Wednesday, February 28, 2007

“Winning” the war in Iraq

President Bush, the neocons, and even (sadly) many Democrats want to "win" the war in Iraq. But what does such a "victory" entail?

The more-or-less stated goal is to have a stable, liberal[1] democratic Iraqi government that is friendly to the United States. It is this last criterion which is non-negotiable; I don't see how an Iraqi government hostile to the United States could be seen by anyone as a U.S. "victory".

There is one slight problem with this goal: The Iraqi people hate us. We invaded their country, bombed their homes, slaughtered their children, wrecked their cities, tortured their people, and raped their women. These are not tactics designed to win the "hearts and minds" of the people.

It seems likely (and the most charitable interpretation) that Cheney's Bush's original concept was to have another Panama: Depose the unfriendly leader, install a puppet, and count on the indifference of the population to swallow the switch. Of course, such a plan ignores decades of anti-Western propaganda since the formation of Israel, centuries of Islam-centric propaganda which categorically rejects non-Muslim rule, the racial, cultural and religious divisions in Iraq, and the fact that, unlike Central America, the Mideast has not been ground down under a century of Monroe-doctrine imperialism.

The Iraqis started off disliking us, categorically hostile to foreign rule. It is almost certainly the case that a liberal democratic government friendly to the United States was an impossibility from the very beginning. The subsequent half-assed repression and general misconduct of the U.S. occupation has merely made the situation worse.

If we are to have an Iraqi government which is friendly and compliant to corporate U.S. interests, it is (and has always been) the case that such a government must operate contrary to the uncoerced will and consent of the Iraqi people. It's simply not possible to obtain the will and consent of the Iraqi people through only persuasion.

Let me be perfectly clear: It is almost certainly the case that it was impossible from the very beginning to persuade the Iraqi people to permit a U.S. friendly government following the overthrow of Saddam Hussein; the subsequent gross mismanagement of the occupation has merely made the situation worse and entails that "victory" will require even more severe repression.

Another 10,000, 20,000, 50,000, or even 100,000 troops in Iraq is not going to change anything; we'll at worst be providing more targets for the insurgents and at best feeding more useless mouths safely ensconced in isolated fortresses. If we're going to win, we need a new attitude.

If a government cannot rule by persuasion and consent, it must rule by force and fear or not rule at all. Any U.S. friendly Iraqi government must then rule by force and fear, applied by the American military. Worse yet, any Iraqi government will have to be Sunni, Shi'ite or Kurdish, and any one will be violently opposed by the other two. If we were to just take a vote in Iraq tomorrow, Iraq would have a Shi'ite government dedicated to both eliminating the Sunnis and oppressing the Kurds; worse (!) yet, it would be entirely hostile to corporate U.S. interests. This would not be a "victory".

So, to achieve "victory", we (yes we, regardless of any puppetry) must rule by force and fear. If Bernard Lewis is indeed correct, and Muslims understand only force[2], we will need to use force unflinchingly, pitilessly and remorselessly. We will need more Abu Ghraibs, not fewer. We will need more Mahmoudiyas, not fewer. We will need assassinations, mass arrests and civilian reprisals. We will need to treat Iraq as the French treated Algeria, as the Americans treated the Philippines, as the British treated the Boers, and as the Soviets treated Eastern Europe.

If we are going to rule by force and fear, we need to do it whole-assedly or not at all; half-assed force is worse than no force at all. This is what "victory" in Iraq must mean.

But that's OK.

Every Muslim everywhere, a billion people from newborns to the elderly and infirm, forfeited his or her right to be treated as anything but deadly vermin fit only for extermination or slavery, the day that a dozen nutjobs flew a few planes into some buildings and actually killed Americans.[3] Besides, they're all brown anyway.[4]

We could, of course, just nuke 'em all (God will know his own) and be done with it. They'd make poor slaves anyway.[5]

After years of lefty weakness and childish concern for human rights, I think the United States is ready to toughen up and do what needs to be done to win in Iraq.[6]

[1] In the older sense of "liberal" as based on individual rights.
[2] It should be noted that the those immediately responsible for the Iraq war ignored almost everything else Lewis said about Islam and Arab culture.
[3] Sarcasm.
[4] More sarcasm.
[5] Even more sarcasm.
[6] Sadly, I'm not being sarcastic at all here.

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