Top Scoops

Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | Scoop News | Wellington Scoop | Community Scoop | Search

 

Ivan Eland: Having a Bad Day, Wolfie?

Having a Bad Day, Wolfie?


By Ivan Eland*

After a rocket attack on the Rashid hotel in Baghdad landed only one floor away from a clearly shaken Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, Paul Bremer, the American viceroy for Iraq, stated the obvious—that the U.S. occupation forces had had a bad day. Both the Bush administration and the American people better get ready for many more.

Although the U.S. military maintains that Secretary Wolfowitz was not the target of the attack, that spin is doubtful. Officials base that conclusion on indications that the attack was planned some months ahead of time and that Wolfowitz’s visit had not been announced. But, of course, the attackers could have staked out the hotel, where many occupation VIPs and visiting luminaries hang their hats, and waited in the weeds for high profile prey to arrive. Wolfowitz, the architect of the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq, would have been a lucrative target. Another indication that the attackers might have known about Wolfowitz’s visit was the discovery of a roadside bomb on the secretary’s planned motorcade route.

That spin by the U.S. military would not have been the first attempt to “spin” away bad news. Recently, the military admitted that a Blackhawk helicopter crashed, injuring its crew. But in an attempt to blunt the adverse initial impact of the news of the crash, the military claimed uncertainty about whether or not the helicopter was brought down by hostile enemy fire. No matter that the military knew, at the time, that Iraqi guerrillas had been firing potent weapons at the Blackhawk. Similarly, when asked about a recent Iraqi guerrilla attack that injured 13 service personnel, instead of admitting that the incident occurred, the military initially said that it was under investigation.

The American occupation authority would have every reason to deny that Wolfowitz had been targeted. The occupation authority realizes that if he had been, the Iraqi opposition forces must have had some very good intelligence on the authority’s planned activities. In addition, both the Iraqis and the world would likely conclude that the vaunted U.S. military could not even ensure the safety of an important civilian boss at one of the most protected sites in Iraq. Iraqis might reach the reasonable conclusion that if the U.S. military has trouble protecting such an important VIP, it cannot protect them either. That insecurity might cause many Iraqis to quit cooperating with the American occupation.

Whether or not Wolfowitz was specifically targeted, the overall situation in Iraq is not getting any better for the Bush administration—as the subsequent spate of coordinated suicide bombings shows. The administration insists that the American press is not focusing on the “good news” in Iraq—for example, that the schools have reopened and the streets are cleaner. Of course, the administration is assuming that most of the American press and people ever really cared about the Iraqis. Sadly, the invasion and occupation of Iraq has always been mainly “about us.” Many Americans delighted in seeing U.S. servicemen drape old glory, however briefly for the photo opportunity, over the statue of Saddam Hussein in downtown Baghdad. And for most of the war and its aftermath, the American press has concentrated on U.S. military casualties—what American viewers, listeners and readers are most interested in—and ignored those of the Iraqis. As in Vietnam—where the United States won every battle (the good news of that war) but high U.S. body counts eventually caused the American public to demand a withdrawal—the drip, drip, drip of bad news can kill the joy of a good foreign adventure.

And the trouble has just begun. Data shows that the attacks in Iraq are becoming more frequent, sophisticated and deadly. But the United States has not been successful in getting foreign nations to help out by sending their troops. And throwing more U.S. forces into the incipient quagmire would belie administration claims of improved security and, with an election coming up, could very well be political suicide. Thus, the administration seems to see an escalation of violence to root out the attackers as its only choice. Although keeping overall troop levels constant in Iraq, the military is rushing more forces to the most unstable Sunni Triangle area. The plan is to draw out the guerrillas and kill them. But to do so would kill many more Iraqi civilians. Increased civilian deaths could very well be the last straw for many Iraqis. Already, polls indicate that less than 15 percent of Iraqis regard U.S. forces as liberators, as opposed to 43 percent six months ago. The numbers are unlikely to go back up.

Even if Paul Bremer’s latest spin that the bad days in Iraq will be outnumbered by good days comes true, enough bad days—that is, spectacular attacks on prominent sites or large numbers of occupation personnel—could sink the Bush administration’s Iraqi excursion.

****** ENDS *******

- * 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.

Here is Dr. Eland's bio:
http://www.independent.org/tii/tii_info/bios/ieland.html
Here also is information on the Center on Peace & Liberty:
http://www.independent.org/tii/tii_info/centerpeaceliberty.html

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Top Scoops Headlines

 

Binoy Kampmark: The Major Questions Doctrine: The US Supreme Court Blunts The EPA
The US Supreme Court has been frantically busy of late, striking down law and legislation with an almost crazed, ideological enthusiasm. Gun laws have been invalidated; Roe v Wade and constitutional abortion rights, confined to history. And now, the Environmental Protection Agency has been clipped of its powers in a 6-3 decision.
The June 30 decision of West Virginia v Environmental Protection Agency was something of a shadow boxing act... More>>


Ian Powell: Are we happy living in Handy's Age of Unreason?

On 19 June the Sunday Star Times published my column on the relationship between the Labour government’s stewardship of Aotearoa New Zealand’s health system and the outcome of the next general election expected to be around September-October 2023: Is the health system an electoral sword of Damocles for Labour... More>>


The First Attack On The Independents: Albanese Hobbles The Crossbench
It did not take long for the new Australian Labor government to flex its muscle foolishly in response to the large crossbench of independents and small party members of Parliament. Despite promising a new age of transparency and accountability after the election of May 21, one of the first notable acts of the Albanese government was to attack the very people who gave voice to that movement. Dangerously, old party rule, however slim, is again found boneheaded and wanting... More>>


Dunne Speaks: Roe V. Wade Blindsides National

Momentum is everything in politics, but it is very fragile. There are times when unexpected actions can produce big shifts and changes in the political landscape. In 2017, for example, the Labour Party appeared headed for another hefty defeat in that year’s election until the abrupt decision of its then leader to step aside just weeks before the election. That decision changed the political landscape and set in train the events which led to Labour being anointed by New Zealand First to form a coalition government just a few weeks later... More>>

Digitl: Infrastructure Commission wants digital strategy
Earlier this month Te Waihanga, New Zealand’s infrastructure commission, tabled its first Infrastructure Strategy: Rautaki Hanganga o Aotearoa. Te Waihanga describes its document as a road map for a thriving New Zealand... More>>


Binoy Kampmark: Leaking For Roe V Wade
The US Supreme Court Chief Justice was furious. For the first time in history, the raw judicial process of one of the most powerful, and opaque arms of government, had been exposed via media – at least in preliminary form. It resembled, in no negligible way, the publication by WikiLeaks of various drafts of the Trans-Pacific Partnership... More>>