"The course is heading over Niagara Falls." -- Retired Marine Gen. Anthony Zinni, describing the course of the war in Iraq to CBS's "60 Minutes."
DETROIT -- It's hard to imagine the mess in Iraq and the Middle East could be any worse. It's a bloody tragedy so awful and so misguided our enemies couldn't have planned it any better, and it's looking more and more like some of them did.
The way we are waging the war in Iraq, it is unwinnable and President Bush's notion of "staying the course" is madness. The administration has no "clear strategy" for Iraq and the White House is only hoping to minimize the political damage enough to slip through another election.
And it's that political strategy that makes the war and occupation senseless and unwinnable. Ending the insurgency, countering the terrorists the invasion and occupation inspired, restoring some semblance of stability and order and preventing civil war after the turnover of power will require substantially more than the 130,000 troops now in Iraq.
Since the Bush twins and other privileged people their age are not flocking to Army recruitment centers to sign up for the great crusade for democracy, the Pentagon will have to put more Reservists on active duty and may need to reinstate the draft.
But that's not going to happen, especially in an election year, so we have no other reasonable choices. We should just declare victory, saying, "We got rid of Saddam," cut our losses and get the troops home as quickly as possible. The United Nations may play a peacekeeping role, but we can't count on that.The worst foreign policy disaster in American history will only get worse with Bush and his henchmen trying to justify their failed policies and save their worthless political hides. They have been so wrong on so many critical issues for so long, they simply have no credibility.
Now, at long last, their arrogance, stupidity and incompetence are taking a big political toll. In order to stay in power, Bush and company will support the continued military-corporate occupation of Iraq to save face.
The mess they've created will take decades to repair, if it can be repaired. A painful, embarrassing exit makes more sense than adding to the horrible costs of this war of choice.
More than 10,000 Iraqis are dead and nearly 800 Americans have been killed. We have spent $200 billion dollars in Iraq while 40 million Americans have no health insurance. We have built unprecedented resentment toward America around the world and insulted friends and allies.
Iraq is in chaos and people in many regions are living in brutal, lawless turmoil. Bombings, assassinations and kidnappings are daily events. Revelations about the torture of Iraqi detainees and homicides in prison grow worse.
We were promised the war would help democracy blossom in Iraq. Instead, we have a new crop of terrorists, as Osama bin Laden sits in his cave, smiling, thinking to himself, "This is wonderful. I couldn't have asked for anything better."
Ahmed Chalabi, the father of regime change in Iraq, the source of so many weapons-of-mass-destruction lies and longtime darling of the neocon warmongers, is now an avowed enemy, suspected of funneling U.S. intelligence secrets to Iran.
Chalabi was, until recently, the main man the Bush administration relied on in shaping policies toward Iraq. Over the years, U.S. taxpayers have pumped $27 million into the coffers of Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress and he's been our principal conduit for intelligence information about Saddam Hussein's Iraq. He sat behind Laura Bush for the State of the Union address. No individual had more influence in shaping the administration's premises and policies toward Iraq and planning for the post-Saddam Iraq. Chalabi promised American forces would be welcomed warmly and treated as great liberators.
With the unflinching support of Vice President Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, his deputies Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith, along with Pentagon adviser Richard Perle, Chalabi's views were considered the last word on anything relating to Iraq.
Feith, who's a Perle acolyte, set up the Office of Special Plans in the Pentagon, a little group that did its own intelligence-gathering to do end runs around the CIA and the Defense Department's own analysts.
The mission was simple. Find anything that would establish a connection between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. Nothing existed, but Chalabi provided some unfounded claims that Feith would relay to Dick Cheney, who would then brand the lies with "We know with certainty" and go on the talk shows and propagate the crap.
The fact that Chalabi is a convicted bank swindler, notorious liar and raging egomaniac didn't matter. He was telling the boys just what they wanted to hear.
When Secretary of State Colin Powell made his infamously inaccurate presentation to the United Nations, one of the most dramatic claims he made was that Iraq had developed mobile laboratories to produce biological weapons.
The source for that phony claim is widely believed to be an engineer with links to the Iraqi National Congress. Powell recently noted on "Meet the Press" that "it turned out that the sourcing was inaccurate and wrong and, in some cases, deliberately misleading."
No one else in the administration, so far, has had the decency to admit the deception. Powell is too discreet to name names, but nothing comes out of that group without Chalabi's participation and approval.
To add to his resume of lies and thievery, Chalabi may soon include treacherous spying. U.S. military forces and Iraqi police raided Chalabi's Baghdad office, looking for evidence that he may have been slipping sensitive security information to Iran and that the Iranians were using him to spread bogus intelligence.
A defense intelligence agency source is quoted in several reports as saying, "Iranian intelligence has been manipulating the United States through Chalabi by furnishing through his Information Collection Program information to provoke the United States into getting rid of Saddam Hussein."
That does make sense, especially for the Iranians. They get rid of the despised Saddam and the United States does the deed for them and suffers the consequences of being burdened with the occupation. Saddam is gone, the United States is hated, Iran is happy and Chalabi gets to make more money.
The new images of American troops torturing Iraqi prisoners further inflame people there and throughout the Middle East.
I recently spoke with Dr. Hussein Ibish, Director of Communications for the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.
He said President Bush's rhetoric contributed to the mentality displayed by the military police in the prison. He said Bush's continuous lumping of all those who oppose the American presence confused the guards.
"It conflates innocents with criminals, moderates with extremists, progressives with fundamentalists, casting an entire culture and an entire faith as the enemy," Ibish said. Ibish, a native of Lebanon, said the soldiers' behavior reflected attitudes increasingly found in mainstream channels.
Ibish argued, "The hatred in Abu Ghraib is inextricably linked with hatred increasingly fostered by some elements of our media, especially talk radio." He pointed to Jay Severin, a popular Boston radio talk-show host, who said of Arabs, "We should kill them."
Ibish said anti-Arab sentiments are tolerated, especially when spewed by evangelical preachers who support President Bush and represent his essential political base. Revs. Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson can denigrate Muslims and still get invitations to the White House. Rev. Franklin Graham, Billy's son, who delivered the prayer at Bush's inauguration, called Islam "a very wicked and evil religion." You know all those Revs. will have choice seats at the Republican National Convention.
The Bush alliance with these radical fundamentalists is also manifested in our policies toward Israel. Remember, the war in Iraq was supposed to bring greater opportunities for peace in the region. But who on earth could possibly say the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is better because of the invasion?
Palestinian terrorists murder a pregnant woman and five children. A 3-year-old Palestinian girl is shot to death in a Gaza camp under Israeli attack. The conflict gets worse every day. The Bush administration, which for the longest time simply ignored the issue, now plunges into the fray with an approach that will never work.
Again, buying into the arguments of the neocons, American policy toward the conflict has become indistinguishable from the positions of the Sharon government and the Likud Party in Israel.
As the Israeli army literally plows through the Rafah refugee camp in the Gaza Strip, the president signs on to Sharon's views without any consultation with the Palestinians or recognition of innumerable UN resolutions and the positions of our allies in Europe. Amnesty International is challenging the Sharon argument that the destruction of the homes of the Palestinians in Gaza is militarily necessary, calling the evictions and house demolitions "a flagrant form of collective punishment" and saying that they "violate a fundamental principle of international law."
The extreme evangelicals, the types the president's political brain Karl Rove nurtures, are hung up on this Armageddon-End-Times attachment to the Holy Land and figure their tickets to heaven are better assured with a Bush-friendly government in Jerusalem. This strange religious and political alliance is a far more important driving force in the situation there than issues of justice, decency and hope for lasting peace.
Consider this: Bush's policy in the Middle East -- get rid of Saddam, occupy Iraq, exploit its resources, agree with anything Ariel Sharon wants, say nothing critical of the Saudis, who are the philosophical and financial backers of bin Laden -- will provide us with a more spectacular Armageddon than Hollywood will offer this summer.
|Niagara Falls Reporter||www.niagarafallsreporter.com||May 25 2004|