Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Four Biggest Myths about the US War Against the People of Iraq

Lies about Iraq are easily disproved. The myths die harder. Bush lied about Iraq in order to attack and invade. The many myths, however, have to do with the geo-political significance of Iraq, US motives and incompetence, and the nature of the resistance to the illegal US occupation.

Myth: Iraq is a failed State.

Iraq is not a failed state, it is a state all but destroyed by the US occupation.

The Failed States Index 2007 published by The Fund for Peace and FOREIGN POLICY magazine states that not all "failed states" "suffer from international neglect", citing the attention that has been given Iraq and Afghanistan. FP stops short of the obvious conclusion: both states cannot be said to have failed but are prevented from succeeding because of the nature of the "international attention" with which both states have been afflicted. Both nations are described as the two main fronts in a global war on terror but, in both instances, terrorism is said to have increased as the wars have lost focus.

In both cases, the US went to war upon bogus evidence, in the case of Iraq, a pack of blackhearted lies. As the PBS Frontline documentary so accurately points out, there was no "insurgency" in Iraq until the US occupation disbanded the Iraqi army and drove the Baathist party underground with a de-baathification order. Until that time, the Iraq military had been overtly pro-US.
De-Baathification didn't really pay attention to the lessons of de-Nazification. The Army War College actually had studied this in the fall of '02 and made the point in a study that de-Nazification was very carefully done from the very bottom up. They went into each village, and they talked to anti-Nazi people about who the Nazis had been, and they compiled information at the village level.

L. Paul Bremer did the opposite. He comes in at the very top and issues a sweeping rule that really doesn't even have information about who are Baathists, why they were Baathists, and who wasn't a Baathist. It's really just almost a casual imposition on the society that's not particularly informed about the nature of Iraqi society. I think the occupation of Germany was much more an excuse than real analogy. …

--Thomas E. Ricks, Author, Fiasco
Paul Bremer, meanwhile, takes the rap for the de-Baathification order.
The mistake I made was turning it over to the Governing Council. I should have turned it over instead to a judicial body of some kind. The Governing Council, in turn, turned it over to Chalabi. I did not turn it over to Chalabi. It is true that once the Governing Council took it over, they started interpreting the policy, implementing the policy much more broadly, and we had to walk the cat back in the spring of 2004.

--L. Paul Bremer

There was reason to believe that the US had achieved its objectives in Iraq and US forces could come home.
So I said, "Well, Charlie, what do you think?" To the best of my memory, Charlie said, "Well, if you do this, you're going to drive 40,000 to 50,000 Baathists underground by nightfall. The number is closer to 50,000 than it is [to] 30,000."

--Lt. Gen. Jay Garner (Ret.)

That was, indeed, the expectation among troops on the ground and on the streets of Baghdad. But, typically, a dispatch by Arab News itself was no closer to understanding the long term effect of "de-baathification" than the US media.
AAmir Taheri (Arab News-Saudi Arabia): The US-led coalition has achieved all its principal objectives in Iraq: The Baathist regime has been dismantled. Democracy seems to be flourishing after several local elections, a constitutional referendum, and two general elections. A one-party system has been replaced with a pluralist one with more than 200 political groups and parties.
It is a mistake, therefore, to conclude that Iraq, since the fall of Saddam, has always been dominated by Iran-linked fundamentalist Shia parties, though The Existentialist Cowboy was critical of that outcome. US ineptitude created the "insurgency" more properly characterized as a guerilla war against a foreign occupation.
No consensus was ever reached, and no clear plan ever devised. Hovering over this entire process was the figure--seldom acknowledged, almost never mentioned--of Ahmad Chalabi. Time and again, during the months leading up to the invasion and for months thereafter, the representatives of the Vice President and Pentagon officials would introduce ideas that were thinly veiled efforts to put Chalabi in charge of post-invasion Iraq. Immediately before the invasion, the effort took the form of a proposal, put forward insistently and repeatedly, to form an Iraqi "government in exile," comprised of exiles and Kurdish leaders. These exiles would then be installed as a new government once Baghdad fell. My CIA colleagues were aghast. It was as though Defense and the Vice President's staff wanted to invite comparison with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, when Russian troops deposed the existing government and installed Babrak Karmal, whom they had brought with them from Moscow.

--'A Slow-Motion Car Crash', Time

But for the utter incompetence of the Bush administration, it need not have been that way. Billions of dollars in development and security have already been wasted because the bucks were not backed up with a functioning government, leaders with the support of the Iraqi people, viable plans to address the basic needs of Iraqi citizens. Running water, electricity and other demands on infrastructure were sorely lacking. The US occupation did not merely break a nation, it's continuing omni-presence most certainly militated against Iraqi progress toward independent and productive state-hood.

But Bremer's side of the story doesn't really help his case.
...any thought of using the old army was undercut by conditions on the ground. Before the 2003 war, the army had consisted of about 315,000 miserable draftees, almost all Shiite, serving under a largely Sunni officer corps of about 80,000. The Shiite conscripts were regularly brutalized and abused by their Sunni officers. When the draftees saw which way the war was going, they deserted and, like their officers, went back home. But before the soldiers left, they looted the army's bases right down to the foundations.

So by the time I arrived in Iraq, there was no Iraqi army to disband. Some in the US military and the CIA's Baghdad station suggested that we try to recall Hussein's army. We refused, for overwhelming practical, political and military reasons.

--Paul Bremer

It must be pointed out, however, that there "...was no thought of using the old army" primarily because of Bremer's order. Moreover, the timeline of events clearly shows that the first "attacks" did not occur until after the De-Bathification order and the army dismantled.
"Any man can make mistakes, but only an idiot persists in his error."

—Cicero [1]
Had the US intended to rehabilitate Iraq, one would have thought that the Bush administration would have had a plan. We must conclude, therefore, that rehabilitating Iraq had never been planned because it was never high on the Bush agenda. The theft of Iraqi oil most surely was.

That brings up another myth:

Myth: Bush failed in Iraq because he never defined what it meant to win.

I've almost fallen for that one myself. In fact, Bush, or, perhaps Dick Cheney, most certainly defined success in Iraq but neither man dare reveal it to the world. It is nothing less than the grand theft of Iraqi oil. It is highly doubtful that the meeting of Dick Cheney's Energy Task Force was brushing up their geography with the detailed maps of Iraqi oil fields.
Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption and abuse, said today that documents turned over by the Commerce Department, under court order as a result of Judicial Watch’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit concerning the activities of the Cheney Energy Task Force, contain a map of Iraqi oilfields, pipelines, refineries and terminals, as well as 2 charts detailing Iraqi oil and gas projects, and “Foreign Suitors for Iraqi Oilfield Contracts.” The documents, which are dated March 2001, are available on the Internet at:

-Cheney Energy Task Force Documents Feature Map of Iraqi Oil Fields, Commerce & State Department Reports to Task Force Detail Oilfield & Gas Projects, Contracts & Exploration, Saudi Arabian & UAE Oil Facilities Profiled As Well

Cheney met with his energy sponsor in 2001. The meeting was attended by executives from the oil and gas industries, including Anadarko Petroleum’s Robert Allison and then-Enron Chairman Kenneth Lay. It is fair to conclude that Bush had been assigned the task of waging war on Iraq, indeed, the Middle East, on behalf of the energy giants which supported this presidency. That brings up Another myth.

Myth: Iraqis are better off without Saddam, an evil dictator.

They are worse off under Bush, an evil dictator. Two words -Abu Ghraib -have shut up Bush's "rape room" rhetoic.

"The Iraqi people are now free. And they do not have to worry about the secret police coming after them in the middle of the night, and they don't have to worry about their husbands and brothers being taken off and shot, or their wives being taken to rape rooms. Those days are over."

--Paul Bremer, Administrator, [Iraq] Coalition Provisional Authority, Sept. 2, 2003

"Iraq is free of rape rooms and torture chambers."

--President Bush, remarks to 2003 Republican National Committee Presidential Gala, Oct. 8, 2003

"There was an announcement by the Iraqi Governing Council earlier this week about the tribunal that they have set up to hold accountable members of the former regime who were responsible for three decades of brutality and atrocities. We know about the mass graves and the rape rooms and the torture chambers of Saddam Hussein's regime. We welcome their decision to move forward on a tribunal to hold people accountable for those atrocities."

-Bush Press Secretary Scott McClellan, White House press briefing, Dec. 10, 2003

Evil is a word I used never to use. Evil is found in the most selfish motives of humankind, motives strong and utterly devoid of empathy. Evil is found in Hitler's boast that he had waged war against the Jew in full view of the world. It is likewise found in the sordid deals cut between Dick Cheney and the robber barons of big oil to whom he auctioned off the United States of America. If Bush had better intentions ever, he compromised them for oil and vainglorious conquest, truly a Faustian pact.

Myth: The US is opposed by a terrorist insurgency!

Evil is the only word to describe the conditions of Abu Ghraib which the US began to fill following the infamous "be-Baathification Order" and the dismantling of the Iraqi army. The US theft of Iraqi resources and the high-handed dismantling of Iraq's very nationhood inspired a legitimate Iraqi resistance. For their efforts the resistance was labeled "terrorist" though there had been no such resistance prior to US missteps, US crimes, US ineptitude.

The cells of Abu Ghraib were filled again --not by Saddam but by the foreign occupiers. There is no need to recount the horrors save to say that the illegitimate regime of George W. Bush bears the responsibility. George, you had best run and hide. When your term is over, an international movement is afoot and organized to track you down and bring you to justice for war crimes.

Bush was caught flat-footed with the very first "insurgent" attack. Having gone to the well so many times, it is not surprising that Bush would do so again. The attack was a "terrorist" attack, it was said, when, in fact, it was the guerilla resistance to an illegal occupation throwing down the gauntlet. The word "terrorist" was chosen by Bushies because it implies illegitimacy. Bush dared not called them "guerillas". A guerilla, on his own homeland, opposing an illegal occupancy is not merely legitimate, he has the moral high ground. He has as much moral legitimacy as did George Washington. In fact, most of the resistance to the US is neither terrorist nor an insurgency.
“If I were an American, as I am an Englishman, while a foreign troop was landed in my country, I never would lay down my arms -- never! never! never!”

-William Pitt the elder, (British Statesman 1st Earl of Chatham, Viscount Pitt of Burton-Pynsent, by name The Great Commoner, 1708-1778)
Iraq did not ask to be occupied and the US occupation cannot be justified after-the-fact, though many have tried. Saddam was a bad man, they say. If the US occupation had been benign, that argument would still have been fallacious though more palatable. The brutal nature of the US occupation subverts the idea that the US is somehow absolved ex post facto! There was hope among Bush die hards that a good outcome might counter-balance a failed and evil beginning. That did not happen. Until Bush orders a complete pullout of US troops, the failed war against Iraq is his tar baby. Tragically, Bush's reasons for staying in Iraq are as evil as his reasons for invading. Don't expect a happy ending. There isn't one.

Additional resources:

Why Conservatives Hate America

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