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It Was the Oil and It Is Like Vietnam

Apologists for Bush’s little war in Iraq, whose numbers are diminishing in the face of relentless reality, have invested a mighty labor in dismissing two claims; that the war in Iraq is about oil, and that there is a comparison to be made between the Iraq War and the Vietnam War.

The war was never intended as a liberation, the bullshit story that went center stage when the weapons lies fell apart . It was always a re-colonization, now euphemized even by many Democrats as “re-construction.”

Nonetheless, the Bush administration believed they would be welcomed as liberators, because Bush has surrounded himself with people whose principle skill is self-delusion, and whose principle aversion is hearing anything that doesn’t conform to their preconceptions. If Daddy supervised the tragedy, Junior is supervising the deadly farce.

People who only want to hear good news from their own perspective are easily taken in by con men, and the con man this time was Ahmed Chalabi, an Iraqi expatriate facing 22 years at hard labor in Jordan for embezzlement. This is the character upon whom Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz–themselves (neo)con men–relied for insight into Iraq, and who told them they’d be welcomed by cheering, flower-bearing, confetti-slinging crowds not unlike Parisians in 1945. That Chalabi hadn’t been in Iraq for decades hasn’t deterred our intrepid neo-con ideologues. They still want to make Chalabi the Quisling leader of Iraq, under the Kissinger-tutored Viceroy Paul Bremer’s.

Neither were the neocons deterred by intelligence summaries that told them there was no threat from Iraq. They just made shit up, repeated it five million times to a credulous, tele-hypnotic American majority, and we swallowed it whole… sugar provided by the ersatz journalism of America’s entertainment media. Hearing only what we want is a generalized cultural characteristic shared by leaders and followers alike.

If, as a child, I had told lies as transparent as this administration’s, Mother would have sent me out to the privet hedge to get her a switch. But white America (Let’s be clear here. The Republican Party’s single unifying principle is white supremacy.) finds the real world just too much to bear, and so clings desperately to the skirts of its simplified, racialized world view . That’s why even “liberal” white America finds itself incapable of perceiving the Iraqis as capable of self-governance, and now calls for a UN occupation, imagined under the direction of European-extracted officials bearing the white man’s burden now recoded as “democratization.

In the real world, Bush’s little junta wanted control of the oil, and that was always the reason, and it never changed. If Iraq’s principle resource had been chick peas, our troops wouldn’t be there. There were never any mushroom cloud ready to bloom over New York, and never any connection between September 11th and Iraq. The only mushroom cloud was the smoke blown straight up America’s ass by these shameless thugs. It was oil. It still is oil. They are waging economic war on Europe and Asia, and oil is the lever. And so they repeat the word “liberation, liberation, liberation” like a mantra.

The repetition of words like ‘remnants’ and ‘foreigners’ is another childish cover story (It’s a good thing my Mom isn’t in DC, or she’d tear that ass up.) to conceal the fact that the Iraqis are not conforming to the neo-con script.

In Vietnam, there was a huge effort, once the US military was entrenched, to convince the American public that foreigners were the aggressors, and that the resistance to military occupation was not indigenous. But it was. The resistance in Iraqi is indigenous, too. Operations like the ones being conducted by Iraqi guerrillas can not happen without roots in the local populations.

In Vietnam, troop morale plummeted as the lies about the reasons for war became ever more apparent. The morale of the troops in Iraq began to fall as soon as the reality that they weren’t liberating anything sank in. Most troops are prepared to face danger and hardship. They just don’t like facing them for lies.

Since the political decision in August to cut US casualties, the US has minimized operations and largely drawn the troops back inside the concertina wire. They were tangled up with pinprick strikes, and the slow, steady stream of US casualties was harming Bush politically. It still isn’t working. Fixed installations need logistical support, and that means convoys, so the Iraqi resistance is schooling itself on the art of ambush.

From an operational tempo that was lethally strenuous, American troops are now subjected to mind-numbing boredom, where they can concentrate on how slowly the calendar pages turn, how hot it is, how bad the sand fleas are, how much they miss home-cooked meals and making love and air-conditioning. The occasional mortar attack gives them something to talk about. The US is stuck right now, having lost the battlefield initiative, and is losing the war. This is another parallel to Vietnam.

Rumsfeld’s Defense Policy Board has usurped the Department of Defense, just like Lyndon Johnson’s Defense Secretary Robert McNamara’s “whiz kids” that oversaw the Vietnam defeat. If McNamara was Johnson’s bad counsel, Rumsfeld appears to be Bush’s Rasputin. Another flim-flam artist, with his silly robo-war doctrine. Even the generals despise this arrogant pretender. The generals apparently still remember Vietnam, about which Bush’s cabinet has experienced a deep amnesia, but even they–especially they–will protect their careers and remain largely silent as they are led into the swamp.

Perhaps we need to revisit some good advice from Vietnam. When asked how we could get out of Vietnam, one simple answer was tragically ignnored: With ships and airplanes. The Iraqis–a talented people with 5,000 years of experience in civilization–are more qualified to determine their own future, however painful that process may be, than Bush’s cabinet, or the UN for that matter. End the occupation. Bring the troops home now.

STAN GOFF is the author of “Hideous Dream: A Soldier’s Memoir of the US Invasion of Haiti” (Soft Skull Press, 2000) and of the upcoming book “Full Spectrum Disorder” (Soft Skull Press, 2003). He is a member of the BRING THEM HOME NOW! coordinating committee, a retired Special Forces master sergeant, and the father of an active duty soldier. Email for BRING THEM HOME NOW! is bthn@mfso.org.

Goff can be reached at: sherrynstan@igc.org

 

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