THE PROBLEMS WITH AMERICAN POLICY IN IRAQ
by ERIC RUDOLPH
August 2005 AD
Table of Contents i
I. Introduction 1
II. Causes for Intervention 6
III. Democracy 16
IV. Insurgency 33
V. Ideological Handicaps 60
VI. The Israeli Experience 75
VII. Conclusion 77
In the early days of the Roman Republic a Greek king by the name of Pyrrhus led an army into southern Italy and prepared to do battle with the expanding Romans. At the time there were several Greek city-states in southern Italy and because of their conflict with the nascent Roman Republic, they called upon Pyrrhus to come to their defense. He was a brilliant tactician and trounced the Romans and their allies in every battle fought. But the more victories he won the more tenacious his Roman opponents became. Being many miles from his Greek homeland, he was unable to replace his losses. With every victory on the battlefield, Pyrrhus's army shrunk. The Romans, on the other hand, continued to field fresh armies until finally Pyrrhus was forced to accept the futility of further action. He was not reaping the political fruits of his military victories, and because of the attrition his forces were suffering, he was driven out of Italy, leaving the fruits of his victories to his enemies, the Romans. The defenseless Greek city-states ultimately succumbed to the hostile Romans. Thus we have the origins of the term “Pyrrhic victory”-a victory that is ultimately meaningless, bearing no advantage.
As the war in Iraq continues the Pyrrhic definition seems to be apt. Like their fathers in Vietnam, the American soldiers winning tactical victories in Ramadi, Fallujah, and Al An Bar Province are facing a potential political defeat. On the surface Bush's war had all of the ingredients of a justifiable allocation of American blood. The Middle East is a region vital to the West; without it our economies would collapse. Maintaining peace in the region is essential and this peace was indeed threatened by Saddam Hussein. He had to be taken down. Even though they found no evidence of weapons of mass destruction, using the WMD pretext was warranted. With a strong healthy, united nation behind him, with the size and technological advancement of a nation like America it should have been a cake walk for Bush. The only problem is that he doesn't have a strong, united country behind him. And it was more than likely that any intervention in the Middle East war was going to result in a long drawn out struggle that the American people, suffering from internal divisions, did not have the tenacity to see through to the end. A cursory look at the Israeli experiences in Lebanon, the West Bank and Gaza should have been instructive. This lack of foresight was his failing. The grounds and the means for entering Iraq were not wrong in a geopolitical sense. Bush's problem was his indulging in W.W.II fantasies using a post-Vietnam nation that has long since been corroded by the solvent of liberalism. It is that ideology, which now dominates the American culture that will ultimately undermine Bush's efforts in Iraq and inevitably lead to a pull-out.
The success of Bush's mission into Iraq hinged upon avoiding a long, bloody insurgency. Bush and his advisers should have foreseen that if the troops bogged down in a protracted struggle it was likely that the forces of corrosion in America would eventually turn the American people against the war. Everything was dependent upon a Desert Storm walkover, where American firepower would quickly overcome any conventional resistance and a political settlement immediately imposed on the thankful Iraqis. The success or failure of the entire mission was in effect left to any potential insurgents to decide: if they chose to resist long enough an eventual America pull out was almost certain. The naiveté that went into the planning of this adventure reveals a staggering lack of wisdom at the highest levels of government. This is the same kind of stupidity that put 600,000 American troops into Southeast Asia.
Like the Vietnam experience, each day brings a new problem. Like a Chinese finger trap, the deeper America penetrates, the harder it becomes to pull out. Not only is the insurgency deeply embedded in the Sunni areas of Iraq, but it has all of the ingredients of lasting as long as it may take to achieve their objectives, which are to drive the Americans out and to destroy any government that has been given the stamp of American approval.
The majority of Iraqis, whether they hated Saddam or not, now see the American occupation as responsible for the present troubles. Just after Saddam's fall this was slightly different. A good percentage saw the coming of the Americans as a brief excursion, and thought a quick pullout would follow. Many now, correctly, see that the American occupation had long term interests in view when they removed Saddam, namely to secure American's oil interests in the region by removing a hostile government and installing a new one that will be friendly to these interests. They see that the insurgents are resisting this attempt to treat Iraq as a puppet. Whether they support the particular efforts of the many groups fighting the Americans - Sunni, Shiite fundamentalist, Saddam loyalists - is really irrelevant, the vast majority want the American troops gone.
Once a pull out takes place the Sunni insurgency may then turn into a full scale civil war to overthrow the Shiite government - this will intensify the fighting. Remember that a great deal of the attacks being carried out by Sunnis are designed to provoke this very thing: those bloody bombings of Shiite mosques in Najaf that killed over one hundred people were pulled off by Sunnis hoping to produce a Shiite reaction. Recent assassination of prominent Sunni clerics indicate that the tit-for-tat retaliation has begun. More ominous than a Sunni-Shiite civil war is the distinct possibility that Sunni Baathist Syria may back the Iraqi Sunnis and the Shiite Iranians may come in on the side of the Iraqi Shiites, thus creating a regional conflict.
The move into Iraq was handicapped from the beginning by the insistence that only a democratic government encompassing all three of the major divisions in Iraq - Sunni, Shiite, Kurds - should be set up to replace the fallen Sunni dominated Baathist regime. Anything less, they say, would be a failure. Given the intractable divisions in Iraq pursuing this goal will probably be as destructive of human life and liberty than was the former Saddam government.
Any solution that calls for splitting the country, if it were to work, will require the complete application of American power for years to come in order to make the parties accept the settlement. This is the real key to the problems with finding resolution in the area: unless America is capable of becoming as ruthless as any of these potential opponents they will never establish a peace. If splitting the country will temporarily halt the fight among the factions, they may still continue the fight against the American overseeing power. To convince them that their best option would be to accept the generous amount of sovereignty and economic aid that America has to offer, and to not fight for ultimate independence would probably require methods that the American people will not tolerate. If Mao Tse-Tung was perhaps over stating the case when he said that “power comes from the end of a gun,” it is true that ultimately the power behind the state and laws is force, and there is no place on the planet where this is more true than in the Middle East. Most governments and powers, especially in the Western world, have long since achieved their policy objectives, and kept their populations in form for the political task by using persuasion and propaganda, with force being a last resort. Conversely, all governments in the Middle East maintain power with the naked undisguised use of brutal force. Can you imagine even cowboy Bush giving the State of the Union Address wearing a side-arm, and upon the completion of the speech ceremoniously firing into the air ala Saddam Hussein? Arabs like their leaders extra macho and their laws carried out with brutal arbitration. Firing into the air at political rallies is the equivalent of clapping and kissing babies in Iowa - different strokes for different folks.
It was naive to think that America could have waltzed in there hoping to implement policy and establish laws based upon talking a lot of nonsense about the yearning impoverished masses, all being held in the clutches of evil dictatorships, just dying for a democracy and female suffrage. If America hopes to achieve any of these goals in the region, it had first better establish its power, or it is not going to accomplish anything. If it requires a great deal of force for Middle Easterners to maintain law and order in their own country, it is going to require twice as much force if some foreign power like America wishes to come in and make policy in Iraq. If America wants to hand out food and medicine, and it wants to feed the bloated babies, perhaps the Iraqis will let them do these things, but they will not let America change their government and make laws and control them just because they are doing these nice things. No, the only way America will be able to control them, or promote a government to control them, so that eventually the bloated babies get fed, the food gets sent on time, and maladies medically treated - the only way to accomplish any of these things in the Middle East with any hope of success, is to use brute force. This is one of the chief reasons why American policy will fail in Iraq. Just to maintain the present policy already established with respect to combating the insurgency, is too much for the American people to support for very much longer. There is a reason why the sands of the Middle East conceal the evidence of numerous mass graves filled with the remains of political opponents and the results of arbitrary justice. This reason is because the instincts of the average Arab population are such that they demand an extremely brutal authority to rule them.
In short, the problems facing Bush's policy in Iraq are multiple: a poor plan going in, an insurgency that will not die, a people that can not be governed by big-tent democracy, and finally, an American liberal establishment bent upon undermining the war effort. The latter will ultimately prove fatal unless he can quickly find a solution to the other problems. The American support for the war is already slipping. The Left is making the divisions in America grow. With the continuation of the war over the next four years, and the looming possibility of a draft, this division is likely to grow too deep to continue the present policy into another administration. If we are still in Iraq in 2008 both candidates will be running on a “pull the troops out” platform. The long-term consequences for America and the Western world of anything like a defeat will be far more devastating than Vietnam. Such an event would signal a major power shift in the world and touch off a domestic crisis. Now that the die has been cast, if it wishes to remain a world power into the second half of this century, America must succeed in Iraq no matter the consequences or its long term status will be severely damaged. The real tragedy beyond America's loss of power is the loss of young lives to no effect. Like those who fell in Vietnam, they will probably only be left with the memories of their comrades, a small stipend from their government, and a nation that will view their heroism and sacrifices as another sad chapter deserving of a few left-wing anti-war films and perhaps a big black stone to symbolize the futility of their actions.
II. Causes for Intervention
In a xenophobic, warlike region like the Middle East an outside power had better have good cause to intervene. The European powers of yesterday once had imperial possessions in the area and paid heavily in blood for these small possessions. And this was before oil became such an essential commodity.
Bush's reason for going to war in Iraq was to remove a hostile government from power in a region that is vital to America's interests. This was done in order to prevent this government from fomenting revolt among the many potentially hostile Muslim nations in this vital region. Substantial, critical interests were certainly at stake. The fact is that America, and the other industrial nations of the world, depend upon oil. Virtually everything we do is directly or indirectly dependent upon this foreign oil.
The Middle East supplies the lion's share of the oil that the Western world consumes. Even though most of America's oil comes from the Western Hemisphere (only about 15% to 20% comes from the Persian Gulf), the bulk of the oil that the Eurasian land mass uses comes from the Middle East. American trade and economic relations with Eurasia are vital; therefore, the oil that fuels Eurasia is vital to America as well. The discovery, the infrastructure put into place to pump and move it, and the market created to handle this oil were done by the West. The only problem is that the peoples living on top of this oil that the world depends upon, are some of the most factious and hostile beings to ever grace the planet. If this vital area is in a continual state of uncertainty, this nation going to war against that nation, this interrupts the flow of oil. Therefore, what was needed was to regulate the foreign policy of the region to create a level of stability to insure a reliable flow of oil.
Since the end of W.W.II and the collapse of the European empires, America has played this roles of regulator and peace keeper in the Middle East. The understanding American imposed was that the various countries of the region could conduct their own domestic policy, i.e., torture and abuse their own people, and enact any law that did not effect regional stability. But these nations were discouraged from conducting independent foreign policies that affected the flow of oil. Like other small nations in the world, the Arab states were pressured to pursue their foreign policy through the U.N., which is America's instrument for dealing with disputes among the smaller nations of the world. This is “empire light,” a sort of hands-off approach that works well for most situations. In exchange for their cooperation, the nations in the region have been well compensated for the oil sold on the world market.
Oil is not a luxury item like diamonds or gold. It is a vital commodity like food, air, and water. Contrary to Michael Moore's movie, fighting in Iraq over oil is not just about fat, rich oil men making an extra billion dollars. It is about food, clothing, shelter, health care - it is about the lives of millions of people. Oil is to the modern industrial economy as irrigation water is to the farm in an arid region. It is essential. Like it or not, the health and welfare of millions of people are dependent on the uninterrupted flow of Middle Eastern oil. Unlike an agrarian dependent economy, industrial economies fueled by things like coal and oil allow a population to more than double its size. Because the modern economy is dependent on oil to function , the lives of over 50% of our population depend upon oil, like plants depend upon water. Our dependence upon coal-generated electricity is comparable to our dependence on oil. Imagine what chaos and loss of life would occur if electricity were to be shut off, even temporarily, and you will understand what is at stake in the Middle East. Even though it would be prudent to reduce our dependence on oil by finding alternative fuel sources, Middle Eastern oil will remain the primary source of energy for the world over the next 20 years. Therefore, fighting to defend this oil interest is not only vital, it is moral. Immoral would be to allow a lunatic like Saddam Hussein or the Mullahs of Iran to control the aqueduct and valves that irrigate the economies of the modern world.
* * *
Our second major interest in the region is our commitment to protect the State of Israel. Without getting into a lengthy exposition of the history of Israel, I will give just a brief explanation of how Israeli-Arab relations affect regional stability and American foreign policy.
After the establishment of Israel in 1948, the Arab nations seeing Israel as just a continuation of foreign colonial style interference in their backyards, set about to destroy Israel and remove the last vestige of colonialism. The Arabs tried to destroy Israel again in 1967 and 1973. This pattern has set the essential relationship between the Israelis and their Arab neighbors: the Israelis use American support attempting to survive in a hostile region, and the Arabs are trying to see to it that they don't. America has become Israel's special protector because the Jews have a close connection to the West, where a powerful lobby continues to push for the support of Israel. The majority of Jews who emigrated to Israel came from Europe and America. Also, the West has a deep sense of guilt over the Holocaust, and thus feels obligated to protect Israel now, feeling that it should have done more to protect Jews back in the 1940s.
It is hard to say at any given time whether Israel controls America's foreign policy in the region, or the reverse. Whatever the case, America is stuck with Israel not only for the reasons above, but more importantly the need to use Israel as a foil against the hostile Arab nations - a sort of base colony and target on the ground for Arabs to focus on. As Kissinger said very aptly, “Our policy in the region with respect to the Israeli-Arab situation has always been to keep the Israelis in a position of absolute military superiority with respect to their Arab neighbors.” This is because, if the Arabs see a chance, a weakness, in the American-provided Israeli armor, they will not hesitate to pounce.
As a consequence of the Six Days war in1967 and especially the Yom Kipper War in 1973, American policy has shifted to a more pro-active role. During the Yom Kippur War, America came close to a direct conflict with the Soviet Union as the latter started to move troops into Egypt in preparation for direct intervention. Rumors of nuclear weapons being moved in Egypt by the Soviets sent Washington into a panic. Meanwhile, Israel inflicted yet another stunning defeat on the Arabs as the crack Egyptian 3rd Corp was surrounded and almost destroyed. And because America backed Israel as it humiliated the Arabs once again, the Arab nations started to use the oil weapon against the West. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), which is Arab dominated, threatened to embargo oil and conspired to raise oil prices. The entire Arab world was on the verge of open revolt against the PAX Americana. With the threat of a Soviet usurpation and the Arab revolt, Washington decided on a more proactive role in the region. First, Israel would be made invulnerable to another combined Arab attack. Second, instead of America allowing Israel to await an expected attack, as seen with the situation in 1973, when you had the possibility of an American-Soviet conflict, America has tried to derail any Arab move by U.N. action, or as a last resort to use American forces directly. This, according to their thinking, would deflect Arab focus to America which is thousands of miles away, thus temporarily keeping their focus away from Israel, thereby preventing a large war in the region that may get out of hand. This is one of the reasons why we are now seeing the intervention in Iraq by America instead of Israeli troops. It is a form of political three-card-monty: we want the Arabs to focus on Israel, but not to attack them, and when they are ready to attack Israel, we slip in to divert their focus back to America. And all the while continuing to cajole and bribe the Arabs not to attempt to cut the oil pipeline.
* * *
Regional stability was effected in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s by Nasser's Egypt, Arab Nationalism, and Palestinian resistance to Israeli occupation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. All of these were colored by the Soviet Union's attempt to usurp America's position in the region. Some of these threats have subsided while others have emerged. One of these new threats was Saddam's Iraq.
Beginning as a typical Nasser-style Arab Socialist strongman, Saddam generally played by America's rules even receiving American military aid for his war against Iran. America gave its assent to this adventure because it wished to overthrow or undermine Iran's fundamentalist government, an action which America thought would halt the spread of Islamic Fundamentalism. Then Saddam decided to directly challenge American power by invading Kuwait, which is a key link in the oil pipeline - a big “no no.” His gamble did not payoff the way he thought and his forces were decimated, but unexpectedly he was allowed to retreat within his borders thereby pulling off a moral victory of sorts in the Muslim world. There he was defying sanctions put into place after the war, building palaces, funding suicide bombers in Israel, being the focus and the hero of the Muslim world's aspirations to rid the region of American influence and destroy the State of Israel. And this was the reason he needed to be taken down - not because he was making weapons of mass destruction (WMD); not because he was a further actual military threat - his forces being no match for America. He became the focus of resistance in the Muslim world for having taken on America and survived. Not only did he survive, but he continued to thumb his nose at the “Great Satan.” This had the potential of encouraging his Muslim neighbors to do likewise. An example had to be made of him; he had to be taken out. This was the actual geopolitical reason for the war, not the WMD, the promotion of Democracy, and certainly not because he had a hand in the 9/11 attacks or shared the ideology that animated the highjackers.
Using the wave of patriotism following 9/11 and the WMD pretext was good in a practical sense. Saddam was known to have had WMD programs, and perhaps they could find at least a remnant of these programs to justify the war. To start with, the reason why a nation like Iraq tries to get WMD is to insure the survival of their state in the face of potential invasion, to force the opponent to deal with them, or at the most fight a limited war to negotiations. If America knew, for instance, that Iraq had acquired a nuclear weapon, it would not be afraid that Iraq might use this against America preemptively, for there would be very little chance for Iraq to survive a counter-strike. What these weapons give to a man like Saddam, or any other government, is political clout, a place at the big negotiating table; the possibility that he could retaliate against Israel, or the American forces if they made a move against him is the reason why America was concerned to keep these weapons out of his hands. America's policy in this region is to keep these weapons out of the hands of potential enemies, so as to give it (America) the option of removing these governments by force without the fear of retaliatory strikes - to keep these Arab nations away from the big negotiating table. Not being able to acquire a nuke, Saddam dismantled all of his chemical and biological weapons programs knowing that these weapons would be insufficient to preserve his government in the event of an American invasion. Also, he was smart to dismantle them, for these ineffective programs offered America a potential pretext to finish him off.
A great deal of anger and political capital was available to Bush after 9/11, and therefore tying Saddam to the attacks was expedient. But strictly speaking within the Muslim world Saddam and Bin Laden are on opposite ends of the political spectrum. Saddam was a secular socialist-style leader, who saw himself attempting to modernize the Arab world and use the magic of the West - industrialism, technology, secularism - to make the Arabs capable of competing with the Western world. This was Ataturk's and Nasser's vision as well. Socialists like him view fundamentalists like Bin Laden as holding up progress towards these goals. On the other hand, the fundamentalists see all of this secularization as contaminating Islam. Over the past decades the secularist regimes in the region have fought bloody, bitter conflicts with the fundamentalists. The fight between the PLO and the fundamentalist organizations Hamas and Islamic Jihad for control of the Palestinian movement is an excellent example of this. Only in Iran have the fundamentalists been successful in taking control of the state. About the only thing these two elements have in common is an abiding hatred - of Israel and the West.
* * *
The move was made, Saddam was overthrown, the country was occupied and the process of trying to put another government in place began. The question as to whether Bush acted prudently in going into Iraq in the manner he did has caused much debate. I do not question whether or not he had good reason to move on Iraq, nor would I question the manner. To allow a man like Saddam to control the jugular vein of the world's oil was not prudent and removing him was essential. I would only ask what led him and his advisers to believe that America was still capable of dealing with the probable eventualities once troops were put on the ground, and then required to stay until a workable government was in place and functioning in the manner America wanted. A very tall order given the knowledge of the area and the likelihood that this would be a continual, bloody and costly affair. They thought that they would go in like “Desert Storm,” and the war would be over within a flash causing few causalities, and the “loving” Iraqi people would accept us with open arms, never a shot being fired after the evil Saddam was out. How naive!
They should have realized that however much the various groups in Iraq may have hated Saddam, in all likelihood they would hate Americans more. They should have also realized that despite the divisions within Iraq, if America invaded and put people on the ground, these divisions might temporarily cease in order for them to focus their enmity on the occupying infidels. This is perfectly demonstrated by the marriage of convenience between formerly hostile fundamentalists and secular Baathist insurgents. Both are allied in their effort to drive the Americans out and undermine the puppet government. Also, to fight an insurgency would necessitate spending a great deal of blood over a long period of time. Was the price, given the threats posed, worth it? The smart answer was no. There were other ways to deal with Saddam and a move to invade should have been made only if Bush had had a strong united country willing to pay the price in blood and make the hard decisions necessary to maintain its hegemony in the region. America no longer has these qualifications, and 9/11 did not reverse the trend towards weakness that this country has been undergoing since W.W.II.
America has been bluffing its way through the last 30 years as a “Super Power” by using its technology and money to achieve its foreign policy objectives. This bluff could have conceivably been played out for many more years, but with Bush's move in Iraq, America's time as a power has been placed in jeopardy. Bush has made America vulnerable by directly putting America in a position where it must show its rivals (China, Russia, North Korea) that it has the resolve and will to achieve its goal in Iraq as well as to maintain its position of power in the world no matter what the cost. The fact that we have a significant portion of our population that believes America should run its foreign policy as a sort of missionary society and thinks that our position in the world could be improved if only we were nicer to people, is proof positive that we do not have the strength to engage in an adventure like Iraq. Bush should have formulated a less risky method of thwarting Saddam.
Critics on the Left have said that if only we would have gone in with the support of the “World Community” things would have been different. If only we would have had the Germans and the French by our side as we marched on Baghdad, there would not be the opposition we see now. It was, they say, only because Bush went in like a “cowboy” that the Iraqis now hate us and the resistance is so intense. I can understand these sentiments, but only because with America's inherent weaknesses it would have been better for us to hide these weaknesses behind a coalition, so if things went wrong we could spread the blame and retain a bit of our credibility.
The fact is the resistance in all likelihood would have been the same whether we went in with the Europeans or not. Probably as a result of this resistence opposition to the war in Europe would have eventually forced most of these allies to pull their troops out prematurely. The very few countries that came on board with the invasion are at the moment being pressured out as a result of their people's inability to stomach the continual bombings and kidnapings. This readiness to pull-out would not have been any different if in the beginning their support was more unanimous. The pull-out of the Spanish troops after several bombs went off in Madrid is a perfect example of this lack of resolve on the part of the Europeans. If any attempt is made to internationalize the situation in Iraq, the situation will be the same: if the Iraqis resist and this produces casualties, this will in turn cause their people (Europeans especially) to force a pull-out. Does anyone remember the inability of the European countries to deal with the situation in the former nation of Yugoslavia? They did nothing and as a result the situation was only resolved when America stepped in. If they could not deal with a situation in their own backyard, what makes anyone believe they are capable of solving the problems of Iraq? They will not because they can not. Having lived under the military protection of America and the Soviet Union for the last 60 years, Europeans have been able to indulge their pacifist fantasies and as a consequence of this you have a people incapable of defending themselves let alone extending their power beyond their borders.
Thus, Bush's geopolitical reasons for intervention were indeed strong, but they were not so strong as to be critical to America's survival. America keeps the peace of that region for the sake of its oil and Israeli interest as well as the benefit of the people living there. Saddam was a threat to that peace and had to be removed. However critical the interests and however pressing the need was to remove Hussein, every effort short of intervention should have been exhausted before putting troops on the ground. American has been avoiding conflicts and bluffing its way through world politics since Vietnam, and Bush should have done everything to stay on this course. The best brains - Kissinger among them - were telling him about the dangers that lurked in the ancient desert landscape of Iraq. He would not listen and now thousands of American lives and the future status of American power are in jeopardy due to his asinine adventure.
III. Democracy In Iraq
Quoting the Bible in relation to the divisions between North and South, Lincoln said that “a house divided against itself will not stand.” Lincoln was a prescient bumpkin. What was true of America 140 years ago is doubly true for a place like Iraq with its much deeper divides. As we know Bush's policy in Iraq has set itself the goal of setting up a functioning democracy. However, because of the ethnic, religious and political divisions the realistic prospects for a long term, stable democratic government will be highly tenuous.
The ethnic divisions within Iraq are between the Kurds who are the majority in the far north of Iraq, and the Arabs to the south. The Kurds and the Arabs share the same general religion, Islam, but speak a different language and have different cultures. The Arabs to the south share the same language and culture, but are divided over religion into the Sunni and Shiite versions of Islam - similar to the divisions within Christianity between Protestants and Catholics. All three groups have a long history of conflict with each other. There are political divisions within these groups and also the division between those who favor cooperation with the American puppet-government and those who do not. These things were apparently overlooked in the decision to go to war and because America did go to war, and has taken upon itself the task of not only rebuilding Iraq, but of making Iraq a model for how it wants other nations in the region to function, America must stay involved in Iraq in order to maintain its credibility in the world community and It must succeed no matter the consequences, or America's long term “Super Power” status will be severely damaged.
The present borders of Iraq, and most countries in the region, were drawn during the Treaty of Versailles in 1919. This happened at the conclusion of the First World War and the defeat of the Central Powers by the Allies. One of the Central Powers was the Ottoman Turkish Empire, which controlled much of the Middle East prior to the war. Upon defeat, this territory was divided into the various countries we now see in the region. Unfortunately, they did not spend too much time considering the various ethnic and religious divisions in the region when they formed these nations. This set the stage for more conflict, as hostile minorities sought autonomy from the nations they were forced into.
One of the best examples of this problem is the Kurdish situation. The Kurds for many centuries have lived in the region which is now where the four countries of Syria, Turkey, Iran and Iraq come together to form borders. Having been denied at Versailles a country of their own, they have ever since sought independence from all four countries - usually by armed insurrection. The Turks have fought a long Kurdish insurgency. Likewise the Kurds have been fighting the Iraqi Sunnis for a homeland of their own.
Everybody is by now familiar with how Saddam's government used poison gas to suppress a Kurdish rebellion back in the 1980s. So, despite America's coming, the Kurds still aspire to independence and have a long history of conflict with the Arabs to their south. This is complicated by America's close relationship with the Turkish government (much of the weaponry, for instance, used against the Kurdish rebellion came from America). The Turks fear that America may sponsor a possible independent state in Kurdish Northern Iraq, thereby encouraging their Kurdish brethren across the border to continue their rebellion against the Turks. America was aware of this sensitive situation before the current war, but at the same time was using Kurdish aspirations for independence to undermine Saddam's government. Washington has received begrudging Kurdish support for the present puppet government in Baghdad, in exchange for guaranteeing their protection from possible Sunni oppression in the future. The Kurdish region also contains about 20% of Iraq's oil fields. Using this oil may prove very helpful in fueling their bid for independence. America needs to be very careful, for the Turks are their best Muslim ally in the region, and the Turks absolutely will not tolerate Kurdish independence. And the Kurds will never stop their effort toward independence.
The Kurds are a small minority living in the far north and will probably not play the critical role in the future stability of Iraq. The Arab groups to the south (Sunni, Shiites) will definitely effect the situation. The Sunnis are approximately 20% of the population, while the Shiites are about 60%. The conflict between the two is rather involved and old.
After Muhammad's death, Islam spread dramatically over the next century (650 A.D.-750 A.D.). His successors were titled Caliphs: the caliph was a comprehensive position involving both a religious and political aspect - the supreme leader of the Umma, the Muslim congregation. The first caliphs were Arabians related to Muhammad by blood or marriage, and were usually religiously scrupulous. The most famous of these religiously exact caliphs was Ali, who was married to Muhammad's daughter Fatima. Later as the Empire expanded, the seat of power moved first to Damascus under the Ummayids (661 A.D.-750 A.D.), and later reached its height of power and culture under the Abbassid Dynasty (750A.D.-1258 A.D.) in the magnificently built capital of Baghdad. These later caliphs were more secular, materialists, being primarily political leaders, ruling one of the largest empires in history.
Ethnic and religious division started to erode the Caliphates in about 800 A.D. The religious conflict began when Muslims in Iraq began to complain that the caliphs should be chosen because of their religious and personal worthiness. Rigorists believed the way to insure worthiness was to limit the caliphate to the family of Muhammad, more specifically, to the line of Ali. Adherents of this sect called themselves the Shia, the Party of Ali. Opposed to the Shiites were the majority of Muslims, who were henceforth called “Sunnis” to proclaim this adherence to the entire summa, the teachings and practices of Mohammad. Sunnis accepted the entire line of Ummayids and Abbassid caliphs, Shiites did not. This conflict over the years has become unbridgeable, having a long history of brutality behind it. There are Shiites throughout the Muslim world, but Sunnis remain the majority except in Southern Iraq and Iran, both of which are Shiite strongholds.
The Sunnis in Iraq are mainly concentrated in the center of the country around the capital Bagdad. Even though they are a minority and they predominate in a region bereft of oil, the Sunnis dominated the political and economic life of Iraq before the invasion. Having the power throughout most of the region's history, they have used it abusively against the Shiites to the south and the Kurds to their north. The latest government under Saddam's Baathist Party was a Sunni dominated affair, and Baathist oppression against the Shiites was the order of the day. For example, the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s was largely fueled by this Sunni-Shiite enmity, the Iranians being Shiites, the Iraqis Sunni dominated. During the war the Shiites in the South of Iraq sided, at least morally, with their Iranians co-religionists, and this intensified their oppression by the Baghdad government. Then later after the Gulf War in 1991, and the retreat of Iraqi forces from Kuwait, the Shiites staged, with America's encouragement, an uprising against Saddam, but lacking the expected American assistance they were brutally crushed - thousands were killed.
The Sunnis today constitute much of the resistance we are seeing against the American forces and the Baghdad government, for they had the most to lose with Saddam's fall. They ran the country for years and used the Kurdish and Shiite oil fields to build palaces and subsidize the Sunni population. Now they see that a democratic government will be dominated by the Shiites, resulting in a complete loss of power and wealth. Needless to say, they will fight not only the remaining American troops on the ground, but will continue the struggle against any future government dominated by Shiites. As anybody can see the Sunnis are the key to future stability in Iraq, and unless America backs another Sunni dominated government there will be no peace.
To the south living in cities such as Basra and Najaf are the Shiites; yearning for revenge and independence from their Sunni oppressors, they are the next biggest obstacle to future peace within Iraq. They are 60% of the population and their southern region contains 80% of the oil fields. Unless some sort of quota government, or perhaps greater regional autonomy is worked out between the three groups in Iraq, the Shiites will control any democratically elected government and the lion's share of Iraq's oil wealth. If this is the case they are not going to let bygones be bygones. They had a huge axe to grind, it is now sharp and poised to strike their former Sunni overlords - there will be no joining of hands except on T.V., and certainly no bongo-circles, despite what Bush says.
The problem with the Shiites is that they are dominated to a much greater extent by Islamic Fundamentalism. Islamic clerics such as the former Mohammed Sadiq as-Sadr and his successor Ayatollah al-Sustani are the leaders most respected among the Shia. These clerics have a close relationship with the Islamic government in Iran, which has long been hostile to American interests in the region. The Shiites of Iraq also have close ties to the terrorist group Hezbollah in southern Lebanon. You may recall Hezbollah (The Party of God) was the group responsible for the bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut back in 1983 that killed over 250 Americans. The former Sunni Baathists, on the other hand, are more secular and their opposition to America is more nationalistic rather than religious. From America's perspective, it is a choice between the lesser of two evils; unfortunately they may have chosen the greater by giving most of the power to the Shia who, in the long run, may very well attempt to set up an Iranian style system if they continue in power.
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With all of these deep seated problems, perhaps attempting to set up an American style democracy was not the way to go. But like a religious doctrine, democracy is central to American ideology. Americans believe that the natural political evolution of all human societies is tending toward democracy. This determinism is similar to the Marxist belief in Dialectical Materialism, which was the belief that the proletariat (landless workers and peasants) would inevitably triumph over the capitalist system run by the bourgeoisie (property owners). This would usher in the classless society: the Dictatorship of the Proletariat. America has set itself the goal of democratizing the globe. If anything less than democracy is installed in Iraq, they argue, they have not only failed but their intentions are not pure, holy, and moral. To go into Iraq for any other reason than to “liberate” the people from the clutches of an “evil” dictator, and lead them to the altar of democracy would, they contend, be inconceivable. Obedience to these ideological constraints has severely limited Bush's room for maneuver in accomplishing his overriding geopolitical goals in Iraq. Consequently, Bush has said that if only 10% of the people of Iraq vote, it would more than vindicate the sacrifices made and prove that the mission was a success. Like a political Billy Graham bringing the gospel of democracy to the heathens, Bush is required to say that even if 90% of Iraq is in flames because of his efforts there, he has brought salvation to at least 10% of the heathens, and this makes it worth it because at least these 10% of the “saved” will enter the gates of egalitarian paradise. This is indeed a recipe for disaster.
If the erection of a functioning democracy in Iraq is a primary policy objective, the failure is almost certain. This is because for a democracy to function best the population voting to install their representatives must optimally share a common heritage, culture, religion, language, race, ethnicity, and so forth. To what extent a population has these things in common, the easier it is to govern them. To what extent they do not, the more likely there will be internal conflict. Most important, if there is diversity and a history of conflict based upon this diversity, the groups will merely use the ballot box to continue their struggle. If they can not achieve their goals at the ballot box, they will invariably resort to the bullet to get what they want. Even among a homogenous population the issues often become heated enough to divide the people into hostile camps that often lead to violence. This is what happened with our Civil War over the issue of slavery, and is now happening with respect to issues like abortion and homosexual marriage. But eventually the issues in a homogenous society are resolved and the conflicts that surround them disappear, and the underlying similarities between the combatants reunite the people. This is not true when the issues of democratic politics are replaced by identity politics. Instead of the political disjunction focusing on a transitory issue, the disjunctions in a culturally diverse population center on the identity differences themselves and these do not die unless one people assimilates the other, which is a long process. The parties are no longer identified with issues or political principles and beliefs, but become the black party, the Muslim party, the Hispanic party, all representing self-contained “communities.” Every member of the group now votes not issues per se, but votes for the success of their particular group. The issues still change, but the group identities and the conflicts based thereupon do not.
Places like Iraq which have large intractable ethnic and religious differences that try to govern themselves democratically turn into armed camps every election season. In Nigeria for example, every election is accompanied by violence between Christians and Muslims. The machetes are sharpened for slashing, used tires are stockpiled and readied for use to turn the streets into a fog of camouflaging smoke. Occasionally a burning tire will be used to decorate the corpse of a downed opponent - yes, the wonderful smell of democracy in Lagos. Northern India's elections are always preceded by the traditional rioting between Muslims and Hindus, and, of course, the time honored bombing of each other's train stations and buses. These are just two examples where democracy becomes the spur for ethnic clashes, and the elections do not overcome these differences but rather exacerbate them.
The dozens of armed separatist movements we see around the world today are the logical next step in democratization, as minorities who are once mobilized behind a particular identity in democratic politics, take the next step towards self-determination. Most of these separatist movements were born out of the inability of minorities to achieve their objectives at the ballot-box. It can be truly said that it was democracy that planted the seeds of these separatist movements by mobilizing them behind their identity with the idea that is central to democracy: self-determination. What holds true for Nigeria and India, goes double for Iraq where you have major groups and many smaller tribal groups as well; most of these groups have centuries old conflicts behind them. They will merely transfer their identity conflicts to the ballot-box, and the smaller groups (Sunnis) will inevitably resort to violence when they do not get what they want at the polls.
This is what took place in central and eastern Europe after WWI when democratization and self-determination based upon language and ethnicity became the policy for dismantling the former empires of Austria-Hungary, Germany and Ottoman Turkey. The former Hapsburg Austro-Hungarian Empire was made up of a polyglot population of Czechs, Germans, Magyars, Ruthenians, Slovaks, Serbs, Bosnian Muslim and Jews. All of whom wanted some form of homeland of their own. New nations were formed based partly upon these divisions - Czechoslovakia, Poland, Yugoslavia - but many minorities were left living in those new countries, all of them wanting their own promised self-determination, or at least union with their ethnic brethren in different nations. The politics of these minorities agitating for union with their ethnic brethren in another country became known as “Irredentism.” This became a major source of conflict in the years between the wars, and was one of the chief causes of W.W.II. For instance, the new nation of Czechoslovakia was made up of Germans, Czechs, Slovaks, and Ruthenians. The German minority who lived on the border of Germany in the Sudetenland, wanted union with Hitler's expanding Reich. They began agitating for this in 1937. This blew up into the Munich crisis as Hitler responded to the Sudentenlanders by declaring that the Czechs be forced to cede the region to the Reich. The other minorities living in Czechoslovakia were pulling in different directions: Ruthenians wanted closer ties with their brethren in Hungary; Slovaks wanted independence; Poles living in Czechoslovakia wanted union with Poland; and Jews wanted to go to Palestine, where Lord Balfour had agreed to start working towards a Jewish homeland. Once the spirit of democracy took hold in eastern Europe, every minority wanted self-determination but there simply were not enough countries to go around.
After W.W.II, the Soviet Union put an end to this by once again forcing all of these groups into the newly created Soviet Bloc nations. Just like the Austrians and Ottomans of old they imposed an order against the will of the many minorities in the region, producing a level of peace and stability. After the Soviet collapse the region once again exploded with self-determination. The troubles of Yugoslavia in the 1990s are familiar to everybody. Today much of Central Asia is still in turmoil, and other nations in the region just averted conflict. The Ukraine recently came close to civil war over a lost election. The point is that democracy and its concomitant idea of self-determination more often than not produces conflict when let loose among a diverse population.
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But why has democracy succeeded so well in America? Are we not the model of how a diverse society can govern itself democratically? To go against these sacred tenets of democracy and diversity, they say, would be unthinkable. Is not our national motto “our strength is in our diversity?” Well the facts that hold true for Iraq and the rest of the world hold true for America as well. The above catch phrase is a piece of Orwellian “new speak” nonsense. Factually, it is the equivalent of saying “our health is in our sickness,” or “our intelligence is in our stupidity.” The fact of the matter is that the majority of the conflicts in the world we see being waged within the borders of a particular state, have their origin in too much diversity. For example, the Christian blacks of the Darfur region of Sudan, who we've heard so much about recently, want to break away from the Arab-Muslim dominated Sudanese government. And they've been waging a guerilla war to accomplish this for many years. The Arabs have responded by attempting to drive their population base out of the Western Sudan. Likewise, in Sri Lanka, the ethnic Tamils want independence from the majority, and have been fighting for 30 years to achieve this. The list is endless. In Chechnya an insurgency is being waged by Muslim separatists against the Orthodox Christian Russians. Muslims in the southern Phillippines are trying to break away from the Catholic “majority.” Bandeh Acheh is trying to cut its ties to Indonesia. Ethnic Basques want autonomy in northern Spain. Catholic Irishmen fought the Protestants for 25 years in Ulster. Yugoslavia spent the 1990s splitting apart in a bloody spasm of ethnic hatred. And just as gravity operates here in America the same way it does in Asia, these types of conflicts are coming to a neighborhood near you, here in the good ole US of A.
To the extent democracy has worked in America, it is only because our culture, up until recently, has remained relatively homogenous. The culture that has shaped the American people was almost exclusively Western European. Up until the end of the 19th century immigration came from the nations of North Western Europe. Despite differences of language, all of these nations shared the same general culture, Western European Christian. Those who landed in America whether from Germany, England, or Ireland were expected to assimilate to the particular Anglo-Saxon national culture that had taken root at Jamestown and the Bay Colony. Because these people from Western Europe came from the same general culture, assimilation was quick and generally painless. Except for a few hold-outs like the Amish and Mennonites, all of these early immigrants have “melted” into the basic “middle American” identity. Non-Western identities - Blacks, Jews, Asians - that have come to America have been harder to assimilate. But despite this difficulty many millions of these non-Westerners were successfully assimilated. Then in the mid-twentieth century the former policy of assimilation was discarded and now the policy is to promote individual, separate cultural identities, especially among those non-Western identities. With these separate identities came the pernicious influence of identity politics.
Identity politics in America has been relatively peaceful up until now only because an aggressive propaganda campaign has been waged to neutralize what would be the natural tendencies of the majority to exclude and marginalize these non-Western minorities. Every demand that has been made by the minorities in this country in the last 50 years has been granted. A systematic propaganda message has effectively created what is called “white guilt,” and at the same time minorities have been propagandized with the reverse: “Black Power,” “Latino Power,” and so forth. This hurting one group and helping the other, they say, is to “level the playing field.” But no where in the annals of history is there anything resembling a nation with a “level playing field.” On the contrary, as the minorities grow stronger, their demands grow louder.
If one observes the progress of the Black identity in America over the past 50 years, it is easy to see that the closer we get to a level playing field, the clearer it becomes that they want the whole playing field, and have no intention of keeping it level. This is only natural, and is what history teaches about such things. Civil Rights was the issue 50 years ago. Once granted, the next demand was Affirmative Action (quotas). Today the demand is for so-called “Reparations,” that is payment made to all blacks in reparation for slavery. Every success is a pretext for more demands. Remember that one of the chief arguments of those who opposed the Civil Rights Bill of 1964: they said this was the first step toward an imposed quota system. Those in favor of the bill said that all they wanted was a fair chance in society not a favorable helping hand through quotas. Later, in the 1970s, they argued that the evil white man was not giving them a fair chance, so they needed Affirmative Action, which the “guilty” white man quickly gave them. Despite our government spending more than nine trillion dollars on Great Society welfare programs, that have primarily targeted inner-city blacks, now they are demanding a special compensation (Reparation) just for being black.
The level playing field is a myth and corresponds to nothing in history. Sooner or later - probably sooner - minorities will no longer be minorities, and they will use their new found power to oppress and exclude whites. The closer we get to this, the closer we get to violence. Below the surface of the happy-face painted upon black and white relations in this country is the riots of the 1960s and the recent riots in L.A. It is just waiting for a pretext to explode. What holds true for blacks, holds true for Hispanics as well. And what will happen when once whites in this country are a minority and in a position to be persecuted? Will blacks and Hispanics be as tolerant as whites were to them? Will they pursue the level playing field? Not likely; liberalism is largely a European idea. When once they have the power they will ruthlessly exclude those not like themselves. This was what took place in all of those organizations which helped enact civil rights for Blacks in the 1960s. All of those groups had white leaders and owed a great deal to liberal whites and Jews for their success. When once they achieved success in the early 1960s, whites were purged from all of these civil rights groups (SCLC, CORE) by the late 1960s. The new drift in the black community was toward Black Power, which preached exclusion of non-blacks. This is the idea which still dominates the Black community, despite the multi-cultural appearance of Jesse Jackson's Rainbow Coalition.
The same process has taken place in the larger cities of the nation: as minorities have gained power politically, they almost always purge the municipal government of whites. The exclusionary ideas of Black or Latino Power are the ideas that animate minority politics today, not diversity. Within the areas they control, they exclude all diversity. The idea of diversity is understood to mean whites including non-whites, not the reverse. What black leaders teach and preach publicly would be unthinkable coming from any white leader. The black community, whether famous movie stars like Will Smith or the black man down in the street, consider voices like the “Honorable” Louis Farrakhan to be the most deserving of their respect. Those blacks that have fully assimilated - Alan Keys, Clarence Thomas, Thomas Sowell - are called “Uncle Toms.” In the streets of Compton, Jesse Jackson is considered a made-for television collaborator. Every Saturday Farrakhan can be seen on television ranting against the “white devils.” He recently packed the Georgia Dome with 50,000 admirers eager to listen to his message. He organized and led almost half a million Blacks to march on Washington. And what is his message? Black Muslims like Farrakhan, believe that Caucasians were invented 10,000 years ago by a renegade black scientist named Yacub. Yacub created these “hairy” monsters as the physical incarnations of evil, and ever since whitey has been persecuting humanity, especially blacks. It would be impossible for any white public figure to give expression to anything similar and survive as a national figure. Imagine what Mr. Farrakhan would do if he were the President and you will understand where this country will be in 50 years with respect to democracy and diversity. Iraq today is where we will be in 50 years. And there is no way a functioning democracy involving all of the groups in Iraq will be possible today, nor will it be possible in America in 50 years.
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There are actually only two types of government: an efficient one and an inefficient one. The form of government a particular people has at any one time is strictly dependent upon the instincts of that particular people at that particular time. As the instincts of a people change, the leadership responds by changing the form of government in order to effectively govern its people. The different forms of government, whether in the past or the present are completely dependent upon the changing instincts of the people that these governments rule. Politics has been correctly called the art of the possible. A ruling class can only govern a people in accordance with the instincts of the people. Whether the form they adopt is monarchistic or democratic in character is completely dependent upon what is possible at that particular time. No government anywhere will stand for very long if its rule is not consonant with the instincts of its people .
One should not mistake the instincts of a people with their will. The one is an irrational vibration, a wordless feeling. The other implies articulation and form, and this latter can only arise out of effective leadership. It is the effective leader who gives form to this wordless, formless feeling, and he gives it a will as well. The key to the shaping of a state is effective leadership and not the will of the people. Contrary to popular mythology, nations are not based upon a Social Contract. At no time in the history of the world has the plurality of a people formed a government. On the contrary, it is always the task of the leaders to give articulation and expression to the instincts of a people by forming a government and establishing law and order.
This is as true of America as it is of any other nation. The 1787 Constitution was not the will of the people. It was the product of Hamilton, Jay, and Madison, working from the “Virginia Plan.”
However, the government must be consonant with the instincts of the people or the people will not trust the leadership. And if they don’t trust the leadership, or the leaders have lost touch with the people’s needs and instincts, then new ambitious leaders who feel the grumblings of discontent, will respond by leading the people in a change of government or leadership. The mark of political genius is for the leaders to see the future possibilities based upon their reading of the people’s instincts. This is the derivation of all revolutions and the foundings of all governments everywhere, not the Social Contract. The people either respond favorably to the new moves of the new leaders by giving their trust, or not. The Social Contract implies that the plurality of the people consciously decides the leadership and the type of government in a formal intellectual sense, which is complete nonsense.
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Without getting too far afield, the points about democracy that I am trying to make and its effects upon the policy in Iraq, are several. First, the area that is called Iraq is much too diverse ethnically and religiously, and the conflicts between these groups too intractable for a democratic government to function properly. Democracies function best among a homogenous population. The divisions in Iraq are much too deep to be easily put aside. Especially given the fact that the former rulers (Sunnis) are the ones that are being dispossessed by a group (Shiites) waiting for revenge.
Second, Bush’s stated policy of setting up a democratic government based upon involving all three groups has limited his options. If upon going in he had the option of reconfiguring the nation of Iraq in any manner likely to produce results, success might have been possible. But this would have necessitated admitting that the reason America is in Iraq is first and foremost to secure our practical interests and not to save souls for democracy. Even if Bush's administration had decided upon this solution before going into Iraq, it would never have flown with the American people, and most of the world would have been screaming about American imperialism tearing apart a small country in a divide and conquer strategy. Now that the choice of how to reconfigure Iraq is in the hands of the various delegates to the constitutional convention in Bagdad, it is likely that each of the three groups are going to pursue some form of regional arrangement anyway. And, of course, Bush will receive the blame for any resulting problems as these arrangements work themselves out.
The best bet for governing Iraq would have been to duplicate as best as possible that type of government that has succeeded in governing the place for many years: a Sunni strongman should have been put into place, governing the entire nation with a greater level of autonomy for the Kurds and the Shiites. Or the nation should have been split into three states as part of a federation. Splitting the nation into three semi-autonomous regions is probably the only workable solution at present. The critical problem is to give the Sunnis more power. This could not occur under a democratic system that is based upon one man, one vote. The Sunnis are a minority and would be out-voted by the Shiites, who they will under no condition allow to govern them. The solution would be to give the Sunnis either self-government with generous oil revenue sharing, or to come up with a power sharing system within a federal style government. The first of these solutions, splitting the nation into three independent states, is probably not the best solution because it would necessitate sharing oil across state lines. The second solution, a federal system, is more workable. The problem with this arrangement is it would still mean a loss of power for the Sunnis. Hence they may continue to fight after any power sharing plan is tried. They know that the American people will soon tire of keeping troops in Iraq. And once American troops are not in a position to protect the Shiite government, they know that with the support of the Syrians and the Sunni Muslim world they have a good chance to regain control of the whole country.
As mentioned earlier, a huge obstacle to dividing Iraq into separate regions is the fact that this would deprive the Sunnis of any oil revenue. The oil fields of Iraq are exclusively in the Kurdish north and the Shiite south. Oil is Iraq's major source of wealth. Unless some form of oil revenue sharing plan can be put into place that satisfies the Sunnis, they will spurn any regional split that leaves them high and dry. Not only have the Sunnis lost political control of Iraq, it is probable that any configuration that does not put them back into power over the entire country will keep their fingers out of the economic pie as well. After being tortured and abused by the Sunnis for years, the Kurds and Shiites are not in a sharing kind of mood. It is a classic case of dispossession. And it is only natural that the Sunnis would start and now maintain an insurgency to regain their lost possessions.
The insurgency is a multifaceted monster. The resistance is deeply embedded in the Sunni areas of the country, relying upon the support of the population of the large cities and towns of central Iraq. This makes it a natural insurgency, in that it can maintain itself within the target country without too much cross border support in order to survive. This is evidence of its strength. Yet there is added to this ability to survive without cross border support, a relatively effective supply network snaking back into Syria and Iran. Because of Iraq's terrain, the insurgency is nothing similar to our experience in Vietnam, where we were unable to stop the flow of men and supplies coming into the country on the Ho Chi Minh Trail. What they are receiving from Syria and Iran is more than adequate to maintain the present level of attacks. Above and beyond material aid is the overwhelming moral support the resistance is receiving from the Muslim world. The man in the streets whether in Cairo or Islamabad wants to see America’s efforts in Iraq fail. The situation is becoming similar to that of the Muslim focus on the Palestinian Intafada (resistance to Israel, occupation of West Bank and Gaza Strip). Militarily many tactics may be experimented with that will probably have mixed results, but unless the Sunnis decide to stop supporting the resistance, the insurgency will continue. Only a political solution will succeed. To defeat the Sunni insurgency militarily would probably require methods that would be considered unacceptable by the American people and the world community.
The news coming out of Iraq is becoming progressively worse. An experienced war correspondent recently opined that Baghdad was by far the most frightening place he had ever been. “The fear is palpable, you can cut it with a knife,” he said. On January 13, 2005, an assistant to the top Shiite cleric, the Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, was assassinated, apparently by Sunnis hoping to inflame ethnic tensions. Two car bombs were detonated at Iraqi police check-points killing fifteen people. On January 6, 2005, a massive roadside bomb picked an American Bradley fighting vehicle completely off the ground, flipping it into the air, killing all seven crewmen. In December of 2004, a bomb ripped through the chow hall of a “secure”American base killing 22 Americans. Recently, fighting in Al An Bar Province killed over 30 Marines. The military admits that there are at least a dozen or more major attacks a day.
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All of this leads to the conclusion that America is facing not just an insurgency in Iraq but rather a civil war which is significantly different. The insurgency is obviously very popular in the Sunni area, for if it were not the insurgents would not be able to operate with such impunity. For a government being supported by a military with the size and power of America, it should be easy to defeat a relatively unpopular insurgency. This inability to easily defeat the insurgency indicates that the guerrillas live and operate in the full view of their neighbors. Tactically the easiest place for the government troops to operate is in the larger cities. This is because they can concentrate there superior forces and defeat any guerrilla force which stays and fights on ground of their own choosing. Guerrillas survive by choosing the time and place of attack, and retreating once an attack has been made upon a weak point of the government forces. Because the government can defeat the guerilla force in a stand up fight, the guerrilla survives by being able to retreat into safety if the government concentrates its forces to destroy them.
Most of the modern guerrilla wars of the past century were of the cross border variety. Vietnam, the Pakistani-Indian conflict over Kashmir, the Afghan resistance to the Soviets - all were cross border affairs. In Vietnam you had a significant portion of the population, especially the rural Buddhists, who supported the communist Viet Cong guerrillas against the Catholic dominated, US backed government in Saigon. These guerrillas had support from North Vietnam, which in turn was supported by the Soviet Union. Because of the risk of expanding the war to include the Soviets, the conflict was limited to a war of attrition within the south of the country. The Soviets were supplying the north with ships at Haiphong Harbor, the North in turn was supplying their troops and Viet Cong guerrillas through a network of trails snaking through the supposedly neutral countries of Cambodia and Laos. Cambodia and Laos looked the other way lest they become the target of this Communist push. The border areas also provided safe haven for guerrillas and North Vietnamese troops (NVA). When American pressure became too hot with search-and-destroy operations in the south, the guerrillas and NVA troops would simply slip back across the border into the “neutral” jungles of Cambodia and Laos.
The same was done in Afghanistan, where American backed guerrillas used the border with Pakistan in the same way to infiltrate and undermine the Soviets and their puppet government installed at Kabul. The mountainous region of the Pakistan-Afghan border provided the same conditions for a successful cross border operation. Guerrillas were armed and trained by the CIA in Pakistan and infiltrated into Afghanistan. What was done to the Americans in Vietnam by the Soviets, was reversed in Afghanistan. The Soviets, like their American counterparts, opted to try to defeat the guerrillas on the ground in Afghanistan rather than risk expanding the war by invading Pakistan. The object of the guerrilla is to wear down his opponents in a battle of attrition until they tire of the fight and like the Americans in Vietnam and the Soviets in Afghanistan, pull out their troops so he can finish off the unsupported government or at least force them to the negotiating table to make political concessions favorable to the guerrilla's cause.
The guerrillas in Iraq do not have the cross border support of a super power, but they do have adequate supplies left over from Saddam's government to maintain the same level of attacks for years. For the type of guerrilla campaign that they must wage, urban, they do not need a great deal of ordinance. The guerrilla groups are relatively small and flexible, and rely a great deal on the stealthy planting of improvised explosives in hit and run operations. This is much different from the Vietnam and Afghanistan experience where they had to field and supply large guerrilla groups that would operate for extended periods. The urban guerrilla experience is different, requiring much less logistical support. What little that comes over from Syria and Iran will be adequate for the present situation. Even if their neighbors would help more, the terrain is not conducive to massive cross border operations. The landscape is all desert and relatively easy to interdict large formations using a minimum of troops. You do not have the jungles of Cambodia and Laos or the mountains of Pakistan to infiltrate supplies and large numbers of guerrillas across. So what little comes across the border will go through the open desert or through the regular check points concealed in vehicles.
If the guerrillas do not have a neighboring country to provide safe haven, a place of retreat to which the government forces would be reluctant to follow them into for fear of expanding the war into these neighboring countries - if the guerrillas do not have this luxury, they must go underground among the people within the country they are fighting over. Ultimately the goal of the guerrilla is to wear down the government forces, and either force a political settlement or spread the insurgency among the people to such an extent until gradually the guerrilla forces can begin to meet the government forces on their own ground. It is a slow battle of attrition. For the insurgents to operate within Iraq without a cross-border sanctuary demonstrates a high level of support, at least in those areas in which they are concentrated in. The only thing protecting the guerrillas, if they choose to stay, is the refusal of the local population to turn them into governmental forces. In cities such as Fallujah they controlled the entire city so effectively that the government forces would not enter the city until November of last year. This is the same in most of the Sunni areas. For a people to withstand house-to-house searches, the loss of privacy that necessarily goes with this situation, the occasional attack of government ground or air forces that kill their spouses, children, and loved-ones-for the people of a place like Fallujah to suffer all of this without simply coming forward to point out where the insurgents are living, shows a high level of support for their cause. If, as Rumsfeld claims, the insurgency was the effort of a small minority of holdouts and gangsters fighting against the will of the people, the insurgents would never be capable of living amongst a hostile population and operating as openly as they are now. Simple messages to the local police station would quickly root out an unpopular insurgency in no time.
But this is not the case. It is those Iraqis who have chosen to join the Iraqi police and army who must hide their identity. For example, three Iraqi election officials were shot in broad daylight at a crowded intersection in downtown Baghdad by unmasked insurgents. It is the Iraqi soldier who must walk around in a mask. Seventy-five off duty Iraqi military recruits were recently pulled off a bus and made to lay down in the road where they where shot in the back of the head. This is definite proof of the popularity of the guerrilla cause and the unpopularity of working for the Americans. Most of those who have chosen to work for the Americans are doing it for financial reasons. The Iraqi government forces have lost as many personnel since the take over of power in June, as the Americans have suffered since the opening of hostilities.
The insurgents on the other hand, have a high level of morale. You can not get people to blow themselves up unless they believe deeply in their cause. The pride of the Arab people has been insulted by the invasion, and they intend to avenge it. In the assault upon Fallujah , Iraqi government forces were initially given the stronger role, but in the opening stages of the assault they failed miserably and had to be moved to the rear of the Marine forces who did the lion's share of the fighting to take the city. More training is what they need, according to Rumsfled. This is nonsense, for the training and weaponry they had available at the time, being backed by the full complement of American air-power, put them in a decided advantage over their insurgent opponents hiding in the city awaiting the assault. The insurgents only had small arms and rocket propelled grenades. But the willingness to fight, and if necessary die, was readily apparent among the insurgents. This means they believe in their cause, and their government opponents do not. It is the old axiom of Napoleon again: “The spiritual is to the physical as three to one.” This formula will be fully demonstrated when American forces are finally pulled out and the government left behind to deal with the insurgents alone.
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Johnson and Nixon ran into the same problem in the 1960s with their Vietnamization programs. This was the effort to train and equip the South Vietnamese Military (ARVN) to withstand the incursions of the North Vietnamese (NVA) and to defeat the local Viet Cong (VC) insurgency in the South. Militarily the troops they were training and equipping had a material advantage over their opponents, but when it came to morale, the ARVN troops would not stand against the NVA without significant support from American air power. This became a continual source of frustration for the Nixon administration as it tried to pull its troops out and hand over their duties to the ARVN troops. The more troops they pulled out, the less likely it became that the ARVN troops would stand alone.
This was seen clearly when Nixon staged a major invasion of Cambodia in 1970. This was meant to temporarily cut the Ho Chi Minh Trail and destroy some of the major supply depots across the border. ARVN troops were to play a significant role in order to test the Vietnamization policy. But it was a catastrophe in this regard.
Nixon was feeling warlike after just having viewed the premiere of the film Patton. His advisers were warning him off of this adventure, knowing full well that this invasion would touch off a firestorm of protests on the college campuses. But he was having none of it, like George Patton driving on Bastogne, he was listening to the sound of a distant trumpet. The Ho Chi Minh Trail wound its way down the borders of Cambodia and Laos, using the thick triple canopy jungle to conceal its travelers. American air-power had been trying unsuccessfully to destroy the trail since the mid 1960s, and now Nixon was going to violate the “neutrality” of Cambodia and use ground troops to damage it. The operation got underway with success: troops destroyed a great deal of supplies, but soon NVA troops were counterattacking, especially in the sectors controlled by the ARVN troops. The ARVN troops cracked like a walnut before the inferior NVA formations. Most embarrassing of all were the news photos of ARVN troops who, after the operation, were being flown back by helicopters into Vietnam. Instead of them climbing aboard like conquering heroes, they looked as if they had just suffered a resounding defeat. They were seen clinging to the skids of the choppers as the overloaded choppers tried to lift off. The American air crews had to beat them off the skids using rifle butts before they could safely take-off. What was meant as a showcase of Vietnamization turned into a fiasco.
The ARNV troops were notorious slackers according to all the reports coming back with the American G.I.s. This was because no matter how much equipment and training was given them, they did not believe in their fight and lacked the patriotism of their VC and NVA opponents. They were mainly the type of cowardly opportunistic individuals found in every country who would collaborate with any invading army for material comforts. There were exceptions to this. The ARVN Marines and Rangers were excellent troops, but these were the exception not the rule. When American troops were finally pulled out, the country was protected primarily by American air power. This could not last long, and after a few sledgehammer offenses, the country fell.
The same words used back in 1968 by those pushing Vietnamization are the exact same words coming out of the White House now. “We need more time to train more troops,” Washington is saying. “A nation isn't built overnight.” This is nonsense. If the troops were motivated to defeat the insurgents, they are the ones that should have the advantage, for they are much more heavily armed and better equipped than their opponents. Would Rumsfeld have us believe that there is a crack insurgency training school in the ghettoes of Ramadi and Fallujah, churning out troops at a speed our trainers can not keep pace with? Nonsense, the insurgents are largely untrained men from the neighborhood, given just cursory instructions in the use of RPGs (rocket propelled grenades) and AK-47 rifles. Without the Americans supporting them, it is easy to see that the Iraqi troops would probably fall apart. Their insurgent opponents lack air power, professional training and modern communications, and yet they have the initiative.
The guerrillas, like most guerrillas everywhere, have the harder time of it; if they are brought to ground they are often killed to the last. It is not a happy end for most guerrillas. So just dealing with these disadvantages takes a high level of morale just to maintain the resistance movement intact. The guerrillas in Iraq have suffered an estimated five to ten times what the Americans or the Iraqi government forces have. And yet the guerrillas have the initiative. What does this tell the students of warfare? It tells them that the guerrillas have the advantage, for they win by not losing, and the government loses by not winning. All that the Iraqi resistance has to do is to sustain the will to continue the fight at or around current levels and they will win.
Now that they know that the insurgency is deeply rooted, and not just the last dying gasp of Saddam's regime, the American led forces will probably try a number of strategies to defeat the resistance. All of which will probably fail unless they can convince the majority of Sunnis to stop supporting the movement. The only real solution will be a political one that Sunnis can live with, or a military one that involves targeting the entire Sunni community. The former will be difficult, the latter would be impossible for the American people to support.
First is the political solution which I have dealt with earlier, and then there is the hearts and minds campaign that was tried in Vietnam. The efforts to bring food, clothing and material comforts are being frustrated by the insurgents who continue to attack anybody who reaches out to accept what the Americans are offering. Iraqis who are working with the Americans or the Interim Government are being ruthlessly attacked. Even workers who are joining in the American sponsored work projects are being targeted for assassination. Several construction workers involved in working on an American base recently were found dead beside the road. In Ramadi, a man who used to pick up the trash at the local American base was found dead, a note attached to the corpse specifying his offense: working with the Americans. Then there are the attacks upon the oil infrastructure of the country. Pipelines are attacked almost daily, resulting in the loss of millions. All of these attacks are clearly designed to frustrate economic recovery in Iraq, at least not under American tutelage. These tactics so far have been effective. The message being sent is clear: if you work with the Americans without the permission of the resistance, you will be targeted.
These actions have the potential of turning the people against the insurgents, but so far there seems to be little anger at the resistance's efforts to frustrate America's attempt to rebuild the country and win hearts and minds. The majority of Iraqis seem to attribute the violence, and the trouble in general, not to the insurgents but to the American occupation. This is the same position taken by Palestinians toward the violence in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Again this shows a high level of support for the resistance, or at least a high level of antipathy toward the American presence. They seem to be saying that however they feel about the insurgents, they will side with Iraqis, insurgents or not, before they will side with America. Of all the factions in Iraq, most of the Muslims seem to dislike the Americans most, despite the good works Americans are doing.
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The pundits in the media and some government-military officials have characterized the insurgents as a disorganized bunch of misfits and dead-enders with no real agenda. They say that the insurgents are much like the anarchists of the early 20th century. Because they do not have a centralized leadership with a specific political agenda they can not possibly succeed. Besides setting off a few bombs they have no realistic chance of convincing the Iraqi people to side with them, these people say. It is true that most insurgencies develop a definite political agenda, a political wing to voice this agenda, and a definite strategy to achieve their objectives. This is so because most insurgencies are easily organized behind one specific identity with one specific agenda. A good example is the Nationalist Irish with their political wing, Sinn Fein, and their military element, the IRA. Their agenda is to drive the British out of Northern Ireland and unite the country under a government in Dublin.
The problem with trying to form a popular resistance front in Iraq is that there are so many different groups with different agendas. Even though they are divided amongst themselves, most of the groups fighting share two desires in common: to drive the Americans out of Iraq, and to destroy the American supported puppet government. Until the first of these objectives is achieved, the various groups really do not need a political agenda at this time. Once the Americans are driven out then it is likely that specific political agendas will emerge, and then they will probably fight amongst themselves.
To keep the insurgent cells in a disparate, disorganized state gives them a tactical advantage. Being in a fragmented state gives the Americans a low-profile target. Just as the break-up of the Al Qaeda hierarchy made tracking and defeating them much more difficult, the Iraqi insurgents would be smart to keep their organizations dispersed under several leaders rather than giving their enemies a definable centralized leadership to focus on.
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Tactically the Americans, if they are smart, will try a leaner and more flexible approach to combating the resistance. This would involve using small elite formations acting upon information provided by spies, in order to attack the chain of command of the resistance. Because there are many chains of command this task becomes more difficult. The key to success is the effective use of neighborhood spies, infiltrated into the guerrilla movement, and the acquisition of information as to who the guerrillas are. Small well trained teams of Iraqi or American Special Forces units should be used in a low key cat and mouse game with the insurgents. Using stealth tactics blending in with the population, their chief assignment is to find and kill the leadership of the guerrillas and strike fear and confusion into the hearts of the resistance. These tactics are effective in reducing the level of resistance, for it is difficult to rebuild guerrilla units when a whole host of spies and hit teams are continually frustrating their efforts. The Israelis Mossad has used the tactic of targeted assassination effectively against the Palestinians; the Americans used a similar technique against the Viet Cong in the Phoenix Program.
The Phoenix Program was a low key operation run out of the CIA starting in the late 1960s. The object of the program was to find out who the key figures were within the Viet Cong, and either turn them into spies or kill them. Small teams of primarily Seal teams sometimes dressed as VC would infiltrate into VC dominated villages and clean out the VC infrastructure. Because they often dressed as locals and had Vietnamese speakers with them, it was often not clear to the VC who exactly was responsible for many of the hits, whether the Viet Cong themselves or some factions of the VC involved in some sort of intense power struggle. This spread fear and induced a high level of distrust and therefore the Viet Cong were less organized.
Often times the teams would find ammunition caches, and they would replace a certain number of the weapons with faulty ones which would explode when used. Individual rounds of ammunition were reloaded with C-4, a very high explosive, which when fired would shove the bolt of the rifle through the shooter's head. The guerrillas were unaware that their arms caches were messed with and developed a fear and distrust of the weapons. After the war, former Viet Cong leaders admitted that the Phoenix Program was the most effective of the many tactics tried in Vietnam. This is the only effective way to fight guerrillas, get down on the ground and be as ruthless and secretive as they are. Infiltrate their movement; keep as many of these in place as possible, and then liquidate the guerrilla leadership.
Mind you this will never defeat the insurgency, especially given its disorganized nature. As long as there is the will to continue the fight in the Sunni community, and this community remains intact, it will rebuild its cells and redouble its efforts. It is a temporary tactical solution, highly preferable to using large, visible military formations that are easy to attack. Using large conventional forces to move through Fallujah, on search and destroy missions, is reminiscent of the mistakes made in Vietnam. The guerrillas, if they are smart, merely stash or move their arms and blend into the civilian population After the operation is finished, they go right back to being operational. These large operations are like using a hammer to kill a fly, and should be kept to a minimum. Unless these large forces intend to make some long term disposition with the entire population of a place like Fallujah, their actions just alienate the people by producing the inevitable collateral damage. Thousands of Fallujahans had their homes demolished, some had relatives killed in the operation, and all are pissed off at the Americans for doing it.
The government knows these things. This is guerrilla warfare 101. The problem of how to defeat insurgents tactically has been explored extensively since Vietnam. But what one is still left with is how a government is going to stop a large group of people from continuing to support the rebellion, despite the tactical defeats the government is able to inflict upon it. If the people will support the resistance despite all tactical efforts to defeat it, there is nothing that can be done, and the government should just learn to live with a level of violence produced by the resistance. This is what Sri Lankans have dealt with for 30 years and the people of Northern Ireland did for 25 years. The difference between these insurgencies and Iraq are considerable. There is probably no way that the level of violence now experienced in Iraq can be accepted in the same way as these other insurgencies were. The size and support for the insurgency has reached civil war proportions, at least in the Sunni areas. A functioning society would not be possible if this level of violence was continued over a 25 or 30 year period. No, the issue will have to be decided within the next few years or so. The only other way to defeat a well embedded and supported insurgency would be the collective punishment approach.
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The Romans ruled the wold based upon a simple formula: the peoples of the Mediterranean had to accept Roman government and receive a measure of peace and prosperity that even their own rulers were incapable of giving to them or they were ruthlessly crushed. The Corinthians experienced the latter part of this formula when they refused to accept Roman rule and manhandled two Roman ambassadors sent to negotiate with the rulers of the city. The Roman response was to burn the city to the ground and sell the population into slavery. Carthage also gave the Romans a hard time, fighting two wars that even carried their armies to the gates of the eternal city under the superlative general, Hannibal. Rome's final response was to level Carthage and pour salt upon the ashes in 143 B.C. Even the ever “peaceful” Jews rebelled against Rome twice. The first resulted in the entire population of Masada choosing mass suicide instead of being captured and sold into slavery.
The Romans also liberally used the taking of hostages as a method of combating resistance movements. This practice involved the summary execution of civilians, mostly young men, in reprisal for attacks upon Roman troops which resulted in deaths. Usually it was based upon a number formula like ten civilians to every soldier killed. This formula was later used extensively by the Germans on the Eastern Front in W.W.II. The British likewise used it during the Boer War in the early 1900s. Even America used this bloody form of collective punishment during the Civil War, the Indian Wars, the Philippine Insurrection and again in W.W.II when Eisenhower issued his Order Number 10 after American forces entered Germany. This called for the summary execution of guerrilla suspects. The typical scenario using this practice almost always involved the killing of innocent civilians having little or nothing to do with the resistance, and invariably these reprisals resulted in intensifying the hostility of the locals against those doing the killings. More often than not, reprisals only increase the support for the guerrillas.
Many governments hoping to solve the problem of an insurgency often resort to the partial or total removal of the troublesome population. This involves resettling them in a more remote, less important and more manageable location, or perhaps the dissolution of the people among their own population by parceling them out in small groups to be assimilated. The Romans used both group and individual relocations successfully. As seen earlier, entire populations were put upon the auctioning block and sold individually. These slaves would often buy their freedom, which was common in the ancient world, and assimilate into the areas into which they were released. The Assyrians used this relocation technique extensively. There is the famous story of the ten lost tribes of Israel. This related how the Assyrians conquered and relocated the people of Northern Israel in 722 B.C. They were so successful in breaking up the integrity of the ten tribes that the “lost tribes” only resurfaced in Shell City, Missouri and Idaho 2,700 years later. The Soviet Union was the mother of all relocators: the Kulaks in the 1930s were shipped to Siberia; the Volga Germans were put aboard trains with one way tickets for the frozen wastes of Siberia in 1941. Ukranian nationalists, Cossacks, Georgians were all shifted in large numbers. Probably, the majority of the people in Siberia are the decedents of relocated people. The Germans used this method with Jews, Gipsies and Poles. And yes Virginia, the good old U.S. of A. used it too.
Americans have used this technique in pre-revolutionary America, the Indian Wars and in W.W.II. Everyone is familiar with Longfellow's poem concerning the plight of the French Acadians. The Acadians were French settlers who were removed by the English colonial authorities from what is now Nova Scotia after the defeat of the French in King Williams War in the mid 1700s. Most of these Frenchmen resettled in Louisiana where history now knows them as “Cajuns,” which is a vulgarization of “Acadian.” Americans used relocation most extensively with respect to the Indians. For example, the famous removal of the Southern Nations in1836 by order of President Andrew Jackson. Historians call the march of the Cherokee, Choctaw, Creek and Seminoles to Oklahoma the “Trail of tears.” The same process took place in the 1870s and 1880s when the Plains Tribes were forced onto reservations after a series of bloody wars. Americans again resorted to collective punishment with the internment of Japanese during W.W.II. And after the war, America acquiesced in the removal and delivery to the Soviets of over one and one-half million people from the Western Zone in Europe (Operation Keelhaul). These latter were political refugees, former Russian POWs that were held in German hands, and just plain ordinary people who escaped Eastern Europe before it was overrun by the Red Army. Once handed over to the Soviets, all of these people were either shot or worked to death in Siberia - their crime, contamination by capitalism and counter-revolution. Needless to say, any government that resorts to this tactic may suffer lasting condemnation. They are usually bloody affairs that result in heavy loss of life.
The English in particular defeated a troublesome guerrilla war with the use of temporary relocation. After the conventional fighting had ended in the Boer War (1900-1902), many Boers refused to surrender and continued to wage a guerrilla war in the northern Transvaal, South Africa. The guerrillas, who were former farmers of Dutch descent, had families that still lived on the farms and supported the guerrillas with food and shelter. The British decided on a brutal policy of reprisals and removal of the Boer families into temporary concentration camps. This dried up the support for the guerrillas, and consequently the war came to a halt. Tragically, the logistics and sanitation in the camps were inadequate, and as a result thousands of women and children died of dysentery and cholera. This placed a lasting stain upon British imperialism, which has not been removed.
The Southern experience during the Civil War shows what capacity the American people, or at least one half of them, have to inflict massive devastation and collective punishment upon their enemies, even domestic ones. Everyone is familiar with Sherman's march to the sea, during which he put to the torch a swath of land 60 miles wide and 600 miles long. Atlanta, Ga. and Columbia, S.C., were both burnt to a cinder. All livestock was stolen or killed, farm produce was confiscated or burned, personal items were pilfered and anybody who intervened was shot or hung. One hundred years later one could still see the scars of this devastation. Single chimneys left standing where once a house used to be were known as “Sherman Monuments.” This was only the most famous of the Civil War spoliations inflicted upon the South. In 1864, Confederate General Jubal Early led an army up the Shenandoah Valley against Washington in one last attempt to draw Grant's army away from Petersburg, where Lee's army was intrenched. In order to prevent a repeat of Early's raid, Grant ordered the notorious General Phil Sheridan to do so much damage to the Shenandoah Valley, which Early's army depended upon for food and movement, that even a lonely crow flying over the Valley would need to carry provisions with him.
Whole swaths of Virginia, Georgia, and Tennessee were so devastated that thousands died from starvation as they could not plant crops that would last long enough in the fields before being destroyed in one of the Yankee depredations. In Missouri, the Union General Ewing issued the infamous Order Number 11. This order called for the residents of the four Missouri counties contiguous to the Kansas border to leave their homes, as these homes were then put to the torch. This was a measure designed to eliminate any possible support for Confederate aligned guerrillas, who had been raiding into Kansas even before the war began. The “burnt district” it was called. All of the measures were designed to punish or attack the civilian support for the Confederacy. Some were condemned, like Ewing's measure, but most of these actions do not carry the same onus as they used to. Some were effective in accomplishing what was intended: the burning of the Shenandoah was a devastating blow to the Army of Northern Virginia, which depended upon the grain and hay from the valley. The burnings in Georgia and South Carolina did the same thing to Hood's dwindling Army of the Tennessee. Ewing's actions, on the other hand, backfired upon him and only exacerbated the guerrilla war on the border, as the guerrillas merely pulled supplies from the neighboring counties.
Even worse that these removal tactics is the frequently used tactic of terror attacks. The very basis of America's strategic deterrent rests upon this idea: that if as a last resort, any power which threatens the existence of the American state may be met with an indiscriminate nuclear assault. During the Cold War this was the official strategy in how to deal with the Soviets. It was called MAD: Mutually Assured Destruction. Meaning if the Soviets launched on us, we would launch on them, this included the targeting of large cities which would necessarily kill millions of civilians. A tough tactic but frequently used. The present use of so-called stand off weapons to perform an old function - that is the targeting of noncombatants - goes back to W.W.II and the use of the airplane for what was euphemistically called “area bombing.”
The British started the use of area bombing under the guidance of Air Marshall Sir Arthur “Bomber” Harris. With the assent of both Churchill and Roosevelt he devised the tactic of using night bombing in which the target was the center of the German cities. The aircraft of the day did not have the precision to hit small targets such as factories at night, but they could hit the center of a city, with little loss of aircraft in the process. The raids involved one-thousand aircraft. The first wave would drop pathfinder flares to outline the target, which often encompassed several city blocks. The second wave dropped high-explosives to dismantle the heavily constructed German housing, exposing the roof timbers. Now the debris was easier to set on fire by the third wave which dropped incendiary explosives. The whole was designed to start what was called a “firestorm,” a fire that enveloped whole sections of the city and could not easily be put out.
Area bombing was an extremely ruthless tactic. The size of these firestorms sucked the oxygen out of the bomb shelters underneath the fires, and the heat was so great as to melt the asphyxiated German civilians into a mass of unrecognizable bloody goo. In one attack in July of 1943, Hamburg was set on fire killing 45, 000 people. Latter in the winter of 1944, Roosevelt ordered the Eighth Air Force to discontinue daylight bombing against military targets and “help” the British in massive area bombing missions. This had been planned for as early as 1941, in AWPD11 (a major war plans document). The American war planners had decided that it might be “highly profitable to deliver a large-scale, all out attacks on the civilian population of Germany.” And again this idea was affirmed at the high level Casablanca Conference in 1942, where Churchill and Roosevelt agreed that the objective of Combined Bomber Offensive was the destruction of Germany's war-making capability, with a secondary mission of “undermining the German people's morale to the point where resistance will be fatally weakened by using Area Bombing.” These missions were referred to by the pilots who flew them as “women and children days.”
The British had been using the tactic for two years when Arthur “Bomber” Harris, with Churchill's approval, approached the Americans with Operation Thunderclap in the Summer of 1944. As David M. Kennedy records in his highly acclaimed book Freedom From Fear (p. 743), the plan was to “deluge Berlin with bombs that would, they estimated, kill 243,000 people.” The plan was to do this in a joint Anglo-American attack. The result was less than satisfactory when the raid on Berlin on February 3, 1945 killed only 35,000. More joint raids followed all across Germany - Nuremberg, Wurzburg, Worms, Cologne were all razed to the ground, killing hundreds of thousands of people.
These raids culminated in the destruction of Dresden. Dresden was a nonmilitary target with absolutely no strategic value. The city's only major products were china and cigarettes. In February of 1945, Dresden was flooded to capacity with refugees who were escaping Eastern Europe ahead of the oncoming Red Army. The inner-city was a huge homeless shelter containing hundreds of thousands of people, all civilians. The Red Army was meeting little resistance in the area, the Germans were massing to the north on the Oder River awaiting the assault upon Berlin. Therefore there was no strategic reason for the raid, it was pure vindictive murder. Starting on the 14th and lasting for three days, thousands of Allied planes brought the horrors of Area Bombing to Dresden, famous for the Zwinger, an 18th century masterpiece of Rococo. A firestorm was created that consumed an estimated 135,000 people. These estimates are indeed low, for there was no way to account for the many civilian refugees. The British historian John Keegan called Dresden “the blackest deed the Allies committed during the war.”
All historians agree that these attacks upon civilians were deliberate, but they were targeted against the civilians of the Nazi government, so one is not going to see any sympathy for the victims concerning these planned massacres.
This was not the case when this same tactic was taken to the Japanese people in 1944. Once air bases were secured within striking distance of the Japanese home islands, large raids were carried out by General Curtis Lemay, who was already a practiced killer of German civilians. In a massive B-29 air raid on Tokyo, 90,000 Japanese civilians were incinerated. Unlike the German cities the Japanese cities were not made out of brick but were made of wood, and the German shelters were better designed. The Japanese cities went up like torches, roasting thousands in one raid.
Then came the invention of the A-Bomb, and the famous use of them on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which finally brought the Japanese to the negotiating table. One hears a great deal about the two A-bombings. One can rationalize the latter two bombings upon Japan, for they brought the Japanese leaders to the negotiating table and prevented the loss of hundreds of thousands of lives that would have occurred had American troops had to invade the home islands. But the earlier bombings did not have this effect. This is because they were cumulative, even though they killed far more people, they never produced the same effect as the A-Bombs. These latter bombings told the Japanese that any further resistance would result in their cities looking like Hiroshima in very short order. Having no A-Bomb to retaliate for these attacks, most governments would have surrendered. The attacks upon Germany, until the final months of the war, killed on average a few thousand people a week for many years, but allowed them to partially rebuild their infrastructure and taught them to live with the nightly bombings. Even though this produced far more deaths in the long term than the two A-bombs, it took three years to produce this effect, the two A-Bombs that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki did so in an instant. The Germans suffered over a million civilian deaths from the bombings, the Japanese less than a million.
After the war the slaughter continued. One situation which has recently come to light was the deliberate starvation of German POWs. A Canadian historian, James Bacque, documented this fact in his book Other Losses. Even the rag Time Magazine acknowledged his findings as “stunning!” After the war, America held upwards of five million German POWs in large camps mostly along the Rhine River. Some were held in these camps until 1949. All suffered at the hands of their American captors. On the direct orders of General Dwight D. Eisenhower, the status of millions of these POWs was changed from being labeled POWs to that of Displaced Persons (DP). This distinction was important, for the POW status allowed them the protection of the Geneva Convention's guidelines on the treatment of POWs. Displaced Persons, on the other hand, were completely under the authority of the Allied Military Government. Such status allowed a great deal of leeway as to how to treat the DPs. Their food, shelter and medicine allowances were not monitored by the Red Cross in the same way that the POWs were monitored. Most importantly they had no rights under the Geneva Convention. After these uniformed German POWs were declared DPs, orders were given by Eisenhower, to reduce their rations to starvation levels. The dying soon began, first in the hundreds and then in the thousands. Many died of dehydration as MPs not only denied them adequate food but water as well. Despite being within spitting distance of the Rhine River, thousands died for lack of water. Tents and shelters were removed, forcing millions to live under the weather for years. The conditions were similar to those experienced at Andersonville, Ga. during the Civil War by Union POWs. The death toll from starvation, exposure, dehydration and dysentery was close to two million. And this, like the bombings of the German cities, was deliberate not accidental. Food was widely available after the war for those the Americans wanted it to go to.
The lessons learned from this long list of brutalities inflicted upon an enemy population should be headed by any leaders considering using similar methods. First, they are usually committed by commanders and politicians in order to punish the people for supporting a conventional war effort or, more commonly, for supporting an unconventional guerrilla war. They almost always backfire on those that commit such actions. It usually causes the enemy population to redouble their efforts to resist and ends up prolonging the conflict or making it more intense. This was the case with Ewing's actions during the Civil War. The same thing happened with the prolonged terror bombing of Germany, which never came close enough to making the German efforts at resistance untenable, until the very end of the war, and by then Hitler was prepared to go down in flames anyway. But up until then, the nighty bombing casualties and the unconditional surrender demand only intensified the German people's will to resist. Practically every German soldier at the front had a mother, father, sister, son, or wife killed in the bombings. These bombings did not “destroy their morale,” they pissed them off and made them determined to fight to the finish.
Second, unless the measure being contemplated is designed to deliver a knockout blow to the opponent, and solve the problem in a total fashion, these measures should never be taken. The bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are the best examples of this. These attacks left the Japanese no other choice, if they wanted to survive, but to come to terms that they would not have otherwise come to. A slow bombing process as Germany experienced, even though many more Germans died in these attacks than the A-Bombings, would not have brought them to the negotiating table. But with the Japanese government knowing that the Americans could potentially devastate every city in Japan without any means to retaliate, this put them in a position of national suicide or surrender.
Also, any government should reconsider relocation programs that are only partial, or allow a significant portion of the target population to remain intact, in a position to renew its efforts at supporting guerrilla armies against them. To move the entire population into a territory where they cannot threaten you, like the Indians in 1836, or to segregate the males out of the population until the insurgency can be defeated, like in the Boer War, was brutal but effective. However, it is not effective to partially displace people, as was the case with the “Safe Villages” initiative in Vietnam, or the massive arrests and eventual release of Palestinians and Irish Republicans. They merely infiltrated the Save Villages with VC cells, or formed another front inside the prisons as was the case with the Irish militants who staged hunger strikes in the 1970s and 1980s. Once they are released back into these intact communities, they go right back to being operational. No, the only way this solution works is when this measure puts the entire population producing the resistance fighters in a position from which they could not resist even if they wanted to. It would be better to find a political solution or to take a surgical approach. And as the annals of history show, and as I alluded to earlier with respect to W.W.II and the Civil War, no collective punishment that is going to kill civilians deliberately can ever be taken without the full support of the people whose representatives are doing the killing.
With the exception of the Soviet union, the above catalogue of desperate deeds were done by Western governments. These were the exceptions not the rule of Western warfare. The West has long since, under the influence of Christianity, tamed the more atavistic, ruthless instincts seen in war by codifying the laws of warfare. These were based upon what was called chivalry - the unwritten code of conduct that knights in medieval times were expected to obey during conflict with other Christians. These were written into law at Geneva and the Hague in the late 19th century. Many other cultures have given similar if somewhat limited expression to laws for warfare, but no where quite like here in the West. From the beginning of time the rules of warfare were that there were no rules, except what the victor decided. Massacres of civilians, the burning of villages, summary execution, the relocation or selling into slavery of the enemy population were the rules of warfare.
Using collective methods is still the mode of warfare in the Middle East. This is the expected norm and not the exception. What is behind the average Westerner's inability to understand suicide bombings, beheadings, and the targeting of civilians by our Muslim opponents in the region is the inability to recognize that this is how the other half lives, or in this case fights. To a Middle Easterner there is nothing wrong with the concept of killing enemy civilians. This is because there has never been anything similar to our notions about laws for warfare in the Muslim world. Like their Moorish ancestors who fell upon Spain in the 700s, killing whole villages of Christians, the insurgents within their notion of morality see the killing of female and child members of the enemy population as being just as legitimate as the killing of uniformed combatants. I know, I know, the television has been telling people for the past three years about the peaceful tolerant religion of Islam, which does not allow the killing of enemy civilians; however, this is contradicted by the facts of history as well as the evidence of our eyes when we see crowds of “peaceful” Muslims dancing in the streets celebrating the attacks of 9/11. A recent poll taken of Palestinians revealed that the majority support suicide bombings of Israeli civilian targets. If the list of massacres committed by Western peoples is enough to choke a horse, then those atrocities accompanying the rise of Islam are enough to choke a herd of horses. Reading the Old Testament, Numbers 31, gives some idea of how warfare has been practiced in the area for thousands of years. The Arabs it will be remembered are cousins of the Israelites. The crap being fed to the public about peaceful Islam is a white-washed nonsensical attempt to recast Islam according to modern Western standards. It has more to do with our absurd need to accept and tolerate different cultures than it does to presenting a true portrait of Islamic culture.
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This leads to my point that if it was and is the policy of most governments of the Middle East to use these brutal collective punishments to achieve their objectives, how much more willing and able is a foreign power stepping into the region going to have to be to use similar methods to achieve their objectives? Will, as Washington thinks, they be able to kill the Iraqi insurgents with kindness, and show them how nice we are in order to achieve our purpose? Or are we, like them, going to have to resort to these heinous methods to govern Iraq? And if Washington had to use these brutal methods, would they have the support of the American people in the same way that Americans supported government massacres during W.W.II and the Civil War? I do not believe these questions were even asked or rather could be asked in the halls of government today. At least not in relation to the Middle East. It is my belief that the people of the region are so hard wired to this type of brutality that any attempt to use humane methods of warfare are only looked upon by the Muslims of the region as weakness and encourages them to continue the fight.
I see nothing like soul searching going on among the Iraqi people as to who is the good guy and who the bad, based upon the methods our troops are using as opposed to the insurgents. The insurgents use of beheadings, bombings that kill primarily civilians, the burning and mutilating of corpses is considered by the Iraqi people the normal methods of warfare. I doubt if there are any tears being shed over Matthew Moppet or those Iraqis caught and killed for collaborating with the Americans. No, these methods are and have been a part of the culture's way of dealing with conflict for thousands of years. What appears to be happening is a general shift to seeing any violence, including that committed by the insurgents, as being caused by the American occupation. The Iraqi people see the insurgent brutalities and for that matter Saddam's methods, as the normal accepted way of waging war or governing. They see the occupation as causing the violence, not because they are against the violence, but because they are against the Americans. If the Americans leave, peace and the angels of humanity will not return to the region because peace and humanity have never reigned in that region. If the Americans leave another strongman like Saddam will come to power and rule in the time honored tradition, with brute force. The conclusion Washington should have reached after looking at the history of the region is that unless we had the support and will to use whatever it takes to achieve our objectives, no troops should have been put on the ground. And anyone who looks closely can see the support from the American people and the ideology that animates them is not, nor will it ever be there.
In short, the insurgency has deep roots in the Sunni community and the Muslim world, and unless the Sunnis can be given a greater degree of autonomy or power in the present Shiite dominated system, the resistance will continue. Judging from the number and intensity of attacks, this power sharing is not probable. Any effort at power sharing offered to the Sunnis is not likely to satisfy the major insurgent groups. The hatred is too great, the differences between Sunnis and Shiites too intractable. The bombings and shooting that have killed over 1,000 Shiite civilians are evidence that the hatreds that divide the two groups are not superficial. America's plan to defeat the resistance will probably continue with a hearts and minds-Iraqiazation strategy coupled with a low-key counterinsurgency approach. But pin point attacks using informers to dismantle the guerrilla infrastructure will only keep the insurgent attacks at a manageable level. Until a political solution is reached the rebellion will go on and on. The only other solution is to use collective punishments, which would be highly counterproductive and unacceptable to the American people. Often overlooked is the fact that the insurgency is not a local affair but is receiving overwhelming support from the Arab-Muslim world. When thousands of young jihadis from Syria and Saudi Arabia volunteer to go to Iraq to immolate themselves in a burning car, you have problems.
Lastly, now that Bush has set himself on this course, it is highly unlikely that he will, or can, change course from his stated goals. He will continue with this policy following victory to the grave - at least for the next four years anyway - in the same manner Johnson did in 1967 or Clemenceau in 1917. “The light is at the end of the tunnel,” McNamara used to say about Vietnam in 1967. Yes, there was a light at the end of the tunnel then as there is light now in Iraq. But alas, it is not daylight, it is a train coming the other way.
V. Ideological Handicaps
Just because America frowns upon collective methods of warfare does not mean that it has not used them, nor does it mean that it does not justify them. On the contrary, as the above list of atrocities committed by Americans demonstrates it depends upon the enemy these methods are used against as to whether they are justified or not. There has been a great deal of hand wringing and apologizing about the treatment of the Indians. There has been much soul searching about the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Even the treatment of the Vietnamese chokes Americans up. But there has not been nor will there ever be any apologetic language allowed with respect to the treatment of Germans during W.W.II and to a lesser extent the handling of the South during the Civil War. Why is this, given the fact that the horrors inflicted upon Germany and the South outweigh those perpetrated on the Indians, Japanese, or Vietnamese? Well, it is because the wars against the South and Germany were considered to be morally justified, and were waged against those that the reigning ideology identified as America's true enemies. Studs Terkel summed up this thinking when he titled his book about W.W.II as The Good War. Respected historian McPherson did the same with his book about the Civil War titled, Battle Cry of Freedom.
According to the reigning ideology, the Germans and the Old South were considered the embodiment of political evil, and the force used against them, including their civilian populations, was morally justified. There have been countless books and films about the horrible treatment of the Indians, Vietnamese, and Japanese. But books that even come close to portraying the Germans as victims are considered politically incorrect and meet with little or hostile publicity. For instance, James Bacque, who wrote Other Losses, has been ostracized by the academic community despite the fact that his book, documenting the deliberate killing of German POWs, was acknowledged by academia. You will definitely never see any movies depicting the contents of his book. Most Americans are not aware of the bombings which killed over a million German civilians, even though this again has been heavily documented. Until most Americans see it depicted in a Steven Spielberg movie it is not significant. The reason why these actions are obscured and others like Wounded Knee, Hiroshima, the Holocaust, slavery, and Jim Crow are emphasized is because of political ideology. That is, the mistreatment of Indians, Vietnamese, Negroes, Japanese, and Jews were less pure as far as the current ideology is concerned, but the evil Nazi German, and slave aristocracy of the South deserved every bit of what happened to them.
Briefly, Nazi Germany was peopled by Europeans, who were racially exclusive. There ideology was undemocratic. They were a rich, powerful country that was pursuing an expansionist foreign policy. They were socially conservative and highly prized the ideas of patriotism and military heroism. They praised warfare as the highest test of the individual and the nation. Likewise, the South was a white aristocracy that depended upon black slavery for its survival. They were also undemocratic and racially exclusive, and they were culturally conservative. Both of these societies lived completely contrary to the reigning ideology of America, which has its roots in the Enlightenment ideals of Liberty, Equality, Fraternity and the yearning for Primitivism.
Culture is a living idea that expresses itself in the vast set of conventions, customs, practices, procedures, rules, institutions, and forms that make our social life possible. From the time of our birth we are shackled and chained by culture. It is a prison that only the dead escape. The very language we communicate with is a cuff upon our thoughts, confining us to a limited number of ideas. As it comes into the world, culture is imposed on the majority by a minority. As it progresses through its life this small minority invents its forms, bears them, disseminates them, and protects and maintains them. The hierarchical structure to society is essential to the culture's continued life. The culture bearers try to protect their power by setting up inherited power systems. But if the culture is healthy it will allow new members from the lower classes to ascend to the culture bearing class. Only on the surface is this minority a community of birth, privilege, class, and inherited power. Ultimately this stratum defies all blood ties and is a community of ideas. Its members have originated in all classes of society - Luther, Shakespeare, Rembrant. They are possessed by the ideas of the culture and give expression to them in art, government, science and so forth. Conversely, those born into the highest privilege and power have often been equipped with the soul of a lice - Nero, Caligula, Richard III.
All cultures begin as an extremely closed, hierarchical, insular community. As a result the idea itself is at its strongest. In the early days of Western Culture society was divided into three Estates: the nobility, the priesthood, and the rest of the people. The first two small groups were considered the only articulate portion of society. Even though the latter group was by far the largest, it was seen as irrelevant to the maintenance of society. During the early period, all elements in society, including the third estate, see this hierarchical arrangement as self-evident, the will of God.
As time passes this exclusivity is slowly eroded, the barriers are removed as the rest of the people demand more power, more freedom. The idea that animates the people to attack these barriers is Emancipation. The exclusive power of the priesthood was broken by the Reformation. The Renaissance externalized Western consciousness and brought into focus foreign cultures and ideas. It dissolved the power of the priesthood and nobility to define the world according to their exclusive ideas. Then, in the Enlightenment every aspect of society was brought in for reform according to the dictates of pure reason and science. Finally, the ultimate fall of the nobility throughout Europe was signaled by the French Revolution.
What was happening was a slow transfer of power from the culture bearers to the people. As the power is transferred, the culture becomes stronger externally but weaker internally. More people are empowered and wealth is spread making possible things like the voyages of discovery, the formation of large armies, and later, industrialization. But when the culture externalizes and power is shifted to the less articulate, insensitive portion of the culture, it becomes weaker as an idea. The idea becomes diffuse and scattered, susceptible to the whim of the mass. Democratic politics becomes less stable. Rather than the clash of small professional armies, wars become mass affairs, threatening the entire culture with destruction. And the arts loose their quality to the ideal of the common man. As a great thinker once said, “To mobilize the masses is to destroy.”
There is a tug of war as these two ideas - Emancipation and Culture - battle through the centuries. This is a natural, organic process as the culture comes out of its shell. However, the more it comes out, the closer it gets to death, the dissolution of its idea. Every culture goes through this process. The culture starts on the firm ground of feudalism and ends in the shifting sands of cosmopolitanism. Such is history.
Emancipation ideology has progressed through many phases, some radical (communism), some less (liberalism). Currently the ideology is ruthlessly egalitarian, seeing nothing worse than the idea of hierarchy. It is viciously opposed to racial, cultural and religious intolerance and exclusion. This is especially true of the white variety of exclusion. There is nothing more contrary to this ideology than white racial exclusivity coupled with undemocratic politics. It despises the military ethic because of the military's hierarchical nature. Consequently, it views with suspicion the ideas of patriotism and battlefield glory. Even though the roots of this ideology are in the Western Culture, and most of its true believers are Westerners, it sees all of the problems of the world as originating in the West, or at least that aristocratic, racially exclusive, conservative, militaristic and culturally superior part of Western Civilization. The West they say, stole the New World from the Indians. It enslaved the noble black man to use as slaves on this stolen property. It then conquered and oppressed the good black, brown and yellow people of the world and organized this conquest into exploitive colonial empires. And it still continues to oppress the beautiful, peaceful, loving people of color with its evil economic system of capitalism. The heroes of this ideology of Emancipation are those figures who have helped break down the barriers erected by the hated white man: Martin Luther King, Ghandi, Lincoln, Cesar Chavez, and Nelson Mandela. If evil originates in the white man's world, then it follows that goodness and righteousness must originate outside the Western world.
Although the primary part to this ideology is found in the Emancipation ideals of the Enlightenment, the other influence is called by historians Primitivism. All higher cultures experience this phenomenon, especially in the later stages. Primitivism is what takes place when a civilization becomes too sophisticated and produces a lifestyle that is highly problematic and complicated. The urge becomes for those who belong to this complicated culture to find a more simple lifestyle, to get back to the basics and shed the trappings of this complicated existence. It is the longing to shuffle off the complex arrangements of an advanced culture. It is a main motive in the Protestant Reformation, it reappears as the cult of the Noble Savage. Montaigne and Rousseau gave expression to this theme in their writings. The savage with his simple creed is healthy, highly moral, and serene, a worthier being than the civilized man, who must intrigue and deceive in order to survive. Civilized man is the source of greed and avarice, the simple savage lives without money and the white man's greed. In the 16th century it is in the Essays of Montaigne and his justification of cannibalism; in the 18th century it is the Utopian hope found in Gulliver's Travels and Voltaire's Candide. In the 19th century the Abolitionist's idealization of the southern slave took up the Noble Savage theme; in the 20th Century it was the “flower children” and their rejection of civilization and their experimentation with non-western religions. This last was aptly called the “counterculture,” meaning the rejection of their own culture and the adoption of another. Primitivism has become a major theme in our culture and influences all of us to some degree. The fascination with cultures other than the West is pervasive. A quick glance at the average adolescent walking the streets of America today, with his pants hanging down around his knees, hat backwards, listening to rap music and generally aping the behavior of inner-city hip-hoppers, is one evidence of Primitivism's current effect.
One can see the two themes of Emancipation and Primitivism expressed politically in the Abolitionist movement of the 19th century. Although their cause was just, many Abolitionists lived in an over-idealized fantasy land. Most of these Abolitionists were upper-middle class whites living in the Northeast who had never seen a slave in their lives. Many were females like Harriet Beecher Stowe, who wrote Uncle Tom's Cabin. In her book southern slaves are portrayed not only as an oppressed people, but she fitted them out with an almost angelic, supernatural aspect. The black slave became an ideal built inside her head. She thought they were Christ-like, and their emancipation was thought to be the first step in the redemption of the greedy, evil, white American society. The slave could hear music clearer, commune with nature on a level the white man could not. His lack of education was thought to be a plus, keeping him unsullied and pure. He could enjoy life like no white man could, he was the savior of our civilization, and if only he were set free he would point the way to a Utopia unknown by the blind, deaf, insensitive, greedy white people. This was the thinking of Mrs. Stowe, Senator Sumner, Anna Dickinson, and many like them.
When these idealists headed South after the war to teach ex-slaves to read and vote as part of the Freedman's Association, it was hard for many of them to shake this myth they had created of the Noble Savage. Others were shattered and disillusioned by the reality they witnessed, and quickly headed back to Boston and the cozy lifestyle they had left behind. The same is true of the modern Peace Corp volunteer, condescending to the Third Worlder. They do not realize that they are a reflection of their own culture and know almost nothing about the people they are trying to help.
Emancipation and Primitivism are major themes in the Western Culture. Starting with the Protestant Reformation they have been the chief influences on our culture. They dominate the modern era and affect all of us to some extent. These themes are neither good nor evil. It is a question of degrees. In moderation they have reformed society from top to bottom for the better. But at their extreme they can be quite destructive.
What is at issue here and the subject of criticism is the extreme forms of Emancipation and Primitivism as they have evolved into their current modern versions. At each successful reform, the themes have evolved new more radical expressions with new demands. What started with Luther's reform of Church corruption has evolved to Barry Lynn's complete hostility to religion in general. What began with the republican reform of absolute monarchy has morphed into Marxism and anarchism. What originated as a liberalization of social tradition has ended in the sovereign libertine, who is beholden to no one. Reforms in sexual morality have resulted in the trans-gendered bathhouse in San Francisco. More social and political equality for women have come to the psychologically bruised feminist, who hates men and sees oppression and latent sexism in virtually every relationship between men and women. Incredible reforms have been enacted to improve the lot of workers and the poor. This thrust has now been transformed into the demand for a “living wage,” the “right to work,” and the modern labor union, which has destroyed the ability of organized business to operate in the Western World. Great ideals that once ended slavery in the West and enacted Civil Rights are now used to support the most absurd movements - gay rights, animal rights, and abortion rights. What originally was meant to give non-Westerners a chance to assimilate and have a fair shot in society, to soften racial, cultural, and religious exclusion, has now turned into an aggressive anti-Western crusade. “Political correctness” they call it. Like little Bolshevik commissars ferreting out counter-revolution, the political correctness thought-policeman is watching everything said and done for the slightest hint of racism, sexism, religious intolerance, and “homophobia.” The list is endless.
The great themes that were meant to reform Western Civilization have now made Western Civilization itself the target. Our children are bombarded daily by propaganda depicting Western Culture as the root of all evil. Steven Spielberg's latest film Into the West, is a perfect example of this. The film depicts the extermination of Indian culture at the hands of the West. The hatred expressed in the film for Western Civilization is palpable. This from a man nurtured by the West. Western religion comes in for some of the more vicious attacks. Paintings of the Virgin Mary with dung plastered all over her and crucifixes dipped in urine are displayed in the most prestigious art galleries. The image of Christ cavorting with prostitutes (The Last Temptation of Christ) is billed as great art, but the traditional Gospel story (The Passion of Christ) can not be aired these days without great controversy. This is happening in a culture that is traditionally Christian.
Westerners are no longer welcome in their own culture. In a recent protest at a California university, this liberal extremism revealed its new objective. The students were angry that the school curriculum was too “Euro-centric.” Led by Jesse Jackson, the students chanted, “Hey hey, ho ho, Western Culture has got to go.” This chant sums up the thrust of modern liberalism.
Every public school and university curriculum is already loaded down with this anti-Western theme. In American history, the essential lessons are that Western man stole the land from the Indian; enslaved the black man to work the stolen land; stole more land from the Mexicans; oppressed women, Jews and gays; and finally he destroyed the environment, killed off the buffalo, and now he sprays bunny rabbits in the eyes with perfume. This is what constitutes an education in this country today. It is fine if a student cannot read or write, but he had better learn that the West is evil in order to graduate from high school today.
This is still not enough for men like Jesse Jackson. He would like a quota system in place whereby all subjects dealing with people contain the proper proportional mix of diversity. All cultures should be represented in a quota mix throughout the curriculum. If, for instance, the subject is music, Bushman drumming and Indian sitar music should be proportionally represented alongside Mozart and Bach. If it is architecture, Gothic cathedrals should be represented equally with Bantu mud huts. And in American history, Cesar Chavez and W.E. B. DuBoise should be as equally important as John Adams and James Madison. Any historical figure that does not meet the current ideological standards (Washington and Jefferson for owning slaves) of men like Jesse Jackson, should be discarded.
This extremism is currently seen in the imposition of what are called “speech codes.” Students of universities are now brought before “diversity committees” for expressing heterodox views on race or religion, or for telling a simple joke that seems to disparage or threaten a minority group. If they are found to be in violation of the speech codes, they can be expelled. This is clearly political indoctrination and repression, not education.
The radical tendencies of Emancipation and Primitivism were actually seen early in their lifetime. The French Revolution followed these ideas to their extreme conclusion in just a few short years. Robespierre, Marat, and Danton murdered hundreds of thousands of people in the name of Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity. Every aspect of society was turned on its head. Every form of culture came in for assault: the monarchy and aristocracy was sent to the guillotine; the churches were ransacked and closed by the lunatic Herbert and the Paris mob. Even the calendar and the system of weights and measures were changed. They called this regime of chaos “The Terror.” Before The Terror was over, hundreds of thousands of Frenchmen were dead, including Robespierre, Marat, and Danton. The ideas were carried to their ruthless conclusions, and finally culture itself became the enemy of the revolutionaries. The Marxist picked up this same extreme tendency a hundred years later. He filled mass graves with over 300 million people in pursuit of his version of equality. Now, the modern liberal gives perfect expression to this same culture-hating extremism.
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As a consequence of this ideology problems develop when in the course of pursuing our national interests, America often runs into conflict with these “oppressed,” “downtrodden” people of color. Because this ideology is so pervasive in our society today, there is difficulty in gathering support for actions against the “oppressed.” This happened most recently in Vietnam, where the appearance of Colonialism and the oppression of the poor noble yellow-man became a dominant theme of the protests against the war. These ideas eventually triumphed back then, and survive today in the modern retelling of the war. Movies such as Platoon, The Deer Hunter, Born on the Fourth of July, and Apocalypse Now all give a decidedly negative image to America's participation: the Vietnamese are given a positive sympathetic persona, especially in Oliver Stone's Between Heaven and Earth. The Vietnamese Communists could have been in reality the most barbarous, vicious people on the planet, but like the idealization of the slave in the 19th century, the Viet Cong guerrilla became the Noble Savage to the college student 3,000 miles away. He was fighting against the evil white man attempting to colonialize his beautiful country. Today we have entered another conflict which has all of the ingredients of creating the same problems inherent in making war on the Noble Savage. The Noble Iraqi Muslim is struggling against the evil, white capitalists who are after the poor oppressed Iraqi people's oil. This is the theme of Michael Moore's movie, and is the popular position now being taught in most universities by the likes of Ward Churchill.
As we have seen earlier, this ideology views Nazi Germany and the Old South as extreme examples of everything evil. Therefore, any superficial resemblance to the Old South-Nazi ethos is suspect. To the modern liberal suffering from the extreme expressions of this ideology, Bush and conservative America are just a small step away from the Nazis and Old South aristocracy. They all share a conservative social ethic, military patriotism, and many are rich and white. Even though Bush and American conservatives are not racially exclusive and undemocratic, the stereotype is close enough for the likes of Ben Cohen, Michael Moore, and Ward Churchill. The troops patrolling the streets of Bagdad resemble Nazi storm troopers to these people. In their minds, the Iraqi insurgents are the noble resistance fighters, beating back fascist pigs. Many liberals at least think this way subconsciously; others like Ward Churchill, articulate this position openly.
More than any other reason, the pervasive presence of this ideology of Emancipation and Primitivism in our country will make a long-term stay in Iraq untenable. Bush was counting on a quick victory so as not to allow these dominant forces to take shape and gather momentum. Every American president in the last 35 years has waged a foreign policy with this handicap. Now that a bloody conflict has ensued and the need for a sustained warfare has arisen, the likelihood that these forces will gather steam increases by the day. If Bush has to keep American troops on the ground at the same strengths, these forces will eventually become so strong that no new administration will be able to continue this policy. After the election in Iraq, the loudest voices demanding a pull-out are not only coming from Iraqis but from this element in America, through its representatives in the Democratic Party and in the street in protests.
Every move that American troops make in Iraq is being closely watched for the slightest thing that can be used to destroy the war effort. The over-reporting of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, the shooting of the “unarmed” Iraqi insurgent, and the continual reportage of Iraqi civilian deaths are demonstrations of just what opinion the average news editor holds about the war. The longer the conflict, the more likely he will get more stories like these. The latest effort is the over reporting of the Sheehan woman standing in front of Bush's house. The brutality of the insurgents is not being focused on in the same way: the beheading of hostages, the mutilation of prisoners, and the targeting of civilians, is not handled in the same way by the media as are the Prison Scandal or Cindy Sheehan. The abuses by the Americans are thought to be so much more heinous than the insurgents' actions. This thinking says that the reasons why insurgents cut the heads off of women or bomb mosques is only because they have been brutalized by American imperialism. The poor, brown Muslims of Iraq can do no wrong, precisely because they are poor, brown and Muslim. It matters little whether they practice a religion that oppresses women and calls for shoplifters to have their hands cut off. The ideologues are indifferent to the fact that Iraq was governed by a man who has filled the deserts of Iraq with the corpses of thousands of people summarily shot for political dissent. No, in any conflict between the West and people of color, it is the West which is always wrong.
The over-exposure of the Cindy Sheehan story is a perfect example of how this element will deliberately destroy the war effort. She is a grieving mother who lost a son in the war. Now she wants to know why the ogre, fascist Bush killed her son. The Ben Cohen and MoveOn.org liberals have latched onto her protest and pulled in their cousins in the media. Bush looks like a heartless monster if he does not answer the poor mother's request. Perfect Leftwing pablum. This is the kind of story the Left specializes in: emotional, simple, humanizing, and absolutely no mature realistic perspective. No one stops to point out that Mrs. Sheehan's son volunteered to join the military with the full knowledge that he could be sent to a war zone and potentially killed. He made his bed, and now he is sleeping in it. His mother should be proud of his patriotism and sacrifice instead of spitting on his grave and making his sacrifice meaningless. And there the media is to lend credibility to this sad chapter in her life.
The question is would the media focus on stories such as this if they really wanted to support the country? Would they have done this in W.W.II? Would Ben Cohen and MoveOn.Org have supported a protesting mother angry over the loss of her son at Anzio or Iwo Jima? Would they have set her up out in front of FDR's Hyde Park residence, having her demand why he killed her son? Would these left-wing news editors have aired the same kind of negative stories during W.W.II? In the early hours of D-Day, over 1,000 men were cut down on Omaha beach. The American Commander, Omar Bradley, thought seriously of evacuating the beachhead because of the heavy losses. Would CNN have released live scenes of the horror and confusion on the beaches? Would Anderson Cooper have stuck a microphone into Omar Bradley's face and pressed him on why things were not going according to plan on Omaha? In the first weeks of the Battle of the Bulge (December 1944-January 1945), American forces suffered a major defeat. Thousands were killed, over 8,000 GIs were taken prisoner, and the troops were completely demoralized. Pessimism at the prospect of success was rife. Would Dan Rather have gotten into the trenches with these frost bitten GIs and aired their negative opinions on whether America was doing the right thing in Europe? In January of 1944, American forces landed at Anzio, Italy. They were quickly surrounded and savage German counterattacks almost drove them into the sea. Can you imagine CBS airing the reality of what was happening at Anzio? Would the New York Times have done a special report on the stupidity and mistakes that went into the planning of Anzio?
The answer to all of these questions is no. While the outcome of the war was still in doubt, these same liberal journalists would never have aired or pursued stories that tended to undermine the war effort. During W.W.II, there was plenty of criticism heard as to how America could better fight the war, but no criticism was ever heard as to whether America should be fighting the war, not ever! Problems are experienced in all wars - people are killed, mistakes are made, defeats suffered, and in every war people ask themselves why or for what they are fighting. But if a people wishes to win a war they will put the best face on all news, victories and defeats. During W.W.II, they packaged the news. Frank Capra was a master propagandist who churned out excellent morale boosting films. This is what they would be doing with Iraq if they themselves supported the troops or the war. Instead, they have deliberately set about to undermine support for the war by focusing on the Cindy Sheehans.
Remember that these same people who are spotlighting Cindy Sheehan and championing the “noble” Iraqi, are the same type of people who 60 years ago were calling for the utter destruction of Germany. For example, the Morgenthau Plan was drawn up by Roosevelt's liberal Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau. This document called for the systematic reduction of the German population after W.W.II from around 60 million to 40 million. This was meant to “pastorialize” the people through a slow process of starvation, which would take place after the German industrial base had been dismantled. Edward R. Murrow, the great liberal journalist, called for bigger, more devastating air-raids against the German cities; he crowed when the Air Force announced the advent of the so-called “Blockbuster Bomb,” which could level an entire block of tenants with one bomb. And recently the liberal historian Stephen P. Ambrose, who wrote Saving Private Ryan, sarcastically commented that the bombing of Dresden “got rid of a lot of bad architecture.” So mind you, these same pundits calling for a pull-out, and showcasing the plight of the poor Iraqi people, would be calling for the use of nuclear weapons if Fallujah was inhabited by rich, white, racially exclusive fascists. If Ramadi's insurgents were slave owing, white aristocrats, Jesse Jackson would be calling for a full scale saturation bombing. CNN recently posed the question to its viewers: “When should US troops pull out of Iraq?” If the Iraqi resistance was made up of Germans, you can bet your bottom dollar the question would read: “When should the US use nuclear weapons to halt the insurgency?” Their concern for the Iraqi people has nothing to do with humanitarianism and everything to do with ideology.
More important than the political military problems in Iraq are these ideological divisions here in America. It is likely that any approach tried in Iraq will not satisfy the American Left's idea of what constitutes a peaceful democratic system, and eventually support for the war will plummet over the next year. Liberal sensibilities, under the influences of Emancipation and Primitivism, have placed a severe handicap upon any forceful long-term policy in Iraq. Any capable statesman should have anticipated this problem before moving into a region notorious for long-term intractable insurgencies. The Left in America will eventually undermine the support for the war if the insurgency is not defeated soon. As soon as the insurgency started, American policy in Iraq was on a stopwatch. Like a disease infecting the body politic, the forces of decay here in America are the real enemies of success in Iraq. The soldier or marine with his weapon pointed at the insurgent foe does not realize the real enemy, that will eventually make his sacrifices meaningless, is the reporter following him around with a camera, making sure that he does not destroy any mosques or hurt any innocent, beautiful Iraqis. The war will not be won in the back alleys of Falujah. The war will be won or rather lost here in America, on the university campuses, in the news editorial rooms, in the halls of Congress, and in the salons of Hollywood.
VI. The Israeli Experience
What never seems to have been looked at, and I can not imagine why not, is the past experience of Israel in the region with its various occupations, and having to deal with long insurgencies as a result of these occupations. Did anyone stop to ask in going into Iraq whether America was going to be getting a giant version of the West Bank situation? The Israelis have occupied the West Bank since the 1967 war, and have been dealing with a resistance ever since. The people of Israel have long since tired of the occupation and would give it back in a heartbeat if the West Bank was not so strategically important to Israel's survival. The Israelis again occupied the southern portion of Lebanon back in the early 1980s, and again dealt with a decades long resistance by Hezbollah before finally pulling out. The West Bank and Southern Lebanon occupations were thought crucial to Israel's survival, for both of these places are right on the borders of Israel and pose a definite threat if left in the hands of hostile forces. But still they pulled out of Lebanon and want to leave the West Bank as well.
Why do they want to pull out? Because attempting to occupy and control Arab territories is highly problematic. This is not rocket science. If one compares the level of violence in Iraq to the Israeli experience in the West Bank, you will see the ultimate failure of the mission in Iraq is inevitable. The number of causalities, the intensity of the fighting in the West Bank is nothing compared to what we are seeing in Iraq. This shows that the support for the resistance in Iraq is widespread and will not die. Now if the Palestinians in the West Bank have been able to maintain the resistance to the Israelis for 30 years, finally making the Israeli departure inevitable, what makes anyone think the American people are going to deal with twice as much violence in Iraq for any length of time? When we see on the evening news that 25 insurgents and only two Americans were killed; and still the attacks keep coming, you know it's going to be a long one. When you see numerous suicide-bombers kill themselves in the hope of killing just a few Americans, you know the will to continue the resistance is not on its “last legs.” When you watch thousands of people shouting and screaming with delight as they drag the burned corpses of Americans through the street, you know that no amount of humanitarianism is going to make these people stop fighting. Go ask the Israelis if this is true.
This begs the question, did Bush ask the Israelis? What did they say” We know that some of Bush's key advisers (Wolfowitz, Pearl) are Israeli Firsters, so-called Neo-Conservatives. They were the chief architects of the war in Iraq. Even though Bush wanted to even old scores and capitalize on the wave of patriotism after 9/11, these Neo-cons were probably the only staffers who could locate the Middle East on a map, and they were the ones who finally sold him on the idea that it was feasible. The Neo-cons were probably thinking that a more pro-active role in the region was good. They thought that America in this case should take Saddam out rather than having Israel do it, thereby deflecting Muslim attention away from Israel, and preventing a possible fourth Arab-Israeli war. This is the three-card-monty routine mentioned earlier. I can understand the reasoning; however, one of the possible outcomes, especially in light of Israel's experience with the West Bank and Lebanon, was that America might have a disastrous experience in Iraq and pull out. The result of what was originally a move by Wolfowitz and Pearl to protect Israel, may end up in the long run hurting Israel. For if America leaves with a bad taste in its mouth in another Vietnam-style fiasco, there is going to be a powerful reluctance to directly intervene in the Middle east again, whether to save Israel, or for any other reason for that matter. The Neo-Conservatives shot themselves in the foot on this one.
Although he had good practical reasons for entering Iraq, Bush dragged a deeply divided, weakened nation into an ill-advised invasion. Despite America's efforts to democratize Iraq, the situation on the ground is probably not conducive to this end. Bush never seems to have prepared for what is now a ferocious insurgency, and defeating it militarily is probably not feasible. A workable political settlement would run counter to Bush's stated democratization goals. If these problems were not enough, the biggest obstacle to success is the fifth-column here in America, which will make a prolonged stay impossible. All of this could have been avoided. A momentary glance at the Israeli experience in trying to govern Arabs would have been instructive. But it seems that brains are in short supply in the counsels of government these days. The consequences for this failed policy are catastrophic and far-reaching.
Will there be a pull-out soon? Yes, this seems to be the most likely course of action. The success or failure in Iraq depends upon the pressure placed on the administration in power by both the insurgents and the American people. The insurgent pressure is inevitable, for there will always be a certain level of resistance no matter what political combination is tried in Iraq. The American people will tire of seeing the continual flow of coffins coming back from Iraq and ultimately the people will demand a pull-out. Ten years, four years or one - it's difficult to tell, but eventually the leadership will admit that it is unable to produce the results it has set for itself and it will be forced to accept the futility of further effort.
The overriding problem with America's foreign policy in Iraq is not in the particulars but instead lies in the general approach America tends to take in dealing with most foreign policy situations. Rather than offer a particular foreign policy formula that would work in dealing with Iraq, a more general explanation as to what is wrong with America's approach would be more effective. The problems with how America approaches foreign policy are legion, but probably can be condensed to the following: instead of seeing itself as a part of history, America sees itself as being apart from history, creating its own unique paradigm where the rules and lessons of history do not apply. America believes that its government's purpose in the world is to act as sort of a missionary society preaching the gospel of Democracy, Freedom, and Equality to the “heathens” of the world. The very word “empire” is now considered “politically incorrect.” They have not learned the hard lessons of history, and consequently there is failure embedded in each foreign policy endeavor with often disastrous consequences.
Despite obvious practical political motives for its leaders actions, America believes its primary goal is to save souls for democracy and not to first extend and maintain its exclusive power. This pressures the leadership into tight confines when dealing in foreign policy. History teaches that a power must first and foremost establish itself based upon practical survival thinking. States in dealing with other states should look to security issues first, ideals second. Soul saving can begin after survival is insured and the essential relationship of ruler and ruled is established. America believes that its mission is to be liked around the world, and that once liked, people will cooperate freely with us if only we reason together. This in nonsense. People are essentially irrational, being ruled primarily by habit and force, not reason. The habit of obedience is what creates a power's legitimacy and is relied upon for dealing with most situations in maintaining order, but force is and always will be the final arbiter. Force is much more necessary in maintaining order when the rulers and ruled are separated by vast differences (ethnic, religion, language, culture).
In applying this thinking to the Middle East: The chief reason America should control the Middle East is to maintain the flow of oil to the rest of the world and force a peace on a region gripped by perpetual war. This will allow us secondarily to promote our ideals where practical and bring a level of civilization to them that their own leaders could or would not provide for themselves. If we do not dominate this area another power will, and it will have the opportunity to impose their version of peace and civilization on the region. Following this basic foreign policy formula is progressive, not immoral and atavistic. Immorality and atavism would be to let a set of corrupt and warlike regimes hold the world hostage by controlling the world's oil supply and perpetuating wars which may at some point in the future involve WMD.
It would take a miracle at this point for Bush's policy in Iraq to succeed as planned. He will most likely look for an early exit after they cobble together an Iraqi army. But there is the problem, if they can not put on effective army in the field that is good enough to fight the insurgents, he will have no other choice but to stay. The longer he stays, the worse it gets and the harder it will be to find an excuse to leave. Worst of all is the definite possibility that the government in power will eventually demand a timetable for withdrawal. If Bush refuses, then he has no political legs to stand on when he talks to the world about obeying the democratically expressed will of the Iraqi people. And if he leaves and the place goes up in smoke as a result of a civil war between the Sunnis and the Shiite government, America will take the blame for leaving Iraq in a state of anarchy. In the fight against the guerrillas the initiative is squarely with the insurgents. If they continue at present and the Iraqi government is unable to take over the American role, they will win, it is only a matter of time.
The storm clouds are definitely on the horizon. If one looks at the aftermath of the invasion with everything going according to plan, Bush's poll numbers were in the 70s. Then the resistance increased and his numbers started to slip. In April of 2004 the uprisings in both Fallujah and Najaf coupled with the prisoner abuse scandal, sent Bush's approval ratings plummeting down to the 40s. The spectacle of a long bloody affair was brought home to the American people; the Tet Offensive in 1968 produced a similar effect during the Vietnam War. It was about this same time that Bush's administration decided to push the “handover” date up to June rather than wait for the originally scheduled date. This was obviously designed to dampen possible resistance as they moved toward election day. But the handover did not do the trick and the resistance continues to press for a complete pull-out of American troops. Now in August of 2005, approval for Bush's handling of the war in Iraq has sunk to 35%.
Another bear trap waiting in the path of Bush's policy is the fast approaching need for massive amount of manpower, and the potential need to make up the shortfall with a draft. Bush's administrators counted on a quick war that could be accomplished with a fast troop build-up and invasion, and possibly a minimum number of troops left behind for station duty. But now that the conflict is going into the second year and necessitates the use of over 150,000 troops on the ground, the need to replace personnel who are opting not to re-enlist is fast approaching. The only way he has been able to increase troop levels in Iraq is by forcibly extending enlistments and invoking reservist enlistment clauses, but this policy will not last too much longer. National Guard troops now make up a large portion of the troops on the ground. Exorbitant re-enlistment bonuses are being rolled out to entice soldiers to re-up, especially Special Operations troops. All of these are temporary solutions and will not meet the demand of manpower at present levels for four years. Due to the growing unpopularity of the war, volunteer enlistments are slowing considerably, and over the next few years should come to a virtual halt. But Bush has stated emphatically that he will not institute the draft. If he goes back on this promise, as the situation worsens in Iraq, the protest against the war will explode. The draft is a ticking time bomb waiting to explode in the next four years. If Bush doesn't draft he may not be able to keep troops on the ground. And if he does not keep troops on the ground, the Iraqi government may fall. The results of this would not bode well for America's long-term foreign policy.
If America pulls out of Iraq with anything like a defeated policy, the consequences would be far reaching. The retreat from Iraq would encourage other powers in the region to challenge America's presence in the Persian Gulf. Iran's recent defiance at the nuclear regulatory IAEA is evidence of this. Before the invasion and the subsequent fiasco in Iraq, Iran was leery of defying Washington directly. With all that firepower in the Persian Gulf, it was a mystery as to what the Americans would do if the Iranians challenged the balance of power in the region. Now that the prospect of an American pull-out is almost certain, the Iranians have no compunction in thumbing their noses at Washington's efforts to halt their nuclear weapons programs. If America departs from the Middle East, this would trigger a challenge to America's presence in the Far East as well. The challenge would come from China with Russia's blessing. The vacuum left in both the Middle and Far East would be filled by China, Russia, India, and Japan. Without oil flowing into America and Europe at present prices, our economies would severely contract. America would then be thrown back on its own hemisphere trying to reconfigure itself in a world no longer dominated by the West.
The immeasurable loss in Iraq is yet another generation of young men that have been led into a no-win war by foolish politicians and betrayed and shot down on yet another battlefield. Besides the fools who led him into this fiasco, the soldier will once again be stabbed in the back by a fifth-column element here at home. When once his life's blood stops flowing into the sands of the Iraqi desert, he will be given a little government paycheck, a little parade or two, a few little, tarnished medals, but the story of the war will be told by the victor. And the victor in this war, as in Vietnam, is the little leftist agitator, college professor, news reporter, and Congressman who sabotaged the war effort. They will tell the story of the “tragic futility” of the Iraqi experience. The soldier who fought and died there will finally have his grave spit upon by these little men who dominate out culture today.
The soldier is told that he is ultimately fighting for “freedom,” the freedom for these little men to curse the sacrifices that he is making. What a curious form of self-hatred we seem to breed in this country that the soldier's sacrifices are best celebrated by being criticized. What nobility in this concept of a man fighting and dying for not only a person that is ungrateful, but a person that hates his sacrifices, that will damn his effort, and champion the cause of his enemies. Like the cretin who carried pictures of Chairman Mao while protesting the Vietnam War, his ideological children are now listening to the Ward Churchills as they spew out venomous hatred for America. That is what you are dying for? This is the great freedom you lost your leg in service to? If I would tell you anything, it is that this leftist subversive is not worth dying for. To fight for those who will ultimately spit on your grave and build you a long, black, somber monument symbolizing the futility of your sacrifices is not worth it. Your true enemies are right here at home: in the universities, in the newsrooms, in the Hollywood studios, and in the halls of Congress.
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