We can expect to hear a lot about civil war in Iraq over the next few weeks; and federalism, too. Don’t believe a word of it.
The Pentagon is moving forward with its plan to divide Iraq into three parts and it’s using the pretext of civil war to justify its strategy. Rumsfeld and Co. have known for some time that the conflict is no longer “winnable” and they’ve been moving in this direction since shortly after the elections. The choice of language, “civil war and federalism,” only bear out what the media plan of attack will be.
The plan to split up Iraq actually appeared first in a New York Times editorial nearly a year ago. The Bush administration is uncomfortable admitting that the situation on the ground is so desperate that uniting the country under a strong central government is no longer possible. They’ve already begun talking about “regional autonomy” which tells us that the country will be divided into three parts: a Kurdish region in the north, a Shia region in the south, and a Sunni region in the middle. This model suggests that the Sunnis, the former heads of state and military under Saddam, will be cut out of Iraq’s great oil wealth.
The strategy for dividing Iraq depends in large part on inciting violence between the various ethnicities and religious sects. It harkens back to age-old dictum, “divide and conquer.” Those who have watched Iraq carefully know that the myriad bombings of Shi’ite mosques, markets and town centers, are part of a suspicious pattern that suggests counterinsurgency methods are being used to increase sectarian hostilities. The various resistance organizations have repeatedly denied involvement in these attacks in communiqués via the internet, and it’s hard to believe that the al Zarqawi group (if it exists?) would risk alienating the public just to murder civilians. What could he possibly gain? Guerilla warfare requires the tacit support of the masses to conceal its activities. In the Sunni areas, that support would quickly dissipate if the resistance was shown to be directly involved in bombings like the one two weeks ago that killed 32 children while they were taking candy from US Marines. Whoever is behind these wanton acts of slaughter is uncertain, but it’s clear that the majority of Iraqis do not believe these acts are instigated by the resistance.
What has been taking place in Iraq for the last few months is truly extraordinary. A massive counterinsurgency program has been conducted behind the iron curtain of the western media. Early reports from Dahr Jamail suggested that up to 60,000 Iraqis had been rounded up in Rumsfeld’s “scattershot” scheme to quell the violence. This is an increase of over 50,000 detainees since the months following the Abu Ghraib scandal. Jamail’s numbers were confirmed this week by US Army General Jack Keane, a former deputy chief of staff, who said that occupation forces had “killed or arrested more than 50,000 Iraqi insurgents in the past seven months.” Keane’s admission should put to rest the notion that Rumsfeld is seeking a political solution for the ongoing hostilities. He persists in his misguided belief that force alone will remedy the current violence.
If we follow the stories from the independent media we can figure out what has really been going on in the Sunni heartland for the last seven months. Apart from the counterinsurgency activities, which are carried out by the “Wolf Brigade” and other US-sponsored militias, the Marines have been going from city to city (Haditha, al-Qaim, Karabila, Tal Afar, etc.) pounding the civilian areas, destroying infrastructure, and rounding up military aged men suspected of involvement with the resistance. All of this is taking place beyond the blinkered view of America’s “free press.” The Western media continues to function as the information annex of the US military. We’ll probably never know the magnitude of the war crimes in these areas until the US withdrawals completely.
The situation in Iraq is dire but not in the way the American media characterizes it. The simple fact is that there “are no additional U.S. or allied troops to help and that Iraqi soldiers are far from ready to take over.” (Scripps Howard News Service)
There are legitimate concerns that the military is beginning to unravel. As retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey said last week: “The Army and Marines are starting to come apart. The National Guard is in a stage of meltdown.” “By the end of next summer, we're going to be halfway out of Iraq.”
This is the real thrust behind the talk of “withdrawal”, not respect for Iraqi sovereignty or any other such nonsense. Rumsfeld has continued with his terror campaign in the Sunni areas and is pushing for a quick signing of the constitution so he can proceed with his plan to split up the country. There’s nothing more to it then that. The US will never leave Iraq unless it is forced to do so.
The Pentagon will withdraw the troops it has to, but secure its permanent presence in the bases it has already established, maintaining its dominance over the political system and the distribution of oil. The talk of withdrawal is designed to reassure the American people that progress is being made and that the normally recalcitrant administration is pursuing political options. It contains a thread of truth, but certainly not enough to warrant the kind of excitement we’re hearing from triumphant anti-war activists.
Rather than criticize the chatter about “withdrawal”, consider this: the US economy is currently underwritten by $8 trillion of debt. If that debt is not sustained by foreign investors through continued use of American greenbacks, we’re toast. It is as simple as that. The world will not continue “mopping up our red ink” (Paul Craig Roberts) if it is not backed up by access to the world’s dwindling oil reserves. This is why we will not leave Iraq and why there has been absolute uniformity among the establishment media in maintaining their support for the most unpopular, immoral and cowardly war in American history.
The bottom line is this: failure in Iraq is now considered an existential threat to America’s continued dominance in the world. We should not anticipate that that is something that American elites will easily relinquish.
There’s a real danger in hoping that the Bush administration has seen the error in its preemptive war strategy. Apart from disappointment one feels as the occupation drags on, it also shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the current regime. This is the greatest gathering of fanatics in high-office since World War II. It is as unlikely that reason will prevail in any of their policy decisions, as it is that they will leave office according to the normal protocols. Until we see the gallows going up on Pennsylvania Ave. and the throngs of angry citizens swarming the White House, we should contain our enthusiasm.
Mike Whitney lives in Washington state, and can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Other Articles by Mike Whitney
Globalization of State Terror