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

the illusions of the war crowd « Previous | |Next »
December 19, 2006

There is an unreal air around the Middle East and Iraq in Washington, London and Canberra in their attempts to build their model Middle Eastern state, and in their argument for continuing the occupation of Iraq for years ahead. It appears that the White House is leaning towards a broad rejection of the recommendations from the Iraq Study Group--- for a withdrawal of US combat forces by early 2008, and for the opening of talks with Tehran and Damascus. What's left of the "coalition of the willing" continue to say that they stand foursquare behind democracy in Iraq; and they insist that they have no intention of cutting and running from the country, even though the American people want the troops out of Iraq and want the US to extract itself from the quagmire.

Whilst the destruction of daily life - from mass kidnappings, bombings and shootings - in Iraq continues unabated, the Bush, Blair and Howard crowd continue to enwrap themselves in their illusions that they are courageously fighting the "terrorists fighting democracy" so as to defend democracy. There is a state of denial about the horrors of life for Iraqis--a living hell --- and the way that the chaos of sectarian civil war results from Iraq's continuing fragmentation; a state of denial that refuses to take responsibility for the chaos their invasion unleashed. Yet the sharp escalation of sectarian violence in Iraq threatens to saddle the United States with its greatest foreign-policy disaster since the Vietnam War.

What's the point of a heavier US footprint when Iraqi's are now politically mobilized and they want the US to leave. What does "victory" mean in this context? By defeating the Sunni insurgency and resistance and establishing a sustainable democracy in Iraq? Ensuring the US's imperial goals in the Middle East---creating a client regime, which is the key to establishing and maintaining the U.S. as the dominant power in the Middle East.

In Washington debates around Iraq there is a reluctance to advocate the withdrawal of American troops and the abandonment of the Bush administration's goal of pacifying Iraq. Such a withdrawl would mean the abandonment of over two decades of American foreign policy in the Middle East---Lebanon to Pakistan. I cannot see that abandonment happening under Bush, no matter how lameduck he is. Iraq is all about empire.

As Michael Schwartz observes over at Tom Dispatch the Bush's administration's political agenda for the "arc of instability" predated Bush, going back to the moment in 1991 when the Soviet Union simply evaporated, leaving an impoverished Russia and a set of wobbly independent states in its place. He says:

While the elder George Bush and Bill Clinton did not embrace the use of the military as the primary instrument of foreign policy, they fully supported the goal of American preeminence in the Middle East and worked very hard to achieve it -- through the isolation of Iran, sanctions against Iraq, various unpublicized military actions against Saddam's forces, and a ratcheting upward of permanent basing policies throughout the Gulf region and Central Asia.

Bush and his neocon circle remain committed to the grand strategfy of maintaining the United States as the dominant power in the region.

If Iraq is the lynch pin of US hegemony in the Middle East then the insurgents’ strategy against foreign occupiers is a classical one--- “to make the occupation…so untenable and uneconomical that the [occupier] will have no option but to consider withdrawal.” As Jeffrey Record says in his review of Ahmed S. Hashim's Insurgency and Counter-Insurgency in Iraq , (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2006):

In the case of the Iraq War, which most Americans now regard as a mistake, the insurgency could politically coerce a U.S. withdrawal by raising the costs in American blood and treasure to unacceptable levels by inciting Iraq’s descent into a civil war that would render a continued U.S. military presence a costly irrelevance. Provocation of civil war has been al-Qaeda’s avowed aim in Iraq, and by the summer of 2006, sectarian violence had displaced insurgent attacks on U.S. forces as the primary threat to the U.S. objective of a unified, democratic and stable Iraq. As each month passes, Iraq looks more and more like a Middle Eastern former Yugoslavia than an Allied-liberated France.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 7:09 AM | | Comments (2)


Sectarian violence in Iraq threatens to saddle the United States with its greatest foreign-policy disaster since the Vietnam War.

IMHO, Iraq has been America's greatest foreign-policy disaster since Vietnam from day one. The only change since is that its now America's greatest foreign-policy disaster - ever.

most of the world (Downing Street, the White House and Canberra excepted of course) know the occupation of Iraq is a real disaster, and that the situation gets more hellish every day.

Yet the Republican right is continuing to insist that the Pentagon must go for a clear-cut victory in Iraq and a defeat of the insurgents through significant troop reinforcements.They continue to maintain the illusion that the leading insurgent role in Iraq is al-Qa'ida and international terrorism. So a military victory is all that is needed.

Even though Washington cannot bear a total US withdrawal, the war has already been lost. It looks as if Iraq---a failed state as the country has already broken apart----has to go through the purge of sectarian civil war.

Yet they---Downing Street, the White House and Canberra---are going after the Taliban in Afghanistan to protect another client regime. Southern Afghanistan is going to get much more violent as Taliban and other jihadi groups expand on their successes of the past eight months. It will end badly for NATO, just as it did for the Russians.

There is a regime of delusion in the White House.