Monday, March 17, 2008

Unwavering Commitments

It’s five years into President Bush’s romantic Iraq misdaventure, and we have very little to show for it.

John McCain tried to make a repeat visit to Baghdad’s Shorja market, the place he visited last year as proof positive that one could “walk freely” in parts of Baghdad. Today it’s controlled by Moqtada al Sadr’s Mahdi army, and deemed too unsafe for Americans:
We got close to that marketplace today, Jim, but our own security advisers here in Iraq did not want us to go there. They didn’t believe it was safe for an American to be in that area. We were in a thriving marketplace nearby.

Meanwhile, VP Dick Cheney is in Baghdad today to prep his team for next month’s progress report to Congress. Cheney brought his rose-colored glassess with him:

In his discussions, Cheney said he was given evidence of “dramatic improvements in the security situation.'' The purpose of his visit was to reaffirm “the unwavering commitment'' of the U.S. to help Iraq build a democracy, he said.

Shortly after the vice president's arrival, two explosions rocked Baghdad, Agence France-Presse said. A U.S. military officer confirmed one of the explosions. One was caused by a mortar attack on the Green Zone, AFP said. Details of the second blast weren't available.

We were told going in that Iraq’s oil revenues would pay for reconstruction, but no one bothered to wonder if oil revenues would pay for an insurgency, too. Well, guess what:

Iraq’s Insurgency Runs on Stolen Oil Profits

BAIJI, Iraq — The Baiji refinery, with its distillation towers rising against the Hamrin Mountains, may be the most important industrial site in the Sunni Arab-dominated regions of Iraq. On a good day, 500 tanker trucks will leave the refinery filled with fuel with a street value of $10 million.

The sea of oil under Iraq is supposed to rebuild the nation, then make it prosper. But at least one-third, and possibly much more, of the fuel from Iraq’s largest refinery here is diverted to the black market, according to American military officials. Tankers are hijacked, drivers are bribed, papers are forged and meters are manipulated — and some of the earnings go to insurgents who are still killing more than 100 Iraqis a week.

“It’s the money pit of the insurgency,” said Capt. Joe Da Silva, who commands several platoons stationed at the refinery.

Five years after the war in Iraq began, the insurgency remains a lethal force. The steady flow of cash is one reason, even as the American troop buildup and the recruitment of former insurgents to American-backed militias have helped push the number of attacks down to 2005 levels.

In fact, money, far more than jihadist ideology, is a crucial motivation for a majority of Sunni insurgents, according to American officers in some Sunni provinces and other military officials in Iraq who have reviewed detainee surveys and other intelligence on the insurgency.

No one could have anticipated this!

This is truly a war without end, because the world’s oil addiction is fueling it--in more ways than one. It won’t stop, until we either decide we don’t want the oil or we don’t want the war.