National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski summarized Bush�s plans for a
"surge" of troops in Iraq saying: "The commitment of
21,500 more troops is a POLITICAL GIMMICK of limited tactical significance and
of no strategic benefit. It is insufficient to win the war militarily. It will
engage US forces in bloody street fighting that will not resolve with finality
the ongoing turmoil and the sectarian and ethnic strife, not to mention the
Brzezinski is right;
Bush�s plan is just a gimmick that has no chance of succeeding and is likely to
make matters worse. Seventeen-thousand five-hundred soldiers aren�t enough to
"clear and secure entire neighborhoods" as Bush suggests. The only
purpose they might serve is to conduct massive sweeps through Sunni
neighborhoods terrorizing the local people and displacing larger segments of
That appears to be
the real objective of Bush�s "Choosing Victory" strategy; another
major crackdown employing air and ground forces to ethnically cleanse the main
Sunnis neighborhoods. The promise of "security" is just a diversion.
A number of articles have appeared in the last few days which
indicate that Bush�s "purge" is already underway. Jon Swain of the
Times-online provides a chilling description of the military onslaught being
carried out in the Haifa neighborhood just a few hundred yards outside the
�[The operation involved over] 1,000 American and Iraqi
troops backed by Apache helicopters and F-18 fighter jets; it was one of the
most spectacular military operations there since the American invasion in
spring of 2003. Flames and clouds of smoke filled the area as the battle
against Sunni insurgents raged. Helicopters raked the rooftops with rocket and
machinegun fire, jets swooped down to almost rooftop level, and tanks and
fighting vehicles took up supporting positions as innocent people cowered
Swain�s account proves that Bush�s real intention is not
security but terrorizing the civilian population into submission. It's a
textbook example of military pacification. As one 55-year old resident of Haifa
asked, "Is this the new paradise the Americans said they would give us
when they invaded our country?" Then he added, "When is this
nightmare going to end?"
Another article which appeared in Azzaman news service,
"US Warplanes bomb Baghdad as Street Battles Rage," provides a
similar account of US attacks on neighborhoods in the capital: "US troops
are deploying massive air and ground fire against heavily populated residential
areas in Baghdad as a prelude to the start of a campaign to retake the city
they invaded nearly 4 years ago. . . . The victims have been innocent Iraqis
and the city�s rickety infrastructure. Witnesses� say US bombing has already
knocked out several power lines and water mains in these areas."
"The sky is burning," said one witness who refused
to be named for fear of revenge.
Nothing the Bush administration says can be trusted. To
fully understand current policy in Iraq, one must follow events on the ground,
that�s where the truth lies.
The war in Iraq is not an "ideological struggle against
Islamic extremism," as Bush avers, but a brutal colonial war aimed at
Iraqi civilians; the rest is merely smoke and mirrors.
Undoubtedly, Bush will make some meager attempt to implement
the counterinsurgency strategy of the Pentagon�s newest field marshall, General
David Petraeus. Petraeus wrote the War Department�s updated manual on
counterinsurgency and he is expected to prove that Bush has changed directions
by using the latest tactics for countering an "insurgency". But it's
all just show so Bush can silence his critics who say that he is too stubborn
to change course.
The Petraeus plan will seal off large areas of Baghdad with
barbed wire and checkpoints, forcing residents to use specially made IDs to
exit and enter their own neighborhoods. Sections of the capital will be
transformed into mini-garrisons to prove that security can be established with
the right combination of tactics and military force. But Petraeus' "clear,
hold, build" plan ("Ink spot" theory) requires hundreds of
thousands of more troops than the US can provide, so there is no real chance
that the plan will succeed. Bush is simply "buying time" so he can
intensify the bombing and ethnic cleansing campaign which is already being
executed behind the iron curtain of media disinformation.
In reality, Bush is sticking with his "stay the course"
strategy; expecting a political solution to arise from the scattered-rubble of
bombed-out Baghdad. It won�t happen. Baghdad is too big to be turned into a
penal colony and the Ba�athist resistance is too cunning to be thrust into a
pitched battle with the US military.
The war will persist until political options are pursued.
As for Petraeus, his expertise in counterinsurgency is
wasted in Baghdad. Abu Ghraib, Falluja, Haditha, and a thousand other
atrocities decided the "hearts and minds" issue long ago. There�s no
way to win the people's trust when more than 90 percent believe that
"things were better under Saddam" or when 60 percent believe that
killing American troops is "justifiable."
Iraqis hate America, and for good reason. Petraeus� efforts
won�t change that.
Disbanding the militias? Attacking Iran?
Yesterday in Baghdad, Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad announced
that American troops would be actively pursuing Iranian networks in Iraq. The
Bush administration claims that Iran is directly supporting the resistance even
though Iranians are Shiites and the Ba�athist-led resistance is Sunni.
Khalilzad said, "We will target these [Iranian]
networks in the expectation of changing the behavior of these states." He
further stressed, "Militias will not be allowed to be an alternative to
the state or to provide and take on local security around the country."
Khalilzad�s threats sound like Washington has decided to
expand the war so that it can carry out military operations against the Mahdi
Army or, perhaps, pave the way for a preemptive attack on Iranian nuclear
facilities. But there may be another explanation for the American ambassador�s
statement. The Bush administration is under growing pressure from the other
Sunni-dominated capitals (Riyadh, Amman, and Damascus) to demonstrate that they
are not strengthening the Shiites to the detriment of the Sunnis. In fact,
members of the Saudi royal family have threatened to provide material support
for the Iraqi resistance if the administration fails to stop the ethnic
cleansing in Baghdad. It could be that Khalilzad is merely trying to appear
impartial to US allies, even though the orders to target the Sunnis have
already been given.
Reports from Baghdad suggest that Sunni neighborhoods
continue to be the main focus of US-Shiite hostilities.
Thus far, there have been no attempts to disarm the Shiite
militias. In fact, there have been many reports that the militias have swept
into Sunni areas under the protection of US air power and carried out their
Moreover, the fact that the US did nothing to stop the
hanging of Saddam�s two chief aides yesterday, suggests that the administration
has cut off all dialogue with the Sunni resistance and thrown their lot with
the Shiites. This is another mistake that will only compound America�s
Honor bound; a band of brothers
Middle East scholar Juan Cole has written extensively on the
Bush administration�s inability to understand the position of the Sunnis. In
his latest article, Misreading the Enemy,
Cole points out that Bush�s ignorance is only exacerbating existing divisions
and preventing a political solution.
He says: "Guerilla movements can succeed against
wealthier, more-populous and better-armed enemies . . . The real question is
not America�s supposed superiority . . . but what exactly the resources and
tactics of the enemy are and whether they can be defeated. The answer to the
second question is 'No.'
"These guerilla cells are rooted in the Sunni Arab
sector, some 20 percent of the population, which had enjoyed centuries of
dominance in Iraq. From it came the high bureaucrats, the managers of
companies, officer corps, the people who know how to get things done. They know
where some 200,000 remaining tons of explosives are hidden, secreted around the
country by the former regime. They are for the most part unable to accept being
ruled by what they see as a new government of Shiite Ayatollahs and Kurdish
Warlords, or being occupied by the US Army and Marines. These Iraqi Sunnis
enjoy the support of millions of committed and sometimes wealthy
co-religionists in Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the oil kingdoms of the
Persian Gulf . . . Iraq is a country of clans and tribes . . . of feuds and
grudges . . . All members of the clan are honor-bound to defend or avenge all
the other members. They are bands not of brothers but cousins.
"US soldiers cannot stop the Sunni Arab guerilla cells
from setting bombs or assassinating people . . . And since they cannot stop
them, they also are powerless to halt the growing number of intense clan and
religious feuds. The US cannot stop the sabotage that hurts petroleum exports
in the north and stops electricity from being delivered for more than a few
hours a day.
"Since Sunni guerillas cannot be defeated or stopped
from provoking massive clan feuds that destabilize the country, there is only
one way out of the quagmire. The US and the Shiite government must negotiate a
mutually satisfactory settlement with the Sunni guerilla leaders . . . Their
first and most urgent demand is that the US set a timetable for withdrawal of
�As long as the Sunnis Arabs of Iraq are so deeply unhappy,
they will simply generate more guerillas over time. Bush is depending on
military tactics to win a war that can only be won by negotiation." [Juan
Jack Murtha: "It�s a whole new ballgame."
President Bush is already meeting stiff resistance in the
Congress for his latest change of plans in Iraq. John Murtha, the acting chair
of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, said Sunday on "This
Week" that he will push for immediate "redeployment of troops out of
Iraq" and to "restrict funding until some of the problems are fixed
Murtha's proposals are bound to elicit broad support among
the growing number of candidates who see that public opinion has dramatically
shifted against the war.
As Congressman Murtha aptly stated to George Stephanopoulos
on national TV, "It�s a whole new ballgame now."
Bush�s "surge" is a last-gasp effort to achieve
victory through military force. It offers no hope for a political solution or a
timely end to the nearly four year-long humanitarian catastrophe.
Whitney lives in Washington state. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.