FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Iraq Now

by RON JACOBS

 

Great news!! The Iraqis will be running their own country by June 2004. Once again, the mission will be accomplished. It must be time to celebrate. George Bush can be elected president and continue his holy mission to make the world a safer place. Yay! As the saying goes, if you believe this, then there’s a bridge I know of that’s for sale.

This latest pronouncement from the Bush administration regarding the situation in Iraq is not only insulting to Americans, it illustrates to the world that the US continues to operate on the assumption that the Iraqi people are either stupid or naive. If the US policy isn’t based on this assumption, then why the hell does it continue to insult their intelligence? After all, even a cursory glance of history shows that the US is extremely unlikely (like it ain’t gonna’ happen) to allow a truly independent Iraq to exist any time soon. Those headlines about Iraqi transfer of power are just one more strand in the web of deception that Washington has spun to maintain its war over there.

Besides the fact that the so-called transfer is timed to occur during the stretch run in the US presidential race, there is other, more ominous fine print in administration statements regarding the change in faces scheduled to take place in Baghdad next summer. Foremost among that fine print is the insistence that the US military is not going anywhere. It is staying put. In fact, according to Bush and Rumsfeld, the troops could well be there for many more years, with their numbers increased. Even if the nominal command of those troops shifts to another body (say the UN or NATO), the fact remains that it is the US military that will be propping up the new Iraqi “government.”

If this is the case, then what would a transfer of power from the occupation authority to an Iraqi council really mean? One need only look to America’s other current war to get a glimpse at the answer to this question. You know-Afghanistan-where the women were freed from religious extremist persecution and everybody’s safe and living a nice comfortable life thanks to the bombardment of their country for a few weeks by the US Air Force. Afghanistan-where democracy flourishes and peace is prevalent, thanks to those wonderful folks in the US Special Forces. Yeh, Afghanistan-where the US soldiers are greeted with flowers and feasts and never have to use their weapons. Anyhow, you get my point: no matter what some Iraqis might hope, the “transfer of power” being promised to them by the United States is a sham. It will mean very little on the ground, except in that it could pave the way for a civil war as those who want the US out wage war against those who throw their lot in with the Americans.

Speaking of the latter, check out who is on record as looking forward to the transfer: Ahmed Chalabi and Jalal Talabani. Both of these men are beholden to the US and its military and intelligence agencies for their prominence in post-Saddam Iraq. Although they have differences with the US (mostly over who gets what portion of the monies involved in Iraq’s post-invasion reality), these men and the groups they represent owe their continued existence to CIA and Pentagon funds. Consequently, they see the metamorphosis from an overt occupation authority to a proxy US government with Iraqi faces to be to their benefit. This is because they stand a very good chance of being powerful figures in that puppet regime.

Let’s go back further though. Before Afghanistan to Vietnam. While not a model that Washington likes to point to, there are some parallels between that country’s history and the governing structure being proposed for Iraq. After taking over the war against the liberation forces from the French in the mid-1950s, the US set up a proxy regime in the southern half of Vietnam and created the country of South Vietnam. Populated largely by Catholics beholden to the imperial powers, the South Vietnamese government existed solely because it was propped up by American money and its military. Any elections that it won-elections that were vain attempts by the US to provide the regime some legitimacy in the world-were rigged by the CIA and its cohorts and made very little difference to the insurgency against it or the population that supported that insurgency. These insurgents were popular among the population and existed in true guerrilla fashion like “fish in the sea.”

In short, the scenario in South Vietnam looked like this: the US proxy regime in Saigon was composed of Vietnamese with financial, cultural and sociological ties to the west (France, then the United States). These individuals served at the whim of the leadership in DC, which is why the CIA allowed/assisted in the coup that killed South Vietnamese president Diem in 1963, when he refused to follow the US game plan for the region. In addition, the regime itself existed only because of the incredible amounts of money pumped into it by US taxpayers. As for the South Vietnamese military (ARVN), some of its members were anti-communist zealots committed to fighting the liberation forces and their communist supporters, but most of them were just men looking for a paycheck. Consequently, they left most of the fighting up to the Americans. In the end, it was the ARVN’s lack of will that contributed to the victory of the insurgency as much as the US withdrawal of its ground forces did. It can be reasonably argued that the Saigon government was doomed to failure from the start even if the US had done more than it did. Most of the southern Vietnamese people never saw it as their legitimate representative no matter who was at its head and it suffered from infiltration by the resistance throughout its tenure. The US, in its arrogance, truly believed that it could overcome not only the odds it faced from its puppet regime, but also generations of Vietnamese resistance to foreign invaders. Suffice it to say that Washington misjudged.

Let’s get back to Iraq in late 2003. The US occupation is (literally) under fire and risks losing its support even amongst those sectors of society that initially supported its presence. Simultaneously, the insurgent forces are becoming bolder and more deadly. In addition, their support amongst the civilian population continues to grow; especially now as US forces become more indiscriminate in their attacks and more civilians become casualties. Billions of US dollars are being spent to maintain the occupation and things just seem to get worse. So, what is Washington’s solution? Change the face of the occupation. Put Iraqis beholden to the US in positions of nominal power while retaining actual control of the regime. Hold elections where the results are ensured to maintain US control of the country and call the whole show a democracy. Create a national army made up of some fierce supporters of the US-built regime and thousands of Iraqis who just need a paycheck. Meanwhile, keep the US military in country and let them do the real fighting against the insurgency-an insurgency that functions like “fish in the sea.” Of course, the continued US military presence will be at the “invitation” of the new “Made in the USA” regime. Despite the fact that this regime would exist at the behest of the US, some of its members might actually start pushing for their independence from Washington. If this happens, they could meet the same fate as Mr. Diem did in November 1963. Eventually, if history is any indicator, there will be some level of civil conflict between those Iraqis who depend on the US for their survival and health, and those Iraqis who want the US in all its forms out of their country. Then, the US would find itself in a familiar role fighting indigenous peoples for control of their country by claiming that the US is supporting the genuine government.

What this means in human terms is simple: more death, more destruction, and more despair. What it means in political terms is harder to predict. If the US managed somehow to defeat the insurgency, it might give Washington a few years of unchallenged domination of the Middle East. If the US is defeated by the insurgency and withdraws from the region it might mean a whole new round of popular insurgency. Or, if those people in the US opposed to the US war on Iraq made it their goal, they could mount a popular movement against the worsening situation and force a US withdrawal, thereby allowing the Iraqis the chance to truly determine their own destiny.

RON JACOBS is author of The Way the Wind Blew: a history of the Weather Underground.

He can be reached at: rjacobs@zoo.uvm.edu

 

Ron Jacobs is the author of Daydream Sunset: Sixties Counterculture in the Seventies published by CounterPunch Books. He lives in Vermont. He can be reached at: ronj1955@gmail.com.

More articles by:
June 28, 2016
Jonathan Cook
The Neoliberal Prison: Brexit Hysteria and the Liberal Mind
Paul Street
Bernie, Bakken, and Electoral Delusion: Letting Rich Guys Ruin Iowa and the World
Anthony DiMaggio
Fatally Flawed: the Bi-Partisan Travesty of American Health Care Reform
Mike King
The “Free State of Jones” in Trump’s America: Freedom Beyond White Imagination
Antonis Vradis
Stop Shedding Tears for the EU Monster: Brexit, the View From the Peloponnese
Omar Kassem
The End of the Atlantic Project: Slamming the Brakes on the Neoliberal Order
Binoy Kampmark
Brexit and the Neoliberal Revolt Against Jeremy Corbyn
Doug Johnson Hatlem
Alabama Democratic Primary Proves New York Times’ Nate Cohn Wrong about Exit Polling
Ruth Hopkins
Save Bear Butte: Mecca of the Lakota
Celestino Gusmao
Time to End Impunity for Suharto’’s Crimes in Indonesia and Timor-Leste
Thomas Knapp
SCOTUS: Amply Serving Law Enforcement’s Interests versus Society’s
Manuel E. Yepe
Capitalism is the Opposite of Democracy
Winslow Myers
Up Against the Wall
Chris Ernesto
Bernie’s “Political Revolution” = Vote for Clinton and the Neocons
Stephanie Van Hook
The Time for Silence is Over
Ajamu Nangwaya
Toronto’s Bathhouse Raids: Racialized, Queer Solidarity and Police Violence
June 27, 2016
Robin Hahnel
Brexit: Establishment Freak Out
James Bradley
Omar’s Motive
Gregory Wilpert – Michael Hudson
How Western Military Interventions Shaped the Brexit Vote
Leonard Peltier
41 Years Since Jumping Bull (But 500 Years of Trauma)
Rev. William Alberts
Orlando: the Latest Victim of Radicalizing American Imperialism
Patrick Cockburn
Brexiteers Have Much in Common With Arab Spring Protesters
Franklin Lamb
How 100 Syrians, 200 Russians and 11 Dogs Out-Witted ISIS and Saved Palmyra
John Grant
Omar Mateen: The Answers are All Around Us
Dean Baker
In the Wake of Brexit Will the EU Finally Turn Away From Austerity?
Ralph Nader
The IRS and the Self-Minimization of Congressman Jason Chaffetz
Johan Galtung
Goodbye UK, Goodbye Great Britain: What Next?
Martha Pskowski
Detained in Dilley: Deportation and Asylum in Texas
Binoy Kampmark
Headaches of Empire: Brexit’s Effect on the United States
Dave Lindorff
Honest Election System Needed to Defeat Ruling Elite
Louisa Willcox
Delisting Grizzly Bears to Save the Endangered Species Act?
Jason Holland
The Tragedy of Nothing
Jeffrey St. Clair
Revolution Reconsidered: a Fragment (Guest Starring Bernard Sanders in the Role of Robespierre)
Weekend Edition
June 24, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
A Blow for Peace and Democracy: Why the British Said No to Europe
Pepe Escobar
Goodbye to All That: Why the UK Left the EU
Michael Hudson
Revolts of the Debtors: From Socrates to Ibn Khaldun
Andrew Levine
Summer Spectaculars: Prelude to a Tea Party?
Kshama Sawant
Beyond Bernie: Still Not With Her
Mike Whitney
¡Basta Ya, Brussels! British Voters Reject EU Corporate Slavestate
Tariq Ali
Panic in the House: Brexit as Revolt Against the Political Establishment
Paul Street
Miranda, Obama, and Hamilton: an Orwellian Ménage à Trois for the Neoliberal Age
Ellen Brown
The War on Weed is Winding Down, But Will Monsanto Emerge the Winner?
Gary Leupp
Why God Created the Two-Party System
Conn Hallinan
Brexit Vote: a Very British Affair (But Spain May Rock the Continent)
Ruth Fowler
England, My England
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail