FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Brookings Institute Assumes the White Man’s Burden

by RON JACOBS

 

The liberal warmongers are at it again. In Sunday’s (August 20, 2006) Washington Post, Ken Pollack and Daniel Byman of the Brookings Institution and Georgetown’s Center for Peace and Security Studies offer an analysis and prescription for an Iraq that they believe is already in a state of civil war. Ignoring the fundamental reason that this situation exists–the US occupation of the country–these two men tell the reader that the growing sectarian violence in Iraq will be even more dangerous should it spill over Iraq’s borders. Furthermore, they argue, the latter will eventually occur. This fact alone means that US responsibilities in the region will increase, not lessen.

Prior to this prognostication, the two men write that it would take close to a half-million soldiers to “quash an all-out civil war there.” There is no other alternative offered by these imperial apologists, and this statement is qualified by stating that this is more than the US has already committed. It’s not that Pollack and Byman actually call for US troops to be mobilized for these increasing “responsibilities.” It’s that they write as if there were no alternatives, since in their minds the so-called responsibilities are not ones that Washington chooses to undertake because it sees its empire as being essential to the peace of the world. Unsaid in this do-gooder approach is that the only peace Washington and its apologists (neocon to neoliberal and beyond) want is one that benefits Washington and its corporate masters. If that peace takes a world war, then by god, that’s what will have to happen, but only because its for the world’s good.

Meanwhile, from another corner of the imperial ring, on that same Sunday John McCain called for many more US troops in Iraq. During a conversation on “Meet the Press,” Mr. McCain said that the US must win in Iraq. Otherwise, he added, there would be chaos in the region. If I had been sitting in the interviewer’s chair in the NBC studio that morning, I would have had to ask Mr. McCain what word he might use to define the current situation in Iraq. Democracy? Peaceful transition? Order? From where I sit, the current situation in Iraq is the definition of chaos. The addition of more US troops would only create more, especially since Mr. McCain wants them to go after not only the Sunni and secular insurgency; he also wants them to go after the Shia militias. Now that’s a recipe for calm.

I recently finished reading John Talbott’s 1980 book on the French war in Algeria, The War Without a Name. Instructive for its similarities to Iraq– both in the methods of the insurgents and the reaction of the French–there is a description of the situation seemed particularly appropriate.

What these wishful thinkers ignored…were realities that lay beyond the quantitative measurements of success. They mistook pledges of allegiance made under duress for pledges freely given. The mistook peasants keenly aware of their own self-interest for credulous country bumpkins….They mistook promises made against the future as adequate compensation for injuries done in the past. They underestimated the difference between coercion at the hands of foreigners and coercion at the hands of neighbors and relatives; they underestimated how long it might take ever to come to an end of the rebellion. (p. 191)

It’s not my goal here to equate the insurrection in Algeria against the French with the insurgency in Iraq against the US. However, there are some important similarities. Like Iraq, the insurgents in Algeria fought sectarian battles amongst themselves while they were fighting the occupier. In addition, there were factions within the insurgency that were secular and some that were religious in nature. Indeed, the civil strife in Algeria during the 1990s and early 21st century between the government and Islamist forces had some of its roots in the conflicts between these factions during the war against the French. More importantly for the US, the methods used by the French in their attempts to defeat the insurgents included many of the same used by the US in Iraq: torture, puppet governments, vote manipulation and warfare that included the killing of civilians. In addition, most of the French establishment shared the imperial view that the Algerians couldn’t do without Paris’ guidance–benevolent or otherwise.

So, with Mr. McCain and the Bush people from the right and the Brookings Institution from the liberal side of the spectrum sharing the assumption that Washington’s “accidental” empire has a responsibility to help out its Arab and Persian cousins, maybe the upcoming months will see an increase in the US military presence in the Middle East. If Israel restarts its war on Lebanon, it would seem that the chances of this increase even more. Back in the days when the British thought they ran this part of the world, they called the people living there “wogs.” Today, the US soldiers, spies and mercenaries call them “hajis.” Both terms are means to make them appear less than human in their minds. However, as history has shown, just because an occupier underestimates the people whose land it is occupying doesn’t mean they will win their hearts, minds or land. No matter how many troops and agents they employ.

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: rjacobs3625@charter.net

 

 

 

More articles by:

Ron Jacobs is the author of Daydream Sunset: Sixties Counterculture in the Seventies published by CounterPunch Books. His latest offering is a pamphlet titled Capitalism: Is the Problem.  He lives in Vermont. He can be reached at: ronj1955@gmail.com.

January 23, 2018
Carl Boggs
Doomsday Panic in Hawaii
Mark Ashwill
If I Were US Ambassador to Vietnam…
Nick Pemberton
The Inherent Whiteness of “Our Revolution”
Leeann Hall
Trump’s Gift for the Unemployed: Kicking Them Off Health Care
Dean Baker
Lessons in Economics For the NYT’s Bret Stephens: Apple and Donald Trump’s Big Tax Cut
Mitchell Zimmerman
Law, Order and the Dreamers
Ken Hannaford-Ricardi
The Kids the World Forgot
Dave Lindorff
South Korea Slips Off the US Leash
Ali Mohsin
Extrajudicial Murder of Pashtun Exposes State Brutality in Pakistan
Jessicah Pierre
Oprah is No Savior
John Carroll Md
Keeping Haiti in Perspective
Amir Khafagy
Marching Into the Arms of the Democrats
January 22, 2018
Patrick Cockburn
It’s Time to Call Economic Sanctions What They Are: War Crimes
Jim Kavanagh
Behind the Money Curtain: A Left Take on Taxes, Spending and Modern Monetary Theory
Sheldon Richman
Trump Versus the World
Mark Schuller
One Year On, Reflecting and Refining Tactics to Take Our Country Back
Winslow Wheeler
Just What Earmark “Moratorium” are They Talking About?
W. T. Whitney
José Martí, Soul of the Cuban Revolution
Uri Avnery
May Your Home Be Destroyed          
Wim Laven
Year One Report Card: Donald Trump Failing
Jill Richardson
There Are No Shithole Countries
Bob Fitrakis - Harvey Wasserman
Are the Supremes About to Give Trump a Second Term?
Laura Finley
After #MeToo and #TimesUp
Howard Lisnoff
Impressions From the Women’s March
Andy Thayer
HuffPost: “We Really LOVED Your Contributions, Now FUCK OFF!”
Weekend Edition
January 19, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Dr. King’s Long Assassination
David Roediger
A House is Not a Hole: (Not) Caring about What Trump Says
George Burchett
How the CIA Tried to Bribe Wilfred Burchett
Mike Whitney
Trump’s Plan B for Syria: Occupation and Intimidation
Michael Hudson – Charles Goodhart
Could/Should Jubilee Debt Cancellations be Reintroduced Today?
Marshall Auerback – Franklin C. Spinney
Boss Tweet’s Generals Already Run the Show
Andrew Levine
Remember, Democrats are Awful Too
James Bovard
Why Ruby Ridge Still Matters
Wilfred Burchett
The Bug Offensive
Brian Cloughley
Now Trump Menaces Pakistan
Ron Jacobs
Whiteness and Working Folks
Jeffrey St. Clair
The Keeper of Crazy Beats: Charlie Haden and Music as a Force of Liberation
Robert Fantina
Palestine and Israeli Recognition
Jan Oberg
The New US Syria “Strategy”, a Recipe For Continued Disaster
ADRIAN KUZMINSKI
The Return of the Repressed
Mel Gurtov
Dubious Partnership: The US and Saudi Arabia
Robert Fisk
The Next Kurdish War Looms on the Horizon
Lawrence Davidson
Contextualizing Sexual Harassment
Jeff Berg
Approaching Day Zero
Karl Grossman
Disaster Island
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail