Wednesday, August 20, 2003

My dad says this, and me, all i do is agree:

Since thinking about Iraq these days based on what we get from the American media is like thinking about the invasion of Czechoslovakia based on what you read in Tass or Pravda, immense irritation plus a sense of hubris impel me to set down semi-publicly what ought to be obvious (but apparently aren't) thoughts.

At the present moment the President and his sycophants, such as (for Times readers) the self-inflated fanatic and terminally brain-dead Thomas Friedman ("Fanatic: a man who redoubles his effort as his goal recedes"--Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary) are talking about having "won the war" but needing to "win the peace." This is the exact opposite of what has actually happened/is actually happening. To begin with, there never was a "war" between the US and Iraq. There was a coup d'etat, that is, a violent regime change, imposed on behalf of its alleged sponsors (the notional "democratic council") by an invading army--a rare but not unique event (cf., the attempts in Mexico 1913, Soviet Union 1919). This coup was a partial success, as such things are measured. The tyrannical regime was indeed overthrown, the first goal of any coup. The second goal, to install a new regime in its place, is not yet realized, not even close; and if this goal is moralized, as by the pseudo-neo-libs Berman and Hitchens, e.g., it is a failure. Overall, based on what we can see there's no reason to believe that life in Iraq--e.g., public health, life expectancy, freedom from fear, etc.--is any better than under the tyrant, or that improving on this situation will in the long run cost less in material and personal destruction than would have been accomplished by awaiting any other eventuality for Saddam's regime.

The coup having thus failed, at least in the short run, the War then began. That is, what the pundits and soi-disant experts call winning the peace is actually its exact opposite, namely, winning the ongoing war, a many-sided civil war in which the invading force functions as one among several combatants. Compared to the invasion/coup, the conduct of the war is so far an even more abject failure, if we consider what has been happening to the aims of the war:

1) Finding and eliminating Weapons of Mass Destruction. This aim has been lost. If there weren't any WMD's, the aim was unattainable, and if there were, the Iraqis were better at hiding them than the invaders at finding them. Zero, for both effort and accomplishment.

2) Advancing in the "war on terrorism" by broadening it. This aim has also come to worse than nothing. Predictably (I can say this since so many of us in fact made this prediction, and any modesty on this score would be false) the fight against "terrorism" has been set back; its sources remain obscure, and whoever it is continues to strike almost at will. Zero again.

3) The main material goal of any war stemming from an invasion is to pacify the occupied territory so that it can be exploited by the conquerors, in this case both by securing its resources (oil) and using it as a buffer against neighbors (Iran, the Palestinians). This goal too is at the moment receding: casualties are mounting among the invaders (they are now higher than during the invasion phase, ie, during what the Friedman types call the "peace"--you'd think they might ponder that fact, wouldn't you?--don't bother); and the populations who've been volunteered for the role of exploitee somehow aren't cooperating. Pacification is about where it was in Vietnam.

On all of these grounds, Hobbes is laughing bitterly in his grave. However, the war is by no means yet "lost," since I haven't yet mentioned its real, and over-arching goals. The first of these was to destroy all international institutional arrangements that resist or might resist domination by the imperial United States; it remains to be seen if this may bet be accomplished, as the hammer comes down on France, Germany, Turkey, etc. Second, and above all, the only true ultimate goal of the invasion and then the war was/is to elect George Bush President in 2004, thus finally legitimizing his rule and, retrospectively, the coup of 2000 (predecessor for the coup of 2003). Since in his own words he does not care how many Iraqis, young working-class Americans and Brits, or international civil servants have to die to accomplish this aim ("bring them on"), he may well win out in the end, turning (as is so often the case) the worse into the better. If I were tempted by cretinous religiosity, I'd say that I was praying every day for this not to happen. Though it might be nice to be religious, since if there were a "god" the one thing we could hazard for sure is that it would not be "on the side of" deranged, self-aggrandizing, assassins--who nowadays are plentiful wherever there is a "god" to be invoked.

No comments:

Post a Comment