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[casi] It wasn't supposed to be like this

Just *one* little tidbit from the following is the monthly military cost.
Just yesterday the radio said that California, a major world economy by
itself, and which is in the middle of a gubernatorial racall campaign
sparked by the truly massive state budget deficit, is behind some $12 or
$13 billion -- just about 3 months worth of the indicated Iraqi military

The administration is creating misery and denying economic liberty here
in America by taking wealth from the US, and using it to create more
misery and deny liberty in Iraq. I wonder how long it will take for "We
the People" to notice this?...

--------- Begin forwarded message ----------
Subject: It wasn't supposed to be like this
Date: Mon, 14 Jul 2003 21:42:42 -0400
Message-ID: <>

    It Wasn't Supposed to Be Like This

    Carol Brightman, AlterNet July 14, 2003

    "Quit beating around the bush," snaps the Wall Street Journal:
"America faces a guerrilla war." And so it does. But an odd paralysis
still grips the U.S. military command. While the number of American
soldiers killed or wounded in ambushes increases by the day, Defense
Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and proconsul Paul Bremer continue to speak
of "remnants" and "bitter-enders" who can't get with the program, even
as word spreads through the ranks that there is a well-organized
resistance campaign underway in Iraq.

    When Saddam Hussein spoke in March of letting Americans into Iraqi
cities, especially Baghdad, and breaking their will, he meant it.
After all, his government had been training civilians in combat
techniques and distributing firearms, including AK-47 rifles and
rocket-propelled grenade launchers, for a year before the invasion;
and U.S. planners knew it. But the Pentagon, trapped in a different
scenario -- where urban guerrilla warfare was to commence (if at all)
immediately after U.S. tanks entered the capital -- didn't get the
message. When heavy combat operations were followed by a pronounced
lull, U.S. commanders seemed to forget Saddam's warning. Now, 1st Sgt.
William Taylor, based near Tikrit, cites the lull as the period when
the insurgents "got their cells together."

    The Pentagon, in fact, has been feeding itself its own mistaken
information. Unlike the faulty weapons intelligence the White House
cynically used to sell the war, U.S. military leaders seem to have
believed what their analysts and Iraqi exiles were telling them.
Saddam, the sources said, was incapable of participating in a
guerrilla-style resistance campaign because he was accustomed to
running a government, not an insurgency.

    "This is not a man who is an ascetic like Osama bin Laden who is
willing to go live in a cave for a long period of time and be cut off
from the outside world," said Vice President Dick Cheney on Meet the
Press shortly before the war began. "This is a man who's used to his
palaces and his luxuries." Indeed, some senior officials half-expected
an Iraqi surrender before U.S. troops even entered Iraq.

    In prewar Pentagon estimates, this was to be a different war.
Occupation forces would be quickly cut to 30,000 to 40,000. Small
contingents of peacekeepers would remain to safeguard the
reconstruction of Iraq's infrastructure, including oil pipelines and
wellheads, and the building of four American military bases (one,
called "intelligence city," already underway in the North).

    The war itself was planned to knock out the Baath regime to make
way for a government compatible with America's long-term interest in
Iraq, which is (or was) to use it as a base of operations for bringing
military and political pressure to bear on nations which the Bush team
sees as directly or indirectly sustaining al Qaeda operations: Saudi
Arabia and Iran, mainly. Equally important for U.S. strategic goals
was to shock and awe not just the Iraqis but a wider Arab community
with the terrifying spectacle of U.S. military technology.

    Defense intellectuals in the Pentagon speak of transforming the
psychological architecture of the Islamic world. Neo-con analysts, in
particular, worry that the U.S. withdrawal from Beirut in 1983,
followed by early withdrawals from Somalia and Afghanistan, suggest
that the United States, while powerful militarily, is incapable of
resolute action. In Beirut and Somalia, U.S. troops withdrew after
taking minimal casualties (casualties are always "minimal" in such
formulations), while in Afghanistan the U.S. halted operations after
seizing a few major cities, apparently because it was unwilling to
engage in more extended conflict. The American invasion of Iraq was
designed to change Islamic perceptions, to provoke anger in exchange
for a greater fear.

    Thus, there is a grim irony to the fact that the first pillar of
Middle East policy to fall in occupied Iraq is the credibility of
American power. Iraqis express surprise, frustration, and fury that
months after "victory" was declared, the "Authority," as the Coalition
Provisional Authority is called, is unable to bring order to Baghdad.
Looting and sabotage continue; electricity runs only intermittently;
water and sewage systems remain unrepaired; food distribution is
spotty; and medical services, overloaded with mounting casualties from
the fighting, are near collapse. Meanwhile, there are no jobs for a
vast unemployed workforce, which includes hundreds of thousands of
demobilized Iraqi soldiers and Baathist office workers dismissed by
the Authority without pay.

    Why are they here? Iraqis must wonder, as they queue up in
hopeless lines behind the barricaded gates of Saddam's palaces where
the Americans live. It's hard to imagine a set of conditions more
conducive to the conversion of a desperate citizenry into partisans
for resistance. Moreover, when you consider that civilian deaths from
the three-week war are estimated at 5,500 to 7,000, with military
deaths exceeding 10,000, and overall nonfatal casualties totaling
50,000 -- all together touching family and friends reaching into the
millions -- you have another grave condition feeding insurrection.
Most of these casualties were sustained in the Sunni areas of Central
Iraq where U.S. bombing was heaviest, and where the present opposition
is strongest.

    That the resistance will ultimately dwarf Baathist "bitter-enders"
(who now include -- another grim irony -- Saddam himself) seems quite
possible, especially if elements of the volatile majority of Shi'ites
in the South enter the fray, along with increasing numbers of

    No wonder many American soldiers are demoralized and angry. Some
have written their congressmen requesting repatriation. "Most soldiers
would empty their bank accounts just for a plane ticket home," runs
one such letter, quoted last week in the Christian Science Monitor.
And another: "The way we have been treated and the continuous lies
told to our families back home has devastated us all." And another:
"We feel like pawns in a game that we have no voice [in]."

    Naturally the V-word: Vietnam, is turning up frequently in reports
from the front. The U.S. command has certainly made the familiar
moves. Outgoing Gen. Tommy Franks, facing sharp questions July 9th
from the Senate Armed Services Committee, admits the current number of
U.S. troops in Iraq, around 148,000, will remain for the "foreseeable
future," while Secretary Rumsfeld doubled the estimated military costs
to $3.9 billion a month. Meanwhile, America's promises for Iraq ride
on a lie that appears more obvious each time Mr. Bremer squashes
another attempt at self-governance that is not restricted to
hospitals, water or electricity. Nor is the hand-picked Governing
Council a substitute for home-grown representation. Washington doesn't
want an independent and democratic Iraq to emerge, for one of the
first moves its government would make is to order the U.S. out.

    Yet there are big differences between Iraq and Vietnam, starting
with the fact that in Iraq the U.S. has no indigenous support. There's
no puppet army or friendly regime as there was in South Vietnam; and
no counterinsurgency program with coordinated intelligence,
pacification, and military arms aimed at separating the guerrillas
from the population and rewarding the latter. Such operations were not
in the plans, which saw "Operation Iraqi Freedom" as a show of force
whose finish would be greeted by a grateful population, ready to step
aside while Halliburton and Bechtel raised "Our New Baby" from the war
wreckage. This, as New York Times pundit Thomas Friedman once called
the reconstruction effort, would be "one of the biggest
nation-building projects the U.S. has ever undertaken."

    The mix of falsehood and bad faith that feeds America's Iraqi
venture is probably greater than it was at the start of the Vietnam
war. But the other major difference is that all Iraq is under military
occupation. The ultimate in-country authority is Gen. David McKiernan,
while Paul Bremer, Baghdad's de facto mayor, reports directly to
Secretary Rumsfeld. A Texas millionaire and former Army officer, Roger
"Buck" Walters, governs Southern Iraq, and a career Army officer who
served in Vietnam and Somalia, W. Bruce Moore, runs the North. Iraqis,
an educated people with some experience of empire are unlikely to
kowtow to this kind of slapdash corporate-style administration.

    What Team Bush faces in Iraq is more than guerrilla war. It is the
first crack in the larger Mideast campaign in which Iraq was the
starting point. This is the vision that has intoxicated defense
planners such as Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, Douglas Feith, and
Kenneth Pollack for a decade. It's the dream of imposing a Pax
Americana on the Arab world that is modeled on the imperial order
Britain imposed in an earlier era. And it's off to a bloody bad start.

    The vision appears like Banquo's ghost in the current Foreign
Affairs. Alas, for author Kenneth Pollack, his essay was written
before the postwar war commenced. In "Securing the Gulf," Pollack (who
wrote "The Threatening Storm: The Case for Invading Iraq") begins:
"The sweeping military victory in Iraq has cleared the way for the
United States to establish yet another framework for Persian Gulf
security"; and explains how "In 1968, the United Kingdom relinquished
its security responsibilities 'east of Suez,' leaving the United
States to pick up the pieces."

    Carol Brightman is a biographer and journalist whose next book,
"Total Insecurity: The Myth of American Omnipotence," is due out in
fall 2004.

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