April 18, 2003

It vanishes when you claim it

No sooner had the War Party declared victory in Iraq and started looking impatiently around for their next victim, when their supposed easy conquest began to fall apart at the seams. The laptop field marshals and the Chickenhawk Brigade barely had time to pound out their demand that the peaceniks repent before it dawned on them that they might be the ones called to do a little recanting.

The first unmistakable indication that something wasn't quite right in "liberated" Iraq was when a large number of Shi'a Muslims – Arabic television claims 20,000, Western media reported 5,000 – showed up in Nassiriya, chanting "No to America, No to Saddam!" This happened on the same day that the newly appointed administrative viceroy, retired General Jay Garner, had called a meeting to start piecing together an Iraqi front for the U.S. military occupation. Most organized groupings boycotted the Pentagon-sponsored pow-wow. Not even neocon stooge Ahmed Chalabi attended, for fear of being seen for what he is – Jay Garner's bought and paid for butt boy.

Gee, what happened to all those cheering, grateful Iraqis who were going to rise up and make an invasion practically superfluous? They're rising up, alright – against us!

A line in the sand, so to speak, was crossed when, the next day, U.S. troops fired directly into a crowd of demonstrators in the northern city of Mosul, killing at least 10. As the unrest continues, the casualties are mounting by the hour. The majority Arab population of the city rose up against the prospect of having Mashaan Juburi – a former commander of Saddam Hussein's personal bodyguards – ensconced by the occupation forces as regional overlord. His Excellency, Lord Juburi, also led the Iraqi military units that crushed a 1991 uprising in the predominantly Shi'a southern portion of the country.

Yes, it was the same rebellion that the U.S. encouraged, and then abandoned at the last minute. Worse than the Bay of Pigs. Thousands were slaughtered, most of them civilians, and a good number of the armed rebels fled to Iran, where they were housed and trained by the Iranians. Today, now that the Ba'athist monolith has been shattered at the top ,the Teheran-backed Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) is by far the largest cohesive political-military formation in the country.

Now, they're back….

Making a clear bid for power on Wednesday morning, the son of SCIRI's ayatollah-in-chief, Abdelaziz Hakim, made a grand entry into in the southern Iraqi city of Kut to the cheers of thousands. Meanwhile, back in Teheran, the Ayatollah Muhammad Baqr-al-Hakin, the aspiring Iraqi Khomeini, announced that his followers and supporters should gather in Karbala for the anniversary of Imam Hussein's death, in 680 A.D., that sundered the Shi'a from the Sunni and began an endless factional blood feud.

That should be some wing-ding.

The other major Islamic party in Iraq is the Da'wa group, which has several thousand men under arms and was responsible for almost killing Saddam's son, Uday, and was viciously repressed under the Ba'athist regime. They are supposed to be the moderates, but their espousal of an Islamic republic ruled by clerics hardly fits the announced U.S. intention to make Iraq into a model of democracy in the region. Hassan al-Jabri, a member of Da'wa's political office, is cited by the Financial Times as declaring that they'd had quite enough of enforced secularism under the Ba'athists, thank you:

"Under Saddam Hussein we experienced the purest form of secularism and we do not want to see it again."

The Times goes on to note that "such views, if substantiated by the leaders in Baghdad, put Da'wa at variance with the US vision for Iraq under which religious leaders would remain outside politics." Yeah, boys, tell it to Pat Robertson, why don't you?

Our deluded neocons, still drunk with their Pyrrhic "victory," are already fixated on their next conquest, and for a look at the next few items on their itinerary, take a look at what Michael "creative destruction is our middle name" Ledeen has in the works. Writing in the (UK) Spectator, Ledeen announces that the Coalition of the Conquerors is just warming up. Iraq was only a practice run, and the war, far from being over, has barely begun. He promises us "a long war," one spreading to "many countries" – as many as can be framed and convicted of "supporting the terrorists." Al Qaeda is no longer even mentioned. Now it's Hizbollah we're supposed to be after, and Syria, which have always been the main bulwark of armed resistance to Israel.

Up until the invasion of Iraq, Hizbollah foreswore attacks on U.S. targets: their quarrel, they said, was with Israel alone. Yet the conquest of Iraq has merged Israeli and American interests so that they're indistinguishable: it won't be long before their methods are lined up. General Jay Garner no doubt picked up a few occupation do's and don'ts when he took a trip to Israel sponsored by the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA). I guess that's why he praised Israel's increasingly brutal treatment of the Palestinians as showing "restraint."

JINSA, which Ledeen used to head up, is the closest thing we have in the U.S. to an outpost of the Israeli Defense Force. So kneejerk is their unconditional support for Israel, that this purportedly American organization openly declares that "Israel Has the Right to Sell Radar Planes to China." Perhaps a few of the boys in the Pentagon might be slightly perturbed by that. But not enough to nix JINSA's network within the U.S. military: JINSA not only sponsors visits to Israel by top U.S. military officials, it also conducts seminars for up-and-coming officers in all branches of the armed services. JINSA also believes Israel has the right to expect a steady stream of U.S. taxpayers' dollars to build a regional military machine equal if not superior to the American presence – and fully outfitted with weapons of mass destruction.

Clearly following Ariel Sharon's agenda of spreading the war to take on Israel's enemies in Iran and Syria, Ledeen accuses both of being "engaged in a desperate terrorist campaign against coalition forces in Iraq."

The proof? In the case of the latter, Ledeen cites the first interview with Syrian President Bashar Assad in recent memory:

"Assad incautiously told an interviewer that just because Iraq was conquered did not mean that the coalition had won. He said that the enemies of Britain and the United States would have to be patient, just as they were in Lebanon in the 1980s and 1990s, driving the United States and Israel out of the country by means of terrorist attacks."

In his interview with Al Safir, a newspaper published in Lebanon, Assad uttered nothing even remotely resembling what would amount to a public death wish. The Syrian President merely stated what is obvious to every expert on the region outside the JINSA-American Likudnik orbit:

"No doubt that the U.S. is a super-power capable of conquering a relatively small country, but is it able to control it? The U.S. and Britain are incapable of controlling all of Iraq."

As the Shi'a of Mosul, Nassiriya, and Basra all rise up in protest, shouting that old familiar refrain of "Yankee Go Home!", can anyone honestly blame it on the secular Syrians, who, like Saddam, ruthlessly suppressed Muslim fundamentalist uprisings with Assyrian ferocity? Assad's prediction that Iraq will become another Lebanon is happening, but this is hardly due to the Syrian President: a few night goggles don't make a revolution.

In view of Iran's growing sphere of influence in Iraq, it seems rather disingenuous to destroy the Sunni minority government run by the Ba'ath Party and then deny any responsibility for the Shi'ite-y outcome. The U.S. has made a gift of Iraq to Teheran, reigniting the religious passions that overthrew the U.S.-backed Shah Reza Pahlavi of Iran and propelled Khomeini to power.

As Oliver North's liaison to the Israelis in negotiating the "Contra-gate" arms-for-hostages deal with Teheran, Ledeen has always had a special interest in all things Iranian. It turns out he is represented by the same booking agency that sponsors talks by the current Pahlavi pretender to the Persian throne, and has boosted the exiled "Shah" to replace the Islamic regime once the tanks get rolling. One can only wonder if that overwhelming wave of nostalgia for the Pahlavi dynasty Ledeen anticipates will include a popular demand for the return of the dreaded SAVAK secret police. This is the sort of "democratic revolution" Ledeen says he wants to "unleash" on Iran, and the entire region.

So, whatever happened to those cheering crowds hailing their "liberators" in the streets of Iraqi cities, so often compared to the French cheering the Allies as they marched through the streets of Paris? Go ask Michael Ledeen. I'm sure he has a ready explanation for the fickle nature of our phantom victory.

In light of the unfolding disaster, it is fair to ask: what could possibly be the motive behind such an obviously crazed strategy? The end result can only be the destruction of the region, with the U.S. military cutting a huge swath of devastation through the heart of the Middle East, effectively leveling those Arab states that still resist Israel's will to expand. This is the "creative destruction" Ledeen celebrated in his book, The Terror Masters, and in many articles and venues. Think of it as the Middle Eastern equivalent of the infamous "Morgenthau Plan" – which sought to reduce Germany, after World War II, to a completely de-industrialized pastoral society that could never again mount a military effort of any kind, doomed to subsist in a permanent Third World stasis. FDR forced Churchill to agree to it, threatening to withhold much-needed U.S. aid to the Brits if he didn't, but lucky for the Germans the vindictive old cripple died before he could fully implement his mad revenge. The draconian plan was nixed by Truman.

If Ledeen and his coterie have their way, the Muslim and Arab peoples of the Middle East will have no such luck.

– Justin Raimondo

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Justin Raimondo is the editorial director of Antiwar.com. He is also the author of Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement (with an Introduction by Patrick J. Buchanan), (1993), and Into the Bosnian Quagmire: The Case Against U.S. Intervention in the Balkans (1996). He is an Adjunct Scholar with the Ludwig von Mises Institute, in Auburn, Alabama, a Senior Fellow at the Center for Libertarian Studies, and writes frequently for Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture. He is the author of An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard.

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