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William Rivers Pitt: All Fall Down

All Fall Down

By William Rivers Pitt
t r u t h o u t | Perspective

Wednesday 26 July 2006

So the kids they dance
And shake their bones,
And the politicians throwing stones,
Singing ashes ashes, all fall down.
Ashes ashes, all fall down.

- John Perry Barlow

It has come down to this.

"Sectarian Break-Up of Iraq Is Now Inevitable, Admit Officials," read the headline from Monday's UK Independent. "'Iraq as a political project is finished,' a senior government official was quoted as saying," continued the report, "adding: 'The parties have moved to plan B.' He said that the Shia, Sunni and Kurdish parties were now looking at ways to divide Iraq between them and to decide the future of Baghdad, where there is a mixed population. 'There is serious talk of Baghdad being divided into (Shia) east and (Sunni) west,' he said."

At a minimum, the predicted Balkanization of Iraq points to nothing more or less than the comprehensive failure of the Bush administration to bring democracy to that nation. The Iraqi parliament is today comprised of Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish elements, the three main groups that comprise the Iraqi population. Yet the fighting within this parliament mirrors the bloodshed taking place on the streets, and this signaled desire to split Iraq into three parts means there isn't any hope left for anything other than an utterly shattered state.

It is hard to be surprised by this, considering the nature of the Iraqi government the Bush administration actively assisted in cobbling together. Consider the speaker of the Iraqi Parliament, who said on July 13th, "Some people say 'we saw you beheading, kidnapping and killing. These acts are not the work of Iraqis. I am sure that he who does this is a Jew and the son of a Jew. I can tell you about these Jewish, Israelis and Zionists who are using Iraqi money and oil to frustrate the Islamic movement in Iraq."

That, friends and neighbors, is a true statesman. Tip O'Neill would be proud to share a title with this fellow. No wonder things are going so well. With friends like this, who needs friends?

At worst, a move toward dividing Iraq sets the stage for an even darker turn of events. Any division of Iraq will be controlled and mandated by the majority Shiite faction, which has little love for the Sunnis. The Shiites will make sure any land partition will deliver to them the choicest petroleum deposits and production areas, effectively depriving the Sunnis of an economy. The possibility of mass slaughter of Sunnis by Shiite militias looms large. The largest benefactor of all this, of course, will be Iran, whose Shiite government would love both the buffer zone created by a Shiite Iraq and a taste of any Iraqi oil revenues the Shiites can plumb.

It has come down to this.

George W. Bush announced on Tuesday that American military forces will be collapsing back into Baghdad in an attempt to quell the unspeakable sectarian violence taking place. At least 100 civilians a day are being slaughtered in the mayhem. Pulling American troops out of wider Iraq will encourage those doing the fighting and killing outside Baghdad to step up their violence, and will leave the remaining US troops outside Baghdad exposed and vulnerable.

The invasion and occupation of Iraq is more than three years old now. This redeployment of American forces back into the capital puts one in mind of a tape being rolled backwards. Three years ago, we hit Baghdad with "Shock and Awe," rolled our forces into the city and then expanded those forces out into the countryside. The tape is being reversed, the troops are funneling back in, but that's as far as it goes. Mr. Bush refused to consider an exit strategy or timetable for withdrawal when directly asked on Tuesday. The shock and awe, therefore, remains in place on any number of levels.

Two American soldiers were killed in Iraq on Saturday. Three American soldiers were killed in Iraq on Monday. Another American soldier was killed in Iraq on Tuesday. Thirty five American soldiers have been killed in the month of July. To date, 2,569 American soldiers have been killed. Approximately 20,000 American soldiers have been wounded, many of them grievously and permanently.

There is no accurate accounting of the dead and maimed among the civilian population of Iraq because, as General Tommy Franks said, we don't do body counts. We make them, yes, but we don't count them.

A very small number of people have become rich beyond the dreams of avarice thanks to this war. They are petroleum magnates, gasoline commodities speculators and weapons manufacturers, for the most part. The failed state we have created in Iraq makes Iran quite happy, but also serves the purposes of those who profit from wars. The failed state we have created in Iraq will someday serve to justify the next war, and the next, ad infinitum.

It has come down to this. Again. We have, you see, been here before. Our support of Iran begat our support of Saddam Hussein once the Shah was overthrown. Our support of Hussein begat his reign of terror, the invasion of Kuwait and the first Gulf War. Our support of the anti-Soviet mujeheddin in Afghanistan, followed by our total abandonment of that war-ravaged nation once the Soviets were beaten, begat the Taliban and al Qaeda. This begat September 11, which begat our current Iraq fiasco for reasons only a few reality-deprived hard-liners in Washington care to even try to explain. What we are doing in Iraq today will begat the next series of horrors, and the next, and the next.

It has come down to this, it will always come down to this, because failure is profitable in the long run for a select few. It will always come down to this until the cycle is broken, forever.


William Rivers Pitt is a New York Times and internationally bestselling author of two books: War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know and The Greatest Sedition Is Silence.

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