Whether one views the recently reported Iraqi death count statistics
(650,000 dead) as shocking or predictable, the fact remains that the unfolding
events are indeed dark. For those who are intimately familiar with the
neoconservatives� design for Iraq and the region, the scope of the Iraqi deaths
and the depth of inflicted tragedies are just an early outcome of the initial
implementation of a well-orchestrated plan. What might come, in latter stages,
could be even more distressing.
While William Kristol, the neoconservative
strategist, asserts that the �mission begins in Baghdad, but it does not end
there,� his fellow neoconservative, Michael Ledeen, is more forthright in
articulating a core objective which is no less than total surrender of the
people in the Muddle East who are �either singing the praises of the
United States of America, or pumping gasoline, for a dime a gallon, on an
American military base near the Arctic Circle."
In their Biblically inspired mega design for the Middle East, the
neoconservatives focus on three primary goals: terminating Iraq national
identity, deepening the chaos in Iraq, and the reconfiguration of the Middle
East, to further enhance its instability and fragmentation. Consequently, the
occurrence of suffering and deaths are an inescapable outcome for the
advancement of their goals.
Immediately, after the collapse of Baghdad in 2003, an ABC news reporter
approached Iraqi children playing in one neighborhood. An innocent 10-year-old
child looked in astonishment at him and asked, �Are you going to do to us what
you did to Palestinians?� The reporter moved on and did not probe the depth of
the question. After all, the reporter, along with many others, was living the
euphoria of �liberation.�
In the midst of confusion and or �celebration,� the sense of history and
sensibility tends to be impaired. And it is in this environment that many
people have underestimated the nature of the new invasion and its uniqueness
relative to prior invasions. Unlike the Mongol invasion in 1258 or the British
invasion in 1914, which were motivated primarily by geographic expansion and
economic interest respectively, the 2003 invasion, from the start, targeted the
soul of the Iraqi culture and identity.
As Iraq was endowed with rich natural resources, a patriotic and
progressively oriented middle class, and a vibrant intellectual environment,
the neoconservatives viewed Iraq as a threat to their design for the Middle East.
Changing its cultural and political landscapes has since become a strategic
priority. General Eric Shinseki, then the US army
chief of staff, asserted in 2002 that Paul Wolfowitz, as a young Pentagon
analyst and a neoconservative, designated Iraq in 1979 as a menace that must be
Since then, occupying Iraq and incapacitating its political
and social institutions have been primarily a neoconservative preoccupation.
Following the invasion, the neoconservatives have embarked on three strategies
to achieve their goals: ensuring anarchy and chaos, changing the social fabric
of Iraq, and legitimizing its partition.
Immediately after the invasion, the Occupation Authority not
only dismantled all government, but also disbanded security and military forces
and the border police. The latter leaves Iraqi borders open to terrorists and
encourages them to establish bases and act at will. Though, the occupation
powers reluctantly organized military and security forces and formed a
government with a prime minister, ultimate decision making and security are
left in the hands of the American ambassador, Zalmay Khalilzad.
Psychologically, this arrangement not only institutionalizes
a sense of inferiority and unpatriotic feeling, but also induces ordinary Iraqis
to look with contempt at a powerless government answering only to foreign
powers. Likewise, the feeling of shame and indifference among members of the
military and security forces intensifies as their commanders receive direct
orders not from the Iraqi Prime Minister, but from foreign officers.
The social fabric of Iraq, its cohesiveness
and sense of pride, which has sustained Iraqi continuity for the last 14
centuries, have been purposefully targeted. During these centuries, Iraqis
extended a warm welcome to strangers and viewed themselves as an inclusive
community of generous and hospitable people; their safety and patriotism were
never in doubt and sectarian identity was not an issue.
Since the invasion, the neoconservatives have
shown an extraordinary determination to fuel sectarian and ethnic strife. They
have initiated steps to profoundly change Iraq�s social fabric. In particular,
they recruit individuals to fill government posts and security jobs according
to sectarian and ethnic identity; a practice that was mostly alien to Iraqi
tradition and cultural norms. Incitements of sectarian and ethnic discord are
encouraged and differences are highlighted. Furthermore, corruption is
institutionalized and corrupt politicians are protected and rewarded. For
example, news reports uncover that just before he left, Paul Bremer, the head
of the Occupation Authority, distributed billions of dollars in cash to Kurdish
warlords and politicians allied with the neoconservatives.
To further cement sectarian and ethnic division, the
neoconservatives have outlawed patriotism by energetically supporting sectarian
and separatists groups while discrediting or marginalizing groups that promote
Iraqi national identity and patriotism. Organizations known for their sectarian
or ethnic allegiances are strengthened and their militias are allowed to thrive
(e.g., Kurdish and Badr militias).
One of the most damaging strategies to the existence of Iraq
has been the legitimization of the partition of Iraq. Two primary steps were
taken. The first was the formation of a constitution full of contradictions
that sanctions chaos and anarchy and
eases the breakdown of the country. The second step was the establishment of a
network of individuals and media outlets to promote the virtue of sectarian and
ethnic identity and the termination of the country�s national Arab identity.
In the early days of the
occupation, some Iraqis believed the neoconservatives� highly promulgated
message of �liberation.� As the occupation becomes an increasingly intolerable
nightmare and violence intensifies, Iraqis have begun to question the promise
of �liberation,� especially as they increasingly attribute their tragic fate
and deteriorated security to the presence of foreign troops. That is, an overwhelming
majority of Iraqis view terrorism and violence directed against Iraqis as a
phenomena characteristically linked to foreign occupation.
In particular, recent news reports
indicated that Iraqis are left bewildered and defenseless as terrorists are
left to freely kill or force Iraqis to leave their homes. For example, it was
reported (nahrainnet.net, October 3, 2006) that during a heavy presence of
American troops, residents of Sabe al-bor were attacked by terrorists for
several days without interference from the occupation troops or Iraqi security.
Similarly, it was reported
(Sotaliraq.com, October 10, 2006) that villages North West of al-sowaira city
were constantly attacked for 13 days with no protection provided by foreign
troops nearby. Once the attack by terrorists was over, the foreign troops
bombarded these villages. Previously, several media outlets reported that
sectarian cleansing in areas west of Baghdad, Kirkuk, or Tal Afar was done with
the knowledge or protection of the occupation troops.
While it is difficult to
independently verify these and other similar reports, it is clear that the
Iraqis have lost faith in the �liberator� and the promise of liberty.
Apparently, they have reached a point where it is impossible for them to
differentiate between the �liberator� and �enemy.� Indeed, Iraqis are reliving
the final scene of George Orwell�s Animal
Farm: The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig,
and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was
Abbas J. Ali, Ph.D., is a professor and director
in the School of International Management, Indiana University of Pennsylvania.