A few quick takes on the Long, Long War of Empire.
Nick Turse examines the effectiveness of the "counterinsurgency doctrine" so beloved by the Pentagon and eagerly embraced by Barack Obama. Turse begins with the stellar success of American COIN operations in the Philippines – still going strong after more than 100 years. It certainly bodes well for Barack's big adventure in Bactria and environs, doesn't it?
Another venerable tradition of our militarist state is "rolling out the product" – i.e., playing the "free press" like a pump organ to sing the siren song of war. David Bromwich admires the masterclass in this pernicious process put on by the New York Times in a recent five-day blitz to push a "counterinsurgency" escalation on the Af-Pak front.
The Bush-minted, Petraeus-stamped COIN in Iraq is now regarded by some poor fools (i.e., 97 percent of the political and media establishments) as an "extraordinary achievement," to use Obama's preferred term for the "surge." That's not true, of course; the "surge" was actually a partially successful intervention on the part of one faction in the multi-sided civil war set off by the American military aggression.
(Much as the American military aggression in Cambodia destroyed that society and led directly to the killing fields of the Khmer Rouge – who were, in any case, later backed by the Americans when Vietnam launched a "humanitarian intervention" to kick them out. Yes, it's very confusing, isn't it, these questions of when an invasion is "humanitarian" or not, and under what circumstances you should support genocidal berserkers. Such a tricky business; that's why we leave it to our wise leaders, like Nixon, Bush and Obama, to figure it all out for us.)
In any case, the armed extremist factions that America empowered are now putting their stamp on the "democracy" in Iraq. And here's what your tax dollars – and the blood of your compatriots (not to mention the blood of more than a million innocent Iraqis; but then, who does mention them?) – has paid for: Iraqi Campus Is Under Gang’s Sway. This is from the NY Times -- which, when not obliged to do its civic duty as a pipeline for war propaganda, can sometimes actually dig up a few useful facts:
Mustansiriya University, one of Iraq’s most prestigious universities, was temporarily closed this month by the prime minister in an effort to rid it of a shadowy student gang accused of murdering, torturing and raping fellow students, and killing professors and administrators....
Mustansiriya... is under the sway of an armed group of violent Shiite students in engineering, literature, law and other disciplines; faculty members; and campus security guards. Abed Thiab al-Ajili, Iraq’s minister of higher education, and administrators and professors at the university said in interviews that it was commonly believed that violence continued there because of ties between some of the officials in Mr. Maliki’s Shiite party, Dawa, and the Students League through university administrators who shielded the group from prosecution....
The Students League, they said, controls campus activities and security, as well as aspects of grading, admissions and even which courses professors teach. ... The Students League has also asserted control by sharing money with some school administrators through bid-rigging of campus contracts and various other illegal means, said a university administrator whom the group had threatened to kill.
An extraordinary achievement, or what? Unfortunately, America's empowered poobah doesn't seem quite empowered enough to get the country ready for the ballyhooed elections in January, after which we're promised that American forces can finally begin some serious withdrawing of their occupation forces down to an as-yet unspecified level of troops who will remain behind as, uh, occupation forces (albeit with a more PC description). Why, we hear tell [click here] that Maliki and the gang might even have to postpone the elections – which will doubtless "force" the occupiers to delay any meaningful pull-out, in order to provide "continuing stability in a time of political turmoil" or some such.
Bet you didn't see that one coming!
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This story was published in the Baltimore Chronicle on October 24, 2009.