21st Century Dominoes
Our troops may not know what victory in Iraq will look like, but the administration knows what they are after and what it will look like. It will be an Iraq controlled by American corporations and American oil companies.Listening to the Republicans in the U.S. House argue against the resolution expressing disapproval of President Bush’s Iraq “surge,” I am struck by the thin nature of their principal arguments. They insist that to not support the mission is to not support the troops. It’s as if the troops are on a mission of their own and not subject, ultimately, to civilian authority. The logic seems to be that Congress should not even think about cutting funding for the escalation of the war because that would compromise the troops that are already there. By this logic we could never reduce our troop levels, redeploy them to another theatre (an apt word), or return them to their home bases. But, we could, of course, reduce funding if we could declare “victory” and “mission accomplished.”
Another Republican argument is that a resolution of disapproval would hurt troop morale. This is a very dubious assertion in light of the growing attitude among troops, including the officer corps, that this is the wrong war to fight. We have not reached the desertion levels that we did during the Vietnam conflict, or, God forbid, the fragging, but it is becoming obvious that the troops do not appreciate the involuntary extensions of their tours in combat zones, the poor status of their equipment, and the continuing problem of identifying the enemy. When the enemy often turns out to be innocent civilians, psychological stress grows. It is also exacerbated by the infiltrations into the Army and the Iraqi police of “insurgents,” so that one must always be looking over his shoulder. The fact that Congress may approve the resolution of disapproval may, indeed, be a boost to morale insofar as it betokens the beginning of the end of this reckless invasion and occupation.
The troops may not know what victory will look like, but I have an idea the administration knows what they are after and what it will look like. It will be an Iraq controlled by American corporations and American oil companies -- this was planned long before the invasion, as has been widely reported. The “new Iraq” will be run by a nominal government of mostly exiles, largely unknown to the average citizen. This government will always have to be acceptable to the U.S. occupation and will be kept out of the orbit of Russia and China and other would-be competitors for oil resources. For the average Iraqi a victory might be ridding the country of invaders--most notably, us.
When the Republicans say “we dare not lose,” it is losing control of Middle East oil, and losing face, that worries them. They dare not admit that this invasion, the principle of pre-emption, and the unraveling of our democratic way of life and Constitutional safeguards, are all bad ideas. In short, the empire will have shown its soft underbelly. The people have no stomach for empire and occupation, and so indicated by their vote last November. Historically, the people have to be dragged from one tragedy to the next by governments that confuse defense with offense, and view the entire world as ripe for America’s neo-conservative dream of manifest destiny.
Reading the document “Project for a New American Century,” authored by Doug Feith, Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz and other war hawks, leaves one with no doubt that Iraq is but another domino in an imperialistic venture--hatched long ago and recently updated and modernized to recognize the dominance of multi-national corporations.
Pursuing Al Queda should be a policing activity, but understanding the fundamental reasons that lead to radical solutions by terrorist groups must be a part of any policing strategy.The tragedy of a theory of military dominance is that it will never be employed for good ends. The definition of "good" would be the waging of peace, and understanding other peoples and cultures that could lead to the dismantling of all the militaries of the world. There will still be a need for policing the peace. Pursuing Al Queda should be a policing activity, but understanding the fundamental reasons that lead to radical solutions by terrorist groups must be a part of any policing strategy. The world still insists on killing the radicals before examining their motivations and personal and group histories. In the early part of the 20th Century, it was Sacco and Vanzetti who were executed because of their opinions and sympathies for communism and anarchism. The demons today that many Republicans think are bent on taking over the world and instituting theocratic rule are believers in Islam. One country after another would fall like dominoes to the worship of Muhammad, just as we once feared the worship of Marx.
The Democrats are on the right side of the argument in the House, whether or not this is the critical debate that should be undertaken. We must gradually, but quickly, leave Iraq to Iraqis. Congressional committees will attempt to find out why the intelligence establishment was ignored in favor of fabricated intelligence concocted by Feith and the Office of Special Plans under the Pentagon. Until this deceit is fully explored, the Democrats will continue to talk of “flawed” and “inaccurate” intelligence that took us to Iraq. This is putting lipstick on the pig and being far too excusing of the deliberate lies and evasions that formed the pretext for war. The “democracy” project was invented to justify the occupation after the WMD fantasy no longer could be employed. Instead of the abstraction of “democracy,” if we had spent a half trillion in reparations to Iraqis, instead of pouring the funds into bombs and bullets, we would have, perhaps, earned the respect and confidence of the people, and political accommodations could have emerged.
The radical Islamic jihadists are the new demons to replace the communist menace of the Cold War years.The radical Islamic jihadists are the new demons to replace the communist menace of the Cold War years. The Republicans argue that if we don’t stop them in Iraq and Afghanistan, they will come to our shores and attack us here. They are arguing in the House that if we lose to them in Iraq, they will be emboldened to attack us in the homeland. Why they would do this is mythology of the highest order -- it is not based on rational thinking or an understanding of Islam or the politics of the Middle East. It is simply fear-mongering.
If John Murtha’s amendment is approved, it will require that troops be ready before they are deployed anywhere. This is the real way to support our troops.When all else fails, Republicans argue that the Democrats are just playing politics with the war. Of course, dozens of Republicans are telling their Democratic colleagues that they do not think the surge will work and this is the last party line vote Bush will get. It is all hypocrisy anyway, because the U.S. does not have troops ready with the equipment and training they need to flesh out this surge. If John Murtha’s amendment is approved, it will require that troops be ready before they are deployed anywhere. This is the real way to support troops, and belies all the Republican rhetoric which conflates supporting troops with agreement to a failed and dishonest policy.
J. Russell Tyldesley, an insurance executive and real estate developer, formerly of Baltimore, now writes from New Mexico.
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This story was published on February 27, 2007.