Nov 14, 2006
By Mirza A. Beg
The mid-term congressional elections gave a thrashing to the Republican congress, because it failed its primary duty of oversight of the executive branch gone amuck. The electorate should have sent this message to Bush two years ago. Unfortunately most Americans are against the Bush policy in Iraq, not because it is wrong, but because it is not succeeding. Unless we understand; the invasion of Iraq was not only unwise but also immoral based on lies, we cannot formulate a well thought out exit strategy.
In the throes of mid-term congressional elections with his approval ratings in the tank, Bush junked the inane phrase, “Stay the course”, to the dust heap of slogans, such as “Shock and awe”, that awed Americans and shocked the world in its inane cruelty; and the fascistic phrase “If you are not with us you are against us”, that left no choice to thoughtful decent people, but to be morally against us. Remember the abuses heaped on France and Germany. Finally the reality dawned. Two days after an unequivocal support for Rumsfeld, Bush dumped him.
It is time to revisit our options in Iraq. Not that it is a mystery, exactly three years ago in November 2003, I wrote “There are only five options for the US in Iraq and none of them are good.”
“1- The military should be patient in response to the attacks because the guerrillas vanish in the population and innocent people are hurt. This frustrates the soldiers and strengthens the guerrillas garnering support from successes. “
“2- Draconian response to flush out the guerrillas and intimidate civilians into cooperation, engendering greater hatred for the US. Helping the US means inviting attacks. Iraqi policemen helping the occupation are considered collaborators targeted by the guerrillas.”
“3- Fast Iraqification, similar to Vietnamization. New recruits will inevitably attract infiltrators to sabotage the effort. This will help the US to cut and run rather than leaving a stable democratic Iraq.”
“4- Troops from other countries. No Islamic government will cooperate. US policy is seen as anti-Muslim. Europeans stung by the Bush deceit oppose the occupation, even the Spaniards are withdrawing. No country wants to send its citizens to be killed in a war it opposed.”
“5- Get the UN involved. UN will take part only if the US yields the civilian authority and still foots the bill. This will be open-ended, complete reversal of the Bush policy, full of long-term uncertainty.”
The first option was never tried. It is too late now. To the Neocon bullies, there was no substitute for a quick victory based on intimidation. Though individual commanders tried in local piecemeal efforts, but were stymied by the bullies of, “If you are not with us you are against us”, crowd. Thus, all Iraqis with any feeling of dignity were lumped as enemies, and eventually they became enemies.
The second option was tried with fanfare. The celebrated destruction of Faluja and many smaller cities, while the world watched in horror; dropping of thousand pound bombs in densely populated areas; killing of more than a hundred thousand innocent civilians; the horrible pictures from Abu Graib became the poster of Bush doctrine on torture. Most Iraqis, happy at the tyrant’s downfall, slowly realized that though under brutal Saddam, there was no political liberty at least the streets were safe. If they kept quiet, they could have a reasonably good lively-hood. Now the living is a nightmare, and Bush keeps trumpeting that we are fighting terrorists in Iraq so that all the killing is done there to keep us safe here. Iraqis are listening intently; they realize that Iraqi lives are expendable in Bush doctrine.
The third option of Iraqification similar to Vietnamization has been in the works for about two years. According to the Pentagon more than two hundred thousand have been recruited in the Iraqi military. Most have joined because there is no other livelihood. Many Iraqis, viscerally against the US occupation have infiltrated the new military. That is why they are not trusted by the US command in Iraq, and can not perform independently. There is no way that Iraqis will like or trust us, after more than three years of horror that Bush has wrought on Iraqis, in our name.
The last two options are effectively a defeat of the Bush doctrine and by extension, the defeat of the mindless naked power that the rest of the world considers to be neo-Imperialism. But these are the only feasible courses to get out of an unending carnage. The neighboring countries have a natural interest in a stable Iraq. They can be persuaded to help stabilize Iraq under the aegis of the UN, only if convinced that the US will bear the enormous open ended expenses, but will not interfere in their decision making councils. It sounds expensive and a defeat of Bush doctrine, given the bravado and self delusion of Bush and his coterie, but the alternative is endless war that fuels terrorism.
Almost as many American soldiers have been killed in Iraq as the victims of 9/11. According to a prestigious study about 600,000 Iraqis have lost their lives, thanks to Bush and his mandate from “God”, through the powerful Armageddon seeking wing of the Christian right. Millions of Iraqis have been displaced because of the resulting civil war. To the Pentagon under Bush, the Iraqi lives do not matter. The quibbling over how many innocent Iraqis died, by those who do not even care to count the Iraqi dead is obnoxious.
It is time to learn from our recent history. Defeat of an immoral policy is better than following the corrupt policies to endless wars. Had we not been defeated in Vietnam, we would still be “winning”, the mirage of victory, perpetually just around the corner, 12 to 18 months away. These were the lies; we were fed adnauseam by the administrations then and now. Contrary to the dire predictions of doom of American prestige, the defeat in Vietnam liberated us and the Vietnamese to find new and better life to grow, prosper and even become friends.
The failure is evident to all who can reason. As predicted our bungling leader has not only landed the sole super power in an un-winnable quagmire in Iraq, but now even Afghanistan is on the skids, spiraling towards chaos.
Another slogan that ensnared the Americans, “Failure is not an option”, needs to be sent to the junk-yard of Fascism. It simply means, “Victory at any cost”. This should be an anathema in a moral, democracy. We need to stand up for our morals and values and say, “hundreds of thousands of innocent lives lost through a policy that kills innocent civilians and creates more terrorists is too high a price to pay. No, we will not be a part of that immoral, mindless travesty.”