this war: one day it's a "cakewalk,"
the next it's a quagmire.
Where oh where is the truth? As Defense Secretary Donald
Rumsfeld correctly noted yesterday [March 25], the media
is claiming that we're getting "bogged
down," yet here we are barely through Day Five and
already U.S. forces are on the outskirts of Baghdad.
Rummy is right. Aside from the purely human tendency
to over-react, the news media is so focused on the minute
details that their time-perception is always in danger
of serious distortion. It is true that no one predicted
the level of Iraqi resistance, but the low expectations
tended to blow it out of proportion. In spite of the
setbacks that I emphasized the other day,
the underlying reality is undeniable. Relentlessly advancing
to Baghdad, the U.S. is going straight for the Iraq
strongman's throat. Saddam Hussein is history. His regime
is finished. The only question is: what will postwar
Iraq look like?
the President be able to achieve his stated war aims,
and establish a stable, democratic pro-Western regime
that will prove to be a model for the Middle East? Or
will the war simply go into low gear, with a barely-pacified
populace seething under the Anglo-American boot?
as I was about to write this column, I received a letter
that elucidates the journalistic problem inherent in
simultaneously polemicizing against and reporting on
this war. Jane from Arizona writes:
method for following the war news is a little bit of
t.v. in the evening, and alot of Antiwar.com in the
morning. The abundance of available articles from around
the world seem to balance out what I am seeing on t.v.
and give me a more factual accounting. However, I implore
you, Raimondo, do not succumb to using the same tactics
of sweeping generalizations, overemphasis and blowing
up of facts, and emotionalism as the warmongers are
currently using. I understand that your articles are
'editorials,' and you are free to vent and spew, but
sweeping statements such as
war's] whole history is prefigured in the first few
days. We have gone from hubris to near humiliation in
less than a week."
your credibility as a valid source of opinion and views,
and in effect, place you in the same category as the
obnoxious hawks spewing their justifications of the
war. Even though it is true that this first week portends
great tribulations to come, it is arrogant to assume
that you can foretell the exact outcomes in a conflagration
that changes dramatically from day to day. I am against
the war wholeheartedly, and once again wish to convey
my appreciation of having Antiwar.com to go to. I will
be looking forward to your next editorial.
is right. This is the chief occupational danger, here
at Antiwar.com and for any and all analysts with an
ideological axe to grind. I should have written "We
have gone from hubris to near humiliation in less than
a week and by next week we will have swung back in
the other direction."
would, again, confess to overstatement in maintaining
that the war's whole history was prefigured in the first
few days, but there is an important kernel of truth
in such a grand generalization that, I believe, is being
dramatically confirmed in the events unfolding in Basra.
of a rebellion in Iraq's second-largest city lifted
the markets, and the spirits
of the War Party but there may be much less, and also
much more to this than meets the eye. Less because U.S.
officials have played this down, while the Brits have
touted it and declared that they want to "capitalize"
on it. But NBC News reported that, while the rebels
seem to be fighting Saddam's supporters, they also may
be taking on the "coalition" forces, too. This latter
aspect of the Basra rebellion, if true, would hardly
come as a surprise.
this rebellion turns out to be real, and not just a
phantom cooked up by British intelligence which, when
it comes to veracity, hasn't had a very
good record lately then this is probably the work
of the only anti-Saddam underground faction active in
southern Iraq, the Iranian-backed Supreme Council for the
Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI). Based in Tehran, the Supremacists advocate
an Islamic "republic," as in Iran, founded on the strict
application of Sharia law and they want U.S. forces out.
Their intention of rising in the predominantly Shi'ite
southern part of the country had been announced on March
21, and recent reports
have an "Iran-based" group taking credit for the rising.
is the same group whose representative, Mr. Mohammed
al-Hariri, recently said that
the Shias and some of the Kurds may have to fight the
Americans "if Washington behaved as an occupying power
in Iraq." SCIRI went on record against a U.S.-led war,
but these hard-line Islamists are now taking full advantage,
utilizing their unique position as the only opposition
group with real fighters on the ground in Iraq. This,
perhaps, is why the Anglo-American invasion force is
hesitant to approach the city: if the "coalition" isn't
careful, the battle of Basra may turn out to be a three-sided
conflict. That's one reason why the Brits went in, instead
of the shoot-first-ask-questions-later Yanks.
military outcome of this phase of the war is not in
doubt: the only question is whether the Americans can
win this politically, as well. The second phase, however,
is likely to be more volatile and less straightforward,
as the Shi'a opposition has already made quite
clear. Even as the Ba'athists are driven out of
Mohammed Baqir al-Hakim, SCIRI's leader, declared:
"'Coalition forces are welcome in Iraq as long as
they help the Iraqi people get rid of Saddam's dictatorship,
but Iraqis will resist if they seek to occupy or colonize
. Such resistance, the Shiite leader told
a news conference in Tehran, would include 'the use
of force and arms.'"
Washington's caution in dealing with SCIRI contrasts sharply
with the British attitude, which is apparently more
friendly. The Brits were playing up the Basra revolt:
Blair cited their UK representative at his Tuesday
press conference, and his forces surrounding the city
took out a Ba'athist Party headquarters as a show of
solidarity. However, the Pentagon seemed to look on
this development a bit more nervously, and with good
For the U.S., the Basra rebellion is not an unmixed
blessing. Its success can only increase the Iranian
influence in postwar Iraq, and that, along with the
Turkish threat in the north, is the principal danger
to the postwar peace. The seeds of the next conflict
are being sown as the present battle takes shape. Iran,
which is reportedly developing
a nuclear capacity, is a logical candidate for phase
two of the neoconservative
crusade to "democratize" the Middle East, but it
doesn't stop there
Ha'aretz informs us that the
Israelis are already eagerly anticipating our next move,
lobbying for an escalation of what is fast turning into
a civilizational war on Islam:
"After the war in Iraq, Israel will try to convince
the U.S. to direct its war on terror at Iran, Damascus
and Beirut. Senior defense establishment officials say
that initial contacts in this direction have already
been made in recent months, and that there is a good
chance that America will be swayed by the Israeli argument."
This is just
the beginning, says Rumsfeld, and, again, one would
have to concur. Having opened this Pandora's box,
the War Party is not too eager to snap it shut again
even if they could. The die is cast. Having set out
on the road to empire, they are going to be carried
along by the sheer momentum of events and the rest
of us are going to be dragged in their wake, whether
we like it or not. The
"creative destruction" so beloved by Michael Ledeen
and his fellow neocons is about to be unleashed.
The Shi'a in the south, the Kurds
in the north, the Turkmen
and the Sunni
clans of Tikrit: we will soon be more than well-acquainted
with their complaints, which have already begun. Every
faction and a few yet to be invented will come to the
fore, claiming the mantle of "democracy": the Iraqi
National Congress, the constitutional monarchists,
the Islamists, and the various Kurdish groups, ad
infinitum. Their demands will wind up on the desk
of an American viceroy, who will then be expected to
side with this or that group – on what basis and
with what sort of advice is impossible to say.
This administration has waded into Iraq with no clearly
defined goal, and, clearly, no exit strategy. The conceptual
tension between the twin goals of Iraqi disarmament
and "regime change" will soon come back to haunt us.
The former is easily achieved by the U.S. military,
but the latter begs the question of what sort
of change can be achieved by military force alone. The
"nation-building" that candidate George W. Bush disdained
is a task being pressed on him by the War Party, whose
appetite will be stimulated rather than sated by the
conquest of Iraq.
The longer U.S. forces stay in Iraq, the more easily
we are sucked into the Mideast maelstrom and that
is precisely what the War Party is counting on. The
sheer momentum of this military adventure, they hope,
will carry us along to the next logical step: to Damascus,
Teheran, Beirut, and beyond.
As Eric Margolis
points out, the great "victory" of Afghanistan is
no such thing. There, the veteran foreign correspondent
"The United States has 'overthrown the government'
and 'put the Afghan communists back in power in the
north, and it's got (Hamid) Karzai as kind of a puppet
ruler in Kabul protected by foreign troops. But the
rest of the country is in chaos. I see this as probably
what will happen in Iraq. The U.S. will find some general
or smooth-spoken person to put in charge in Baghdad
with an American garrison, but the rest of the country
will be sort of like a free-fire zone with the Kurds
feuding up in the north and possible Turkish intervention,
and chaos in the south."
A more fertile field for Gulf War III is hard to imagine.
It is too late to stop this war. Now we can only minimize
the damage – and work tirelessly to stop the next
war before it starts.
WE MAKE THE BIG TIME
increased visibility has provoked widespread comment,
especially in the context of stories about increased
web traffic. Writing in the Baltimore Sun, Andrew
Ratner cites data from Keynote
Systems, a Silicon Valley company that measures
"Among the Web properties that have struggled to
process increased demand were those belonging to the
U.S. Army and Marine Corps, a protest site called Antiwar.com
and Al-Jazeera.net, belonging to the satellite television
station in Qatar, Keynote reported."
Yup, we're up there with the big boys. The BizReport
(Denmark) also noted the jump in traffic "at news, government
and a few political Web sites," and wrote:
"Traffic also jumped this week to antiwar Web sites,
which have been coordinating peace protests for months.
On average, three leading protest sites (www.antiwar.com;
www.unitedforpeace.org; www.stopwar.org.uk) drew 160 percent more
traffic than they did four weeks ago."
But popularity has its price. The [UK] Inquirer,
in a piece entitled "Net
Holds Under Iraq Web Strain: Except for the Peaceniks,"
by Doug Mohney, notes soaring traffic on military and
other news sites, and remarks:
"Pity the poor anti-war crowd, however. Before March
20, the download time for the
www.antiwar.com home page was two seconds on a high-speed
line. On March 20, it was over 220 seconds, with it
going down to 'only' 80 seconds on the morning of March
21 maybe performance was improved by people going
out into the streets to protest, rather than sit in
front of a computer screen."
Hey, Doug, since we're not funded by the War Party,
which has unlimited use of the U.S. Treasury, our capacity
doesn't quite equal that of the dot-mil crowd. But we're
working on it: by the time you read this, we'll have
already moved to a new hosting company an expensive
proposition, but entirely necessary.
Speaking of which, a friend of Antiwar.com's who lives
in the northeast is offering to contribute $500 in matching
funds. However, his contribution is contingent on 2
other contributions of $500, or 4 contributions of $250.
To help us pay for the bandwidth that we need to serve
you better, go here.
over ex-White House speechwriter David Frum's vicious
smear of renown conservative columnist Robert Novak,
Pat Buchanan (for
the 100th time) and this writer has been
noted by Howard Kurtz, of the Washington Post,
who reports it rather evenhandedly, while American Conservative
Union honcho David
Keene weighs in on the side of truth.
Please Support Antiwar.com
520 S. Murphy Avenue, #202
Sunnyvale, CA 94086
Via our Secure Server
Credit Card Donation Form
contributions are now tax-deductible