“I think they're in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency.”
-- Vice President Dick Cheney, assessing the strength of the insurgency on CNN’s Larry King Show, May 30, 2005
No one could have dreamed that two years after Bush declared “Mission Accomplished”, 40,000 Iraqi security personnel and 10,000 American soldiers would be needed to pacify Baghdad, but that, in fact, is the underlying meaning of Rumsfeld’s Operation Lightening. Simply put, the magnitude of the failure exceeds our wildest expectations.
It’s clear now that the size and strength of the insurgency has surpassed all the previous predictions and that the civilian leadership of the occupation forces is lashing out in desperation to quell the violence. Iraq has quickly degenerated into the most poorly executed military campaign in American history. The United States is being beaten, and beaten quite badly. Notwithstanding Vice President Cheney’s nonsensical bluster, the insurgency has gained ground in all areas of the conflict, increasing the death toll among American servicemen, blowing up oil pipelines, controlling supply lines, sabotaging attempts at reconstruction, and enlisting broader support from the native population. Despite the circus elections performed as a publicity stunt for the American public some months ago, Iraq has become ungovernable. Again, the extent of the failure is truly breathtaking.
Normally, when the war strategy proves to be as tragically flawed as it has been in Iraq, changes are made at the top of the defense establishment. That won’t happen with Rumsfeld. Although Sec-Def Rumsfeld can be held directly responsible for the insufficient numbers of soldiers needed for the initial occupation and, more importantly, for his disbanding of the Iraqi military, which sent 400,000 well armed soldiers back into the civilian population, Rumsfeld’s job is protected by his unique relationship to the administration. In fact, Rumsfeld is corporate America’s personal ambassador, chosen for his rigorous commitment to ideology and his willingness to execute any crime that furthers the interests of his core constituents. What this means in terms of the occupation is this: we are seeing how war would be conducted by businessmen and CEOs rather than highly trained military experts. This explains the futile siege and destruction of Falluja as well as the egregious violations of human rights at Abu Ghraib. Neither of these is reflective of the standards we have come to expect from the military, but the corrupting influence of corporate magnates playing war games.
For Rumsfeld, the war has continued far beyond the fall of Baghdad because he’s never seriously pursued a political solution. This omission ensures that security can only be enforced through ever increasing levels of brute force. That same mentality is being duplicated in Operation Lightening, another failed attempt to assert American dominance through counterinsurgency, round-ups and overwhelming firepower. It, too, will certainly fail.
It is astonishing that men who matriculated at America’s finest universities are so limited in their thinking. The reliance on force has produced the same grim results over and over again, and yet, it is applied to the exclusion of any other alternative.
That muddled thinking has led to the present inter-urban conflict; a fight that will undoubtedly produce more pointless detentions, more unnecessary civilian deaths and more recruits for the burgeoning insurgency.
We can see that the Rumsfeld strategy can only produce one of two conceivable scenarios: either the United States will admit defeat in its quest to subjugate the Iraqi people or Iraq will become an open air concentration camp similar to the West Bank. The seeds of rage sown by Rumsfeld’s orgy of terror have quashed any opportunity for achieving a negotiated settlement. Iraq is now beset by Bush’s dichotomous “all or nothing” worldview. It’s a vision we’re all stuck with for now.
Mike Whitney lives in Washington state, and can be reached at: email@example.com.
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