[In some of his best writing ever, former West Point
instructor and retired U.S. Army Special Forces
Master Sergeant Stan Goff breaks down for us what
happened in the Iraqi war, with our media, and
to us here at home. As the so-called coalition prepares
to declare "Victory", Goff reminds us and perhaps
tells many for the first time how the Iraqi campaign
was actually fought. His research, instead of relying
on America's despicable pretense at journalism
also included: The Independent UK, Le Monde, The
The Hindu Times, The Asia Times (an excellent paper),
Al-Jazeera, and the Financial Times. It parallels
exactly what I saw in European television coverage
during a recent trip to Amsterdam.
The difference is not one of interpretation or bias.
It is first a difference of which events get told
and which do not. Massacred women and children seen
by a New York Times photographer are not elements
of spin. Massacred Iraqi soldiers with white flags
of surrender still beside their bodies are not propaganda.
These are crimes. Most will be surprised to learn
that U.S. troops intentionally provoked the looting
of Iraq's priceless antiquities. And I have not heard
a single mention in American media about the extent
to which depleted uranium was employed, or the fact
that its dust - which will remain poisonous for four
billion years - will be killing perhaps hundreds
of thousands of people for decades and certainly
long after Saddam's memory has faded behind the images
of our next stage-managed crisis.
Goff has the courage to say two things that only he
can say with force: First, Saddam Hussein was a symbol
of anti-imperialism and those in the world who hoped
for a better showing from him were right in thinking
that he was the lesser of two evils. Saddam was a
chance to check an insanity that seems more contagious
and far more deadly than SARS. Saddam is no longer
a potential threat to anyone. But what of Donald
Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and George Bush and their
Neoliberal alter images? Soon, I will be concluding
a detailed investigation on how the Empire very likely
rigged even that game and allowed Saddam to escape
to Russia in exchange for a quick victory that may
Second, Goff points out that the American progressive
movement failed utterly - as it usually does - to
make any difference because it failed to address
real issues and it permitted the debate to be framed
around the caveat, "Sure he's a horrible guy but..." Their
protests accomplished nothing but self-serving propaganda
for an entire class of Americans, which I call the
Lily-Livered Left. The war is over and people who
could have been doing things that matter instead
of rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic and seeking
recognition for it have gone back to Starbuck's for
another latte and more discussion about which guru's
views are most fashionable and proper.
Both Goff and I have seen dead and mutilated bodies
of men, women and children up close and personal.
They are the difference between fantasy and reality.- MCR]
AND SHEEP (apologies
to Canis lupus)
short history of the Bush Mafia's war in Iraq
пїЅ Copyright 2003, From The Wilderness Publications, www.copvcia.com.
All Rights Reserved. May be reprinted, distributed
or posted on an Internet web site for non-profit
Orwell & Capone
The World Bank, under the direction
of James Wolfensohn, is posing a problem for neocon
Wolfowitz. The World Bank, though dominated by the
US which has 16.2% of voting shares, has an institutional
loyalty to multilateralism. As the US unilateralism
advocated by US neocons gives the back of its hand
to the very foundation of the UN, which is the institutional
manifestation of multilateralism, there is predictable
conflict between the two Wolfs. The World Bank Wolf
is a neo-liberal, while the Defense Department Wolf
is a neocon.
April 21, 2003, 1200 PDT (FTW) -- Mr. Liu, who runs an
investment company, and who has written extensively
on "dollar hegemony," has hit another nail on the
would add entertainment media cheerleader Wolf Blitzer,
CNN's Pentagon sycophant in Kuwait City, as representative
of the neon press; neon - a colorless, inert,
gaseous element that lights up on command.
of the Junta right now is only matched by the despair
of those who, in the first days of unexpected Iraqi
resistance, thirsted for an American tactical defeat
That's because people
don't have a head for numbers. The same arithmetic
that told us before the Bushist aggression began in
earnest, that the Iraqis could not defeat the Americans,
should also tell faint-hearted anti-imperialists that
US military might is not infinite. But those who treasure
both fantasy and despair remain impressionists, allergic
to weights and measures.
Someone very dear to
me recently died - Mark Jones - who insisted on grasping
things firmly, especially those most consequential
things that we might sidestep because of an emotional
paradox - like the fact that we are now certainly entering
a very dark period of human history within which there
are, with equal certainty, historic opportunities for
human emancipation. They are times that will require
our deepest compassion and our most dispassionate - and
sometimes ruthless - cunning.
In that spirit, let's
review the adventure in Iraq.
Rumsfeld's war plan
was initiated on the 20th of March, with
expectations that the high-tech advance northward from
Kuwait would resolve all major tactical difficulties
within two days. Simultaneously, another Rumsfeld
scheme, "decapitation" strikes, was launched to target
Saddam Hussein. The whole venture was designed to
come off like Bill Gates meets Caesar.
Instead, it came off
like Orwell meets Al Capone.
The Orwellian aspect,
of course, was an American press that can no longer
lay even the scarcest claim to being journalists, and
its complete merger with the Department of Defense,
specifically Central Command (CENTCOM).
The False Start
Beginning almost immediately
after the first tanks crossed their lines of departure
into Southern Iraq, we were witness to the surreal
recurring spectacle of the CENTCOM-Lie-of-the-Day - a
parade of spin doctors from the military, which
included the actual commander, Tommy Franks, who
would make erroneous and often ridiculous claims about
the progress of their aggression - even as the entire
Rumsfeld lunacy unraveled before the eyes of the world
in the face of sparse, but extremely courageous and
totally unexpected, Iraqi resistance.
Umm Qasr had fallen. Well,
not yet. Basra was taken. Well, not yet. A brigade
of Iraqis surrendered. Oops. Fudged casualty statistics. Phantom
Republican Guard columns advancing south. Saddam is
dead rumors circulated daily. Chemical weapons sites
were discovered, then un-discovered. The victims of
American bombs were really caused by falling
antiaircraft debris from the Iraqis.
The wild stories, outright
lies, and subsequent rationalizations were reiterated
uncritically by CNN, MSNBC, and Fox, among all the
others, to an ovine American public (the most notable
exception being Black Americans, who have remained
largely skeptical of the whole enterprise). In-bedded
("embedded") reporters, who had been completely immersed
in US military units - self-censoring, based on deep
identification with and absolute dependence upon those
units - sent back pre-screened images almost minute
by minute, and the world saw its first truly stage-managed
Then cracks developed
in the stories. The internet allowed legitimate journalism
to end-run CENTCOM News Network. And the generals,
chafing under the arrogant presumptuousness of Donald
Rumsfeld and smarting from setbacks in the field, began
Sixty miles out of Baghdad,
the whole advance screeched to a halt. CENTCOM explained
the "operational pause" as an exercise in flexibility, "all
part of the plan."
By the 27th of
March, Bush and his piss-boy Tony Blair had an emergency
The bombing of Baghdad,
circumspect until then, was intensified - almost a
gratuitous act of frustrated rage. Independent journalists
reported the same targets being hit from the air as
many as six nights in a row.
The generals went back
to the drawing board. The 4th Infantry,
whose equipment was stranded on the ocean when the
Turkish government denied the Americans their Northern
Front, prepared to deploy as reinforcement. Supply
lines were shored up by diverting combat power to convoy
security, in order to resupply the points of the advance
Army along the Euphrates valley and the Marines along
the Tigris. Some troops were low on water and down
to one MRE a day. Sandstorms had eaten into the engines
of the Abrams, Bradleys, and helicopters, and fuel
On March 27th,
the 173rd Airborne Brigade parachuted onto
Northern Iraq's Harrir Airfield with Kurdish security
waiting on the ground. CENTCOM referred to this operation
as "opening a Northern Front."
On the 29th of
March, a suicide bomber in Najaf killed four GIs and
the Rules of Engagement (ROE). Now the war would begin
to take on a Vietnam-like character for American soldiers
and Marines, who were pushed one step closer to seeing
the entire Iraqi people as the enemy. It was after
this the non-in-bed press from outside the US would
begin to send out photos of dead Iraqi soldiers, heads
blown off next to the white flags that the US soldiers
didn't think to remove from the scene. And civilians
would be more routinely shot dead en masse at US checkpoints.
Generals grew nervous
as the "operational pause" began to stretch out and
US positions became almost semi-permanent installations,
bait for hit-and-run guerrilla attacks. CENTCOM said
on March 31st that the US might wait weeks
to begin its assault on Baghdad, probably a ruse to
lure defenders at Baghdad into the open to strengthen
positions so they might be attacked more effectively
by air. The same day, Robin Cook, the former chief
cheerleader for the imperial assault on Yugoslavia,
launched a scathing criticism of Tony Blair.
Euphoria began to infect
the Arab world. People began to identify with the
tenacity of these Iraqi defenders of their homeland
against the juggernaut of US militarism. Many anti-imperialists
outside the Arab world caught the same bug. No head
Bombs began to rain
on Baghdad again. Colin Powell was trying to placate
the Turks. Rumsfeld - stung with deep humiliation - began
to make threatening noises at the Iranians and Syrians,
as the firestorm of recriminations in Washington raged,
and the damaged umbilical supply line from Kuwait was
By April 1st,
US ground forces on point had refueled and refit, and
they were ready to resume the offensive. The cautious
advance North began on the 2nd, with the
3rd (Mechanized) Infantry Division backed
by paratroops from the 82nd and Apache helicopters
from the 101st advancing on the Karbala
Gap and the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force
moving on Al Kut in the Tigris Valley. Special Forces
in the north were organizing with the Kurds, as supplies
now flowed in by air, for an attack on Mosul and Kirkuk
(where some of the richest oilfields in the world lie).
The Iraqis fought a
delaying action in the Karbala Gap, but multiple engagements
had given US commanders the experience necessary to
develop counter-measures to the Iraqis' new Russian-trained
asymmetric tactics, and the Iraqis now began to suffer
from a loss of command and control as well as a genuine
lack of fresh tactical adaptation. US commanders had
adapted, however, and regained their technological
advantage, their logistical tail, and above all their
Iraqi combat losses
were horrific, and in short order, the Nebuchadnezzar
and Medina Divisions of the Republican Guard melted
back into Baghdad, leaving small ambushes along the
route to delay the Americans.
Firing precious anti-aircraft
weapons became a death warrant, and the Iraqi triple-A
was retired northward, probably beyond Baghdad. And
US commanders had forged a seamless integration of
A-10 Warthogs with ground units to open up defenses
in advance of ground attacks.
The A-10 is a 30 mm
Gatling gun with an airframe built around it - firing
3,000 rounds a minute of depleted uranium alloy bullets. It
is comparatively slow, so it can only be put to good
use when there is total air superiority. But it is
one of the most agile fixed wing aircraft in history.
In one second, the A-10 can reduce a tank to a scorched
shell or shatter a fighting position. Working in pairs,
the A-10s can rubble a multi-story building in five
minutes, or - as General Barry McCaffrey demonstrated
in 1991 - they can transform a retreating column of
thousands of men and hundreds of tanks into a meandering
file of smoldering wreckage and dismembered corpses.
Corpses have now become
a familiar phenomenon for a new generation of US soldiers.
Many will return now with their heads filled with corpses
and their bodies filled with depleted uranium. They
will have their moment of intoxicating adulation in
public and the corpses will sneak up on them in private.
Then the DU will sneak up on them.
Some people learn to
live with corpses. Some learn to relish the freedom
of killing and develop a taste for it. Perfect masculinity
is sociopathic. A young Marine who had just killed
a woman at a checkpoint said, matter of factly, "The
chick was in the way." Gangster. Badass.
Others, as the transitory
adulation fades, will sense the barrenness of their
wounded psyches backlit by the barrenness of a decaying
consumer culture, and their alienation will flower
into addiction, psychosis, and suicide. And then will
we see THEM as pathological.
We didn't see that pathology
on April 3rd, not in the troops, not in
ourselves, not on CNN. Like the air, we breathe alienation
until we take it for granted. On April 3rd,
we watched the seizure of Saddam Hussein Airport on
the outskirts of Baghdad, and CENTCOM led the cheer.
Rumsfeld's pet drones
began buzzing like Tigris River mosquitoes over Baghdad,
trying to vindicate themselves at $37 million apiece
for Global Hawks, $40 million for Predators (not factoring
in years of R&D money). They shot pictures of Iraqis
pointing skyward at them, as combatants took the complex
counter-measure of stepping under a doorway to evade
their digital gaze. Then the real planes came.
A-10's again, like lethal
storms tearing into Baghdad's suburbs, trashing the
homes and histories of the ancient city in advance
of the next ground assault.
This was the new strategy:
incremental murder. And it began to gain traction.
Saddam Hussein Airport
was renamed by its occupiers. Ali Hassan al-Majid - "Chemical
Ali" in the press frenzy to find new caricatures
for their hallucinations - was bombed, and this story
was fanned for days - the latest smokescreen to preoccupy
herd-America so it wouldn't be awakened to the uncaricatured
War of Symbols
The 3rd Infantry
made its little foray - a reconnaissance in force - into
Baghdad on April 5th, met with sporadic
but furious resistance from those who lurked in doorways
as the drones flew helplessly over the day before.
The hospitals in Baghdad were now overwhelmed, corpses
lying sloppily under blankets in the corners of rooms,
the most critical left to die while doctors and nurses
worked around the clock to salvage the salvageable
with meager resources. Reports filtered out past the
compliant media that the floors were swimming in human
The Iraqi fighters - now
a symbol to a hopeful and humiliated Arab world - found
reality singularly unsymbolic. Their new Russian-trained
tactics were being met with the cancellation of Rumsfeld's
cyber-war and the US adaptation of sending blood down
the streets with the A-10's. Their decentralization - at
first an advantage, even when applied in an often amateurish
and tragically costly way - now became simple disarray
in the face of the lethal rain of uranium.
The US was demonstrating
its resolve to conquer Baghdad by converting it to
rubble if necessary, and civilians were paying an appalling
price. Even some "leftists," safely ensconced in Europe
and the US, began publicly dressing down the Iraqi
combatants for not paying the ultimate price to turn
Baghdad into an Armageddon.
The lights went out
in Baghdad, and the US forces tore a path to the banks
of the Tigris. On April 7th, the US tested
its bunker buster munitions on a house where they claim
they thought Saddam was hiding. The US press made scant
mention of the civilian deaths, including children,
as CNN, et al, went into yet another three-day speculation
frenzy about the visceral status of one man.
Killing civilians was
routine by now. This harrowing description from Laurent
Van der Stockt, a Gamma Agency photographer with the
New York Times Magazine:
On the morning of April 7, the Marines
decided to cross the bridge. A shell fell onto an
armored personnel carrier. Two marines were killed.
The crossing took on a tragic aspect. The soldiers
were stressed, febrile. They were shouting. The risk
didn't appear to be that great, so I followed their
advance. They were howling, shouting orders and positions
to each other. It sounded like something in-between
a phantasm, mythology and conditioning. The operation
was transformed into crossing the bridge over the
Later, there was some open terrain.
The Marines were advancing and taking up position,
hiding behind mounds of earth. They were still really
tense. A small blue van was moving towards the convoy.
Three not-very-accurate warning shots were fired.
The shots were supposed to make the van stop. The
van kept on driving, made a U-turn, took shelter
and then returned slowly. The Marines opened fire.
All hell broke loose. They were firing all over the
place. You could hear 'Stop firing' being shouted.
The silence that set in was overwhelming. Two men
and a woman had just been riddled with bullets. So
this was the enemy, the threat.
A second vehicle drove up. The same
scenario was repeated. Its passengers were killed
on the spot. A grandfather was walking slowly with
a cane on the sidewalk. They killed him too. As with
the old man, the Marines fired on an SUV driving
along the river bank that was getting too close to
them. Riddled with bullets, the vehicle rolled over.
Two women and a child got out, miraculously still
alive. They sought refuge in the wreckage. A few
seconds later, it flew into bits as a tank lobbed
a terse shot into it.
Marines are conditioned to reach their
target at any cost, by staying alive and facing any
type of enemy. They abusively make use of disproportionate
firepower. These hardened troops, followed by tons
of equipment, supported by extraordinary artillery
power, protected by fighter jets and cutting-edge
helicopters, were shooting on local inhabitants who
understood absolutely nothing of what was going on.
With my own eyes I saw about fifteen civilians killed
in two days. I've gone through enough wars to know
that it's always dirty, that civilians are always
the first victims. But the way it was happening here,
it was insane.
Resistance had shrunken
into pockets, some still doggedly determined, and much
simply disappearing behind this valiant screen. Tens
of thousands of Iraqi combatants are missing to this
day, and speculation that they might eventually use
Syria as a jumping-off point to stage operations back
into their nation has led the US administration to
rattle its saber, even as its capacity to wage war
effectively anywhere else in the world right now is
next to zero.
If ever there were a
time to thumb one's nose at the US, it is now. They
are a big dog at the end of a thick chain.
The imperial crowing
about this lopsided attack is tempered behind the scenes
by the knowledge that - contrary to all the bullshit
about destruction of Iraqi units - the boldest sacrifices
by Iraqi fighters were made not in conventional confrontations
but in delaying tactics. Those tactics worked. The
Iraqis took good advantage of the US aversion to high "friendly" casualties
and their obsession with "force protection."
The fact is, the lion's
share of Iraqi forces managed an orderly retreat... somewhere...and
the US suspects Syria. Perhaps. Perhaps they are still
in Iraq. Perhaps they quit. Perhaps not.
There are still thousands
of tanks and armored personnel carriers unaccounted
for in Iraq, and they didn't drive themselves away.
Hundreds of thousands of small arms. Up to 3,000 wire-guided
anti-armor missiles. Over 1,500 artillery pieces, a
half dozen SCUD launchers, 1,000+ MOWAG light anti-aircraft
weapons as well as a decent supply of unfired Surface
to Air Missiles, a dozen Hind attack helicopters, several
dozen smaller choppers, and up to two dozen PC-7 and
PC-9 fixed-wing aircraft.
These numbers haunt
US military commanders, as they should.
On April 8th,
the US tested the new limits of its impunity by deliberately
attacking a convoy with the Russian Ambassador, then
claimed it was a "crossfire." Only days before, Rumsfeld
in one of his more frequent fits of pique, had made
threatening noises at the Russians.
Al-Jazeera had been
publicly chastised days earlier in a CENTCOM briefing
for daring to show American dead (and thereby eroding
domestic support for the adventure). They should have
paid attention. When Al-Jazeera engaged in journalism
in Afghanistan, the Americans had unapologetically
bombed their offices.
On April 8th,
the American forces destroyed the Al Jazeera offices
in Baghdad and simultaneously attacked independent
journalists in the Palestine Hotel. The symbolism of
the name was not lost on the Arab world, as the US
tested the feasibility of eliminating witnesses.
deployed the following day. As the US continued the
slaughter, thrusting from three directions into Baghdad
and initiating its attack to take Kirkuk, the American
military gathered together a sparse crowd around a
Saddam Hussein statue, then pulled it down while the
fake crowd cheered. The in-bed press, in a shameless
and slavish display, kept their lenses tight to make
the paltry mob appear larger. That image plays still
today - long after it has been repeatedly exposed as
a tawdry scam. They even refused to show the American
flag that one over-enthusiastic young Marine had used
to cover the statue's face. A little too much symbolism
Rumsfeld cracked on
television once, uttering over and over "It's a liberation,
it's a liberation, it's a liberation."
Then the looting began,
and the US stood by. I saw it in Haiti. Let the chaos
rein for a bit and they will beg for order, even if
it comes from unwelcome quarters. Certain facilities
were protected, like the Oil Ministry building. Then
there was the most symbolic event of the war, in my
Iraq is the geographic
and cultural cradle of Western civilization. The US
military was sent to attack this cradle of civilization,
and the US military initiated the looting of the Museum
of Archeology, where 7,000 years worth of priceless
artifacts were kept to posterity. Eyewitnesses report
that before the looting began, Americans had been keeping
the streets clear with gunfire. Then they pulled up
in front of the Museum and started firing into it.
I saw a tank round's hole in the front on a CNN report,
far too high for a looter to have made it. They murdered
the two Sudanese guards in front of the administrative
building, then directed the looters, through the
US military's Arabic translators, to enter the
building and gut it. By April 15th, the
National Archives as well, where millions of pages
of historical documents, some centuries old, were stored,
was looted, and the precious records burned by a street
mob while US military looked complacently on.
The Non-Denouement & Moral Imperialism
The rest of the story
could sound like a denouement. Kirkuk fell. Mosul
fell. But it's just begun. Now politics begins, and
we'll see just what kind of tar baby we have here.
The military "victory" is
secure. The Washington gangsters have won their new
turf, let's see if they can keep it. There will certainly
be no attack on Syria. Again, those who fear this have
not done the arithmetic, political or military. The
United States has extended its military reach almost
to its conventional limit, number one, and the objective
was Europe and China, with Iraq's petroleum the strategic
people of moral courage, need to quit letting these
gangsters and their sycophant press spook them, and
quit confusing ruling class blather with ruling class
The apocalyptic Bushite
nonsense about Evil is a sop to the Christian right
in the United States who believe this period is the
fulfillment of biblical prophecy. They are a key part
of the Bush junta's popular base in the United States,
and - as Christian Zionists - part of the powerful
popular Israel lobby. But the Neocons' blueprint, laid
out some years ago, for leaping over this period of
an impending severe crisis of US hegemony, is hard-eyed
secularism. Their true weakness is bourgeois myopia
and incredible hubris. They are constitutionally incapable
of understanding history as a process that involves
Neoliberalism - the form of
US imperialism - was falling into disarray before September
11th. It was a transformation of US imperialism that
dated back to the Nixon administration, itself a strategy
to overcome profound structural weaknesses in the system - not
the least of which was the organic composition of capital - wherein
the industrialized North collaborated in the
harvest of the dependent global South. The character
of that transformation has been written on at length - but
dollar hegemony was its linchpin, and the basis of
dollar hegemony, at the end of the day, was military
The most fundamental
characteristic of Neoliberalism was that this "benign" leadership
of the US was accepted by lesser imperial powers because
the US served as an essential umpire for a multilateral system
of exploitation and accumulation.
The difference between
the Neoliberals (think of the Democrats) in the US
and the Neocons (think Republican within Republican)
is not on the question of exploitation and accumulation.
They are equally devoted to preserving the status and
privileges of the US ruling class, of which both are
The difference revolves
around two opposing delusions; the Neoliberal delusion
that there is a way to return to the multilateral gluttony
of the recent past - with the US reassuming its role
of benevolent father - and the Neocon delusion that
the US can have its economic cake and eat it too by
playing the part of a global protection racket on energy
The Neoliberals cannot
solve the problem of rebellion in the periphery and
the falling rate of profit. The Neocons cannot solve
the problem of military costs - economic and political.
Meanwhile, back in the
USA, the initiation of wholesale hostilities on March
20th erased the broadest basis of unity
for the anti-war movement.
The strength of the
broad anti-war movement prior to H-hour was the convergence
of different political tendencies, including many sections
of the managerial and ruling classes, around a single
demand: No War!
Any attempt now to preserve
those alliances intact flies directly in the face of
reality. They cannot hold because their basis had disappeared,
and our differences will now come out into the open.
Many people were moved from questions about the motivations
for war, to a clear anti-imperialist perspective. Now
is certainly a good time to stress education and consolidation
of those sections of the population who are still in
a teachable moment - especially ordinary workers and
people of color.
I am one) are standing exposed again, no longer folded
unobtrusively into the larger mass. Liberals (including
neoliberals) are already retreating to their old paths.
If we are not careful, we will be tempted down those
same paths, which look well kept but ultimately lead
nowhere. Emblematic of that retreat are certain rhetorical
and political strategies that were tolerated in the
diversity of the pre-H-hour movement, but which must
now be challenged from the left.
Not least among them
is the denunciation of Ba'ath Party leadership, especially
of Saddam Hussein. This is a world-class red herring. Ba'athism
was a movement that cannot be judged through the rosy
lenses of Western morality. It's akin to measuring
Black prejudice with the same yardstick used to measure
white prejudice. The reality of power relations makes
these points of view irreconcilably and qualitatively
Moral imperialism is
a very slippery slope.
of Saddam Hussein before, during, and after the latest
invasion did not prevent the antiwar movement from
being mercilessly red-baited and patriot-baited.
What it did do
was set the stage for a huge fraction of the pre-H-hour
anti-war movement to have its legs knocked out from
under it when tanks rolled north. The failure to grasp
the nature of US imperialism and how it was responsible
long before the war - as a global system - for every
single aspect of the situation in Southwest Asia, left
so-called progressives grappling in the dark after
ahistorical moral comparisons, generally based on a
thirteen-year campaign of demonization, and more recently,
calling for the UN to take up the task of occupation.
an economist living in Finland put it well when he
...various people in the metropolitan
left are, in the midst of all that is going on at
present, spending valuable time and resources telling
others on the left 'I told you so' or lecturing them
on the finer points of 'democracy' when the real
task at hand is to work against imperialism. Under
current circumstances, the effective result of getting
even slightly bogged down by this 'sugar-coating' is
to legitimate imperialism. We surrender valuable
ground when we give any credence whatsoever to the
propaganda claims of cruise missile liberals and
neo-cons alike concerning other regimes whose development
has been twisted, tortured, stunted, manipulated,
thwarted, squashed, halted... by the constant interference
of the metropolis which has, to use Edward Said's
very appropriate phrase, 'driven them crazy after
decades.' And right now I don't really need to hear
about the venality of 'Saddam'. [A] proper class
analysis of pre-invasion Iraq would be in order so
that we might understand better how things will develop
in the future. But quite honestly, for the time being
and until it is proved otherwise, Saddam Hussein
and his cohort are a part of the anti-imperialist
This recognition will
become more important if there is a real struggle against
the American occupiers. That struggle cannot be held
to account by the standards of Western progressives,
even of Western leftists. It will require a form of
unity and struggle appropriate for those who engage
in the resistance, and it will not be pretty enough
for BMW Bolsheviks sipping lattes while they
plan the revolution for places they've never lived.
We can't possibly know - at
least most of us can't - what a nascent Iraqi resistance
might look like, or even if it exists at this point.
We might be seeing it
now, in the ubiquitous mini-rebellions against American
occupation, street mobilizations that are forcing the
US military to withdraw or overreact. Rejections of
US-installed colonial surrogate leadership. That would
certainly queer the US pitch and, to sustain disruption,
it will require blinding the US to plans and intents.
That will mean merciless ferreting out of collaborators
with the US. It might mean suicide bombing. Some might
disappear, leaving the country to sharpen their skills;
precision marksmanship and non-technical communications,
mechanical ambushes, small-unit planning. Organizing
units and staffs, some blending back into the population
to monitor the mood of the street. Let the situation
ripen. The fault lines are already appearing in Iraqi
society, and resistance to the Americans has begun
even before the guns have fallen silent. Wait and plan
for one or two totally unexpected and devastating blows
delivered when their guard is down, one year, one and
a half, maybe more, from now, organizing the insurgency
in the meantime, setting up safe houses and rat lines,
developing intelligence networks, establishing tactical
caches and supply lines. It's all speculation.
We just don't know. But
neither does the Bush Crime Family.
What we must understand
is that progressives cannot stand against whatever
is necessary to expel the invader. As Henry Liu
says, we cannot let the White Man's Burden become our
burden by falling into the trap of moral imperialism. We
cannot put an abstract morality above the people.