

The administration warns that the buildup will result in more U.S. casualties as more American soldiers come into contact with enemy forces. May already is the third bloodiest month since the war began in March 2003. As of late Tuesday, there were 116 U.S. deaths in Iraq so far in May - trailing only the 137 in November 2004 and the 135 in April 2004. Overall, more than 3,460 U.S. service members have died.
First: does this mean we've officially stopped comparing Iraq to the Second World War? Have we abandoned the notion that Fallujah is the site of our generation's civilizational clash? Yes? All right, good.

Second: anyone who thinks a comparison between Iraq and the Korean War will stand is a fool. The Korean War ended with a cease-fire and the partitioning of the country, enforced by mechanized battalions on the border. But if the violence in Iraq ever ends, it will not end with a cease-fire. Neither the Shia nor the Sunni nor the Kurds are fighting with conventional weaponry - it's not as if the U.S. can keep an eye on their tank brigades and make sure they stay parked. Nor is the violence likely to end with a partitioning of the country into three religious monocultures. For one, the Kurds are sitting on most of the good oil. For another, the Sunni are in a vastly dwarfed minority in Iraq; setting them a place aside just makes them an easier target.

In fact, there's only one point of congruence in Bush's silly analogy: the inevitable ill will that half a century of U.S. troops overseas will build in the country being occupied. We envision a country with Shia, Sunni and Kurds at each other's throats in an unending melee, pausing only occasionally to slake their anger on the blond-haired, blue-eyed National Guardsmen cruising Sadr City in Hummvees.


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