Failing in Iraq
There is no longer any possibility of the United States achieving its objectives in Iraq. Whatever opportunity there might have been following the initial invasion has been swept away by the abusive treatment of detainees, the wanton slaughter of civilians, and the systematic destruction of Iraqi society.
The war has entered a period of retrenchment, with both sides firmly committed to their own objectives, doing whatever is within their power to succeed. This situation will undoubtedly persist for a number of years until the US is ultimately forced to withdraw.
The news from Iraq is invariably tragic. Civilian casualties are up dramatically since the elections and there’s no sign of them relenting anytime in the near future. Similarly, the militia violence has increased steadily as has the detention of Iraqi suspects, now estimated to be around 40,000 prisoners.
Casualties among American servicemen have reached a new high at 1,843 with the Marines taking the brunt of the losses. These figures are bound to swell given that the number of roadside bomb attacks has doubled to about 30 per week. Now, it is not unusual to see five or six American servicemen killed in a day, something that was extremely rare in the early months of the conflict.
The Army Surgeon General released a report two weeks ago confirming that 30% of the soldiers returning from Iraq are suffering from mental disorders. Also, the number of suicides among veterans is up markedly, a distressing omen of things to come. The US will harvest another generation of troubled veterans whose lives were ruined in a war of choice.
The number of suicide bombers has peaked in post-election Iraq, with hundreds, if not thousands of young Jihadis swarming to Iraq to fight the American occupation. It has become the cause célèbre among Arab nationalists and is fueling a resurgence in Muslim unity. This revival, though still in its infant stage, is bound to flourish as long as the United States occupies Iraq with combat troops and military bases.
Recent polls show that public support for the war is seriously weakening. In March 2004, 65 percent of Americans supported the decision to wage war in Iraq. In the latest Gallup poll, support has sagged to 44 percent. This downward spiral is reflected in every important area related to the war including George Bush’s personal popularity and trustworthiness. The numbers show that Americans are now feeling “Iraq fatigue” as well as a growing wariness with the Commander-in-Chief.
The polls also verify that the public sees a connection between Iraq and the bombings in London. Since the subway attacks, many terror experts have confirmed that the war in Iraq has become a rallying cry for Islamic fighters and has increased the probability of an attack at home. 57% of Americans now believe that they are “less safe” than they were before the war. The rhetoric from the White House has done little to relieve the fears of the average American.
It’s clear that the “clash of civilizations” that both Bin Laden and George Bush so devoutly sought appears to be materializing. America’s unholy war has created a breeding ground for the next generation of terrorists and has moved us all closer to a decades-long conflict and a reshaping of the geopolitical landscape.
The incidents of violence against Muslims in England are up 600% since 2004, and the Blair government continues to feed the public fear of radical Islam. The Prime Minister is executing a strategy of victimizing Muslims to undermine long-held commitments to human rights. Blair’s assault on Islamic extremism is a carefully choreographed public relations scheme to eviscerate basic civil liberties provided under English law.
The Bush administration’s effort to cast Iraq as a part of the broader war on terror has proved to be hopelessly flawed. In last week’s press conference, Bush reiterated the themes that are now used exclusively to justify the occupation. In less than 30 minutes, Bush used the term “terrorist” 15 times, “hateful ideology” three times and “enemies of freedom” twice.
“A free Iraq in the heart of the Middle East will deliver a serious blow to their hateful ideology”… [We are fighting] “the enemies of freedom”… “We're also fighting the murderous ideology, the hateful ideology of the terrorists, and we're doing so by spreading freedom,” Bush opined.
The precipitous decline in support for the war indicates that the Bush strategy of fear mongering is no longer working. Once the deceptions that underscore the war on terror begin to vanish, there’s little chance that the administration will be able to elicit the support needed to continue the conflict.
Bush’s demagoguery has been further challenged by the recent video of bin Laden’s chief lieutenant, Ayman al-Zawahiri. Al-Zawahiri’s statement was a straightforward explanation of Al Qaida’s objectives:
“Our message to you is clear, strong and final: there will be no salvation until you withdraw from our land, stop stealing our oil, and end your support for our corrupt leaders.”
Regardless of al Zawahiri’s alleged connection to 9-11, his demands are reasonable and consistent with those of the vast majority of American’s who neither support occupation nor imperial adventurism. Al Zawahiri’s statement was just another body blow to Washington’s propaganda campaign and to the illusion that Muslims are freedom-hating fanatics.
Despite the administration’s efforts, the conflict in Iraq will continue to unravel. The ever-shifting rationale for the war has been picked apart by critics and summarily discredited. Similarly, public support is in irreversible decline and will inevitably cause greater disruptions at home. The occupation may persist for 10 years or so, but there is no longer any realistic expectation for an American victory.
The goal of establishing an American colony in the Middle East has fallen on hard times exposing the nation to the possibility of ruin in the process. For Washington powerbrokers and policymakers, even the thought of failure in Iraq is too grim to contemplate. The withdrawal of combat troops would put the second largest supply of oil in the world in the hands of an Islamic government that would quickly grow into a major player in the region and compete openly with rival Israel. Withdrawal would also hasten the expected switch in currencies from dollars to petro-euros; a change that would signal the end of America’s economic dominance through control of the world’s reserve currency. The US would be forced to face the $8 trillion debt that currently underwrites the “greenback” and deal with the economy-busting hyperinflation that would quickly ensue. If creditor nations suddenly decided to dump their US currency and bonds and move to oil-backed assets, the US economy would go into freefall. It is impossible to calculate the magnitude of the catastrophe for the American people.
This suggests that the Bush administration will carry on for as long as possible; trying to cobble together a strategy that will allow them to stay in Iraq controlling both the oil and the political process. But as the Iraqi resistance grows in strength and daring, and as public support continues to erode, there’s little chance that the administration will be able to avoid the looming disaster.
The American Century is now looking like it may be abbreviated to 10 or 15 years at most. The New World Order, built on the rubble of Falluja and on the tortured victims of Abu Ghraib, is being progressively dismantled by the grit and resolve of the Iraqi resistance fighting to restore their nation’s sovereignty and independence. It appears increasingly likely that their struggle will succeed.
Mike Whitney lives in Washington state, and can be reached at: email@example.com.
Other Articles by Mike Whitney
* Revving Up World