Drawing the Wrong Conclusions from Iraq


Mr. Rumsfeld cautioned that observers should not “draw the wrong conclusion” over any spike in violence. “As long as the Iraqi people persevere, the terrorists cannot win,” he said.

(The Australian, 8/9/2005)

Rumsfeld made the above remarks at a news conference August 9, 2005. He then went on to compare the resistance fighters to “the cult of death among SS forces and the kamikazes in the Pacific” at the end of World War II. I don’t know who Rumsfeld is talking about in his remarks, but it seems to me that it is he who is drawing the wrong conclusions. All indications are that the insurgency is not only getting bloodier, but it is becoming broader and deeper. This isn’t to say that all aspects of the resistance are popular among all of its supporters, but it seems clear that their desire to drive the occupiers out is very popular. That is unlikely to change until the occupiers leave and take their puppets with them.

Of course, that is what Washington would like to do-sort of. They do want to get US troops out of the resistance gunsights. Not because they are giving up their desire to turn Iraq into a model neoliberal colony, but because they know that unless they replace all those US dead and wounded with Iraqi dead and wounded soon, they may very well lose their opportunity to make that part of the world into a staging ground for future endeavors in their grand plan to make this century the New American Century. Plus, there is still a lot of oil under those sands that the US would like to keep under its watch.

Turning the occupation over to compliant Iraqis has always been part of the game plan, especially after it became clear that there was going to have to be a military-style occupation. Unlike the rose-colored fantasies of the neocons, the reality of Iraq is of a country that does not want to be part of the West’s plans. Sure, there are a few well-meaning and many self-serving individuals of Iraqi origin who have put their money and their lives with the capitalist forces in the Green Zone, but, in general, the Iraqis want the US out. At this juncture, however, the US has no intention of leaving.

Bush and Congress really don’t care how many Iraqis suffer in order to get what they want for their clients. Indeed, it appears that they don’t really care how many US soldiers suffer, either. Forty-three have died in just the last ten days and all Bush has to say is that the US military will remain there to insure that those soldiers and the dead ones before them won’t have died for nothing. Of course, they have.

As for the Iraqi security forces, imagine if you were one. Many of these men are there because they need a paycheck and those jobs usually provide one. Most have less will to fight than the resistance does and live in fear that they will be targeted intentionally or not by a car bomb or some other act of war. Like the ARVN was in Vietnam, their existence as a fighting force depends on the support of the US forces in country. In addition, the fact that they are infiltrated by resistance forces renders many of their military operations moot before they occur.

In recent days, there has been a flurry of headlines in most of the major US newspapers claiming that US forces will begin leaving Iraq next summer. If one reads further, however, the certitude of these headlines is quickly undermined by several sentences that begin with the word “if.” The fundamental message of all those sentences is that the US forces will begin to withdraw if the Iraqi political situation is exactly how the Washington wants it to be-compliant and able to enforce Washington’s bidding in all matters military and economic. The fact that this is very unlikely leads one to believe that these headlines are propaganda designed to stem the growing tide of opposition to the occupation in the United States and Britain. If one considers the antiwar protests planned for September in Washington, DC and elsewhere, the timing of this news becomes even more suspicious. Even those who aren’t cynical of the government’s motives have got to acknowledge that part of the government’s intention here is to try and diminish the support these protests are getting.

This is exactly why these protests need to be large and loud. The US people can no longer accept the arguments being put forth by the war party in Washington. Nor can they accept their timetable and the lies it is built on. Hell, back in the fall of 2004, administration officials were talking about withdrawing troops after the January elections. As we all know, that did not happen. Indeed, more troops were sent. This is likely to happen again before and after the constitutional referendum scheduled for this coming October and the general elections that are supposed to happen in December.

If these polls occur, they are likely to face a good deal of skepticism from the Iraqis, given the lack of results after the so-called balloting that happened in January 2005.

This scenario is more similar than different to the one that played itself out in Vietnam in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, just like it is more similar than different to the French experience in Algeria. There will be no real elections or peace in Iraq until the occupation forces leave completely. That means no bases of any kind, no CIA agents, no contracted mercenaries, no puppet army, and no crooked client rulers. In short, it means that Washington must leave now, not when it wants to. It is up to us to make this happen.

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: rjacobs@zoo.uvm.edu



Ron Jacobs is the author of Daydream Sunset: Sixties Counterculture in the Seventies published by CounterPunch Books. He has a new book, titled Nowhere Land: Journeys Through a Broken Nation coming out in Spring 2024.   He lives in Vermont. He can be reached at: ronj1955@gmail.com