Shocked and Awed?

by Kim Petersen

Dissident Voice

March 29, 2003


Victory attained by violence is tantamount to a defeat, for it is momentary.


                                                                                   -- Gandhi


The longer the fighting continues, the more questions that are raised by what is going on? The tide appears to be turning. The predicted and awaited flood of refugees is nowhere to be seen after eight days of so-called “Shock and Awe.” The Ruweished border crossing in Jordan has seen very few arrivals. (1) In fact there is a flow in the opposite direction. Iraqis in Jordan are heading back home to fight the American and British invaders. Heck, this isn’t supposed to be happening. The Americans had insisted that the Iraqis would be welcoming them with open arms. What is going on here? Where is the fear of “Shock and Awe?”


Iraq is the country that was bombed into submission by a 34-member coalition in 1991. The American and British forces had turned Iraq into a radioactive wasteland by the immoral use of depleted uranium munitions. What were they thinking when they used depleted uranium which left one quarter of their own forces suffering with Gulf war syndrome? Why are they thinking to use depleted uranium again? Yet Iraq was not allowed to import the equipment to clean up the radioactive mess left as they were then subjected to genocidal sanctions that wiped out up to a million or more Iraqis. These disgusting sanctions prevented or hindered the Iraqis from repairing their water-purification system, sewage treatment system, and providing urgently required medicines. Simultaneously the Iraqis were being disarmed and bombed in the illegal no-fly zones. The Iraqis were destroying missiles, allowing over-flight surveillance and interviews with scientists. Yet still they were attacked because Mr. Bush was reminded of some old movie that he had already seen before. The earlier US-led coalition has been replaced by a larger so-called “coalition of the willing.” Willing to do what? Fighting forces are limited to the US and UK with a smattering of Australians.


But Iraq is fighting valiantly against infinitesimal odds. Old peasant farmers are paraded as having shot down American helicopters, tanks are disabled, American and British casualties are rising. The quick victory scenario that Pentagon sources had earlier predicted (2) has been replaced by caution from US and UK spokespersons to be prepared for a longer-term war. Why is this so against the defanged Iraqi military?


Where are the weapons of mass destruction that Mr. Bush said everybody knows Saddam has?


And what about those precision bombs that were supposed to protect civilians from casualties? Heck, the US can’t even keep the bombs in a country the size of France. They are falling in Iran and Turkey. They are falling on buses with civilians, near schools, in residential areas, farms, markets, and on Iraqi TV (as if anyone believes that is an accident). What kind of high technology precision is that?


The US evens looks to be losing the media war. Arab TV station Al-Jazeera is providing superb independent reporting and footage from inside Iraq. Outside countries are picking up their feed. The comparison with the reportage of those embedded in the US forces is laughable. Do they think the people are really so stupid as to not know who the journalists are in bed with?


The US has nonplussed it friends in Europe, failed to even get the support of its neighbors and NAFTA partners Canada and Mexico, estranged itself from the three other permanent members of the UN Security Council, and even the British Prime Minister was left hanging in the wind for a while by US defense Minister Rumsfeld who stated that the US would go to war with or without the UK. The war has brought dissension to its Middle East friends.


The US-led aggression has unsettled regimes throughout the Middle East, particularly friendly governments. Arabs formerly depicted as cowering under the hard hand of authoritarian regimes are taking to the streets in growing numbers. The number one Arab lapdog of the US is teetering on the brink of outright rebellion. “King Abdullah … urged his countrymen to moderate expressions of sympathy for Iraqis.” (3) Mr. Abdullah of Jordan has sycophantically acceded to American demand while lying to ordinary pro-Iraqi Jordanians about complicity with the US. Despite early heavy-handed operations by baton-wielding, riot-gear clad police against Jordanians who dared to support Iraqi resistance, the demonstrations grow. Heck, if the Iraqis can face cruise missiles, cluster bombs, and depleted uranium what is a little tear gas? Now Mr. Abdullah has lost control of the streets.  Contrary to early attempts “to foil pro-Iraq protests” (4) the Hashemite regime has resorted to proclaiming government assent for the rallies.


How can all this be happening? US military strategy is being openly questioned. US and UK intelligence has so far been shown to be less than reliable since just before 9-11 until now. It seems that the US was relying on such dubious sources as the Iraqi cabal-in-waiting, the weasly Iraqi National Congress, a group of Iraqi castoffs supported by Washington. (5)


The US and UK role in Middle East history reeks with hypocrisy. (6) Arabs are responding to the hypocritical US attack on Iraq while Washington maladroitly skirts the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory. The Arabs know that Mr. Bush has chosen to surround himself with tendentious pro-Israeli hawks. They surely don’t have any great expectations about the Quartet (EU, Russia, UN, and US) and its proposed Middle East “roadmap.” No one is holding their breath anymore about Mr. Bush’s word that “[i]mmediately upon confirmation” of the Palestinian Prime Minister Abu Mazen, which happened on 19 March, the road map would be presented. The roadmap faced its first delay when the US pressed the Quartet to wait until it had endorsement, which happened on 20 December 2002. Then there was the call to wait until after the Israeli elections on 28 January, then until the formation of the Israeli government, then until after the US had finished its war preparations, then for the appointment of Abu Mazen. Now the US asks the world to wait until the appointment of a Palestinian cabinet. The roadmap was described by Arab press as “the last hope to restore stability to the Middle East.” (7) Meanwhile the genocidal regime of Israeli Prime Minister Sharon has exploited the time delays granted it by the US procrastination to extend territorial facts on the ground in the Occupied Territories. (8) It leads the Arabs to ask if the “policy makers in Washington are still wondering why Arabs ‘hate' them.” The “paramount importance [is] that the international community be reminded that the core problem in the Middle East is the Israeli occupation of Palestine.” (9) This is sure to fall on death ears in Washington where Mr. Bush (ostensibly more aware of the Arab sentiment than even the Arabs) has stated many times the problem is Arab hatred of American freedoms. Heck, the US is even being advised by the Orwellian-titled Israeli Defense Forces how to engage in urban warfare. (10)


In such an immensely lopsided fight it will truly be amazing if Iraqi resistance against the US-UK aggression stretches out for more than a few months. At any rate, one outcome is predicted to be more terrorism. This is what was predicted by US intelligence. Supposedly Mr. Bush restarted this violence because Mr. Hussein was a threat to the US. Now the US is faced with an even more real threat of terrorism. There is a report of a suicide bombing killing Americans in Iraq as this article is being written. Further terrorist attacks will in all certainty be latched onto as pretext to continue the endless War on Terrorism. Mr. Bush would do well to consider the wisdom of Chinese military strategian Sun Tzu who wrote: “There is no instance of a nation benefiting from prolonged warfare.”


Kim Petersen is an English teacher living in China. Email: kotto2001@hotmail.com




(1) Dalya Dajani, “Where are they? Experts weigh in on Iraqi refugee question,” The Jordan Times, 28 March 2003: http://www.jordantimes.com/Fri/homenews/homenews13.htm


(2) Poul Høi, “USA tror på hurtig sejr,” Berlinskje Tidende, 19 March 2003: http://www.berlingske.dk/udland/artikel:aid=306250/


(3) Free Press News Services, “Demonstrations around the World: Mideast protests turn violent; 2 dead,” Detroit Free Press, 22 March 2003: http://www.freep.com/news/nw/iraq/muslim22_20030322.htm


(4) Ibid


(5) Firas Al-Atraqchi, “What You Aren't Being Told About Iraq,” Dissident Voice, 28 March 2003: http://www.dissidentvoice.org/Articles3/Al-Atraqchi_Liberation.htm


(6) Kim Petersen, Why Israel is So Relevant Vis-à-Vis Iraq: The Politics of Hypocrisy, Dissident Voice, 15 February 2003: http://www.dissidentvoice.org/Articles2/Petersen_Israel-Iraq.htm


(7) Editorial, “Kowtowing to Israel, again,” The Jordan Times, Friday, March 28, 2003: http://www.jordantimes.com/Fri/opinion/opinion1.htm


(8) Jonathan Cook, “Thwarting The State,” Al-Ahram, 27 March 2003: http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2003/631/re4.htm


(9) Editorial, Ibid


(10) Justin Huggler, “Israelis trained US troops in Jenin-style urban warfare,” The Independent, 29 March 2003: http://news.independent.co.uk/world/middle_east/story.jsp?story=391823




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