Defeat after occupation?


Contrary to all speculations and analyses, the recent pause, if one can call it a pause, in the war against Iraq does not mean that basic United States military assumptions are being examined, nor that the faulty intelligence upon which they are based are being newly evaluated. On the contrary, the US may have been stunned at the minimal Iraqi resistance to their overwhelming military superiority, but they are still determined to go through with their plan until they occupy the whole of Iraq. The real American defeat will not and cannot be a military one. It can only come after the US captures Iraq.

It is not true that Saddam Hussein was defying the United States or the United Nations. If anything, he was trying to avoid this war at any price — apart from leaving Iraq and going into exile with his family. He not only opened all of Iraq for the UN inspectors unconditionally, but even started to destroy Al-Sumoud missiles, which were actually permitted under, and authorised by, the UN.

People tend to forget in the fog of US propaganda that it was Iraq who notified the inspectors that one, and only one, of the Al-Sumoud missiles had exceeded the permissible range by a few kilometres, probably due to a lighter payload. Hans Blix, chief UN weapons inspector, said that this action constitutes a substantial measure of disarmament. “We’re not watching the breaking of toothpicks here, lethal weapons are being destroyed,” he said. The initial assumption, widely and foolishly touted by Vice-President Richard Cheney and a chorus of neo- conservatives in the administration, that the Iraqis would crumble and the whole country would implode with the first assault of three thousand cruise missiles, did not materialise. The first three weeks were not a “piece of cake” either and the “shock and awe” did not drive the Iraqi people to bellydance in the streets to greet their liberators.

However, it was not a defeat for the advancing armies either. They simply turned to Plan B, and there may still be a Plan C to follow. The American invasion plan has not been scrapped. The US is now speaking more soberly about the possibility that the war may drag on into the summer. But this administration still believes that they can impose their will on the whole world, that getting rid of Saddam Hussein will bring democracy to Iraq, that it will make peace between the Arabs and Israelis and that everyone will live happily ever after. An editorial in The Progressive magazine put it succinctly by saying, “so enthralled is Bush with the might of the Pentagon, so enraptured is he with his self-assigned role of liberator, so sure he is of doing God’s will that he has become as enormously frightening figure. He seems to believe he can rule the world alone — or at most as part of a triumvirate with Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld.”

Actually, the editorial should have said with the host of Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Paul Wolfowitz. Thank God that the fourth musketeer, Richard Perle is out, but he is out only because of the stink caused by his greed and corruption, which became too embarrassing for the administration.

Some neo-conservatives saw the folly of this policy some time ago and are now opposed to the war against Iraq. Jude Waninsky, who advised President Reagan on economic affairs and is author of the “supply side” economics, warned Rumsfeld back in October of 2001 about this dangerous entourage. “In case you have not noticed, Don, your deputy Wolfowitz has promoted himself and is now the defence secretary and you are his deputy. He was bored with Afghanistan and Osama Bin Laden long before the strikes on Kabul and is maniacally determined to finish the war against Saddam.”

In a clairvoyant voice Waninsky goes on to say, “do you realise how much more difficult it is for President Bush and Secretary Colin Powell to hold together the coalition of international community in the fight against terrorism, when the whole Islamic world is reading every day how Iraq is next on the list?”

Waninsky traces Wolfowitz’s “maniacal obsession” (his words) about invading Iraq back to the time he advised Cheney in 1991 not only to kick Saddam out of Kuwait, but chase him all the way to Baghdad, slaughtering the Republican Guard on the way.

So, if the war is going well or is on track as Rumsfeld insists, why do I think the plan is not going to work?

Firstly because, by invading Iraq, the US will finally be abandoning its role and historical ideological position as an anti-colonialist power. The neo-conservatives are saying that the United States can get away with it. That neither the Arabs nor Muslims will dare say anything or do anything to stop them. They did nothing when the Israelis reached Beirut and besieged it for 80 days, or when they reoccupied all the Palestinian territories during the second Intifada until now. But the campaign of suicide bombings against US forces in Iraq is an ill omen that this campaign may be continued elsewhere in the world. This half-hearted talk about returning to the Israeli- Palestinian problem will not be taken seriously by anyone in the Arab world. Besides, both Clinton and Bush have completely abandoned the US role as an “honest broker” between the Arabs and Israel and rendered it virtually impossible for any other administration in the foreseeable future.

Secondly, despite the public support that Bush is now enjoying for the invasion of Iraq, the truth is that the American people have no stomach to rule other nations, especially those with such different cultural, moral and religious backgrounds. Niall Ferguson touches on this point in his book Empire: the Lessons for Global Power. In it he says, “Britain’s empire was largely formed under direct rule, while America lacks a culture supporting imperialism,” indeed it “will always be a reluctant ruler of other people. Britons lived in and governed their empire. America’s approach has too often been to rush in, perhaps hold an election, and get the hell out.” Haiti is one recent example, Kosovo another; Afghanistan and, he might have added, Iraq may yet follow in their footsteps.

Thirdly, with the significant influence of the pro-Israeli Cabal in the decision making circles and their choice of General Jay Garner as the proposed new ruler of Iraq, one has only to look to the publications of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA) to see what their ideas about “remaking Iraq” are. In the latest issue, Alexander Jaffe explains their ideas about “effecting cultural changes in the Middle East”. He says, “different political ideas must be taken for granted, as are religious and ethnic pluralism and freedom, matters obviously far easier to discuss theoretically than practically.” But the issue goes far deeper, entering the most personal and private of spheres. Will Jews be allowed to travel to the new Iraq? Will Jews be allowed to settle as they have resettled even in Germany? How will the Iraqi homosexuals be treated? Will Iraqi women and men be able to sunbathe along the banks of the Euphrates, if they so choose, in carefully located nudist colonies? And will the US Army intervene to protect such heterodox behaviour?

One may expect that under the neo-colonial power relations with Israel would be a litmus test for politically correct behaviour, but if General Garner takes this advice as a non-threatening approach to modernity, and to follow what Jaffe in his article terms as “replacing the emptiness brought by prosperity to Saudi Arabia and Egypt which uses one of the direct routes to 9/11 by way of Islamism”, then may God have mercy on both America and Iraq.