Iraq's Orwellian calamity
By Abbas J. Ali
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Oct 19, 2006, 00:40

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 dealt with.

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 (, 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 (, 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 which.�

Abbas J. Ali, Ph.D., is a professor and director in the School of International Management, Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

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