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[casi] FW: Robert Fisk: The monster of Baghdad is now the hero of Arabia

Robert Fisk: The monster of Baghdad is now the hero of

This is now a nationalist war against the most obvious
kind of imperial power
01 April 2003

So it's a "truly remarkable achievement'', is it?
General Tommy Franks says so. Everything is going
"according to plan'', according to the British. So
it's an achievement that the British still have not
"liberated" Basra. It is "according to plan" that the
Iraqis should be able to launch a scud missile from
the Faw peninsula  supposedly under "British control"
for more than a week. It is an achievement, truly
remarkable of course, that the Americans lose an
Apache helicopter to the gun of an Iraqi peasant,
spend four days trying to cross the river bridges at
Nasiriyah and are then confronted by their first
suicide bomber at Najaf.

One half of the entire Anglo-American force  still
called 'the coalition' by journalists who like to
pretend it includes 35 armies rather than two and a
bit (the "bit" being the Australian special forces) 
is now guarding and running the supply line through
the desert. And Baghdad is bombed but not besieged.

The military "plan" is so secret, according to General
Franks, that very few people have seen it all or
understand it. But his plan he says, is "highly
flexible''; it would have to be, to sustain the chaos
of the past 12 days, and, of course, we hold the moral
high ground. The Americans bomb a passenger bus close
to the Syrian border and don't even apologise. An
Iraqi soldier kills himself attacking US marines and
it is an act of "terrorism''. And now Secretary of
State Colin Powell announces  to the American-Israeli
Public Affairs Committee, the largest Israeli lobby
group in the US who of course support this illegal war
 that Syria and Iran are "supporting terror groups''
and will have to "face the consequences''.

So what's the plan? Are we going to forget Baghdad for
a few months and wheel our young soldiers west to
surround Damascus? Where, for heaven's sake, is all
this going? We were going to "liberate" Iraq. But the
war could be "long and difficult'', Bush now tells us
 he didn't tell us that before, did he?  and,
according to Tony Blair, this is "only the
beginning.'' Really?

Strange, isn't it, how all that fuss about chemical
and biological warfare has been forgotten. The
"secret" weapons, the gas masks, the anti-anthrax
injections, the pills and chemical suits have been
erased from the story  because bullets and
rocket-propelled grenades are now the real danger to
British and American forces in Iraq. Even the "siege
of Baghdad"  a city that is 30 miles wide and might
need a quarter of a million men to surround it  is
fading from the diary.

Sitting in Baghdad, listening to the God-awful
propaganda rhetoric of the Iraqis but watching the
often promiscuous American and British air attacks, I
have a suspicion that what's gone wrong has nothing to
do with plans. Indeed, I suspect there is no real
overall plan. Because I rather think that this war's
foundations were based not on military planning but on

Long ago, as we know, the right wing pro-Israeli
lobbyists around Bush planned the overthrow of Saddam.
This would destroy the most powerful Arab state in the
Middle East  Israel's chief of staff, Shoal Mofaz,
demanded that the war should start even earlier  and
allow the map of the region to be changed forever.
Powell stated just this a month ago. False
intelligence information was mixed up with the desires
of the corrupt and infiltrated Iraqi opposition.

Fantasies and illusions were given credibility by a
kind of superpower moral overdrive. Any kind of
mendacity could be used to fuel this ideological
project  11 September (oddly unmentioned now), links
between Saddam and Osama bin Laden (unproven), weapons
of mass destruction (hitherto unfound), human rights
abuses (at which we originally connived when Saddam
was our friend) and, finally, the most heroic project
of all  the "liberation" of the people of Iraq.

Oil was not mentioned, although it is the dominating
factor in this illegitimate conflict  no wonder
General Franks admitted that his first concern, prior
to the war, was the "protection'' of the southern
Iraqi oil fields. So it was to be "liberation" and
"democracy". How boldly we crossed the border. With
what lordly aims we invaded Iraq.

Few Iraqis doubt  even the ministers in Baghdad speak
about this  that the Americans could, ultimately,
occupy the country. They have the force and they have
the weapons to smash their way into every city and
rule the land by martial law. But can they make Iraqis
submit to that rule? Unless the masses rise up as Bush
and Blair hope, this is now a nationalist war against
the most obvious kind of imperial power. Without Iraqi
support, how can General Franks run a military
dictatorship or find Iraqis willing to serve him or
run the oilfields? The Americans can win the war. But
if their project fails they will have lost.

Yet there is one achievement we should note. The
ghastly Saddam, the most revolting dictator in the
Arab world, who does indeed use heinous torture and
has indeed used gas, is now leading a country that is
fighting the world's only superpower and that has done
so for almost two weeks without surrendering. Yes,
General Tommy Franks has accomplished one "truly
remarkable achievement''. He has turned the monster of
Baghdad into the hero of the Arab world and allowed
Iraqis to teach every opponent of America how to fight
their enemy.

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