The evil genius of empire: Will Iraq arise again? James Petras

Ralph Johansen michele at
Fri May 2 15:42:54 MDT 2003

April 18, 2003

The evil genius of empire: Will Iraq arise again?
James Petras

Millions of US citizens protested before the war and when it was
launched but as the US war machine proceeded to conquer Iraq, the
movement declined, the number of protestors decreased to the
thousands, and was mostly composed of committed activists. In its
place, hundreds of thousands of US flags began to sprout from car
antennae and housefronts. The polls indicated that close to three
quarters of the population supported Bush's handling of the war.

It is clear that the rapid military conquest and US destruction of
Iraq produced a wave of irrational chauvinist support for Bush and
the war. The bitch goddess of success - even "successful" genocide -
has a multitude of worshippers in the United States. This raises
many painful and difficult questions about the nature of the US anti-
war movement and popular sentiments. It is clear that those
intellectuals who eulogized the pre-war opposition as a "new moral
force" on an upward ascent were wrong. Many antiwar dissidents
turned and supported the war once it started. An even greater
multitude came out waving their flags after Iraq was defeated, Iraqi
society destroyed and the Iraqi people humiliated. The war did not
heighten opposition, as some progressive intellectuals hoped,
military success decreased protest and increased chauvinist
sentiments. Moreover as Bush, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz et al allowed
looters and organized gangs to pillage the entire society, there was
virtually no popular outrage - only a few professional archeologists
and curators bemoaned the losses to humanity.

What accounts for the demise of the US peace movement and even the
embrace of war among some sectors of the protestors, particularly as
the military pulverized and conquered Baghdad?

The most important single factor was the turn from fear of a
lethal "attack" by Iraq to the "security" of a US military conquest
and occupation of Baghdad. In other words many US opponents of war
were not motivated by moral principle or solidarity - they acted
against the war because they feared that US society and soldiers
might be adversely affected. Once it was clear that there was no
chance for any significant retaliation within the US or Iraq ( Bush
knew all along Iraq was effectively disarmed before invading), that
the US military was in total control, they switched loyalties and
joined in supporting the warlords.

The mass media presented military successes and conquest as the
result of the strategic genius of US military and civilian leaders.
The media presented every surrender and every humiliation of the
Iraqis as reducing the "threat" to US soldiers and civilians. The
absence of any Iraqi attack with weapons of mass destruction and the
images of the US occupation of the principal oil wells and regime
palaces were featured in the media, and were well received, even in
a jocular manner, by most US citizens. In the psyche of many US
citizens the absence of danger unleashed an orgy of chauvinism and
an embrace of the geniuses of evil. Pro-war ideologues and their
supporters became more aggressive in promoting new wars. The
doubters and critics became defensive and some became demoralized by
the sight of mass pillage, the killing of Iraqis protesting US
occupation and the deranged chauvinist behavior of their neighbors
and workmates, none of whom demonstrated the minimum concern for the
conversion of Iraq into a smoldering wasteland. If there was the
minimum concern among the mass of US citizens they would have
noticed that the images of "masses" of Iraqis supposedly "welcoming"
the US "liberators" was in the hundreds in a city of 5 million. That
the pulling down of a Saddam statue was preceded by the raising of
the US flag and that US soldiers were among the handful of Iraqis
pulling down the statue. In Mosul, Baghdad, Najaf, Nasariyz and
several other cities, thousands of courageous Iraqis braved US guns,
tanks and helicopters, to demand their freedom from the US and their
appointed exile stooges as well as Saddam Hussein. But US citizens
continued to exalt with pride over the "conquering heroes" ( "our
brave soldiers" ) - the assassins of peaceful protestors demanding
freedom from their past tyrants and present military overlords. The
bulk of the US public is not bothered that a US military general
rules over 23 million Iraqis. Newspapers are positively elated to
see General Franks celebrating the occupation as his new role as
military ruler. Nearly eighty percent of US citizens believe the
conquest, destruction and cultural rape of Iraq was a worthy war.
They revere the generals and administration for carrying out
an 'honorable' war despite the fact that every official
justification for the war has been demonstrated to be lies. No
weapons of mass destruction were found; no links to Al Queda were
found; no capture of Saddam Hussein took place; there was no attempt
to protect the civilian population; there was no protection of
hospitals. On the contrary, the US occupation forces allowed the
hospitals to be attacked and stripped of medicine and equipment -
while thousands of maimed and wounded children, women, elderly and
soldiers howled in pain and the more fortunate died in pools of
blood on hospital floors from treatable wounds.

Contrary to optimistic progressives, the great majority of US
citizens are totally disinterested in the suffering of the Iraqis at
the hand of the US backed vandals and looters. Only a few indignant
curators have protested. In most cities and towns, citizens are
preparing celebrations to "welcome home our brave men and women in
arms", glad that the B-52 bombers, missiles and fragmentation bombs
were able to end the war so quickly, so decisively, so successfully.
at the cost of only 121 dead US soldiers. "Bring on Syria", "Bring
on Iran". I can hear it now in the beer halls of the American Legion
and Veterans of Foreign Wars, as well as in the well modulated but
menacing voices of the leaders of major Jewish organizations,
echoing the voice of their real President, Ariel Sharon.

This was not a "war" against a dictator, nor even a simply ugly
massacre of the Iraqi people, it is the deliberate destruction of a
civilization carried out by modern barbarians - modern barbarians
combining high-tech weapons of mass destruction, directed at
destroying homes, factories, offices, water treatment facilities,
public utilities with primitive vandals and paramilitary forces
destroying the heritage of 5000 years of civilization and 30 years
of a modern secular Arab state. Vandals unleashed to incinerate the
archives of a nation, its libraries and research institutes, to
strip the most famous archeological museum of priceless antiquities
and jewels of Islamic art, to destroy universities, school records,
hospitals, documents detailing the most important aspects of modern
Iraqi life as well as Iraqi national heritage. This is the
systematic destruction of everything which allows a people to exist
as a recognized nation.

There is no question that the pillage by the vandals was a
deliberate policy of the US government. Washington was advised in
advance of the war of the danger to the museums and precious
historical archives. Yet Washington chose to meet in January with
antiquities dealers to "liberalize" the rules of sale and export of
looted art. Perlstein and other representatives of American art
dealers demanded the US abolish Iraq's "retentionist" policy on art
and antiquities. As the occupation took place and Iraqi citizens
pleaded with US official and soldiers to protect the museums,
offices, archives and hospitals, they were driven away. In cases
where citizens defended their homes and businesses from the vandals,
they were denounced to the Marines as supporters of Saddam Hussein
and shot. The world's greatest war criminal Rumsfeld in his usual
cynical and sinister jocular fashion absolved the vandals."There is
always looting after a war." He added, "There was nothing we could
do. Freedom means being free to do bad things."

The US armed forces,-200,000- occupied the major cities, protected
the oil wells, took over the presidential palaces, patrolled the
major streets in the city centers - helicopters, machine guns, tanks
everywhere - and yet the most powerful army in the world could not
stop hundreds of lightly armed criminals and arsonists right in
front of their eyes?

One has to be utterly stupid to believe that this was merely an
oversight. When there are riots and looting of supermarkets in the
US, the National Reserves are given orders to "shoot to kill'. and
they do, mostly Blacks and Hispanics, but not vandals, pillaging the
heritage of humanity.

Pillage follows the logic of the US empire. First the sanctions,
impoverishing the country and undermining the health of the new
generation; then war to destroy the basic foundation of the economy
and infrastructure; followed by pillage by paramilitary groups to
obliterate the historical memory, the symbols and signs of a
civilization; and finally the partition of the country among a
collection of sheiks, mullahs, disreputable exile flunkeys, tribal
tyrants and local gangsters - under the direction of a US
generalissimo and US marines and protected by servile police and
local officials willing to serve the foreign ruler. The US use of
vandals and thugs follows the example of the Israeli invasion of
Lebanon and the use of Maronite militias to pillage and murder
Palestinian refugees in Sabra and Shatila. The destruction of
hospitals, schools, ministries of health and education, land
ownership records and cultural centers resembles Jenin, Ramalla and
Nablus - only on a national scale. The imperial barbarians use the
local vandals to complete the "final solution" - the reduction of a
proud historical nation into a series of fragmented primitive
fiefdoms of servile and tyranical vassals.

The imperial barbarians drunk with power, elated by massive public
support, egged on by Ariel Sharon and his Zionist proxies in the
Bush Administration immediately prepare for new conquests in Syria
and Iran, recycling the same formula used to invade and destroy
Iraq. The drive for Imperial wars is no longer oil, it is Israeli
regional interests. A former high level CIA analyst spelled it out
very clearly on US National Public Radio."After Iraq, the US
policymakers are looking forward to regime change or modification in
Syria and Iran which will ensure that Israel will be the
unchallenged superpower in the region".

The "evil genius" of US empire has infected the country - from a
scratch it has become gangrene. The belief that the US can wage wars
of conquest successfully without losing soldiers - is now common
currency among the mass of North Americans. The high tech barbarians
of Empire are unleashed. To the dismayed critics who ask "why the
destruction and pillage?" , Rumsfeld answers "Why not? We won - They
lost." Rumsfeld, Sharon, the Generals and the Israeli surrogates in
Washington have not definitively defeated the Iraqi people.
Surrogate vassals, bogus "prime ministers", imperial appointed
administrators are already suspect or openly rejected. US occupation
forces are frightened of every "stranger" in the streets - for they
are the first conquering army that never fought.(the bombs did it
all). Face to face with tens of thousands of Iraqis who totally
reject them, they panic, they shoot and they kill, but the civilian
pressure is building. Their slogans - "Neither Saddam nor the US"
may not be the complete program for democracy and development.but it
is a start. The Iraqi people are rising from the ashes once again,
it is the story of 5,000 years of civilization, conquest and
national liberation.

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