[Marxism] Dilip Hiro on the "Year Zero" strategy

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Wed May 5 11:22:41 MDT 2004

Tomgram: Dilip Hiro on the "Year Zero" strategy

Quote of the week: "A year ago, I did give the speech from the carrier, 
saying that we had achieved an important objective, that we'd 
accomplished a mission, which was the removal of Saddam Hussein. And as 
a result, there are no longer torture chambers or rape rooms or mass 
graves in Iraq." (President Bush Welcomes Canadian Prime Minister Martin 
to White House, Friday, April 30, 2004)

It's just a year and a couple of days since George Bush's 
aircraft-carrier landing and Iraq is unraveling big time. I've quoted 
Vietnam War historian Marilyn Young before on this, but in the realm of 
analogies, we now do seem to be experiencing Iraq as, in her phrase, 
"Vietnam on crack cocaine." It's remarkable actually and, if human lives 
weren't at stake and so much misery not being caused, it would certainly 
be comic. There has been much discussion of prewar and postwar Bush 
administration planning (or lack of it) for a future Iraq; but no one 
could have hoped to plan an occupation so precisely targeted when it 
came to alienating so many Iraqis, so fast, so deeply, and in so many 
ways -- especially given the "act" we were following. Whatever the 
dark-side equivalent would be of having your ship come home, scoring a 
hole-in-one more than once, or winning the lottery repeatedly, that's 
our occupation of Iraq. Saddam Hussein, brute that he was, should 
certainly have lent us at least a couple of years of imperial grace in 
our occupation; but no, not for the men (and woman) of the Bush 
administration whose arrogance, as the sole representatives of the 
Earth's last great Empire, was -- there's no other word for it -- 
o'erweening, and so, utterly blinding.

In the last week one of our tanks managed to blow a minaret off a mosque 
in Fallujah (snipers, it was claimed, were firing from it) and our 
Secretary of State defended the act, while photos of the utter 
degradation of naked Iraqi prisoners in the infamous jail of the former 
dictator were released to the world by the CBS TV's 60 Minutes II. Only 
weeks ago, our Baghdad "administrator" (though that seems an odd term 
for him these days), L. Paul Bremer, compounded his many previous 
ill-timed acts by taking out after and shutting down the small if 
inflammatory newspaper of the radical cleric Muqtada al Sadr and managed 
in the process to do the near impossible -- single-handedly start a 
Shiite uprising against the occupation, while our airplanes (Vietnam 
anyone?) made "precision strikes" on the heavily inhabited Sunni city of 
Fallujah with 500 pound, laser-guided bombs, Hellfire missiles, and 
AC-130 gunships. In the meantime, our top military brass and their 
civilian counterparts (up to the President) swore we would never let the 
insurgents remain in Fallujah, that we would destroy them, that we would 
"kill or capture" the Shiite rebel cleric who had hunkered down in 
Najaf, and so on. Then, after hundreds and hundreds of Iraqi dead, the 
destabilization of the country, and soaring American casualties, the 
Marines withdrew from parts of Fallujah to allow a former Saddamist 
general (from his Republican Guard no less) to take care of things, 
while the various services and the Pentagon argued about what was 
happening -- and then, while the insurgents were declaring victory, 
promptly threatened to remove the general… but need I go on?

Oh, and then, there was the flag fiasco. Let me see if I can even get 
this one straight. Our handpicked guys on the Iraqi Governing Council 
announced a "competition" to replace the Saddamist national flag, whose 
basic design turns out to have preceded Saddam, and the competition was 
miraculously "won" by Rifat Chadirij, an Iraqi artist living in London 
who just happened to be the brother of Nassir al-Chaderchi, "the 
chairman of the IGC committee charged with choosing a new flag for 
Iraq," and whose design -- "white with two parallel blue strips along 
the bottom representing the Tigris and Euphrates rivers with a yellow 
strip in between symbolizing the Kurds," as well as a blue crescent to 
represent Islam -- reminds many Iraqis of the Israeli flag. Thus, the 
insurgents now have free rein to wrap themselves nationalistically in 
the old red, black, and green flag. This is the sort of design coup 
d'etat you might expect of some comic-opera banana republic. (Patrick 
Cockburn and David Usborne, Burning with anger: Iraqis infuriated by new 
flag that was designed in London, the Independent)

Nothing these guys or their Iraqis touch turns to anything but dross.

full: http://www.nationinstitute.org/tomdispatch/index.mhtml?pid=1419


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