January 11, 2007
The Independent (UK)

Bush's New Strategy - The March of Folly

So into the graveyard of Iraq, George Bush, commander-in-chief, is to send another 21,000 of his soldiers. The march of folly is to continue...

by Robert Fisk

It is de rigueur, these days, to recall Vietnam, the false victories, the body counts, the torture and the murders but history is littered with powerful men who thought they could batter their way to victory against the odds. Napoleon comes to mind; not the emperor who retreated from Moscow, but the man who believed the wild guerrilleros of French-occupied Spain could be liquidated. He tortured them, he executed them, he propped up a local Spanish administration of what we would now call Quislings, al-Malikis to a man. He rightly accused his enemies Moore and Wellington of supporting the insurgents. And when faced with defeat, Napoleon took the personal decision "to relaunch the machine" and advanced to recapture Madrid, just as Bush intends to recapture Baghdad. Of course, it ended in disaster. And George Bush is no Napoleon Bonaparte.

No, I would turn to another, less flamboyant, far more modern politician for prophecy, an American who understood, just before the 2003 launch of Bush's illegal invasion of Iraq, what would happen to the arrogance of power. For their relevance this morning, the words of the conservative politician Pat Buchanan deserve to be written in marble:

"We will soon launch an imperial war on Iraq with all the 'On to Berlin' bravado with which French poilus and British tommies marched in August 1914. But this invasion will not be the cakewalk neoconservatives predict ... For a militant Islam that holds in thrall scores of millions of true believers will never accept George Bush dictating the destiny of the Islamic world ...

"The one endeavour at which Islamic peoples excel is expelling imperial powers by terror and guerrilla war. They drove the Brits out of Palestine and Aden, the French out of Algeria, the Russians out of Afghanistan, the Americans out of Somalia and Beirut, the Israelis out of Lebanon... We have started up the road to empire and over the next hill we will meet those who went before."

But George Bush dare not see these armies of the past, their ghosts as palpable as the phantoms of the 3,000 Americans let us forget the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis  already done to death in this obscene war, and those future spirits of the dead still living amid the 20,000 men and women whom Bush is now sending to Iraq. In Baghdad, they will move into both Sunni and Shia "insurgent strongholds" as opposed to just the Sunni variety which they vainly invested in the autumn because this time, and again I quote General Odierno, it is crucial the security plan be " evenhanded". This time, he said, "we have to have a believable approach, of going after Sunni and Shia extremists".

But a "believable approach" is what Bush does not have. The days of even-handed oppression disappeared in the aftermath of invasion.

"Democracy" should have been introduced at the start not delayed until the Shias threatened to join the insurgency if Paul Bremer, America's second proconsul, did not hold elections just as the American military should have prevented the anarchy of April 2003. The killing of 14 Sunni civilians by US paratroopers at Fallujah that spring set the seal on the insurgency. Yes, Syria and Iran could help George Bush. But Tehran was part of his toytown "Axis of Evil", Damascus a mere satellite. They were to be future prey, once Project Iraq proved successful. Then there came the shame of our torture, our murders, the mass ethnic cleansing in the land we said we had liberated.

And so more US troops must die, sacrificed for those who have already died. . . .


"New Poll: 71 Percent Of Iraqis Want U.S. Forces To Withdraw Within A Year," Program on International Policy Attitudes, September 27, 2006

Enver Masud, "Iraq: Divide and Rule, 'Ethnic Cleansing Works'," The Wisdom Fund, October 10, 2006

M. Shahid Alam, "An 'Islamic Civil War'," The Wisdom Fund, December 26, 2006

[The first step must be the recognition that the solution to the Iraq crisis must be generated first internally, and then, importantly, at the regional level. The two are linked and the successful resolution of one would lead to the other.

No foreign power, no matter how benevolent, should be allowed to dictate the terms of a possible historic and stable settlement in the Middle East.--Ali Allawi, "For the first time, a real blueprint for peace in Iraq," Independent, January 5, 2007]

[Iraq's massive oil reserves, the third-largest in the world, are about to be thrown open for large-scale exploitation by Western oil companies under a controversial law--Danny Fortson, Andrew Murray-Watson and Tim Webb, "Future of Iraq: The Spoils of War," Independent, January 7, 2007]

[The central issue in the new plan is operation control. Iraqis insist that they be given full control of all operations within Baghdad, a control that U.S. commanders - concerned that Iraqi forces will serve as a tool on one side of a civil war - have been reluctant to hand over.--Sabrina Tavernise, "Iraq wants no part of more U.S. soldiers," International Herald Tribune, January 10, 2007]

VIDEO: Keith Olbermann, "Bush's Legacy: The President Who Cried Wolf," MSNBC Countdown, January 11, 2007

[The basic fact remains that Bush's escalation is designed to smash Muqtada's Mehdi Army. That can only mean, in practice, a mini-genocide of vast masses of unruly, extremely dispossessed Shi'ites: the coming battle of Sadr City, which the Pentagon has been itching to launch since the spring of 2004. The Pentagon is actually declaring war on no fewer than 2.2 million (poor) people. A sinister symmetry still applies: the Pentagon will attack dispossessed Shi'ite masses - just as the Israeli Defense Forces attacked dispossessed Shi'ite masses in southern Lebanon in the summer of 2006.--Pepe Escobar, "Surging toward the holy oil grail," Asia Times, January 12, 2007]

"Poll: Two-thirds of Americans oppose more troops in Iraq," CNN, January 12, 2007

[Polls and reporting by Post correspondents suggest that, overwhelmingly, Iraqis of all factions want U.S. forces to leave. . . . Only Iraqis have a chance of finding a political resolution for their divisions.--Robert G. Kaiser, "Trapped by Hubris, Again," Washington Post, January 14, 2007]

[The "surge" gives Congress, the media, and the foreign policy establishment something to debate and oppose, while Bush sets his plans in motion to orchestrate a war with Iran.--Paul Craig Roberts, "Only Impeachment Can Stop Him,", January 15, 2007]

[He conceded that some "sectarian" acts were being perpetrated. But he said there would not be a civil war because Sunni and Shia had lived in peace for many years.--Stephen Farrell, "Give us guns - and troops can go, says Iraqi leader," Times, January 18, 2007]

[ . . . the Brookings report urges the creation of a regional group to help contain a civil war. That would see exactly the contacts with Iran and Syria that the Bush administration steadfastly refuses.--Rupert Cornwell, "US must abandon Iraqi cities or face nightmare scenario, say experts," Independent, January 30, 2007]

[Spreading democracy, using sticks to try to prevent nuclear proliferation, threatening "regime change," using the hysterical rhetoric of the "global war on terrorism" - all undermine the stability we so desperately need in the Middle East.--William E. Odom, "Victory Is Not an Option," Washington Post, February 11, 2007]

[He said a British military presence would remain in Iraq into 2008--"Blair announces Iraq troops cut," BBC News, February 21, 2007]

Syed R. Mahmood, "It's time for Bush to change course in Iraq,", February 17, 2007

Mr. Kucinich, "H.R. 1234: To end the United States occupation of Iraq immediately," U.S. House of Representatives, February 28, 2007

Patrick Cockburn"Almost Every Aspect of Iraqi Life has Gotten Worse in the Last Four Years,", March 19, 2007

"Only 18 per cent of Iraqis trust US forces," Reuters, March 19, 2007

[The ORB poll also shows that a majority of Iraqis believe the security situation in Iraq will get better when the "multi national forces" leave Iraq--Jesse Nunes, "Polls show Iraqis live surrounded by violence, distrust US," Christian Science Monitor, March 20, 2007]

[ . . . 51 percent of Iraqis think it is OK to attack coalition troops . . . 53 percent of all Iraqis polled agreed that "from today's perspective, and all things considered," it was "wrong that U.S.-led coalition forces invaded Iraq in spring 2003."--Robert Scheer, " Saddam Has the Last Laugh,", March 20, 2007]

[His aim was for Iraqis to hold elections within 90 days and for the U.S. to pull troops quickly out of the cities to a desert base.--"Jay Garner: Iraq four years on," BBC Hardtalk, March 20, 2007]

[It is all a remarkable change of tone for the man who was once a friend of Ahmed Chalabi, has been praised in public by Vice President Dick Cheney and is highly regarded by anti-Saddam Iraqi democrats. . . .

Makiya played a strong role in persuading the Bush administration that Iraq's modernity, secular leadership and high levels of education would permit it to rebound with little need for an intensive nation building effort..--"We failed, says pro-war Iraqi," Observer, March 25, 2007]

Kirk Semple, "McCain Wrong on Iraq Security, Merchants Say," New York Times, April 3, 2007

"Huge turnout for anti-US rally," Guardian, April 9, 2007

["Isolating parts of Baghdad with barbed wire and concrete barriers will lead to more sectarian tension," the Sunni Iraqi Islamic Party said in a statement. "Dividing the capital in this way will be the starting point for dividing Iraq."--Dan Glaister, "Iraqi premier calls on US to halt construction of Baghdad wall," Guardian, April 23, 2007]

Thomas Wagner, "Al-Maliki denies civil war in Iraq," Independent, April 23, 2007

[CNN, along with the local media co-sponsors, have announced that Mike Gravel will not be invited to their planned debate in June in New Hampshire. Fox News has also announced that Ron Paul will not be included in their upcoming Republican debate.--Eric Garris, "Gravel Won't Be Buried,", April 27, 2007]

"Iraqi lawmakers demand U.S. withdrawal," UPI, May 2, 2007

William Blum, "The Last Argument of Fools: How America Has Changed Iraq,", May 5, 2007

Raed Jarrar and Joshua Holland, "Majority of Iraqi Lawmakers Now Reject Occupation," AlterNet, May 10, 2007

VIDEO: Keith Olbermann, "The entire government has failed us on Iraq," MSNBC, May 23, 2007

[A relentless attack from the air against Iraq and Afghanistan has been going on for years, with the United States conducting an average of 75 to 100 airstrikes in the 2 countries every day. The death toll from these attacks is unknown, but a reasonable estimate is in the range of 100,000 to 150,000 in Iraq, with the number in Afghanistan as yet unexplored.--Jeff Nygaard, "The Secret Air Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan: Unreported casualties," Z Magazine Online, June 2007]

VIDEO: "Hometown Baghdad"--a documentary series

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