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Re: [casi] Life in "liberated" and "democratic" Iraq

"With a heavy dose of fear and violence, and a lot of money for projects, I
think we can convince these people that we are here to help them," Colonel
Sassaman said.

This quote from the New York Times story -- December 7, 2003 "Tough New
Tactics by U.S. Tighten Grip on Iraq Towns"
By DEXTER FILKINS -- very much echoes the famous comment made by a US
military officer in Vietnam, when he said that a certain village had to be
destroyed to save it.  The insurgency in Iraq may very well be eventually
crushed, but this will not guarantee the achievement of US objectives in
Iraq (which at any rate are still unclear).  This is because the success or
failure of guerilla warfare against an occupying power is rarely decided on
the military front, but on the political. If the US-led forces have to turn
the entire Sunni Arab region of Iraq into a West Bank/Gaza Strip to crush
insurgents, they will have lost.

With so much political capital of the Bush administration vested in the
liberation and democratisation of Iraq, it will not be able to survive an
untenable situation, which is not just low level attacks on soldiers on a
daily basis, but  widespread opposition and resentment towards the US-led
occupation, expressed in mass demonstrations, political activism, street
rioting, and TV footage of youths hurling rocks and molotov cocktails at
tanks and troops, similar to what was seen in the intifada in Palestine
which had widespread popular support among Palestinians in general. This is
when the last surviving rationale for the invasion of Iraq -- to liberate
its people and establish democracy -- will look like a farce. What is far
more damaging for the occupation than the small scale ambushes is the
congregation of Iraqis after such attacks that celebrate around a burning
military vehicle.

As resentment among the Sunni Arab areas of Iraq grows, the Shi'ites are
meanwhile showing signs of impatience with the political process outlined in
mid-November. What they see in the fall of Saddam Hussein is not the
beginning of a harmonious accord with the US and compliance with its Middle
East agenda, but the chance to assert themselves after decades of repression
in a way they never have been able to before.  In Iran in 1979 it took mass
demonstrations to topple what was seen as the most stable regime in the
Middle East, an event that occurred without any insurgency as such. Already
Iraq is looking like it is unravelling in such a way that it will bury the
neoconservative fantasy about the Middle East.

Lastly, how this quote below in any way coexists with President Bush's
"forward strategy" of spreading democracy throughout the Middle East I will
never know. It seems that orientalism is alive and well.

"You have to understand the Arab mind," Capt. Todd Brown, a company
commander with the Fourth Infantry Division, said as he stood outside the
gates of Abu Hishma. "The only thing they understand is force - force, pride
and saving face."

Peter Kiernan

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