Saturday, March 29, 2003

Second Gulf "War" effort struggling

War gone "wrong"

The second Gulf "War" is now in its second week, and there is a lot of trouble. Initially it was exciting, in a way, with successes and the possibility of quick success. Certainly War, even if its legitimacy is questionable, is more palatable if it is quick and involves little in the way of death. Unfortunately that is not what is happening, right now.

[March 27, 2003; Asia Times] The 'Palestinization' of Iraq (atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/EC27Ak05.html) For 280 million Arabs, the symbolic effect of the tanks in the country is as devastating as a lethal sandstorm. ... To date, an estimated 5,200 Iraqis have crossed the Jordanian-Iraqi border, going back "to defend their homeland" as they invariably put it. In already one week of a war that was marketed by the Pentagon as "clean" and "quick" and which is revealing itself to be bloody and protracted, not a single Iraqi refugee has crossed the al-Karama border point into eastern Jordan. ... the fact that from Amman to Cairo, from Beirut to Riyadh, the bulk of the Arab nation is now "Palestinized". ... The Arab League has meekly called for an end to the war. Washington didn't even register it. And the Arab street is not buying excuses any more. ... For around half a century, the anger in a way channeled by the Palestinians - who by practical experience have learned not to trust Arab leaders. Now the loss of legitimacy is total ... One of the first things anyone mentions in Jordan[...]is their happiness about the way the Iraqi people are resisting the "invaders" (never qualified as "liberators").

The author here is weaving two things together. First, rather than greeting the U.S. as "liberators", we are being greeted as "invaders" and the entire country is actively fighting against the U.S. This is sad, in that it's going to be a long and protracted battle, because the American side is not about to give up the battle. More importantly the author talks of the opinion of the people, basically of desiring Arab unity as a pan-Arab nation, and resentment or hatred of the Europeans & Americans over the Colonial past.

[March 28, 2003; BBC] Conflict sapping forces' morale (news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/2896439.stm) Here on the frontline this conflict is taking its toll on morale. ... They have had a tiring week of guerrilla-style fighting and it continues. ... I think the other problem is the conditions here. There were major sandstorms earlier in the week, which created an appalling amount of dust. ... " I've had enough of being fired at from all directions, I just want to go home" ... One thing that's certainly had an effect is the news that the Pentagon is deploying another 120,000 troops.

Hmm, it's only a week and they're already wanting to go home and already feeling frustrated. Must be tough over there, and it must be tough having things not go your way.

In some other recent news articles U.S. military commanders were quoted saying "We didn't expect them to fight back" or "This isn't the enemy we wargamed against". Apparently the expected was for an easy war, namely to invade, everybody loves us, we kill the bad guy, a few buildings get blown up, and everything's happy. How very Hollywoodish of us to expect such an easy victory.

There's a concept from Psychology that's useful here. "Projection" is something which EVERYBODY does, and it's a process of taking your internal issues (worries, fears, traumas, mistaken beliefs, etc) and instead of admitting that it's your problem, you put it out on someone else. In other words, it's a blind spot, something you're unwilling to look at.

It seems that in the planning of this war, and the decision to even take the step of launching the war, Projection was rampant. The mistaken belief being that we are Right, and that we will be automatically accepted for whatever we decide to do. Sometimes people learn these kind of lessons at the cost of millions of dead human beings and vast sums of riches wasted. Most of the time this lesson plays out in a more personal level, for example in the normal squabbles of individuals dealing on a day-to-day basis with each other. But when it comes to countries relating with one another, the same processes occur, just on a larger scale.

[April 2003; Washington Monthly] Practice to Deceive (washingtonmonthly.com/features/2003/0304.marshall.html) Imagine it's six months from now. The Iraq war is over. After an initial burst of joy and gratitude at being liberated from Saddam's rule, the people of Iraq are watching, and waiting, and beginning to chafe under American occupation. [various nightmare scenarios ensue] .... To most Americans, this would sound like a frightening state of affairs, the kind that would lead them to wonder how and why we had got ourselves into this mess in the first place. But to the Bush administration hawks who are guiding American foreign policy, this isn't the nightmare scenario. It's everything going as anticipated. ... In their view, invasion of Iraq was not merely, or even primarily, about getting rid of Saddam Hussein. Nor was it really about weapons of mass destruction, though their elimination was an important benefit. Rather, the administration sees the invasion as only the first move in a wider effort to reorder the power structure of the entire Middle East. ... Undersecretary of State John Bolton told Israeli officials that [...] the United States would "deal with" Iran, Syria, and North Korea.

Yes, and there have been numerous position papers that have surfaced, written by the people who are now the top Administration advisors, laying out exactly this scenario. A series of wars to topple a range of Middle East countries, and installing friendly governments.

Maybe this satire article at The Onion isn't far off the mark. [March 26, 2003; The Onion] U.S. Forms Own U.N. (theonion.com/onion3911/us_forms_own_un.html) Frustrated with the United Nations' "consistent, blatant regard for the will of its 188 member nations," the U.S. announced Monday the formation of its own international governing body, the U.S.U.N. ... "The U.N. has repeatedly demonstrated an inability to act decisively in carrying out actions the U.S. government deems necessary," U.S.U.N. Secretary General Colin Powell said. ... The U.S.U.N. Charter, ratified unanimously by delegates in a four-minute vote Monday, sets forth the mission of the organization as "the proliferation of peace and international economic, social, and humanitarian progress through deference to the U.S." ... Condoleezza Rice, a U.S. delegate to the U.S.U.N. "This organization will carry out peacekeeping missions all over the world, but, unlike the U.N., these missions will not be compromised by the threat of opposition by lesser nations." ...

But more seriously, there is news articles hinting of a building demonization of Syria for what may become stage two of the second Gulf War.

[March 29, 2003; The Guardian (of London)] Rumsfeld raises stakes with warning to Syria over military sales to Iraq (guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,2763,925247,00.html) Donald Rumsfeld, the US defence secretary, delivered a stark warning to Syria yesterday, accusing it of failing to stop cross-border sales of military equipment, including night-vision goggles, to the Iraqi army. Mr Rumsfeld called the shipments "hostile acts" and threatened to "hold the Syrian government accountable", but refused to say whether he meant military action. He also struck out at Iran for letting state-sponsored anti-Saddam militants flood into Iraq, interfering in the coalition's war plans. ... An official at the Syrian foreign ministry dismissed the Mr Rumsfeld's accusations last night, saying they were "an attempt at covering what his troops have committed against civilians in Iraq... a violation of international law".

You can see the telescope'd event being begun here. We already know there is a pre-existing plan to topple a range of anti-American regimes in the Middle East, installing ones friendly to the U.S. And now we have claims that Syria, one of the countries on the hit-list, is sending "military equipment" into Iraq. Is the claim real, or made up? We have seen quite a number of previous snow jobs delivered by this very same administration, and very little in the way of truthful presentation of fact, so what credibility do these people have that we can trust their claims?

This is similar to the rhetorical build-up to the current "War". It began long ago with occasional comments raising old complaints about Iraq, putting the question out "do we need to invade Iraq", etc. Yet in the context of the time, when the Hunt for Al Queda was the principle center of attention, it was a head-twister to hear them mention Iraq, because it seemed like a huge distraction from the real pressing problem of taking care of the immediate instigators of the immediate attack. It's clear in hindsight, the goal at the time wasn't Al Queda, as the goal now isn't Iraq, but the real goal is hidden from mainstream view.

Note, the same article mentions Iran, another member of the hit-list, and supposed incursions of Iran-based Shi'ite militants going to Iraq.

[March 29, 2003; Reuters] Iran Dismisses U.S. Warnings as Propaganda (reuters.com/newsArticle.jhtml?type=worldNews&storyID=2470411) Iran on Saturday dismissed as propaganda U.S. warnings not to meddle in the war in neighboring Iraq. ... Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld warned on Friday that armed Iranian "proxies" gathered inside Iraq would be considered combatants if they interfered with U.S. forces. He was referring to elements of the Badr Brigade, the armed wing of the Tehran-based Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SICRI), which comprises Iraqi exiles who share the Shi'ite branch of Islam with Iran. Iranian government spokesman Abdollah Ramazanzadeh dismissed Rumsfeld's comments. "The Badr Brigade's decisions have nothing to do with Iran, they are independent, like any other Iraqi opposition group," he told Reuters. "Rumsfeld is making propaganda to cover up his lack of success in this war. What he says has no logic behind it."

We have to step back a bit from this one to appreciate what's being said here.

Consider the news reports elsewhere discussing Iraqi's returning from Jordan to "defend their homeland". Why wouldn't the same be true of Iraqi's who happen to live in Iran. But, wait, wasn't there a war between Iraq and Iran? Why would Iraqi's go to the land of their enemy? Consider that Iran is Shi'ite, and the Shi'ite's in Iraq have been bloodily suppressed by the central Iraqi government, so of course they would be welcome in Iran as refugees.

The Washington Monthy article (mentioned above) discusses the likely choices to be made by Iran. The statement here in this article is right in line, namely for Iran to (officially) stay on the sidelines. It's possible these groups are actually independant from the Iranian government (just as there are militant Cuban groups in South Florida waiting for the chance to invade Cuba and liberate it from the Communist regime there).

What's really being said? Rumsfeld is, for some reason, dragging both Syria and Iran into this conflict. The question is "why", and we have an apparent reason outlined in the Washington Monthly.

Is this what the American people really want? Is this really in alignment with who Americans are? Pre-emptively invading foreign countries for the express purpose of toppling their government is so completely outrageous that the main example in our memory of such an attack was the Pearl Harbor attack launched by the Japanese against the U.S. Why should America be cast in that role now?

In closing, here's a powerful statement from a member of the British Parliament. [March 27, 2003; The Guardian (of London)] Blair, the war criminal (politics.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,,922572,00.html, also here redpepper.org.uk/x-keynote-Apr2003.html) My constituency Labour party has just voted to recommend that Tony Blair reconsider his position as party leader because he gave British backing to a war against Iraq without clearly expressed support from the UN. ... I have served in the House of Commons as a Labour member for 41 years, and I would never have dreamed of saying this about any one of my previous leaders. But Blair is a man who has disdain for both the House of Commons and international law. ... The overwhelming majority of international lawyers[..] have concluded that military action in Iraq without proper UN security council authorisation is illegal under international law. The Foreign Office's deputy legal adviser, Elizabeth Wilmhurst, resigned on precisely this point after 30 years' service. ... (Tam Dalyell, Labour MP for Linlithgow since 1962, is the longest continuously serving member of the House of Commons.)

Seems the British people also are aghast at what's being done in their name. That such a high ranking member of the government, no doubt a penultimate insider, is completely against this says a lot about the outrageousness of the situation.