Now Playing: Rich Moniak
Topic: Members Speak Out
Rich Moniak is an MFSO member who was invited to serve as a Citizen's Tribunal Panel Member this coming weekend. I've been trying for some time to get Rich to join Washblog and post some of his writings here. He has written some excellent stuff but has not been a blogger although he has written and spoken publicly as a member of Military Families Speak Out.
I'd like for Washblog to be the place he turns into a blogger.
Rich sent me the following article which asks a provocative question:
Americans are thoroughly familiar with the debate about supporting our troops through adequate funding. It will be called to the forefront again as Congress debates Senator Kennedy's proposed legislation that will deny the President the authority to use the funds necessary to commit more troops to Iraq without specific approval of Congress. The anti-war movement is being accused of not supporting the troops in their campaign to "de-fund" the war and bring them home now.
From a funding perspective, who is supporting the Iraqi troops America needs to stand up so ours can come home? According to the Iraq Study Group report our "military priorities in Iraq must change" to make one of the highest priorities the training, equipping, advising of Iraqi security forces. The much celebrated bipartisan report that Bush has essentially ignored explains that the Iraqi security forces:
"cannot carry out their missions without adequate equipment. Congress has been generous in funding requests for U.S. troops, but it has resisted fully funding Iraqi forces. The entire appropriation for Iraqi defense forces for FY 2006 ($3 billion) is less than the United States currently spends in Iraq every two weeks. ... They [Iraqis] lack the ability to sustain their operations, the capability to transport supplies and troops, and the capacity to provide their own indirect fire support, close-air support, technical intelligence, and medical evacuation."
Not fully funding the Iraqis with the equipment for the mission they are supposed to take over from us seems to be a major reason why our troops are still in Iraq. It undermines the progress Bush has been boasting about for almost two years. The failure to fund his own strategy seems to be a conscious decision by the Bush administration that has put forth every budget request that Congress has approved.
Perhaps the administration and Congress don't trust what the Iraqis will do with the funds and equipment we provide. There's been plenty of evidence that give rise to question the loyalties of some Iraqi units. With more than half of the Iraqi people claiming to support attacks against U.S. troops, strong suspicions that weapons might be siphoned off and delivered to the militias and other resistance groups seems well justified.
Yet how can we expect the Iraqi forces that supposedly now double the U.S. troops there to succeed on less than 4% of the budget for our troops? Shouldn't they expect the same quality of weapons and equipment to fight the same enemy? When the Iraqis see the shortcomings of their equipment next to the mighty American war machine, how could they trust U.S. intentions as sincerely aimed at helping them defend Iraq?
Has the program failed because it was under funded or has the U.S. resisted funding it because we've been betrayed by the people our troops are fighting for? But the word failure implies the intentions were honest. Perhaps we should be asking how well has the administration succeeded in camouflaging its intent to fail. What would happen to Iraq if our tax dollars were adequate to support the military mission of training the Iraqis so we can leave their country?
It's no secret that Bush's goals and the neocon agenda of installing a pro-American secular government in Iraq failed. Instead, the country's free elections gave them a government dominated by a Shiite coalition much more aligned with Iran's interests than ours. Iran remains part of Bush's axis of evil, and an Iran-Iraq alliance may shut him out of the oil bonanza.
The lack of mutual trust seems obvious. It's placed the administration and Congress in the impossible situation of needing the new Iraqi military to succeed so we can leave, while being hog tied to the fear that whatever weapons and equipment are provided might end up in the wrong hands. They don't want to arm and strengthen those they blame for the sectarian violence, and certainly not a potential future enemy. They have to prolong the failure of getting the Iraqis prepared to defend their own country because they're afraid that seeking success might more readily guarantee a long term failure.
The word surge isn't a mask for escalation, but for stalling. The administration doesn't want an independent Iraq unless it comes with the government it deems as acceptable. It's not coming soon, and while we wait, Bush wants to send more of our men and women to fight a battle they can't win. By not fully funding training and equipment for the Iraqis to defend themselves, it's difficult to imagine how President Bush has been supporting American troops who need their new Iraqi allies to succeed so we can stand down and bring them all home.