The Quagmire That Was Supposed To Be

The Stab In The Back

The stinging Democratic vote to continue the funding of the War on Iraq without withdrawal is still pulsating throughout the Republic. Americans are dismayed. Some leading figures have given into the despair and feeling of helplessness manifested by the current situation and folded up their tents of opposition. The most notable, obviously, being the anti-war mother Cindy Sheehan. In all this, one has to ask, why? Why did the Democrats, in the end, decide to restructure the war-funding bill so as to refit it without a timetable for withdrawal and cast a majority vote for its approval? Why did the Democrats run counter to what the people wanted? Why did the Democrats not do what they were elected to do? Why did the Democrats decide to do what the Republicans were ejected out of their Congressional seats for continuing to do?

The Democrats were elected, and expected, to end the destructive machinery that is destroying the lives of Iraqis and Americans. They were elected and expected to erect a blockade to the current administration’s imperialist ambitions in the Middle East. They did not. Why? Why, in light of the American public’s opposition to the War on Iraq and tens of thousands of Iraqi protesters calling for the U.S. to leave their country?1 The reasons are many, but few are vital. One of the chief vital interests for why is clear: in war there is money to be made and in a state where money is the essence of its existence, war is the lucrative force that drives its existence.2 In short, the Democrats are committed to imperialist expansion just as much as the Republicans — their 20th century track record on waging war overseas says as much — and their job, just as would be the Republicans were the tables turned, is to maintain the status-quo, not end it.

The Government Of The Government

It must be understood that a good slice of U.S. economic policy is driven by, and devoted to, the need to prepare for, and engage in, war.3 Many areas of agreement between the government and corporations include “disciplining workers, lucrative armaments contracts, and job creation stimuli.”4 Hence, the War on Iraq is as much about feeding the Military-Industrial-Complex as it is about the acquisition of resources and opening of new markets. In essence, the War on Iraq has been rightfully deemed a quagmire, because it was supposed to be such. The track record of mistakes and ‘coincidental’ activities says as much.

Not adequately planning to safeguard Iraqi cultural or economic institutions upon invasion postulated mayhem. Iraqi museums were subsequently looted and destroyed. U.S. officials “were warned repeatedly about possible damage to irreplaceable artifacts, either from bombs and missiles or from post-war instability after the removal of the Iraqi government, but they did nothing to prevent it.”5 The absence of the rule of law, or neglect to adequately prepare for the enforcement thereof, created a situation of chaos and disorder where the conditions ripe for cultural liquidation needed to be inoculated by paternal Western crusaders.

The disbanding of the Iraqi Army, “the Republican Guard and the Revolutionary Command Council, among others…,” unleashed a Hydra. This action, which put “an estimated 350,000 to 400,000 soldiers out of work, as well as an estimated 2,000 Information Ministry employees,” was supposed to be part “of a robust campaign to show the Iraqi people that the Saddam regime [was] gone and [would] never return.”6 Instead, it ended up feeding a nationalist “insurgency and crime wave… [that] built through 2003…”7 As Colonel Paul F. Hughes, the strategic policy director for the U.S. occupation authority in 2003, expressed in 2004, “[a]nyone who ever worked in any country after a losing war knows you have to do something with the old soldiers… Otherwise, they’re out of work, and they will do what people do who know how to use guns.”7

Not providing adequate forces permitted the burgeoning of a vibrant Iraqi nationalist-reactionary-insurgency. Iraqis soon rose up after the fall of Baghdad to resist the invading coalition of foreigners. “Before the war, several experts — including then Army Chief of Staff Eric Shinseki — warned the Bush Administration that [approximately] several hundred thousand troops would be needed to secure post-Saddam Iraq.”8 Yet, the administration “dismissed this warning out of hand.”Monday, October 4, 2004. “Bush Administration Fails to Address Deteriorating Situation in Iraq.” Democratic Policy Committee. Not providing adequate ground forces created a situation which allowed for a relentless nationalist uprising with tremendous resilience. The administration then gave more justification for sending in more troops for security. This was done four times before the current ‘surge’, each of which resulted primarily in escalating levels of violence instead of security. In the beginning:

Army planners said they needed an initial occupation force of 250,000, which would still be half the number that the historically proven formula called for. Had they been listened to, and a robust force moved in at the start to establish firm control of the country and disarm the militias of political factions, it is possible that a rapid drawdown of U.S. forces could have followed.Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2007. “9

Slow progress in training Iraqi security forces further exacerbated security issues. “Nearly a year and a half after Iraqi reconstruction efforts began” it was reported that “one of the administration’s highest priorities — training Iraqis to provide their own security — remain[ed] far behind schedule.” The administration “failed to put adequate military personnel in place to oversee training… mismanaged funding appropriated for security forces development… [and] chose to contract out security training, rather than allow experienced U.S. military trainers do the work.”8 Recently, “U.S. intelligence officials disclosed that the deployment of Iraqi forces into Baghdad under [the administration’s] new plan to stabilize Iraq is running behind schedule and that all of the units sent so far have arrived under strength, some by more than half.”10

Amidst the flurry of mistakes, the formerly Republican dominated Congress appropriated funds to build an embassy in Baghdad that is “ten times the size of the typical U.S. embassy, the size of 80 football fields, six times larger than the UN, the size of Vatican City” and “more secure than the Pentagon.”11 This behemoth structure that overlooks the Tigris River comes fully equipped with its own set of “apartment buildings, a gym, a pool, a fast-food court, and its own power generation and water-treatment plants.”12 Construction has been continuous.

The Congress also appropriated funds to build permanent super-bases that will have recreation halls, cybercafés, premium coffee shops, miniature-golf courses, movie theaters, bus systems, supermarkets, and restaurants. It is no wonder that these structures have been called the “warrior’s country club.”13 All this while Baghdad burned.

In late 2003, Lieutenant Colonel David Holt expressed that there “was already… several billion dollars being sunk into base construction, which has been continuing ever since.”14 These elaborate and enormous structures clearly and directly state a determination to stay in Iraq — their omission from debates suggests consensus among the parties as well. They are enduring imperialist footprints that have significant implications. The United States will continue to have a presence in Iraq for some time to come; the heavily fortified embassy and super-bases imply as much. These bases were built during the quagmire that stemmed from the preemptive assault launched on Iraq, which served the Military-Industrial-Complex that governs the government.

An Unlikely Prospect

The more instability that is garnered in Iraq, the more justification will be given to stay. When the Democrats came to power, there was much hope that things would change. Their congressional activities thus far have dimmed hopes. It seems, unfortunately, that if the Democrats do maintain power into the next congressional cycle, even obtain the presidency in ’08, there will not be much of a drift in terms of leaving Iraq. For those well intentioned people inside the party itself, there is no hope of penetrating the impermeable power structure within. Does one really expect the second most powerful corporate sponsored party in the country to abstain its newly given power, and potential to acquire more, by pulling out from a part of the world that holds key resources and valuable potential for new markets? Does one really expect it to deconstruct, even leave, the super-bases and embassy that costs billions to build, and which are near completion? Does one really expect the profit-making, runaway defense establishment to give up its entrenched governing power over the government? The prospect is unlikely. Such an action would require a political and social revolution that is unlikely to take place.

The powers that be will continue to keep “American soldiers on Iraqi soil well into the century… [and use the state as] a platform… to launch new acts of aggression.”15 The goal is to control local resources and create a launching pad to further imperialist ambitions in the Middle East. Direct or indirect casualties are of no consequence as long as imperialist goals are met and sustained. We are not going anywhere, anytime soon, regardless of which party holds the reins of power.

  1. Wong, Edward. Monday, April 9, 2007. “Thousands of Iraqis march on 4th anniversary of Baghdad’s fall.” International Herald Tribune. []
  2. Fitzgerald, Michael. 2004. “Militarism: A Way of Life.” The Humanist. []
  3. Paxton, Robert O. The Anatomy of Fascism (New York: Vintage Books, 2004): p. 145. []
  4. Ibid., p. 146. []
  5. Martin, Patrick. Wednesday, April 16, 2003. “The sacking of Iraq’s museums: US wages war against culture and history.” World Socialist Web Site. []
  6. Arraf, Jane. Friday, May 23, 2003. “U.S. dissolves Iraqi army, Defense and Information ministries.” []
  7. Monday, July 12, 2004. “U.S. colonel says disbanding Iraqi army was key mistake.” The Daily Oakland Press. [] []
  8. Monday, October 4, 2004. “Bush Administration Fails to Address Deteriorating Situation in Iraq.” Democratic Policy Committee. [] []
  9. Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2007. “Pelosi Leads Democratic Opposition to Iraq Troop Surge.” Wires. []
  10. Strobel, Warren P., and Jonathan S. Landay and Renee Schoof. Tuesday, February 27, 2007. “Bush administration to join Iraqi-led talks attended by Iran, Syria.” McClatchy Newspapers. []
  11. Zeese, Kevin. Friday, April 21, 2006. “We’re Staying!; Hughes, Chris. Tuesday, January 3, 2006. “U.S. plans $1.8 billion Baghdad embassy.” The Mirror (UK). []
  12. Slavin, Barbara. Monday, April 10, 2006. “Giant U.S. embassy rising in Baghdad.” USA Today. []
  13. Hirsh, Michael. Monday, May 1, 2006. “Don’t dream about full exits. The military is in Iraq for the long haul.” Newsweek; White, Deborah. 2006. “An American Palace in Iraq and Four Permanent US Bases.” []
  14. Thursday, March 9, 2006 (March 27, 2006 issue). Engelhardt, Tom. “Can You Say ‘Permanent Bases’?The Nation. []
  15. LaFranchi, Howard. Tuesday, June 12, 2007. “US signals permanent stay in Iraq.” Christian Science Monitor. []
George Aleman III is an MA student in history and also a writer, activist, and musician. Read other articles by George, or visit George's website.

6 comments on this article so far ...

Comments RSS feed

  1. Carl Richardson said on June 25th, 2007 at 6:38am #

    You write well but you show a decided lack of knowledge about:
    a. History in general
    b. Military history
    c. Economics
    d. Our republican form of government. (you won’t find the word “democracy” in either the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution.)
    Thus, when you rage on about what the Democrats were allegedly elected to do, you overlook that not enough of them were elected to do what you wish. This and the fact that President Bush was reelected for a full four years, means that our government is working as it should and not in accordance with popularity polls.
    Your remedy is to get more Democrats elected, even a President. I would think that to do that, you need to study some more.

  2. Dr. Derrick Grimmer said on June 25th, 2007 at 11:42am #

    The author fails to mention the all important Israeli Lobby card.

    The importance of the Lobby’s influence, through a combination of forms of coercion, e.g., bribery and blackmail, should not be underestimated regarding the American body politic.

    Any failure of an author/analyst to even mention this established influence on American politics leaves me suspect of that individual’s acumen and or honesty regarding the Mideast situation.

  3. bclevlen said on June 25th, 2007 at 8:16pm #

    I agree… this article sounds like it was written by a “book smart” person, with little common sense. The government works fine. As for Cindy Sheehan — she was nothing more than a woman who wanted her five minutes of fame. If you think it’s anything more — you’re crazy. Her son has to be embarrassed looking down from heaven. I know I would sure be.

    Lastly, as for Iraq in general… the writer obviously is ignorant of how things have gone down in history. It has taken our own Democracy well over 100 years to get to where it is today and yet we STILL have problems. Yet, in less than 10 years — you expect Iraq to be perfect? Get a clue, man! They say they want the US to leave, which I’m sure they do at some level — but they also know that they’re screwed if the US leaves too soon. Proof of that is recent developments where Iraqi towns are now helping the US to root out the bad guys. They’re finally starting to “get it”. But, what do you expect from a country that’s only known war and fighting for centuries? Sure, they put on a tough face when the cameras are rolling and spew the anti US crap… but they all know deep down that they need the US to survive.

  4. smchris said on June 26th, 2007 at 7:32am #

    Got some Freeper action here, eh?

    Yes, there certainly is an apparent ignorance of present and past history. Like the history of GREAT BRITAIN ALREADY TRYING TO OCCUPY IRAQ IN THE LAST CENTURY AND HOW WELL THAT WENT DOWN.

  5. RLaing said on June 26th, 2007 at 3:08pm #

    According to a recent article in the NYT, present troop levels can be sustained until about next April, at which point the U.S. military will be forced to start drawing down for the lack of soldiers. If that happens, all the political ‘will’ in the world won’t keep the U.S. in Iraq, and it will matter very little which wing of the corporate party happens to hold power in Washingon.

  6. CH said on June 26th, 2007 at 3:17pm #

    Not a bad article. The author was succinct and to the point. Don’t let the attacks discourage you, Mr. Aleman! You probably know more about this topic than them.