[Marxism] Some notes on the current state of the Iraq War
g.maclennan at qut.edu.au
Wed May 25 20:39:54 MDT 2005
Thank you for these Joaquin.
Events unfolding in Iraq may seem out side our sphere of influence, but
they are not.What constraints there are on the Americans are largely due to
the peace movement. I found Niall Ferguson's piece in the NYT instructive
here. He longs for the old days of Empire when the imperial centre could
move its armies of satraps around to impost its order on the periphery.
The invaders are likely now to play as much of the sectarian card as they
can. the have already used the Badr militia as death squads. That will
increase and the Kurds will as usual come to the party.
Meanwhile the for the imperialists there is always the ever present danger
of the struggle of the Arabs to build an anti-imperialist politics,
breaking out of Iraq and into another country. that I think is the
explanation for the wave of arrests in Egypt.
At 11:24 PM 25/05/2005, you wrote:
>[I wrote these notes about a week ago, for another purpose, but thought they
>might be useful to post to the list.]
>I do not think there is any question but that the U.S. has lost the war
>politically, in the sense that it is excluded that it can achieve the
>sweeping political objectives it initially set out for itself. And it
>continues to lose the war militarily.
>"Operation Matador," the much-ballyhooed sweep by more than 1,000 marines
>north of the Euphrates by the Syrian border, which was said to be the
>biggest sustained offensive in six months, since the battle of Fallujah, was
>a complete fiasco.
>Central Command offered a body count of 125 enemy killed, but reporters
>embedded with the force did not describe anywhere near that number that they
>actually saw, and instead presented a stark picture of small marine units
>that were completely destroyed by enemy fire. They also presented a
>devastating portrait of Marines bigfooting in the Iraqi countryside,
>terrorizing the local population, smashing prized possessions in witless
>searches, turning families out of their homes so the occupiers could stay
>there for a day or two. The operation was so lame that the Marines didn't
>even bring anyone who could speak Arabic. Ellen Knickmeyer and Caryle Murphy
>of the Washington Post reported at the end of the offensive:
>"[T]he week-long village-to-village push along the river's north bank turned
>up few of the foreign fighters estimated by Marines to number in the
>hundreds. The foreign fighters apparently had been in the northern Euphrates
>towns as recently as two to three days before American forces arrived, said
>Maj. Steve Lawson of the 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, another ground
>commander in the attack.
>"'That was the frustrating piece: coming up here for a fight and not finding
>anyone,' Lawson said.
>"Commanders said they believed some of the insurgents had slipped away to
>the east and to Husaybah, a lawless city on the Syrian border where foreign
>and local insurgents are believed to be battling among themselves for
>"The U.S. military in Iraq lacks the manpower to challenge the insurgent
>hold on Husaybah now, Mundy and other commanders said, and the Americans'
>focus will be on stabilizing the larger western cities of Fallujah and
>It started out poorly when Marines had to fight their way through a small
>city they thought was secure and spend an entire day building pontoon
>bridges before they could cross the river and fan out from a beachhead on
>the other bank. This means that when they got to the places where they
>imagined they would find insurgents, these were long gone, but had
>thoughtfully left behind booby traps, roadside bombs, and set up out of town
>emplacements from which to harass the troops with mortar fire. After a week
>of providing targets for the local rebels, Marines drew back across the
>Euphrates, leaving everything north of the river in that area in rebel
>That this week-long push by a roughly two-battalion force is the most
>significant ground campaign of the U.S. forces in six months tells us
>something: The U.S. forces have completely lost the initiative on the
>ground. They have so little actual contact with the enemy that they did not
>suspect the rebel presence in the city chosen as the jumping-off point for
>the offensive. U.S. forces are in essence pinned down in heavily fortified
>garrisons. And they are stretched so thin maintaining these garrisons
>they're unable to pursue the insurgents in real time, despite absolute U.S.
>domination of the air and its tremendous advantages in mobility and
>One reason they are stretched so thin is that the supply lines of these
>enclaves are under constant attack. Every inch of roadway must be resecured
>each time a convoy is to pass. Each and every logistics convoy must be
>heavily guarded. And the regularity and predictability of these operations
>give the insurgents plenty of targets. There are attacks on these movements
>every day, never reported save when the number of U.S. military casualties
>makes it impossible to cover them up, or when perchance one of the freelance
>cameramen for Reuters or AP Television News happens to be nearby.
>On a macro scale the U.S. has managed to occupy the country, but on a micro
>scale what it actually has is just as series of isolated, disconnected dots
>surrounded by hostile forces. Outside its garrisons and perhaps a tiny zone
>surrounding them, Iraq remains completely opaque to them. Thus there are
>huge areas of the country, both urban and rural, which are, for practical
>purposes, outside U.S. control and serve as areas from which the insurgents
>Whether the Iraqi resistance can actually concentrate sufficient force
>around any one of these enclaves to hand the U.S. a major military defeat in
>conventional terms is doubtful.
>It is clear, however, that the U.S. has decided it can't commit the forces
>or accept the casualties or other political costs involved in trying to take
>out the insurgency by itself. It is counting on creating Iraqi puppet forces
>to provide the pervasive national presence necessary to dismantle the
>That is why, of course, the puppet forces have become a central target for
>the insurgents. In response, the imperialists and their puppets are using
>the civilian population as hostages and human shields by locating
>recruitment and mustering installations in the middle of densely populated
>areas with a lot of traffic. This is what leads to a lot of the civilian
>casualties in the press reports.
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Dr Gary MacLennan
Film & Television Discipline
Creative Industries Faculty
Gardens Point Campus
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