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May 30, 2005

Bush Opts for Civil War in Iraq


by Paul Craig Roberts

What are we to make of the news reports that Baghdad is to be encircled and divided into smaller and smaller sections by 40,000 Iraqi and 10,000 U.S. troops backed by U.S. airpower and armor in order to conduct house-to-house searches throughout the city to destroy combatants?

Is this generous notice of a massive offensive a ploy to encourage insurgents to leave the city in advance, thus securing a few days respite from bombings?

Is the offensive a desperate attempt by the Bush regime and the Iraqi government to achieve a victory in hopes of reviving their flagging support?

Or is it an act of revenge? The insurgency has eroded American support for Bush's war. A majority of Americans now believe Bush's invasion of Iraq was a mistake and that Bush's war is not worth the cost. The insurgency has proved the new Iraqi government to be impotent both as a unifying agent and source of order.

U.S. frustration with a few hundred insurgents in Fallujah resulted in the destruction of two-thirds of the former city of 300,000 and the deaths of many civilians. Are we now going to witness Baghdad reduced to rubble?

Considering reports that 80 percent of Sunnis support the insurgency passively if not actively, it looks as if extermination of Sunnis will be required if the U.S. is to achieve "victory" in Iraq.

If this Baghdad offensive is launched, it will result in an escalation of U.S. war crimes and outrage against the U.S. and the new Iraqi "government."

Obviously, the Americans are unwilling to take the casualties of house-to-house searches. That job falls to the Iraqi troops who are being set against their own people.

If insurgents remain and fight, U.S. airpower will be used to pulverize the buildings, and "collateral damage" will be high.

If insurgents leave and cause mayhem elsewhere, large numbers of innocent Iraqis will be detained as suspected insurgents. After all, you can't conduct such a large operation without results.

As most households have guns, which are required for protection as there is no law and order, "males of military age" will be detained from these armed households as suspected insurgents.

The detentions of thousands more Iraqis will result in more torture and abuses.

Consequently, the ranks of the active insurgency will grow.

Neocon court historians of empire, such as Niall Ferguson, claim that the U.S. cannot withdraw from Iraq because the result would be a civil war and bloodbath. However, a bloodbath is what has been going on since the ill-fated "cakewalk" invasion. Moreover, the planned Baghdad offensive is itself the beginning of a civil war. The 50,000 troops represent a Shi'ite government. These troops will be hunting Sunnis. There is no better way to start a civil war.

As George W. Bush has made clear many times, he is incapable of admitting a mistake. The inability to admit a mistake makes rational behavior impossible. In place of thought, the Bush administration relies on coercion and violence. Nevertheless, Congress does not have to be a doormat for a war criminal. It can put a halt to Bush's madness.

The solution is not to reduce Iraq to rubble. The U.S. can end the bloodshed by exiting Iraq. A solution is for Iraq to organize as a republic of three largely autonomous states or provinces—Shi'ite, Sunni, and Kurd– along the lines of the original American republic. The politicians within each province will be too busy fighting one another for power to become militarily involved with those in other provinces.

The problem is that Bush wants "victory," not a workable solution, and he is prepared to pay any price for victory. The neocons, who are in effect Israeli agents, want to spread their war against Islam to Syria and Iran. For neocons, this is a single-minded pursuit. Their commitment to war is not shaken by reality or rationality.

The Bush administration has proven beyond all doubt that it is duplicitous and has delusions that are immune to reality. America's reputation is being destroyed. We are becoming the premier war criminal nation of the 21st century. We are all complicit. How much more evil will we tolerate?


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    Paul Craig Roberts wrote the Kemp-Roth bill and was assistant secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. He was associate editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial page and contributing editor of National Review. He is author or co-author of eight books, including The Supply-Side Revolution (Harvard University Press). He has held numerous academic appointments, including the William E. Simon chair in political economy, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Georgetown University, and senior research fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University. He has contributed to numerous scholarly journals and testified before Congress on 30 occasions. He has been awarded the U.S. Treasury's Meritorious Service Award and the French Legion of Honor. He was a reviewer for the Journal of Political Economy under editor Robert Mundell.

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