A recent editorial expressed a common American perception: “There doesn’t seem to be any question in the minds of anyone in this country, no matter whether they supported or opposed the move to war with Iraq, that we’re going to win the war.”
The war appearing on our TV screens might indeed be winnable. But the war on Iraq reported outside the United States is a very different war. As a senior source at the BBC recently confessed, “We’re getting more truth out of Baghdad than the Pentagon at the moment.”
Scott Ritter is a Republican who voted for Bush, a Gulf War vet and former chief UNSCOM inspector in Iraq. On March 24, Ritter said, “We will not win this fight. America will lose this war.” He argues the “coalition’s” success depends on Iraqis wanting Bush more than Saddam; they don’t. To the Iraqis, we are imperial invaders destroying and occupying their nation. The more we bomb them, the more determined they will be to attack us at every opportunity. If we kill Saddam, he will die a martyr in spite of himself, and the “battle for hearts and minds” will die with him–if we do not kill it first by slaughtering cars full of women and children. We’re in a guerilla war. Iraqis will not consider themselves liberated until they drive us out. If we’re there “for as long as it takes” to manifest Bush’s fantasies, we will be there forever.
Our military is caught in the middle. Rumsfeld called the brass “cowards” when they opposed war last summer. Last month he countermanded General Franks’ order for two more heavy divisions to Iraq; he said they’d be unnecessary for his Blitzkrieg to Baghdad. Now he stands at his lectern and denies responsibility while our troops are bogged down on a thin front over 200 miles, nearly surrounded by hostile forces.
According to the Washington Post, CIA warned the Bush gang that Iraqis might resist our attempts to “liberate” them, using guerilla tactics. They were ignored, just as they were ignored when they said Saddam did not have nukes or pose a significant threat. Instead, the Bushies believed in their own power and propaganda, and the poison promises of Iraqi “opposition leaders”: Iraq will welcome American soldiers! Military intelligence also seems to have dropped the ball. Imagine how General Franks feels right now. Pretty teed off, by all reports.
“We find ourselves with fewer than 120,000 boots on the ground”, Scott Ritter notes, “facing a nation of 23 million, with armed elements numbering around 7 million — who are concentrated at urban areas.”
Just about the size of Vietnam. After twenty years and two million people dead, we lost that war. We were the invaders, “saving the people from tyranny”. And the people made enormous sacrifices to drive us out, while GIs died fighting someone else’s losing battle. Some cite the rifle-point coercion of Iraqi civilians and army regulars by Saddam loyalists and say, “This is not a population that wants to fight.” Of course. Most Iraqis, like most people everywhere, just want peace. Like all wars of liberation, this one will be fought by a small minority of very determined patriots and thugs. They will do almost anything to survive or further the cause, Saddam or no Saddam. The Viet Cong were probably more brutal with their local population than Saddam’s Fedayeen are in Iraq. That did not prevent popular Vietnamese revulsion at the US invasion and the government we installed.
Operation Iraqi Freedom? Is that anything like our liberation of Afghanistan, where Karzai’s ramrodded regime still needs a US military guard and is virtually powerless outside Kabul? Where warlords are fighting and the Taliban are back and American soldiers are everybody’s target? Well, we democratized it. Onward to Iraq! We’ll never forget Afghanistan again!
If we eventually gain some kind of control in Baghdad, Bush’s Iraq may turn into a California-sized Palestine, a hostile and illegal occupation in the Israeli style, until “the terrorism stops.” The political balance of a post-Saddam Iraq will not be what the US wants. Any government we set up will be a recipe for anarchy. With no respect for the extraordinary stamina and bravery of the Palestinian people in the world’s longest war of occupation, Bush had no idea of what he was getting us into in Iraq. Israel can’t sustain such nonsense without billions of our tax dollars every year. Who will support us?
No-one with any clout. One complaint is expressed all around the world: “The US war on Iraq is illegal aggression.” The world takes international law seriously. But for a long time it has felt obliged to accept our demands for immunity. For example, it has allowed us to block the legal solution for Palestine and Israel, a mistake it regrets more with each passing day.
But this time we stepped over the line. A blatantly illegal and unprovoked war of aggression, in the heart of the Middle East? No. This time we will not get a pass. Think the UN doesn’t work? To stop this war, it doesn’t have to.
Even if we are spared terrorist reprisals, even if Kim Jong-Il does not pull a stunt to break Bush’s back, the world powers can apply convincing pressure to stop this war that will hurt every American for years to come, with no more violence than the stroke of a pen. It’s the economy,..dear reader.
We wildly overestimate our economic strength. We are far and away the world’s largest debtor nation. Our manufacturing base has been shrinking for thirty years. Our balance of trade deficit is at record levels and growing. Bush is ballooning the Federal deficit at alarming rates. Our savings base is nil. Our stocks are highly questionable, shot through with endemic book cooking. The last prop supporting our standard of living is the highly inflated dollar, and now it’s deflating.
The nearly 100 nations that oppose Bush’s Blunder include OPEC and all the major powers except Britain and Japan. Some have already withdrawn assets from our financial system, and the trend is increasing. A popular global boycott of US goods is mushrooming.
If the war gets worse, as now seems inevitable, bad water and malnutrition will soon return to kill thousands more Iraqi mothers and children. But this time their deaths will be globally televised. Popular unrest may start to destabilize key regimes. The world powers could reach for a bigger gun to train on Bush; they could start trading oil in euros.
Saddam switched in 2000 and made a hefty profit; the euro gained 17% against the dollar last year. Switching to petroeuros would cushion the impact of our failing economy for other countries, boosting the euro to boot. It would also terminate the dollar’s thirty-year lock on global oil sales, which would instantly reduce its value, our wealth, and our trade leverage with other nations.
OPEC and the big powers wouldn’t switch all at once; that would devastate us and trigger a global depression. They would do it in steps, just enough to make it hurt, until Bush backs off. Or they could attack the dollar in currency markets, or use any of the dirty tricks we’ve employed for fifty years to destabilize regimes. We are very vulnerable. This unwinnable war could cost you your SUV, and maybe your house.
For the Iraqi people, for America, for our brave and able troops, who should never have to fight illegal and unprovoked wars, we must withdraw from Iraq as gracefully as we can. It’s not a defeat, it’s a reality check. Declare victory and get out, as Vermont Sen. George Aiken said of Vietnam. Bush’s propaganda team is up to that, don’t you think? He has already savaged the world’s respect for America. Withdrawal from Iraq is the first thing we must do to salvage it, and recover our nation’s future.
The Times Argus, Barre, VT, March 26, 2003, “War details”
BBC chiefs stress need to attribute war sources –
The Guardian, March 28, 2003
US Will Lose The Iraq War – Says Scott Ritter –
by Fintan Dunne, GuluFuture.com, March 25, 2003
How the Pentagon’s promise of a quick war ran into the desert sand – http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,2763,924495,00.html –
The Guardian, March 28, 2003
Analysts Say Threat Warnings Toned Down –
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A34283-2003Mar26.html – Washington Post, March 27, 2003
The War After the War –
by Jason Vest, The Village Voice, March 19 – 25, 2003
Bush’s Deep Reasons For War on Iraq: Oil, Petrodollars, and the OPEC Euro Question –
by Peter Dale Scott, Socrates, February 15, 2003
The Real Reasons for the Upcoming War With Iraq: A Macroeconomic and Geostrategic Analysis of the Unspoken Truth – http://www.ratical.org/ratville/CAH/RRiraqWar.html –
by W. Clark, Independent Media Center/Crimes Against Humanity, March 6, 2003
James Brooks of Worcester, Vermont, is an independent researcher, writer, and former business owner. His recent articles have been published by several Web sites covering the Middle East, investigative journalism and alternative politics. Currently Brooks serves as webmaster for Vermonters for a Just Peace in Palestine/Israel and publishes News Links, a free, once-daily (Mon-Sat) e-mail digest of in-depth Middle East news and commentary.