Retina scans to get into your own home. Work details under armed guard. No cars. Military armor on every corner. All men to be shot on sight after curfew. No freedom of movement. These are just some of the details of the new order in Fallujah (and one assumes any other Iraqi city that the US destroys in the future). Somewhere between a concentration camp and what US troops called a strategic hamlet in Vietnam, this is the latest version of Washington’s freedom and democracy installation in Iraq. How much clearer does it have to become before the US media and its brainwashed audience admit to themselves that this whole adventure is about domination and control? If there are any arms caches left in Fallujah after the US military finishes its so-called security searches, one can guarantee that these draconian measures being put into place will insure that those weapons will be used against US forces.
Who the hell do the US forces think they are? No matter how many ID badges they make people wear and guns they point in their face, they will not gain the trust of these people. That moment passed months ago. The oil that Washington wants to control will never be under their control and neither will the people of Iraq. This latest plan-a plan that essentially turns the Iraqi cities into prison camps-acknowledges that the US has lost the battle for many Iraqis hearts and minds and that it can only hope to get its way via coercion and murder. One only has to look at France’s Algeria, Israel’s Palestine, or Washington’s Vietnam to realize the historical possibilities.
Yet, the historical ignorance and arrogance of Washington marches on. Donald Rumsfeld is on record as of December 6, 2004 as saying that he believes US troops will be gone from Iraq within four years. If I hadn’t heard about some kind of light at the end of some tunnel during the US war on Vietnam, perhaps I could believe the man. Unfortunately, I remember that light and that tunnel too well. Even Mr. Rumsfeld has some kind of recall of it. He did qualify his statement by saying that this US withdrawal would be based on the “progress” of the Iraqi government that Washington is attempting to create over there. That progress will be measured, of course, in the degree of compliance (nee servitude) said government has with Washington.
Indeed, the success of the plan for Fallujah is directly tied to Washington’s withdrawal. If the US troops are somehow much more successful in locking up all those Iraqis who despise their presence into strategic hamlets than they were in southern Vietnam, then the troops will able to leave when Donald Rumsfeld wants them to. If the lockdown of Fallujah and other rebellious Iraqi cities and towns is no more successful than Operation Phoenix was in Vietnam, then the US military will leave, but only because they have been driven out. Either way, thousands of Iraqis will be killed solely because they are in the Pentagon’s way.
Another, less-publicized aspect of the police state mechanisms that the US hopes to put in place in Fallujah is the creation of so-called work brigades that would essentially force male residents of Fallujah into forced labor battalions. I can almost see these men now-wearing khaki overalls with the flag of the US-created Baghdad regime sewn on the back and their name and address stitched onto the front breast pocket. Just like the chain gangs in the southern states of the US, these men will be working under armed guard. Perhaps they’ll even be forced to wear chains around their ankles as they rebuild the city their captors destroyed in the name of their freedom and liberty. I even have a design idea for the city’s entry gates. How about an archway with the Arab equivalent of the words “Arbeit Macht Frei?” I mean, what with the napalm our military dropped on the city during its most recent “liberation,” we’ve already provided them with the modern day equivalent of Nazi Germany’s ovens. Sure, the incineration of our fellow humans by napalm is not as methodical as that arranged by Adolf Eichmann and his cohorts, but that’s only because those who are doing the burning in our name don’t have instructions to be selective in whom they kill. After all, their commander has told these soldiers that the Iraqis deserve to die because they wear the face of satan.
RON JACOBS is author of The Way the Wind Blew: a history of the Weather Underground, which is just republished by Verso. Jacobs’ essay on Big Bill Broonzy is featured in CounterPunch’s new collection on music, art and sex, Serpents in the Garden. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org