[Marxism] fisk on iraq

Sudhir Devadas sudhirdin at gmail.com
Thu Nov 17 09:14:40 MST 2005

the honest and courageous journalist in fisk, compels him to tell it as it
is, that too in busland, of all places. also admirable is that it took a
relatively lesser known, but inestimably greater in value, newspaper to
publish it.

*Administration thinks abuse sounds better than torture*

*Seattle Post-Intelligencer Nov 15, 2005*


"Prevail" is the "in" word in the United States just now. We are not going
to "win" in Iraq -- because we did that in 2003, didn't we, when we stormed
up to Baghdad and toppled Saddam? Then George W. Bush declared "Mission
Accomplished." So now we must "prevail." That's what F.J. "Bing" West,
ex-soldier and former assistant secretary for international security affairs
in the Reagan administration, said last week.

Plugging his new book "No True Glory: A Frontline Account of the Battle for
Fallujah," he gave a frightening outline of what lies in store for the Sunni
Muslims of Iraq.

I was sitting a few feet from Bing -- plugging my own book -- as he
explained to the great and the good of New York how Gen. Casey was imposing
curfews on the Sunni cities of Iraq, one after the other, how if the Sunnis
did not accept democracy they would be "occupied" (he used that word) by
Iraqi troops until they did accept democracy. He talked about the "valor" of
U.S. troops -- there was no word of Iraq's monstrous suffering -- and
insisted that the United States must "prevail" because a "Jihadist" victory
was unthinkable. I applied the duke of Wellington's Waterloo remark about
his soldiers to Bing. I don't know if he frightened the enemy, I told the
audience, but by God Bing frightened me.

Our appearance at the Council on Foreign Relations was part of a series
titled "Iraq: The Way Forward." Forward, I asked myself? Iraq is a
catastrophe. Bing might believe he was going to "prevail" over his
"Jihadists" but all I could say was that the American project in Iraq was
over, that it was a colossal tragedy for the Iraqis dying in Baghdad alone
at the rate of 1,000 a month, that the Americans must leave if peace was to
be restored and that the sooner they left the better.

Many in the audience were clearly of the same mind. One elderly gentleman
quietly demolished Bing's presentation by describing the massive damage to
Fallujah when it was "liberated" by the Americans for the third time last
November. I gently outlined the folk that Bing's soldiers and diplomats
would have to talk to if they were to disentangle themselves from this mess
-- I included Iraqi ex-officers who were leaders of the non-suicidal part of
the insurgency and to whom would fall the task of dealing with the
"Jihadists" once Bing's lads left Iraq. To get out, I said, the Americans
would need the help of Iran and Syria, countries that the Bush
administration is currently (and not without reason) vilifying.

Silence greeted this observation.

It was a strange week to be in the United States. In Washington, Ahmad
Chalabi, one of Iraq's three deputy prime ministers, turned up to show how
clean his hands were. I had to remind myself constantly that Chalabi was
convicted in absentia in Jordan of massive bank fraud. It was Chalabi who
supplied New York Times reporter Judith Miller with all the false
information about Saddam's weapons of mass destruction. It was Chalabi's
fellow defectors who persuaded the Bush administration that these weapons
existed. It was Chalabi who was accused only last year of giving U.S.
intelligence secrets to Iran. It is Chalabi who is still being investigated
by the FBI.

But Chalabi spoke to the right-wing American Enterprise Institute in
Washington, refused to make the slightest apology to the United States, and
then went on to meetings with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and
national security adviser Stephen Hadley. Vice President Dick Cheney and
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld also agreed to see him.

By contrast, Chalabi's gullible conservative dupe was subjected to a truly
vicious interview in The Washington Post after she resigned from her paper
over the Libby "Plame-Gate" leak. A "parade of Judys" appeared at her
interview, Post reporter Lynne Duke wrote. "Outraged Judy. Saddened Judy.
Charming Judy. Conspiratorial Judy. Judy, the star New York Times reporter
turned beleaguered victim of the gossip-mongers ... ." Proclaiming her
intention to make no apologies for writing about threats to the United
States, Miller did so "emphatically almost frantically, her crusading eyes
brimming with tears." Ouch.

I can only reflect on how strange the response of the U.S. media has become
to the folly and collapse and anarchy of Iraq. It's Judy's old mate Chalabi
who should be getting this treatment but no, he's back to his old tricks of
spinning and manipulating the Bush administration while the U.S. press tears
one of its reporters apart for compensation.

It's like living in a prism in New York and Washington these days.

"Torture" is out. No one tortures in Iraq or Afghanistan or Guantanamo.

What Americans do to their prisoners is "abuse" and there was a wonderful
moment last week when Amy Goodman, who is every leftist's dream, showed a
clip from Pontecorvo's wonderful 1965 movie "The Battle of Algiers" on her
Democracy Now program. "Col. Mathieu" -- the film is semi-fictional -- was
shown explaining why torture was necessary to safeguard French lives.

Then up popped Bush's real spokesman, Scott McClellan, to say that while he
would not discuss interrogation methods, the primary aim of the
administration was to safeguard U.S. lives.

U.S. journalists now refer to "abuse laws" rather than torture laws.

Yes, abuse sounds so much better, doesn't it? No screaming, no cries of
agony when you're abused. No shrieks of pain. No discussion of the state of
mind of the animals perpetrating this abuse on our behalf. And it's as well
to remember that the government of Lord Blair of Kut al-Amara has decided
it's quite all right to use information gleaned from this sadism.

So it was a relief to drive down to the U.S. National Archives in Maryland
to research the United States' attempts to produce an Arab democracy after
World War I, one giant modern Arab state from the Turkish border to the
Atlantic coast of Morocco. U.S. soldiers and diplomats tried to bring this
about in one brief, shining moment of American history in the Middle East.

Alas, President Woodrow Wilson died; the United States became isolationist,
and the British and French victors chopped up the Middle East for their own
ends and produced the tragedy with which we are confronted today. Prevail,

*Robert Fisk writes for The Independent in Britain.*

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