While digging through the day’s news, I recently found two interesting articles. This article, published yesterday, details the current U.S. administration’s strategy for keeping gains in Iraq. It describes the plan to increasingly use clandestine operatives and special forces to secure the country. It reminds one that there is a very active non-public component to the United States armed forces.
Then we have this article, which details the administration’s plans to reduce the size of the American embassy in Iraq. Reducing the size of the embassy means reducing the official U.S. presence in the region.
There are many conclusions to be drawn from this. Perhaps the administration sees this as a place to save administrative costs while putting resources towards more efficient military operations. Maybe the administration simply wants to step out of the way to let the Afghani government regulate its own country while providing security.
Or perhaps, the more likely scenario is this: The U.S. is attempting to reduce its official presence while increasing its clandestine military presence so as to continue the war without the public outcry that has been standard since the war’s beginning. There is something convenient about using the CIA compared to the conventional military for such operations: its budget (and of course, its activities) is classified. According to a leak in 2005, the budget was then $44 billion. Since then, the CIA has been used more heavily as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have dragged on.
It’s great having a military that we can deploy all over the world. It makes me feel safe. But this cloak-and-dagger, behind-the-scenes warfare makes me uneasy. It makes me wonder what the administration is and is not telling us, and it also makes me wonder if there are more quagmires that we are fighting in whose existence is not announced on the news. I’m all for the troops coming home, but it’s hard to be sure the war is over when we don’t even know who the troops are.