Sunday, August 20, 2006

Tomgram: Schwartz, 7 Facts Making Sense of Our Iraqi Disaster

[Note for Tomdispatch readers: Make sure not to miss today's LA Times installment on American war crimes in Vietnam, A Tortured Past (and the sidebar article), that Nick Turse has co-written. These are explosive pieces. Also a reminder: Tomdispatch is on a slower schedule this month and so the next post won't be up until perhaps Wednesday. Tom]

The single most basic fallacy underlying the present American catastrophe in Iraq is the belief that the U.S. can somehow solve that country's problems, however extreme and intractable they may seem; that, in short, we are part of the solution in Iraq, not part of the problem. Once you're thinking that way, it's always a matter of setting the latest incorrect or inept tactics right, or of changing a policy that has been incompetently put into operation by unprepared administrators wielding too few resources too poorly.

But the belief in the power of the United States to solve problems for others -- by force -- reflects a deep-seated imperial mind-set that exists not just in the Bush administration, but among its mainstream critics as well. You can see it everywhere, if you care to look. You can note it in the way, as things continue to devolve in Iraq, the military and its various internal critics have been bobbing and weaving from one set of counterproductive counterinsurgency tactics to another (each time claiming that the previous set had somehow overlooked basic insurgency doctrine or the lessons of Vietnam). The latest of these is a modified version of the old (failed) Vietnam "ink blot" strategy in which we pull troops back to Baghdad, a city now evidently in utter, violent disarray, to nail down at least some of the capital's neighborhoods (while denuding troop strength in areas of Sunni Iraq where the insurgency rages).

Or consider the latest in Bush administration thinking. In a superb front-page New York Times piece last week, Bombs Aimed at G.I.'s in Iraq Are Increasing, reporters Michael R. Gordon, Mark Mazzetti and Thom Shanker offered impressive evidence that, since the killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Sunni insurgency against the Americans and allied Iraqi forces has only heightened. Perhaps most striking were the final paragraphs of the piece, meant only for news junkies and buried deep inside the paper (reinforcing my sense that the imperial press can sometimes most profitably be read from back to front):

"Yet some outside experts who have recently visited the White House said Bush administration officials were beginning to plan for the possibility that Iraq's democratically elected government might not survive.

"'Senior administration officials have acknowledged to me that they are considering alternatives other than democracy,' said one military affairs expert who received an Iraq briefing at the White House last month and agreed to speak only on condition of anonymity.

"'Everybody in the administration is being quite circumspect,' the expert said, ‘but you can sense their own concern that this is drifting away from democracy.'"

Click here to read more of this dispatch.

2 comment(s):

I don't see and will never see how we can solve someone else's problems when we can't even deal with the problems we have at home. Sometimes I think our government is living in a fantasy world.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:39 PM  


By Blogger Annamarie, at 4:19 PM  

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