Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | News Flashes | Scoop Features | Scoop Video | Strange & Bizarre | Search

 


Ivan Eland: The Slide to Defeat in Iraq

The Long Ignominious Slide to Defeat in Iraq


By Ivan Eland*
April 6, 2004
From: http://www.independent.org/tii/news/040406Eland.html

The worst nightmare for the American occupation has occurred. Portions of the Iraqi Shiite majority have risen in revolt. Full-scale civil war may be just around the corner.

The armed uprising by Shiite militias in four Iraqi cities, including the Baghdad metropolitan area, was well coordinated and deadly. The rebellion cost the lives of eight American soldiers and countless Iraqis. The revolt consisted of followers of militant cleric Moktada al-Sadr, who has militias numbering in the tens of thousands across Iraq, Although the American occupation had forbidden the bearing of arms, the militants brandished many weapons, including rocket propelled grenade launchers. They took over the streets, occupied police stations and attacked American forces.

Ironically, one of the motivating forces behind the bloodshed was censorship by the United States, a country that prides itself on the freedom of speech enshrined in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Last week, U.S. occupation authorities closed down Al Hawza, Sadr’s newspaper, charging that it had incited violence in Iraq. Yet the paper did not advocate attacks on Americans. As the U.S. authorities put it, the paper was guilty of “false reporting.” That type of justification is eerily reminiscent of rhetoric from the Communist Soviet Union. The closing of Al Hawza, symbolic for many Shittes, ignited street protests that mushroomed and became more volatile by the day, culminating in the uprising.

Sadr, always hostile to the U.S. occupation, apparently now believes that peaceful Shiite demonstrations should be replaced by armed insurrection. He urged his followers on, stating that, “there is no use for demonstrations, as your enemy loves to terrify and suppress opinions, and despises people. Terrorize your enemy, as we cannot remain silent over his violations.”

If the rebellion spreads within the Shiite population, which such events seem to portend, even senior U.S. military commanders admit privately that the chances dwindle drastically of keeping Iraq this side of the abyss. The U.S. civilian authorities in Iraq tried to put a brave face on the mayhem by opining that the rebellion made up only a small portion of the Iraqi population. But that proportion could grow over time in both Shiite and Sunni areas as the U.S. retaliates muscularly for the attacks by Shiite militiamen and the burning, dragging and hanging of corpses of already dead U.S. armed mercenaries by the Sunnis in Faluja. Such precipitous U.S. actions may very well incite a escalating cycle of violence—attack and counterattack—that could turn the bulk of the Iraqi population, both Shiite and Sunni, against the U.S. occupation.

Yet even if the “silent majority” of Iraqis remain supportive of U.S. forces, as the civilian occupation authorities claim, it may not be enough to save the American war effort in Iraq. The guerrillas know that the key to winning any guerrilla warfare is to undermine support for the war in the stronger party’s homeland. In the Vietnam War, the North Vietnamese and the Viet Cong, with significant support among the peoples of South Vietnam, were able to prolong the war long enough to exhaust the American public at home and prompt an eventual U.S. withdrawal. Similarly, in the American Revolution, the revolutionaries were able to eventually exhaust the British with the support of only one-third of the colonists. Thus, if even a minority of the occupied country’s population is actively hostile to the outside power, a foreign occupation can fail. If the majority supporting the outside power believes that the armed minority will be around a lot longer than the occupiers—not an illogical belief given the short attention span of past U.S. nation-building—its support, out of self-preservation, may be very lukewarm or tepid. So the silent majority may be silent indeed.

Another major problem confronting the U.S. occupation, which was illuminated by the Shiite uprising, is the unreliability of the U.S.-trained Iraqi police and civil defense forces. Those forces fled at the sight of the heavily armed Shiite militias, allowing them to take over checkpoints and police stations. The idea that security in Iraq can be turned over to such forces is no more than a bad joke.

Adding to the reluctance of Iraqis to help occupation forces, foreign allies are unwilling to send added troops to help the United States try to control the chaos (in fact, one ally is already bailing out of the effort and another is grumbling being deceived) because of the Bush administration’s pre-war arrogance and the prospect of retaliatory terrorism on their homelands. The Bush administration’s balloon, filled with triumphalist hot air a year ago as U.S. forces entered Baghdad, has finally burst.

***********

*Ivan Eland is Senior Fellow and Director of the Center on Peace & Liberty at The Independent Institute in Oakland, CA., and author of the book, Putting “Defense” Back into U.S. Defense Policy: Rethinking U.S. Security in the Post-Cold War World. For further articles and studies, see the War on Terrorism and OnPower.org.

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops Headlines

 

Werewolf: Living With Rio’s Olympic Ruins

Mariana Cavalcanti Critics of the Olympic project can point a discernible pattern in the delivery of Olympics-related urban interventions: the belated but rushed inaugurations of faulty and/or unfinished infrastructures... More>>

Live Blog On Now: Open Source//Open Society Conference

The second annual Open Source Open Society Conference is a 2 day event taking place on 22-23 August 2016 at Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington… Scoop is hosting a live blog summarising the key points of this exciting conference. More>>

ALSO:

Buildup:

Gordon Campbell: On The Politicising Of The War On Drugs In Sport

It hasn’t been much fun at all to see how “war on drugs in sport” has become a proxy version of the Cold War, fixated on Russia. This weekend’s banning of the Russian long jumper Darya Klishina took that fixation to fresh extremes. More>>

ALSO:

Binoy Kampmark: Kevin Rudd’s Failed UN Secretary General Bid

Few sights are sadder in international diplomacy than seeing an aging figure desperate for honours. In a desperate effort to net them, he scurries around, cultivating, prodding, wishing to be noted. Finally, such an honour is netted, in all likelihood just to shut that overly keen individual up. More>>

Open Source / Open Society: The Scoop Foundation - An Open Model For NZ Media

Access to accurate, relevant and timely information is a crucial aspect of an open and transparent society. However, in our digital society information is in a state of flux with every aspect of its creation, delivery and consumption undergoing profound redefinition... More>>

Keeping Out The Vote: Gordon Campbell On The US Elections

I’ll focus here on just two ways that dis-enfranchisement is currently occurring in the US: (a) by the rigging of the boundary lines for voter districts and (b) by demanding elaborate photo IDs before people are allowed to cast their vote. More>>

Ramzy Baroud: Being Black Palestinian - Solidarity As A Welcome Pathology

It should come as no surprise that the loudest international solidarity that accompanied the continued spate of the killing of Black Americans comes from Palestine; that books have already been written and published by Palestinians about the plight of their Black brethren. In fact, that solidarity is mutual. More>>

ALSO:


Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news