Defeated in Iraq?
First Published 2008-31-07
By Mike Witney
Middle East Online
The surge was created to disguise what was really taking place on the ground; ethnic cleansing on a massive scale, says Mike Whitney.
The United States did not invade Iraq to "stop the violence". That was never the goal. So, it's foolish to say that the surge achieved its objective. It hasn't. Nor has the surge "created the space for a political solution"; another meaningless slogan regurgitated endlessly by the Bush troupe. The political agenda in Iraq has failed utterly. We know that because the Shiite-led government has asked the US to leave "as soon as possible" and for the Bush administration to set a "timetable for withdrawal". Not a "time horizon" as the administration-spinmiesters like to say; a Timetable, which means a fixed time when the United States must leave. So, if the Iraqi government has asked the US to leave; where is the "political solution" the surge was supposed to create? There isn't one. The mission has failed; it's as plain as day. This is not an arguable point.
What the surge really proves is that ethnic cleansing works. Baghdad was a city of roughly 65% Sunnis. Now it is nearly 75% Shiites. Most of the million or so Iraqis who have been killed in the conflict, and most of the 4 million who are either internally displaced or have become refugees, are probably Sunnis. This is an important point and one that Americans should understand. The surge was created to disguise what was really taking place on the ground; ethnic cleansing on a massive scale. No one disputes this. The Sunnis have been effectively purged from the capital. That's not a "political solution". It is a war crime.
More important, the United States military has helped the Shiites win their war against the Sunnis. The Shiites control Baghdad now; the Sunnis will never get it back. That is why they are moving on to the next phase of their strategy, which is to demand that the foreign troops leave. So, at least in one respect the surge has worked; it has helped the Shiites and their allies in Tehran win the war. Bush has helped to strengthen Ahmadinejad. Was that the objective?
The Shiites have no experience running the government. That's always been the Sunnis role dating back hundreds of years. That does not mean they are incapable of leadership, it simply means that the Bush administration decided to break with traditional imperial policy to pursue their colonial ambitions. Normally, imperial powers choose to remove just a few hundred of the top political leaders and leave the existing system in place so the society keeps functioning with as little disruption as possible.
Not Bush. Bush chose to raze the country to the ground; rip-apart the social fabric, destroy the critical infrastructure, and spread chaos far and wide. Now, as author Nir Rosen says, "Iraq no longer exists". By conceding control of the government to the Shiites, Bush has not established democracy, but anarchy and sectarian hatred. The idea of creating a "Shiite Crescent" in the Middle East is part of a wacky theory cooked up in a Washington think-tank. Imagine if the Russians invaded the United States and decided that the quickest path to political stability was to wipe out the government, disband the bureaucracy, and appoint inexperienced people from the poorer sections of the inner-cities and barrios to run the country. This is the level of stupidity in the Bush administration. The strategy has cost the lives of over a million Iraqis. That's a high price for stupidity.
There was never the slightest chance that the US would succeed in establishing strategic outposts in the heart of the Arab world. It was doomed from the get-go. The Bush administration points to the temporary lull in the violence as a sign of progress, but they are mistaken. They're using the wrong yardstick. The Iraqi resistance has achieved what every guerrilla army hopes to achieve; they have undermined their enemy's ability to wage war. The US is facing growing resistance to its imperial policies around the world, but it can't address those problems because its army is tied down in Iraq. This is quickly becoming one of the main areas of disagreement in the 2008 political campaign. The world is drifting away from the United States and it isn't coming back whether Obama or McCain are elected. The superpower model of global government is on its way out.
The real way to measure success or failure in Iraq is to look at the US fiscal budget which has suddenly skyrocketed to nearly $500 billion. This is mainly due to the exorbitant costs of prosecuting an open-ended conflict in the Middle East. The American consumer is not confused by the surge rhetoric; he knows we are losing. He's not blind. He sees evidence of defeat every time he pulls up to a gas-pump. Tell me: Is $4 dollar per gallon gas a sign of victory or defeat? This isn't rocket science.
Once again, the individual battles and skirmishes in Iraq are meaningless; what matters is that America's ability to wage war has been greatly undermined. By the end of 2009, the troops will begin to withdraw or they will be left to fight with sling-shots and bows-and-arrows. The housing market is collapsing, the financial system is in meltdown phase, and the country is facing the greatest funding crisis in its 230 year history. Don't look for proof of America's defeat in Iraq. Look for it at home. Look for it at the pawn shops, the homeless shelters, and the growing number of empty sub-divisions which have turned into ghost towns. This is where one can see the true costs of the war; a war that was lost before the first bomb was dropped.
Mike Whitney lives in Washington state and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org