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Does Anyone Know What We’re Doing in Iraq?



President Bush is out of touch with the American people, the US military, and international political reality.

With every poll showing smaller and smaller minorities approving of Bush and his war in Iraq, with top US generals sending signals that they want to reduce US troops in Iraq, and with the world at large viewing Bush as a fanatic who cannot acknowledge his blunders and mistakes, Bush announced in his weekly radio address that “our efforts in Iraq and the broader Middle East will require more time, more sacrifice and continued resolve.”

Does Bush think he is a dictator?

The polls show that it is the American people’s resolve that Bush bring his Iraq venture to an end, an orderly end if possible, but to an end. Every explanation Bush has given for his invasion of Iraq has proved to be false. Yet, Bush still speaks of “our noble cause,” while taking great care to avoid Cindy Sheehan and her question, “What is the noble cause?”

Perhaps Bush supplied the answer in his reference in his weekly radio address to “our efforts in . . . the broader Middle East.”

What are our efforts “in the broader Middle East”?

The only American efforts “in the broader Middle East” that have been defined are in the policy writings of Bush’s neoconservative advisers who cooked up the invasion of Iraq. For the neocons, our efforts are in behalf of Israel’s security.

The neocons’ belief that Israel is made more secure by US military aggression in the Middle East is delusional. How is Israel made secure by an invasion that turns the Muslim world against America as all polls show and Iraq into a training ground for al Qaeda, as the CIA says has happened?

The US has been defeated in Iraq, both militarily by a limited insurgency drawn from only 20 percent of the population and politically by Iraqi divisions as the “constitutional process” demonstrates.

As Knight Ridder reported on August 25: “Insurgents in Anbar province, the center of guerrilla resistance in Iraq, have fought the US military to a stalemate. After repeated major combat offensives in Fallujah and Ramadi, and after losing hundreds of soldiers and Marines in Anbar during the past two years–including 75 since June 1–many American officers and enlisted men assigned to Anbar have stopped talking about winning a military victory in Iraq’s Sunni heartland.”

“I don’t think of this in terms of winning,” said Col. Stephen Davis, who commands a task force of about 5,000 Marines . . . The frustrating part for the (home) audience, if you will, is they want finality. They want a fight for the town and in the end the guy with the white hat wins.”

That’s unlikely in Anbar, Col. Davis said.

Frustrated by a determined insurgency, Bush administration officials predict that improvements will follow the Iraq constitution. However, the constitution may be leading to civil war.

Sunnis say they will reject the constitution because it leaves them out of the oil wealth, which goes to the Kurds in the north and the Shiites in the south, and because it is punitive toward the old ruling party, that is, toward Sunnis.

Perhaps it is the neocon plan for Shiites and Kurds to join the US military in a war to the death against Sunnis.

But what comes next? How would Turkey regard a largely autonomous oil rich Kurdistan on the border of its own Kurdish province?

And how would a war in Iraq between Shiites and Sunnis play out in the Middle East divided along those lines? Does the US want to wed itself to Iranian Shiites against Saudi Sunnis?

It sounds like a lot of long term instability. Perhaps the old Islamic divisions are what the US government is relying on to enable it to continue to rule the Middle East. Muslims might consume themselves in their internal hatreds while the US builds its bases to control the oil.

That’s been the tried and true practice of Western colonialists since the fall of the Turkish empire after World War I.

Can it work this time? US ambitions are too much of a threat to other countries which are well positioned to cause us grief. Will the world be able to resist the opportunities to undermine an over-extended and self-righteous United States?

Sooner or later, too, Shiite and Sunni leaders will realize that they are pawns in American hands bleeding themselves in behalf of American power. Sooner or later Muslim humiliation at the hands of the US and Israel will permit an Osama bin Laden to reunify the Muslim world.

These are, of course, speculations. But history has few events without unintended and unrecognized consequences.

PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS has held a number of academic appointments and has contributed to numerous scholarly publications. He served as Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. His graduate economics education was at the University of Virginia, the University of California at Berkeley, and Oxford University. He is coauthor of The Tyranny of Good Intentions. He can be reached at:



We published an article entitled “A Saudiless Arabia” by Wayne Madsen dated October 22, 2002 (the “Article”), on the website of the Institute for the Advancement of Journalistic Clarity, CounterPunch, (the “Website”).

Although it was not our intention, counsel for Mohammed Hussein Al Amoudi has advised us the Article suggests, or could be read as suggesting, that Mr Al Amoudi has funded, supported, or is in some way associated with, the terrorist activities of Osama bin Laden and the Al Qaeda terrorist network.

We do not have any evidence connecting Mr Al Amoudi with terrorism.

As a result of an exchange of communications with Mr Al Amoudi’s lawyers, we have removed the Article from the Website.

We are pleased to clarify the position.

August 17, 2005


Paul Craig Roberts is a former Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury and Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal. Roberts’ How the Economy Was Lost is now available from CounterPunch in electronic format. His latest book is The Neoconservative Threat to World Order.

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