[Marxism] Iraq - what now?
g.maclennan at qut.edu.au
g.maclennan at qut.edu.au
Sat May 1 17:46:00 MDT 2004
Jose’s fine article on Fallujah is right about the
significance of the American defeat there. As I made clear in
an earlier post I think we have reached a nodal point in the
whole adventure. To sum this up I am convinced the neo-cons
have produced a disaster for American imperialism.
Yet their move to unilateral crash through tactics seemed to
work for a while. The papers here in Oz were, for example,
full of sneering right wing columnists who listed all the
predictions of the Left and those opposed to the war and said
that they had all been proven wrong. Mission Accomplished
was the slogan.
We had a second round of that triumphalism when Saddam was
captured. But by then there was a note of desperation behind
it all. The resistance had set about isolating the Americans
in their compounds. In this they were aided and abetted by
the Coalition’s desire to keep American casualties within
politically acceptable limits.
British Military experts had warned that the Americans needed
a force of some 500, 000 to interrupt the resistance’s
ability to organise and move freely through cities and
countryside. Instead the Americans fielded a force of around
120, 000 plus a grab bag of mercenaries and a so-called
coalition of the willing.
Then with the arrival of the Marines the Americans appear to
have made a decision to come out of the bases and try and
reclaim the roads. In Fallujah, the initial talk was of
soccer balls and frisbees, but that was soon replaced by the
deployment of tanks and gunships. Immediately the marines
were met by a determined resistance, which inflicted heavy
casualties on them. To “save” Fallujah, the marines would
have to have destroyed it. They seemed very willing to
undertake that noble enterprise, but the political ground was
shifting rapidly against them. The more they killed, the
more the political situation deteriorated.
What is at work here is quite a simple dialectic, simple but
also savage. Every American military victory now produces a
political defeat. But such is the nature of dialectical
logic that every American military defeat also produces a
political defeat. It is this that the Israeli militarists are
groping their way to understanding with their new doctrine
of ‘asymmetric wars’.
So now it is back to bases again with a fig-leaf provided by
above all people ex-Republican guards – Saddam’s former
praetorian force. This little manoeuvre in Fallujah is a
metonym for what will be practised on a nation wide scale.
Ahmad Chalabi, who was hand-picked by the neo-cons for the
role of their favourite con-man, had just sat down to feast
himself and his family, but his time is over. The search is
on now for the next Sunni Strong man, who will be asked to
stabilise the country in the same way Mobutu “stabilised” the
Congo in the 60s.
But will the mujhadeen handover their RPGs? Perhaps.
What of the Shia? Apart from al-Sadr, their basic strategy
was to sit tight and wait for Iraq to fall into their hands.
Their dream of an Islamic clerical dictatorship must have
seemed so close to fruition. The fundamental weakness of
their strategy and tactics was that it depended upon the
Americans delivering democratic elections. Weren’t they
listening, though, when Rumsfeld said there would be no
Iranian style Iraqi clerical republic? Again the leaders have
betrayed and misled the faithful.
What of the Kurds? I learned a lot here from Lou’s posts. It
is hard to sympathise with them in the sense that they have
been anxious to play the role of super loyalists to the
Americans. Yet their desire for national autonomy should be
respected. However their belief that the Americans would
deliver freedom will prove very illusory. As I said in a
previous post, sadly, they are in for a very hard time.
Meanwhile the propaganda continues. Just now I heard Blair
say in response to the pictures of British soldier pissing on
an Iraqi prisoner, that this was an aberration and that the
British Army was doing a “a very brave and extraordinary job
on behalf of the Iraqi people”. This is classic ‘white man’s
burden’ stuff – isn’t it truly strange that the Iraqi people
are so ungrateful?
And of course back in the White House, Bush emerges from a
closed inquiry and proudly announces to all the world, “I
asked all the questions they asked”. How much longer will the
American people equate this simpleton with what is simple?
Just how deep seated is American anti-intellectualism?
Of course the answer as always will come from within the
ruling class. They will move against Bush and his neo-con
fanatics, if their interests are threatened. At the moment
what stops the decisive break with Bush from happening is the
fear of a defeat for the American military in Iraq. The
consequences of such an eventuality are incalculable for the
world’s last super power. But the events of the last few
weeks mean that they have no alternative. I conclude this
post with Juan Cole’s verdict on the impact of the prisoner
“The sexual and physical abuse of Iraqi prisoners of war, a
direct violation of the Geneva Conventions by US soldiers at
the Abu Ghuraib prison, has naturally produced outrage in the
Arab world. This is a big thing, folks. …I really wonder
whether, with the emergence of these photos, the game isn't
over for the Americans in Iraq. Is it realistic, after the
bloody siege of Fallujah and the Shiite uprising of early
April, and in the wake of these revelations, to think that
the US can still win the hearts and minds of the Iraqi Arab
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