The monster of Baghdad is now the hero of Arabia - Independent (UK) 01 April 2003

Ralph Johansen michele at
Tue Apr 1 12:20:47 MST 2003

The Independent (UK)
01 April 2003

The monster of Baghdad is now the hero of Arabia
This is now a nationalist war against the most obvious kind of imperial
by Robert Fisk in Baghdad

So it's a "truly remarkable achievement'', is it? General Tommy Franks says
so. Everything is going "according to plan'', according to the British. So
it's an achievement that the British still have not "liberated" Basra. It is
"according to plan" that the Iraqis should be able to launch a scud missile
from the Faw peninsula - supposedly under "British control" for more than a
week. It is an achievement, truly remarkable of course, that the Americans
lose an Apache helicopter to the gun of an Iraqi peasant, spend four days
trying to cross the river bridges at Nasiriyah and are then confronted by
their first suicide bomber at Najaf.

One half of the entire Anglo-American force - still called 'the coalition'
by journalists who like to pretend it includes 35 armies rather than two and
a bit (the "bit" being the Australian special forces) - is now guarding and
running the supply line through the desert. And Baghdad is bombed but not

The military "plan" is so secret, according to General Franks, that very few
people have seen it all or understand it. But his plan he says, is "highly
flexible''; it would have to be, to sustain the chaos of the past 12 days,
and, of course, we hold the moral high ground. The Americans bomb a
passenger bus close to the Syrian border and don't even apologise. An Iraqi
soldier kills himself attacking US marines and it is an act of "terrorism''.
And now Secretary of State Colin Powell announces - to the American-Israeli
Public Affairs Committee, the largest Israeli lobby group in the US who of
course support this illegal war - that Syria and Iran are "supporting terror
groups'' and will have to "face the consequences''.

So what's the plan? Are we going to forget Baghdad for a few months and
wheel our young soldiers west to surround Damascus? Where, for heaven's
sake, is all this going? We were going to "liberate" Iraq. But the war could
be "long and difficult'', Bush now tells us - he didn't tell us that before,
did he? - and, according to Tony Blair, this is "only the beginning.''

Strange, isn't it, how all that fuss about chemical and biological warfare
has been forgotten. The "secret" weapons, the gas masks, the anti-anthrax
injections, the pills and chemical suits have been erased from the story -
because bullets and rocket-propelled grenades are now the real danger to
British and American forces in Iraq. Even the "siege of Baghdad" - a city
that is 30 miles wide and might need a quarter of a million men to surround
it - is fading from the diary.

Sitting in Baghdad, listening to the God-awful propaganda rhetoric of the
Iraqis but watching the often promiscuous American and British air attacks,
I have a suspicion that what's gone wrong has nothing to do with plans.
Indeed, I suspect there is no real overall plan. Because I rather think that
this war's foundations were based not on military planning but on ideology.

Long ago, as we know, the right wing pro-Israeli lobbyists around Bush
planned the overthrow of Saddam. This would destroy the most powerful Arab
state in the Middle East - Israel's chief of staff, Shoal Mofaz, demanded
that the war should start even earlier - and allow the map of the region to
be changed forever. Powell stated just this a month ago. False intelligence
information was mixed up with the desires of the corrupt and infiltrated
Iraqi opposition.

Fantasies and illusions were given credibility by a kind of superpower moral
overdrive. Any kind of mendacity could be used to fuel this ideological
project - 11 September (oddly unmentioned now), links between Saddam and
Osama bin Laden (unproven), weapons of mass destruction (hitherto unfound),
human rights abuses (at which we originally connived when Saddam was our
friend) and, finally, the most heroic project of all - the "liberation" of
the people of Iraq.

Oil was not mentioned, although it is the dominating factor in this
illegitimate conflict - no wonder General Franks admitted that his first
concern, prior to the war, was the "protection'' of the southern Iraqi oil
fields. So it was to be "liberation" and "democracy". How boldly we crossed
the border. With what lordly aims we invaded Iraq.

Few Iraqis doubt - even the ministers in Baghdad speak about this - that the
Americans could, ultimately, occupy the country. They have the force and
they have the weapons to smash their way into every city and rule the land
by martial law. But can they make Iraqis submit to that rule? Unless the
masses rise up as Bush and Blair hope, this is now a nationalist war against
the most obvious kind of imperial power. Without Iraqi support, how can
General Franks run a military dictatorship or find Iraqis willing to serve
him or run the oilfields? The Americans can win the war. But if their
project fails they will have lost.

Yet there is one achievement we should note. The ghastly Saddam, the most
revolting dictator in the Arab world, who does indeed use heinous torture
and has indeed used gas, is now leading a country that is fighting the
world's only superpower and that has done so for almost two weeks without
surrendering. Yes, General Tommy Franks has accomplished one "truly
remarkable achievement''. He has turned the monster of Baghdad into the hero
of the Arab world and allowed Iraqis to teach every opponent of America how
to fight their enemy.



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