For Bush and McCain, Iraqis are Merely “Ropes for American Dirty Laundry”

Speaking recently at Camp Arifjan, some 80 kilometers south of Kuwait City, President Bush assured some 1,000 U.S. soldiers: “There is no doubt in my mind when history was [sic] written, the final page will say victory was won by the United States . . . and generations of Americans will live in peace.” A few days later, speaking to ABC’s Terry Moran, Bush seemed to acknowledge that people view him as a “warmonger,” but he immediately rebutted that view with his assertion: “I view myself as peacemaker.”

Predictably, this self-proclaimed peacemaker’s hermetically sealed mind conveniently ignored a fact that has smacked the rest of the world across the face: Bush’s illegal, immoral, unprovoked invasion (akin to Hitler’s invasion of Poland) has lasted some 1,762 days — or more than a full year longer than it took U.S. forces (with the indispensable assistance of the Soviet Union and Great Britain) to win World War II. Indeed, quite the peacemaker!

Bush’s prediction of victory is even more Orwellian. How can a needless war predicated upon lies about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction and links to al Qaeda ever yield a victory? How can anyone claim victory when almost 4,000 American soldiers have been killed – and at least another 10,000 severely wounded — for a needless war?

Victory? How can a needless war yield victory when it precipitated widespread ethnic cleansing – of as many as 600,000 to 700,000 residents in Baghdad alone – caused the needless death of at least 250,000 (if not more than a million) Iraqi civilians and chased some 4.5 million Iraqis from their homes and neighborhoods?

Middle East scholar Juan Cole got it right when he observed: “I am often struck by how clueless the American public is to the vast destruction we have wrought on Iraq and its people, directly or indirectly. It strikes me as a bitter joke that four million are displaced, often facing hunger and disease, and rightwing periodicals and presidential candidates are talking about how the ‘surge’ has ‘turned things around.’”

Of course, Bush must claim the surge is working. He needs to continue his bluff until he can safely get out of Dodge. Yet, Americans should seize upon the suggestion of James Reston Jr., who urges an “extensive set of interviews with the ex-president.” “Let Bush profess to be another Harry S. Truman and argue that history will vindicate him. To watch him flounder with that weak argument in the face of serious scrutiny would be part of our collective catharsis.” [Reston, "Iraq, Anyone?" USA Today, Jan. 15, 2008]

Unfortunately the Republican presidential candidates, except for Ron Paul, have placed Bush’s Iraq war albatross around their necks, notwithstanding widespread public support for expeditiously terminating America’s involvement there.

Perhaps no candidate has embraced Bush’s surge as enthusiastically as John McCain. In fact, he doesn’t care whether American forces stay in Iraq for “a hundred years.” Like Bush, McCain was seduced by neoconservatives — according to columnist John Judis, McCain and neocon warmonger William Kristol “are exceptionally, exceptionally close” [New Republic, Oct. 16, 2006] – and, thus, exaggerated the threat posed by Saddam Hussein (he’s “on a crash course to construct a nuclear weapon”) while asserting that “regime change in Iraq” could result in a “demand for self-determination” throughout the Middle East [Judis].

Were that not bad enough, in May 2003, a cheerleading McCain proclaimed, “the war in Iraq succeeded beyond the most optimistic expectations” [Judis]. Mind you, this is the same man who now says the surge is working.

For perspective, simply consider the cautions thrown out by Anthony Cordesman, a renowned military analyst who gives some credit to the surge: (1) “Very real progress is anything but stable victory even in the area where the US and Iraqi surge has been most effective” and (2) “US ability to secure Sunni and Shi’ite zones, and some mixed areas, in Baghdad has not brought lasting stability and security to [the] city.” [Cordesman, "The Patterns in Violence and Casualties in Iraq 2007: The Need for Strategic Patience," Jan. 8, 2008, p. 9]

In fact, Iran’s cooperation, the six-month freeze on hostilities by Muqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army and the rise of anti-al Qaeda Sunni groups (which preceded the surge) are more responsible than the surge for bringing increased security to Iraq.

As retired U.S. Army Colonel Douglas MacGregor sees it, during the first six months of 2007, “the surge was simply providing more targets for insurgents to shoot at.” In May, 126 U.S. troops died, the second deadliest month for U.S. forces during the war.” Thus “[General] Petraeus seems to have concluded that it was essential to cut deals with the Sunni insurgents if he was going to succeed in reducing U.S. casualties.”

As a result some 80,000 former insurgents are now being paid $10 a day by the U.S. military. But, according to Col. MacGregor, “We are creating new militias out of Sunni insurgents. We’re calling them concerned citizens and guardians. These people are not our friends. They do not like us. They do not want us in the country.” All of which prompts Col. MacGregor to ask: “Are we not actually setting Iraq up for a worse civil war than the one we’ve already seen?” ["Retired Military Officials Disagree on Impact of Surge," NPR, Morning Edition, Jan. 8, 2008]

In the meantime, as Ali al-Fadhily and Dahr Jamail have just reported, these “newly formed ‘Awakening’ forces set up by the U.S. military are bringing new conflict” to Iraq. Thus, they “have been widely criticized for corruption and brutal tactics. Many speak of them as ‘gangs,’ ‘criminals,’ ‘dogs of the Americans and ‘thieves.’” [Ali al-Fadhily and Dahr Jamail, "Iraqis 'Awake' to a New Danger," Antiwar.com, Jan. 15, 2008]

Thus, like the quislings in the Green Zone that the Bush administration installed via so-called “democratic elections,” the Awakening forces are coming to be seen as mere “ropes for American dirty laundry.” [[Ali al-Fadhily and Dahr Jamail, "Iraq Less Violent and Hellish Only in Numbers," antiwar.com, Jan. 12, 2008] Not just the dirty laundry of Bush’s sordid invasion and McCain’s myopic cheerleading, but also the dirty laundry of American Exceptionalism.

As Fred Anderson and Andrew Cayton conclude, in their exceptionally thoughtful book, The Dominion of War: Empire and Liberty in North America, 1500-2000, “Victory over Indians and Mexicans and what became, in a purely contingent way, a revolutionary war against human slavery affirmed the notion that the United States was something new under the sun, the very model of a society of independent individuals who accepted the responsibility to liberate other peoples so that they, too, could choose to embrace a superior way of life. Americans, in short, constructed their conquest of North America as a collective sacrifice in the service of human liberty. Their romantic linking of the cause of the United States with the cause of freedom led citizens of the world’s greatest imperial republic to understand any rejection of their nation as a rejection of liberty itself. They thus freed themselves from any obligation to understand other peoples and places on their own terms and in their own contexts.” [p. 423]

Want proof? Simply consider the focus group surveys conducted by the U.S. military in November 2007, which found that “Iraqis of all sectarian and ethnic groups believe that the U.S. military invasion is the primary root of the violent differences among them, and see the departure of “occupying forces” as the key to national reconciliation.” [Karen DeYoung, "All Iraqi Groups Blame U.S. Invasion for Discord, Study Shows," Washington Post, Dec. 19, 2007]

So much, then, for the dirty laundry – extolled by Bush, McCain, the neocons and other warmongers — of imposing liberty at gunpoint in Iraq.

Walter C. Uhler is an independent scholar and freelance writer whose work has been published in numerous publications, including The Nation, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the Journal of Military History, the Moscow Times and the San Francisco Chronicle. He also is President of the Russian-American International Studies Association (RAISA). He can be reached at: waltuhler@aol.com. Read other articles by Walter C., or visit Walter C.'s website.

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  1. Mulga Mumblebrain said on January 19th, 2008 at 3:53pm #

    I always admire Mr Uhler’s postings, but wonder if he is being facetious when he speaks of US forces winning the Second World War with ‘indispensable assistance’ from the Soviet Union. It was the other way around, Mr Uhler! And, as we know, while the Soviet Union was defeating Nazism, the US was contacting Nazis, organising their future employment with the American Reich, rushing to complete atomic weapons with which to threaten the world and preparing the ‘architecture for post-war economic domination and exploitation. That little enterprise, cloaked for a while under the fraudulent euphemism of Cold War, but continued with even greater ferocity after the Communist chimera disappeared, has killed tens of millions, impoverished hundreds of millions and destroyed the planet’s life support systems. I am interested in Anderson and Cayton’s view of Yankee self-delusion, and it is apparent that the tremendous and constant ‘brainwashing’ the average Yank endures, that re-inforces the silly lie that their country is a beneficient force in the world, plus a tremendous innate racism, goes some way to explain the trademark murderousness of US power. I mean, it’s hard to imagine any Nazi uttering Madeleine Albright’s infamous words, that it was ‘Worth it’, when confronted with the deaths of 500,000 children in Iraq, caused by sanctions she knew were no longer required, as the entire US power elite knew, with certainty, that Iraq had disarmed within a couple of years of the 1991 Gulf War.
    While self-delusion and poisonous ignorance, and constant lying propaganda explain the attitudes of the average Yank, I do not believe for an instant that the hereditary Yankee elite are so stupid. For them the aim, from the time of Jamestown and certainly from the time of Independence, has been Empire, its extent at first the Western Hemisphere, then later the world. It has been driven by greed, and racism, the fervent belief that the Christian white-man is the apex of existence. It is and has always been Messianic, and obsessed with dark visions of Evil that must be annihilated. The roots of this ghastly exterminism can be found in the Old Testament, where the lurid tales of God-ordained extermination of Canaanites, Moabites, Philistines etc were quoted directly as some sort of Divine guidance as the settlers set out on expeditions against the ‘Indians’, where they made sure to follow God’s explicit instructions to kill the women and children, and burn the crops. The Biblical injunction to genocide is still there to this day, Holy Writ to both Judeofascists and Christian fascists, who have joined in a ghastly Crusade to kill as many Amalek (to use the Judaic term for God’s eternal enemy, who must be destroyed, utterly)as possible. The deliberate starvation of Gaza, is, in my opinion, the latest fruit of this Divine plan.
    As for Iraq, the US policy from the beginning has been to deliberately foment civil war. The various plans to smash the Arab and other Muslim states into powerless fragments, along ethnic and sectarian lines, most of which emanate from Zionist circles and their neo-con brothers-in-arms, demand Shia be set against Sunni. This has been US policy in Iraq. First the Shia are armed, death-squads set up, and they and the Kurds set on the Sunni. Then the Sunni are armed, and turned on the Shia. The resistance is labeled, falsely and moronically, as al Qaeda. Intellectuals are hunted down, assassinated, or flee. There has been no attempt to repair basic infrastructure and infant mortality is higher than under the sanctions-as ever children are a deliberate target. Aerial bombing is escalating, but no attempt made to count the dead ‘rag-heads’. This is, of course, different from Nazi crimes only in its one-sidedness, in the willing complicity of the media propaganda apparatus and the truly unspeakably wicked posture of the intellectual classes of the West, who stage countless ‘discussions’ concerning the fraudulent ‘War on Terror’, where the basic premise is always that it is the West that is under attack from the Moslem world.
    As for McCain-I will always remember hearing a speech he gave in the UK, broadcast on the radio. For sheer psychotic self-delusion and maniacal assertion of US uniqueness and moral perfection, I’ve heard nothing like it. Coming from a man who is, in my opinion, a murdering thug, who made his mark killing Vietnamese women and children in that war of aggression and cowardly mass murder, it was particularly sickening. As for McCain’s ‘torture’ at the hands of the Vietnamese, well, first, I tend not to believe it, the Vietnamese seeming to my eyes to be immensely more humane than the standard-bearers of Western Civilization. In comparison to the vicious brutality of the ‘tiger cages’, Operation Phoenix and the rampages of various torturing, murdering death-squads that the Yanks set loose on the Vietnamese,McCain’s accommodation was luxurious and his treatment 5 star. Moreover, if I’d been a Vietnamese peasant who got his hands on one of the cowardly bastards who thought they had a divine right to cross the world to kill my family and neighbours, we would not be talking of John McCain today, at all.