Wednesday, August 23, 2006

US Ambassador to Iraq Casts Baghdad as Occupation's Last Stand

August 23, 2006

The Battle of Baghdad will determine the future of Iraq" - Zalmay Khalilzad

In an absent-minded replay of Bush's taunting "Bring them on", Khalilzad stood behind our soldiers in his editorial today and invited the swelling resistance in Iraq to converge on Baghdad as the US forces sit hunkered down in their Green Zone of defense of the Maliki government.

"The Battle of Baghdad will determine the future of Iraq," he wrote in his opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal, "which will itself go a long way to determining the future of the world's most vital region." He pleaded with his readers to "give the Iraqis the time and material support necessary to see this plan through, and to win the Battle of Baghdad."

Yet, the mission to reclaim Baghdad has been going on for months - initiated right after Bush's surprise visit to the Green Zone - without any noticeable reduction in violence outside of the cordons of tanks and armored vehicles that the U.S. forces erect around the towns. Neither have the 'foot patrols' that the Pentagon ordered our soldiers to perform in Iraq as a 'goodwill 'gesture' managed to reduce the animosity the Iraqis feel for our invading/occupying forces. Instead, the attacks on our soldiers in Iraq have doubled in the past month, perhaps in response to the U.S. role in Lebanon where U.S.-backed Israeli forces attacked the Shiite group Hizbollah.

In June, the military launched what they thought would be a strengthening of the new center of Iraq's fledgling government by combining Iraqi forces with U.S. troops. In early May, 2006, the Pentagon had sent their first signal since the after the elections that they wanted to reduce the forces. At least it was interpreted that way. Over 3,500 U.S. active duty soldiers who were set to deploy to Iraq were delayed indefinitely. That set off speculation that a drawdown was imminent.

That drawdown never materialized. Instead, later that month, the U.S. force in Iraq was increased by 2,000 troops from Kuwait to bolster the force of about 40,000 combined Iraq/U.S. troops deployed to Baghdad. So, the DoD accounting of 133,000 troops stationed in Iraq was escalated just to retake Baghdad.

Now, well into August, Operation Forward has no more secured Baghdad than the previous mission, dubbed 'Operation Lightning' did in 2005 where Iraqi militias and U.S. troops waged a campaign of repression against the resisting Sunni populations. The present mission is more of the same, with U.S. forces knocking down doors, kidnapping whoever they suspect and holding them indefinitely in one their prisons without charges, basically terrorizing the residents into submission as they paint a target on the military occupied towns.

Bush's equation for troops in Iraq goes like this: More violence = need for more troops. With that prescription, we should leave Iraq by . . . never. Iraq's forces will always be challenged by militarized resistance, even more so, aligned with our aggravating forces. Bush will never get enough soldiers to Baghdad which would effect the type of crushing oppression needed to cow the millions who inhabit the Iraqi city and townships. The best he and Khalilzad can hope for as he sacrifices our soldiers is an artificial prop of an unpopular junta. So why does he persist?

The answer came in his news conference Tuesday, where he scolded the press for suggesting his Iraq mission was a failure, and for challenging him to come up with a reason why our troops are still there, and declared his intention to keep troops deployed there "so long as he's the President"

"This is a campaign!" he blurted out, "It would be wrong, in my judgment, for us to leave before the mission is complete in Iraq." The White House mission is to avoid a predicted crushing defeat of the Occupation Party in the November midterm elections. Bush and his chickenhawk-infested republican majority have meshed the sacrifices of our soldiers into their 'smear and fear' campaigns to make themselves look like they're the ones putting their lives on the line, and want to make the Democrats look like the ones preventing them from 'winning' in Iraq. It's a cynical mission, a shameful one.

Bush's mission is clearly not in the best interest of the Iraqis, nor is it in the best interest of America and our soldiers who we expect to defend our nation against legitimate attack. This month it was suggested by a official close to the WH that Bush was looking at "alternatives to democracy in Iraq". All this time he's been telling the American people that our soldiers are fighting and dying in defense of democracy in Iraq and toward the ultimate democratization of their 'New Middle East'.

Now it looks like the future of Bush's weak and fraudulent vision of military-imposed hegemony on the region, using Iraq as the base, is hopelessly obscured by the U.S. sponsored repression of Iraqis by the Maliki regime, which rivals our sponsorship of Saddam's barbarous reign in its scope and depth of brutality against innocent Iraqis.

Khalilzad seems to get it when he writes that, "One of the most tragic elements of the increasing violence in Baghdad is that it has robbed the Iraqi people of the sense of normalcy they desperately seek after living under crushing tyranny for more than three decades."

What Khalilzad and Bush fail to understand and acknowledge, though, is that our military occupation has greatly heightened the violence instead of reduced it. It's ludicrous to expect that more checkpoints, more search and destroy missions, and more intimidation of our forces will bring about any different result, no matter how long our soldiers keep it up.

General George Custer wrote, in 1874: "If I were an Indian, I often think that I would greatly prefer to cast my lot among those of my people who adhered to the free open plains, rather than submit to the confined limits of a reservation, there to be the recipient of the blessed benefits of civilization, with its vices thrown in without stint or measure."

He mused about Indian's 'freedom' in one instance, and committed himself to their slaughter and imprisonment in the next, much like Bush and the Iraqis. When the Indians were no longer intimidated by Custer's muckraking soldiers, they lay in wait and fought him and his soldiers to their bloody end. Their last stand.

It's unfortunate for our nation, our soldiers, and for the Iraqis, that Bush and Khalilzad aren't on the field like Custer was. They share his arrogant belief in their own righteousness as they attack and kill the 'insurgent' Iraqis like Custer slaughtered his 'savages'. The Bush regime's Battle of Baghdad may well be their own 'last stand'. Let's hope it's not ours as well.

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