One of the abiding myths about the War on Iraq is that the neocons were too stupid to realize that they would confront an unrelenting, indigenous resistance to their occupation of Iraq. Unwittingly, the story line goes, they led the U.S. into a conflict which has now produced a civil war. But this simply does not fit the facts. The neocons clearly anticipated such an outcome before they launched their war as Stephen Zunes documents in Antiwar.com:
“Top analysts in the CIA and State Department, as well as large numbers of Middle East experts, warned that a U.S. invasion of Iraq could result in a violent ethnic and sectarian conflict. Even some of the war’s intellectual architects acknowledged as much: In a 1997 paper, prior to becoming major figures in the Bush foreign policy team, David Wurmser, Richard Perle, and Douglas Feith predicted that a post-Saddam Iraq would likely be “ripped apart” by sectarianism and other cleavages but called on the United States to “expedite” such a collapse anyway.”
Yet the line persists that the neocons had no idea what they were getting into. This cannot be correct as they think a lot about what they do and they plan carefully. Not only is that charge absurd on the face of it, but it is arrogant on the part of those who level it. And it is the worst political mistake possible underestimating your adversary.
Now the neocons are beginning to advocate for civil war in Iraq quite openly. The clearest statement of this strategy as yet comes from pre-eminent neocon and ardent Zionist Daniel Pipes. In a recent piece in the Jerusalem Post, Pipes spills the beans. He writes:
“The bombing on February 22 of the Askariya shrine in Samarra, Iraq, was a tragedy, but it was not an American or a coalition tragedy. Iraq’s plight is neither a coalition responsibility nor a particular danger to the West. Fixing Iraq is neither the coalition’s responsibility, nor its burden. When Sunni terrorists target Shi’ites and vice versa, non-Muslims are less likely to be hurt. Civil war in Iraq, in short, would be a humanitarian tragedy, but not a strategic one.”
As ever Pipes’s anti-Arab racism is simply too rabid to be hidden. If Muslims are busy killing other Muslims, then “non-Muslims” are less likely to be hurt!! What does that say about Muslim lives? And of course both Sunnis and Shia must be labeled “terrorists.” Pipes is doing nothing more endorsing than the oldest of colonial strategies: Divide et impera.
Pipes envisions other “benefits” to the civil war “strategy,” such as inhibiting the spread of democracy in the Middle East. Pipes again:
“Civil war will “terminate the dream of Iraq serving as a model for other Middle Eastern countries, thus delaying the push toward elections. This would have the effect of keeping Islamists from being legitimated by the popular vote, as Hamas was just a month ago.”
And finally Pipes declares that a civil war “would likely invite Syrian and Iranian participation hastening the possibility of confrontation with these two states, with which tensions are already high.” It is no secret that the neocons have been aching for the U.S. to strike at Iran and Syria, so here too the civil war strategy of the neocons makes good sense to them. Of course the added death and destruction is not their problem since the victims will be Muslims and some unwitting American soldiers.
There seems to be only one fly in this neocon ointment. That is, will it be possible to control the flow of oil in the midst of turmoil in Iraq. Here I suspect the neocons who put Israel first might have their differences with the oil barons, presently their allies. But the neocons have certainly given a lot of thought to that, and it probably explains why the location of the large and permanent U.S. bases in Iraq is not known. It would seem, however, that there are great uncertainties in this and it may cause some trouble among the neocons and their allies over the longer term.
The only real question is whether the civil war emerged spontaneously as Wurmser, Perle and Feith predicted or whether the Iraqis had to be goaded into it by the U.S. Given all the intrigues and mysteries in Iraq, including the bombing of the Askariya shrine in Samarra and the shadowy death squads and torture chambers which the U.S. claims to know nothing about, the latter seems more likely as of now. It certainly fits the civil war strategy, and it is quite reminiscent of the Iran-Iraq war in which the U.S. and Israel fanned the flames that consumed over 1 million Muslim lives
The fact is that the neocons who control U.S. strategy have no interest in preventing a civil war but only in inciting one. Sectarian tensions were virtually unknown in Iraq before the U.S. invasion. And in fact the Iraqi Shia fought loyally as Iraqis against Iranian Shia in the disastrous Iran-Iraq war. So to avoid an Iraqi civil war, the most important step is to get all the U.S. troops home and thus to terminate U.S. provocations. For it is now crystal clear that the neocon strategy is one of civil war to divide and destroy Iraq; and such a strategy amounts to a crime against humanity.
JOHN WALSH can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.