They are modern day Iraqi mujahedeen, similar to the Afghan resistance fighters we at one time thought so highly enough of that we romanticized them in movies, books and in Beltway conversation. Among those freedom fighters, it must be remembered, was included one Osama bin Laden. From CIA trained freedom fighter to evildoer terrorist, all thanks to our government and all thanks to our jihad-inciting Middle East policies.
Today we are the new version of the Soviets, a new breed of Crusader invading Arab lands, bringing not the cross and the sword but smart bombs and crony capitalism. The neoconartist Pax Americana dream of world domination through bogus democracy and destructive capitalism has been unleashed, pointing missiles and guns at the Mideast, marching us to war, making both us and the world a much more dangerous place, where the only "smoking gun in the form of a mushroom cloud" will come as a result of our own chest-beating cause-and-effect actions.
Today one man’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter. For the Bush administration, fighting against it, its allies or its interests will automatically get you labeled with the former, while among your people, fighting against US foreign policy and for freedom from its omnipresent tentacles will designate you a heroic patriot, a valiant martyr and a champion warrior. To Bush, it is patriotic for American revolutionaries to throw tea into the sea, revolt, kill and start guerilla war against their oppressors, but if Iraqis or anyone else tries the same, the now old, saturated and fear engendering-word "terrorist" is recycled and used yet again to brainwash the masses. This is nothing but a marketing ploy designed by those in power so that the American people cringe in fear and alarm at the sound of the word "terrorist," which has been implanted over and over in their minds and which immediately conveys images of "evildoers" and 9/11. Like Pavlovian dogs, we have been trained well to respond to our masters’ wishes. Fear is thus used to acquire submission, passivity, ignorance and acquiescence from us all. Iraq, it must be remembered, had nothing to do with Al Qeada. Their struggle against us has nothing to do with 9/11 or bin Laden and everything to do with resistance to occupation.
What the Bush administration cannot seem to grasp is that our Iraqipation is reviled in the country and throughout the Arab world. Perhaps the first obvious hint of this is the fact that Iraqis did not welcome us with arms extended as liberators, showering us with perfumed flowers and manna from heaven as the neoconartists, in their delusion of grandeur expected, but rather as an extension and indeed a mechanism of all those conquering entities that had come before, most notably the Turks of the Ottoman Empire and the English of the last century.
Ordinary Iraqis are not stupid, ignorant fools like those in the administration who concocted this failed experiment with "diraqcracy" seem to think. They smartly noticed that as American troops stormed Iraq, out of the dozens of Ministry buildings in Baghdad only the Ministry of Oil was protected by soldiers during the famous looting that took place during the first weeks of the war. Also, only the vast oil fields scattered throughout the country were secured while all that was sacred in the vast history of the Fertile Crescent was left to looting, pillage and destruction. It was pretty obvious what the conquering invaders were after.
Iraq’s citizens also remember Saddam as an American puppet in the 70s and 80s, shaking hands and meeting with none other than Donald Rumsfeld in a friendly exchange of ideas and products, oil for WMDs. These are the same WMD’s Bush can’t seem to find twenty years later and whose use our government gave the thumbs up to in Iraq’s war against Iran. Iraqis no doubt still recollect America’s willingness to abandon and sacrifice the Iraqi insurrection against Saddam in the immediate aftermath of Gulf War I, even after we wholeheartedly supported and encouraged it. That failed attempt at toppling Saddam led to the mass graves of 200,000 to 300,000 cadavers that today the Bush administration points to as reason for invading and occupying Iraq.
Of course we shouldn’t forget the decade of harsh collective punishment and economic genocide called UN sanctions, meticulously blessed, endorsed, supported and safeguarded by our government, that led to an estimated 500,000 Iraqi children deaths and to the deaths of countless tens of thousands more whose only crime was to be Iraqi. The Iraqis, it can be assured, have not forgotten. To many of them, Saddam was no doubt a murdering tyrant but we are much worse; we are evildoers, the real "terrorists," interested not in saving Iraqis but in securing both rich oil fields to quench our monstrous addiction for fuel and strategic locations from which to conduct perpetual warfare and impose American supremacy both in the Mideast and Central Asia. To many in the Arab world, we are the "Evil Empire," the "Great Satan," and many of our actions and policies give credence to this belief. To deny this truth is to deny reality.
Presently, the occupation, with its harsh treatment, numerous innocent civilian deaths, unevenhandedness and cultural insensitivities of Iraqis is creating more enemies than friends. The flowers our leaders blissfully and naively expected upon our triumphant entry as liberators have turned into clenched fists, RPGs and AK-47s, where only dead and wounded soldiers land at our feet. We have imported into the desert dunes cookie-cutter factories of resentment, hatred, animosity and revenge. This war to "liberate" has already resulted in more than 10,000 civilian deaths, each converting once peace-loving families and tribes into calculating seekers of revenge.
Every innocent dead Iraqi at the hands of our soldiers and our bombs, every home destroyed, crop razed, or humiliating act done against the populace is spawning a web of resistance that is growing and getting stronger, uniting against the occupiers who are building permanent bases for strategic interests, sucking Iraq’s precious natural resource out of the desert sands and making rich American corporations at the expense of every Iraqi man, woman and child. The battle for securing the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people is over, and "our side" has been soundly defeated, all thanks to the Bush administration’s incompetence and yearning for profiteering.
Let’s not live in our little escapist Hollywood world anymore folks. What we are seeing is the inevitable movement common to all occupations throughout history, namely the urge by the native population to resist an invading alien force intent on conquering man, resources and land. It is the drive for freedom all native peoples yearn for when they are confronted by a more powerful nation and army. Like many before, the Iraqi people are now dominated by a force alien to their beliefs, culture, religion and interests. They feel like prisoners in their own land, subject to American rule, humiliated and oppressed, and, already having experienced occupation and colonization by foreign powers, do not like being subjugated and having their collective destinies decided by Washington and its puppet collaborators. Think about it, if the US was suddenly and militarily occupied by an invading force many of us would resist and fight to expel it from our land. It is human nature; no population throughout time holds a monopoly on it.
In the natural progression of an occupation, the resistance continues to grow as more and more people become aware of what is being done to them and their land. The resistance knows it cannot defeat the monstrously powerful American army head on, but it can chip away at it little by little until its will and that of its people dwindles, until pressure is so intense on the leadership that it cracks. Like a growing storm, the Iraqi resistance, well armed, knowing the terrain, the people, its culture and language, and, more aware of what the lessons of history teach than its adversary, is becoming more powerful, more dangerous and more committed than ever. Its numbers continue to swell and its fighting spirit continues to skyrocket. This is the reality Bush does not want you to know, and the reason we can see his panic in the hastily decided new policies being implemented today. Iraqification equals desperation, especially in a re-election year and when the administration’s fantasy gives way to a neocon bubble-bursting reality that is the Iraqi quagmire today.
The United States is dealing with a resistance that knew all along it could not compete technologically, militarily nor economically on the desert plains or in urban warfare. Instead, it decided to play by its own rules, and today full-blown guerilla warfare is upon our men and women, striking them down one by one. The resistance is shadows, everyone and no one at the same time. It is as present as Mesopotamian sand and as unseen as its winds. It is as deadly as desert scorpions crawling through the night. It is under rocks, inside flora and in numerous homes and streets, ready to strike and fight stealthily and without warning. It will soon be everywhere, transforming itself into night and again back to day. Sadly, our troops will continue to fall, their energy swept away by sandstorms of explosives and bullets.
Our so-called leaders cry foul because they do not play by our rules, because this wasn’t what was supposed to happen. But the resistance plays with what it has, and, in the span of three months, has inflicted more death and injury unto American forces than at any time since Vietnam. It has neutralized the strongest and most powerful army in the world, rendering it susceptible to attack on a daily basis, not knowing who or what the enemy is or where it hides. No made-for-Americans, Hollywood-produced Iron Hammer production can change that. Our leaders were duped. Their arrogance and ignorance have created a monument to inefficiency that will lead to their demise. Mr. Bait-And-Switch Bush, meet Mr. Rope-A-Dope Iraq.
Manuel Valenzuela is an attorney, consultant, freelance writer and author of Echoes in the Wind, a novel that will be published in 2004. He lives in Madison, Wisconsin and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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