news out of Iraq is unrelievedly grim. After the
mob burned, dismembered and hung parts of four
American mercenaries, the overall situation country
wide got sharply worse.
events have been so prominent that they need only
passing mention here: the riots sparked by Moqtada
al-Sadr in Sadr City (no relation) which killed
five Americans and injured hundreds of people.
As this was going on, NBC, a former news source,
reported that the Americans were going to march
right in on Fallujah and teach those wogs a lesson
they would never forget. OK, NBC didn't say "wogs."
But there was nothing in their news cast to indicate
that there was the slightest possibility that
it would be anything other than a quick and successful
operation: at which point, I thought, "Oh, oh.
If this is what the house organ is saying, than
clearly the Putsch junta hasn't learned a thing."
US is, according to the Guardian, now fighting
a two-front war. Only, of course, there are no
fronts. But the two adversaries, Sunni and Shi'ite,
have taken the time and trouble of stopping their
1,400 year old struggle long enough to vanquish
what they see as the evil foreign tyrants and
what Moqtada al-Sadr called "its filthy constitution."
That would be America.
AWOL was front and center with more of his loony
double-speak. He said, in response to suggestions
from the Senate and most other places that maybe
he should rethink that July 1st deadline for getting
out of the line of fire, "The message to the Iraqi
citizens is they don't have to fear that America
will turn and run, and that's an important message
for them to hear. If they think that we're not
sincere about staying the course, many people
will not continue to take the risk to ward freedom
so you are saying that by cutting and running,
we'll show the world that America does not cut
and run. OK, George. Thank you. You can sit back
down in Cheney's lap now.
ten days after the invasion of Iraq, and after
the second massacre of civilians by US forces
in Falluja, I said that we would be hearing a
lot more about this town in the future, and my
own private thoughts were that if the seeds of
American failure were sown anywhere, it was in
this Sunni stronghold.
I didn't expect was that the American forces would
so thoroughly alienate a sizeable percentage of
the Shi'ite population. The Shi'ites were badly
mistreated under Saddam's reign, and a vast majority
of them were happy to see him gone. These were
the people Rummy had in mind when he painted pictures
of grateful locals throwing flowers and blowing
kisses as the US tanks rolled triumphantly into
Blix recently put it this way: "The war has liberated
the Iraqis from Saddam, but the costs have been
too great." Helluva note when you can make the
victims of a nasty little thug like Saddam think
of him as "the good old days."
troops couldn't resist swaggering (their tanks
patrolled the towns with legends such as "Kill
Em All" and "Bloodlust" painted on the turrets,
and in direct defiance of orders, soldiers kept
putting up big American flags, destroying any
hope the administration might have had in convincing
the locals that this was anything other than an
invasion and occupation) and of course, there
were far too many incidents where troops made
what was at best terrible mistakes and at worst
vile acts of malice (such as the videotaped incident
where Marines gleefully shoot a man who is wounded
and down), and suddenly, the US found that nearly
the entire population was viewing them as foreign
invaders and chanting that Iraq must be a graveyard
repeats. England went into Iraq, managed to piss
off both sides, and eventually crawled out with
tail between legs, with nothing but 2,200 English
dead to show for it. Nor was that ancient history:
45 years ago. That's why I've always been perplexed
by Tony Blair's role in all this. He may be a
weak and amoral man, but he is certainly neither
stupid nor uneducated. He had to know what happened
the last time England went into Iraq.
course, the sudden widespread hatred of the occupiers
was anything but sudden, and grew steadily over
the past year. It's just that in the past few
days, it has hit some sort of critical mass. We
knew it was building, when we saw all the roadside
bomb ambushings (unaffected by the final fall
of Saddam), and the repeated vicious attacks on
the police force America was trying to build.
How could the administration not see that the
Iraqi resistance was doing nothing other than
meting out the only punishment that collaborators
complete inability of the administration to understand
what has been building in Iraq is perplexing.
American popular literature, especially since
World War II, has had an entire genre devoted
to stories in which various invaders storm and
take America, and the American people form undergrounds
and devise ways to harry and kill the invaders,
eventually driving them off. "Red Dawn" and Heinlein's
"Fifth Column" are good examples of this genre.
big problem right wingers have -- one of many --
is the utter inability to comprehend that other
people love their countries, even if it's sometimes
a little hard to figure out why, and are willing
to fight to drive out foreign invaders. And for
a Resistance movement, bombings, ambushing, and
punishment of collaborators are all pretty much
standard tactics. Toss in third party terrorists
who suddenly have the most central country in
their region suddenly open to them after years
of a hostile regime, and a grand opportunity to
harry and harass a common foe, and you have the
ingredients for one hell of a mess.
America is facing one hell of a mess in Iraq.
For all the bland assurances from the administration,
echoed in the servile media, that this is just
a few stray troublemakers, and we can just send
our boys in and they'll clean that rats' nest
right out, the fact is that it's pretty unlikely
that will happen. Oh, American troops will manage
the usual gaudy "kill ratio" like they did in
Vietnam (which was also lost), and probably easily
surpass the 4-to-1 ratio the English managed in
Iraq before being forced to run away, but it now
looks like over half the population is ready to
take up arms or resist American forces by any
and all means possible.
just 10% of the population felt that way, America
might prevail if they governed with wisdom and
forbearance, respecting the people and the culture,
and avoiding conflicts with the citizenry while
raising the standard of living.
it was ever possible in the first place. It's
far too late now.
riding the train across Canada, we passed a huge
area of tumbled and jumbled boulders, the scene
of a vast landslide. There was a town somewhere
deep under all that rock; a town of crushed buildings
and crushed streets and crushed bodies, and the
conductor explained that the landslide slid into
the valley with such force that it pushed up the
other side of the valley walls half way, taking
out the CPR tracks. The valley floor was a long
way down. That must have been one hell of a slide.
Half the mountain must have come down.
image stuck with me, from so long ago in the interior
of British Columbia. And now, looking at the situation
in Iraq, I think of that image.
can't imagine why.
Posted: April 6, 2004