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Surging Into Slaughter: The Bipartisan Death Grip on Iraq

General Sir Michael Rose:

When he was asked if he thought the Iraqi insurgents were right to try to
force the US-led coalition out, he replied: “Yes I do. As Lord Chatham [the
politician William Pitt, the Elder, who, in the second half of the 18th
century called for a cessation of hostilities in the colonies and favoured
American resistance to the British Stamp Act] said, ‘if I was an American –
as I am an Englishman – as long as one Englishman remained on American
native soil, I would never, never, never lay down my arms’. The Iraqi
insurgents feel exactly the same way. I don’t excuse them for some of the
terrible things they do, but I do understand why they are resisting the
Americans.”

Surging Into Slaughter: The Bipartisan Death Grip on Iraq
Written by Chris Floyd

Intro: It is becoming increasingly clear that regardless of who wins the
election in 2008, the United States government is not going to withdraw from
Iraq. It is just not going to happen. This is the awful, gut-wrenching,
frightening truth we must face. The only way that American forces will ever
leave Iraq is the same way they left Vietnam: at gunpoint, forced into a
precipitous and catastrophic retreat. And how many thousands upon thousands
of needless deaths we will see before that terrible denouement?

While Congressional leaders and George W. Bush start “negotiations” on ways
to prolong the war crime in Iraq for another year or two (at least), on the
ground in Baghdad, the situation is worsening by the day, as Patrick
Cockburn reports in The Independent:

“Be careful,” warned a senior Iraqi government official living in the Green
Zone in Baghdad, “be very careful and above all do not trust the police or
the army.” He added that the level of insecurity in the Iraqi capital is as
bad now as it was before the US drive to make the city safe came into
operation in February.

The so-called “surge”, the dispatch of 20,000 extra American troops to Iraq
with the prime mission of getting control of Baghdad, is visibly failing.
There are army and police checkpoints everywhere but Iraqis are terrified
because they do not know if the men in uniform they see there are, in
reality, death squad members.

Omar, the 15-year-old brother-in-law of a friend, was driving with two other
boys through al-Mansur in west Baghdad a fortnight ago. Their car was
stopped at a police checkpoint. Most of the police in Baghdad are Shia. They
took him away saying they suspected that his ID card was a fake. The real
reason was probably that only Sunnis use the name Omar. Three days later he
was found dead…

The problem about the US security plan is that it does not provide security.
It had some impact to begin with and the number of bodies found in the
street went down. This was mainly because the Shia Mehdi Army was stood down
by its leader, Muqtada al-Sadr. But the Sunni insurgent groups increased the
number of sectarian suicide bombings against Shia markets. The US was unable
to stop this and now the sectarian body count is on the rise again. Some 30
bodies, each shot in the head, were found on Wednesday alone.

The main new American tactic is proving counter-productive. This is the
sealing-off of entire neighbourhoods, either by concrete walls or barriers
of rubbish, so there is only a single entrance and exit. Speaking of Sunni
districts such as al-Adhamiyah, a government official said: “We are creating
mini-Islamic republics.”

Speaking of concrete walls, remember the wall that was being constructed
around the Adhamiya neighborhood? Remember how Imperial Viceroy — sorry,
U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker said he would “obviously..respect the wishes of
the [Iraqi] government and the prime minister” after the Iraqi government
and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki vociferously protested against the
American construction of the ghetto in Adhamiya? Well, guess what? Crocker
lied. As the Telegraph reports:

American forces have completed construction of a concrete wall around the
Baghdad district of Adhamiya despite protests from the Iraqi prime minister
and local residents who claim that they are now at the mercy of militants.
The wall was intended to help control the activities of militants in the
predominantly Sunni Muslim district. But it remains a bastion of extremist
al-Qa’eda linked groups. Parts of the district are so thick with armed
militants that they are no-go zones to coalition forces.

Capt Mohammad Jasim, an Iraqi soldier manning a checkpoint on the Adhamiya
bridge, said: “The Americans did not listen to us. We think this wall has
made the area inside the wall more dangerous for people.”

Um Doraid, a middle-aged housewife, said: “We here inside the wall are still
as vulnerable as ever.”

And so the transformation of Baghdad — one of the great cities of the world
for more than a thousand years — into a squalid open-air prison continues
apace. This, we are told, is “liberation.” And the American Establishment,
despite a good deal of thus far non-signifying sound and fury from the
Democrats, seem content to let this murderous horror run on. They tinker on
the margins — should we demand that a certain portion of troops begin to be
withdrawn at a certain, ever-receding date? — when it is plain that the
only thing the United States can do at this point to mitigate the suffering
of the Iraqis is leave — and pay reparations for the criminal ruin and
death we have caused.

The American elites seem paralyzed by this notion, frozen in place as the
bloody quagmire rises around them. But one pillar of the British elite —
the knighted general Michael Rose — is speaking plainly. In addition to the
book excerpt we quoted earlier, he has also been talking to the press,
uttering truths that no “serious” figure in American politics and media
would dare utter. From the Guardian:

General Sir Michael Rose told the BBC’s Newsnight programme: “It is the
soldiers who have been telling me from the frontline that the war they have
been fighting is a hopeless war, that they cannot possibly win it and the
sooner we start talking politics and not military solutions, the sooner they
will come home and their lives will be preserved.”

Asked if that meant admitting defeat, the general replied: “Of course we
have to admit defeat. The British admitted defeat in North America and the
catastrophes that were predicted at the time never happened.The catastrophes
that were predicted after Vietnam never happened. The same thing will occur
after we leave Iraq.”

Bill Blum — who is decidedly not a pillar of any Establishment — has more
on this theme in his latest Anti-Empire report:

“If the United States leaves Iraq things will really get bad.” This appears
to be the last remaining, barely-breathing argument of that vanishing
species who still support the god-awful war. The argument implies a
deeply-felt concern about the welfare and safety of the Iraqi people. What
else could it mean? That the US military can’t leave because it’s needed to
protect the oil bonanza awaiting American oil companies as soon as the Iraqi
parliament approves the new written-in-Washington oil law? No, the Bush
administration loves the people of Iraq. How much more destruction, killing
and torturing do you need to be convinced of that? We can’t leave because of
the violence. We can’t leave until we have assured that peace returns to our
dear comrades in Iraq.

To better understand this argument, it helps to keep in mind the following
about the daily horror that is life in Iraq: It did not exist before the US
occupation. The insurgency violence began as, and remains, a reaction to the
occupation; like almost all insurgencies in occupied countries — from the
American Revolution to the Vietcong — it’s a fight directed toward getting
foreign forces to leave.

By way, General Rose agrees with Blum on this point, as the Guardian notes:

When he was asked if he thought the Iraqi insurgents were right to try to
force the US-led coalition out, he replied: “Yes I do. As Lord Chatham [the
politician William Pitt, the Elder, who, in the second half of the 18th
century called for a cessation of hostilities in the colonies and favoured
American resistance to the British Stamp Act] said, ‘if I was an American –
as I am an Englishman – as long as one Englishman remained on American
native soil, I would never, never, never lay down my arms’. The Iraqi
insurgents feel exactly the same way. I don’t excuse them for some of the
terrible things they do, but I do understand why they are resisting the
Americans.”

Back to Blum:

Before the occupation, many Sunnis and Shiites married each other; since the
occupation they have been caught up in a spiral of hating and killing each
other. And for these acts there of course has to be retaliation.

The occupation’s abolishment of most jobs in the military and in Saddam
Hussein’s government, and the chaos that is Iraqi society under the
occupation, have left many destitute; kidnapings for ransom and other acts
of criminal violence have become popular ways to make a living, or at least
survive.

US-trained, financed, and armed Iraqi forces have killed large numbers of
people designated as “terrorists” by someone official, or perhaps someone
unofficial, or by someone unknown, or by chance. The US military itself has
been a main perpetrator of violence, killing individually and en masse,
killing any number, any day, for any reason, anyone, any place, often in
mindless retaliation against anyone nearby for an insurgent attack…

And here is James Baker, establishment eminence, co-chair of the Iraq Study
Group, on CNN with Anderson Cooper:
Cooper: And is it possible that getting the U.S. troops out will actually
lessen that violence, that it will at least take away the motivation of
nationalist insurgents?
Baker: Many people have argued that to us. Many people in Iraq made that
case.
Cooper: Do you buy it?
Baker: Yes, I think there is some validity to it, absolutely. Then we are no
longer seen to be the occupiers.

In spite of all of the above we are told that the presence of the United
States military has been and will continue to be a buffer against violence.
Iraqis themselves do not believe this. A poll published in September found
that Iraqis believe, by a margin of 78 to 21 percent, that the US military
presence is “provoking more conflict that it is preventing”….

If the United States leaves — meaning all its troops and bases — it will
remove the very foundation, origin, and inspiration of most of the hate and
violence. Iraqis will have a chance to reclaim their land and their life.
They have a right to be given that opportunity. Let America’s deadly “love”
embrace of the Iraqi people come to an end. Let the healing begin.

But as wise man Blum doubtless knows, the healing will not begin. Not even
if the Republicans are ousted from office. Witness the “bold” new plan by
leading Democratic contender Hillary Clinton: her proposal to “withdraw
authorization” for the war in Iraq — the same authorization she “boldly”
supported back in 2002. Clinton told reporters that her bill “would mean
that troops would be out as of October [2007],” the NYT reports. “‘They have
no authority to continue,’ she said. ‘That is the point.'”

Ah, but it was not really the point, as her aides hastened to assure the
press:

Later, however, her aides said Mrs. Clinton was not seeking a total
withdrawal of troops from Iraq, or a quick pullout that could put troops at
risk. They said she had called for a phased pullout that would leave a
reduced American force to pursue terrorist cells in Iraq, support the Kurds
and conduct other missions – a position she continued to support, her aides
said.

In other words, Clinton proposes to enshrine a permanent military presence
in Iraq, reduced in size by some unspecified measure from the current
levels. This is, of course, precisely the goal that the Bush Administration
has sought all along: a permanent military presence in Iraq. And all the
Democrat plans on withdrawing a portion of American troops hinge on Iraqi
compliance with “benchmarks” that also dovetail exactly with the Bush war
aims: the creation of American-trained, American-armed army and security
forces (a bonanza for U.S. arms peddlers), a government that will do what
the United States wants, and, of course, the approval of that
written-in-Washington “Oil Law,” as Blum notes.

In what way is any of this significantly different from Bush has been
pursuing ruthlessly over the past four years?

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