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A Nightmare Scenario Iraq poised to come tumbling down on America
by Bryan Zepp Jamieson
Zepp's Commentaries
April 6, 2004

The news out of Iraq is unrelievedly grim. After the mob burned, dismembered and hung parts of four American mercenaries, the overall situation country wide got sharply worse.

Recent events have been so prominent that they need only passing mention here: the riots sparked by Moqtada al-Sadr in Sadr City (no relation) which killed five Americans and injured hundreds of people. As this was going on, NBC, a former news source, reported that the Americans were going to march right in on Fallujah and teach those wogs a lesson they would never forget. OK, NBC didn't say "wogs." But there was nothing in their news cast to indicate that there was the slightest possibility that it would be anything other than a quick and successful operation: at which point, I thought, "Oh, oh. If this is what the house organ is saying, than clearly the Putsch junta hasn't learned a thing."

The US is, according to the Guardian, now fighting a two-front war. Only, of course, there are no fronts. But the two adversaries, Sunni and Shi'ite, have taken the time and trouble of stopping their 1,400 year old struggle long enough to vanquish what they see as the evil foreign tyrants and what Moqtada al-Sadr called "its filthy constitution." That would be America.

George AWOL was front and center with more of his loony double-speak. He said, in response to suggestions from the Senate and most other places that maybe he should rethink that July 1st deadline for getting out of the line of fire, "The message to the Iraqi citizens is they don't have to fear that America will turn and run, and that's an important message for them to hear. If they think that we're not sincere about staying the course, many people will not continue to take the risk to ward freedom and democracy."

Ah, so you are saying that by cutting and running, we'll show the world that America does not cut and run. OK, George. Thank you. You can sit back down in Cheney's lap now.

About ten days after the invasion of Iraq, and after the second massacre of civilians by US forces in Falluja, I said that we would be hearing a lot more about this town in the future, and my own private thoughts were that if the seeds of American failure were sown anywhere, it was in this Sunni stronghold.

What I didn't expect was that the American forces would so thoroughly alienate a sizeable percentage of the Shi'ite population. The Shi'ites were badly mistreated under Saddam's reign, and a vast majority of them were happy to see him gone. These were the people Rummy had in mind when he painted pictures of grateful locals throwing flowers and blowing kisses as the US tanks rolled triumphantly into town.

Hans Blix recently put it this way: "The war has liberated the Iraqis from Saddam, but the costs have been too great." Helluva note when you can make the victims of a nasty little thug like Saddam think of him as "the good old days."

American troops couldn't resist swaggering (their tanks patrolled the towns with legends such as "Kill Em All" and "Bloodlust" painted on the turrets, and in direct defiance of orders, soldiers kept putting up big American flags, destroying any hope the administration might have had in convincing the locals that this was anything other than an invasion and occupation) and of course, there were far too many incidents where troops made what was at best terrible mistakes and at worst vile acts of malice (such as the videotaped incident where Marines gleefully shoot a man who is wounded and down), and suddenly, the US found that nearly the entire population was viewing them as foreign invaders and chanting that Iraq must be a graveyard for Americans.

History repeats. England went into Iraq, managed to piss off both sides, and eventually crawled out with tail between legs, with nothing but 2,200 English dead to show for it. Nor was that ancient history: 45 years ago. That's why I've always been perplexed by Tony Blair's role in all this. He may be a weak and amoral man, but he is certainly neither stupid nor uneducated. He had to know what happened the last time England went into Iraq.

Of course, the sudden widespread hatred of the occupiers was anything but sudden, and grew steadily over the past year. It's just that in the past few days, it has hit some sort of critical mass. We knew it was building, when we saw all the roadside bomb ambushings (unaffected by the final fall of Saddam), and the repeated vicious attacks on the police force America was trying to build. How could the administration not see that the Iraqi resistance was doing nothing other than meting out the only punishment that collaborators deserve?

The complete inability of the administration to understand what has been building in Iraq is perplexing. American popular literature, especially since World War II, has had an entire genre devoted to stories in which various invaders storm and take America, and the American people form undergrounds and devise ways to harry and kill the invaders, eventually driving them off. "Red Dawn" and Heinlein's "Fifth Column" are good examples of this genre.

One big problem right wingers have -- one of many -- is the utter inability to comprehend that other people love their countries, even if it's sometimes a little hard to figure out why, and are willing to fight to drive out foreign invaders. And for a Resistance movement, bombings, ambushing, and punishment of collaborators are all pretty much standard tactics. Toss in third party terrorists who suddenly have the most central country in their region suddenly open to them after years of a hostile regime, and a grand opportunity to harry and harass a common foe, and you have the ingredients for one hell of a mess.

Folks, America is facing one hell of a mess in Iraq. For all the bland assurances from the administration, echoed in the servile media, that this is just a few stray troublemakers, and we can just send our boys in and they'll clean that rats' nest right out, the fact is that it's pretty unlikely that will happen. Oh, American troops will manage the usual gaudy "kill ratio" like they did in Vietnam (which was also lost), and probably easily surpass the 4-to-1 ratio the English managed in Iraq before being forced to run away, but it now looks like over half the population is ready to take up arms or resist American forces by any and all means possible.

If just 10% of the population felt that way, America might prevail if they governed with wisdom and forbearance, respecting the people and the culture, and avoiding conflicts with the citizenry while raising the standard of living.

If it was ever possible in the first place. It's far too late now.

Once, riding the train across Canada, we passed a huge area of tumbled and jumbled boulders, the scene of a vast landslide. There was a town somewhere deep under all that rock; a town of crushed buildings and crushed streets and crushed bodies, and the conductor explained that the landslide slid into the valley with such force that it pushed up the other side of the valley walls half way, taking out the CPR tracks. The valley floor was a long way down. That must have been one hell of a slide. Half the mountain must have come down.

That image stuck with me, from so long ago in the interior of British Columbia. And now, looking at the situation in Iraq, I think of that image.

I can't imagine why.

Posted: April 6, 2004


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