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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

Hearts and Minds « Previous | |Next »
March 29, 2003

Two quotes of significance from different texts in the Iraq discourse of the US military machine.

The first is from the US Military, a Lieutenant General William Wallace, a Commander of V Corps. During a visit to the 101st Airborne Division headquarters in central Iraq he acknowledged that the combination of overextended supply lines and a combative adversary using unconventional tactics have stalled the U.S. drive toward Baghdad. This has increased the likelihood of a longer war than many strategists had anticipated. He then said:

"The enemy we're fighting is different from the one we'd war-gamed against."

I bet those war games never factored in Iraqi patriotism. They probably assumed that a bit of shock and awe would lead the Iraqi' to rebel against a dictator, would hunt down and kill the central figures in the Iraqi regime, throw open the gates of Baghdad and welcome the Anglo American army of liberation. Instead the Iraqi's are fighting for the country they love. In concentrating on playing mind games with the Iraqi's the American psych.ops forget about the Iraqi heart.

The second quote is from Greg Sheridan, a conservative Australian commentor specialising in foreign affairs. He says:

"...the military briefings of the Central Command, which the whole world watches on Fox, CNN or the BBC...are atrocious, as bad as anything I've seen...the Centcom military briefings have been a disgrace. Just one example. Either they were incredibly sloppy in telling us that Umm Qasr had been taken when it hadn't, or they were telling lies. For the first few days of the war, the primary objective of these military briefings was to convince Hussein's forces that they should quit. But running deception operations against Iraqis through military briefings to your own people runs the grave risk of undermining your own support because people eventually realise they are not being told the truth."

The hearts and minds of Anglo-American citizens were completely ignored if not treated with utter contempt.

The consquence is indicated by the photo on the front page of The Australian (no link). In the foreground stands a yound Iraqi girl dressed in red/purple dress with white rectangular lines on the upper body. She is waiting for food in Al Zubata, south of Basra. She is surrounded, enclosed, by the brown/olive Coalition (pressumably British) troops who form a backdrop of bodies. A military hand rests on her right shoulder restraining her. Guns flank her on both sides.

This image has been put there centre stage by a pro-war Australian editors to say Liberation. But it says Occupation.

Sloppy editing? Nope. Its blindness to the significance of the massive destruction being wrought by shock and awe wrapped up in historical amnesia.

A new narrative about the war (not just military battles) is in formation, and it is a counter to the totalizing peace, propersity and freedom narrative of the Militarised Enlightenment. The counter narrative works from interpreting the images and words of the censored western media otherwise. The newly-forming counter narrative, which is based on the hearts and minds of citizens, is a tragic one representing human suffering and moved by historical shudders.

You don't have to read Derrida to understand the significance of difference in the war on Iraq. Deconstruction is the name for reading texts and images otherwise.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 11:27 AM | | Comments (6)
Comments

Comments

Gary, look closely and the hand on the little girl's shoulder is attached to an arm with a civvy shirt...probably her dad's. Doesn't take way from yr point though. Her face says it all.

Best

robv

What the invasion has done, for now, is reduce drastically the living standards and safety of Iraqi civilians. The army won't take responsibility for this, so who will? We are all witnessing this real time. Food aide programs, run by the NGOs, have collapsed while Coaltion forces struggle to contain the Iraqi "irregulars" and "terrorists". America's dot bomb 4G warfare masturbation society just got poked with an ugly stick by men in pickup trucks and buses. Their suidcide assaults on US armoured columns will act as a psychological trigger for the rest of the troops -- fight to the death or die. They are more willing to listen to Saddam, because Shock and Awe was neither.

Robv

You are dead right. I missed it. So much for my close reading of the text.

Ausyankee I reckon the utilitarians are calculating how many ciivlian deaths are an acceptable cost. From what I can gather the Iraqi infrastructure has broken down: the sanitation system isn't working, the electricty grid is is poor,people are drinking polluted river water and the hospitals have little in the way of resources or supplies to deal with casualities and disease.

A description of a third country?

The bomber boys really mention this humanitarian dimension, nor do they seem much concerned about picking up the pieces afterwards. For them the war is going extremely well: they are just thinking in strategic military terms: they are the gates of Baghdad. Thats what matters.

they are the gates of Baghdad. Thats what matters.

Yeah, but that attaining that "objective" is hollow indeed. Saddam let the spearhead whip through Nasariyah in order to harrass them from the rear. No achievement there whatsoever.

Jiu-jitsu style, strategically the enemy is eating from our boy's lunch pail

And to think the neocons are still floating the Syria and Iran options even now when things are going pear shaped. But like you say, Rob, they are only seeing things in military strategic terms. They regard the ME as a hornet's nest - they don't believe thay can make things worse there. These are truly stupid and evil men. How did it come to pass that the USA was hijacked by such a bull-necked crew? One hesitates to draw the obvious analogies but it surely is getting close to the time.

If you turn the gun sights onto Syria and Iran then the para military and suicide bombers from those nation states will cross the border and come to the defence of Iraq. So the conflict widens.