"This is a racist and imperialist war. The warmongers who stole the White House (you call them 'hawks', but I would never disparage such a fine bird) have hijacked a nation's grief and turned it into a perpetual war on any non-white country they choose to describe as terrorist."—American film actor Woody Harrelson
January 14, 2005—Occasionally, jokes can be instructive. The following is an example: Three patients in a mental hospital find a large book. They decide to read it to make sense of its content. After the first one read it, he decreed, it was a great love story. And, when the second one read it, he announced, it was a study of mathematics. But after the third one read it, he insisted, it was a cookbook. Squabbling to prove who was right, they went to the head doctor to ask for his opinion. When the doctor saw the book, he exclaimed, "So . . . It was you three who took my telephone directory!"
Along these lines, can George W. Bush, Colin Powell, or Paul Wolfowitz make up their minds on their rationales to invade Iraq? Bush thunders that he invaded Iraq because the "tyrant could give these terrible weapons [WMD] to terrorists who will attack the United States." Powell goes beyond Bush’s "divination" to assert that the invasion was necessary to "bring democracy to Iraq." As for Wolfowitz, a major architect of the war, the invasion had a different agenda: "It will bring a solution between the Zionist occupiers of Palestine and the occupied Palestinians."
What does Dick Cheney say? Cheney (the equivalent of our head doctor) does not waste time in declaring his imperialist quip. He obliquely attributes the occupation of Iraq to the conditions created by 9/11, and establishes a blueprint for World Empire through three stages that I identified (part 24: http://onlinejournal.com/iraq/122304Sabri-24/122304sabri-24.
html ) as the "mission" [Iraq], "undertaking" [The Middles East], and a "greater mission" [The world]. As such, 9/11 has become a pretext for reprising the colonialist expansion of empire first interrupted when the U.S. renounced the annexation of Canada in the 1920s, and later, when it gave up the Philippines in 1946.
Since the "mission," according to Cheney’s vocabulary of activist colonialism, is the imperialist conquest of Iraq, it is imperative to address the other side of conquest: the war to achieve it. It is here where Cheney and supportive media elevated the bulldozing of reality to an art.
Invariably, while Cheney, Bush, and Powell routinely exaggerate the virtues of invasion, they consistently ignore the devastation they inflicted upon Iraq and its people, as well as the implacable Iraqi struggle against the occupation. Because of a fatuous mentality that indulges in spins but discards reality, and as the occupation regime settled in and resistance to it began, the U.S. was fast to claim that those who were fighting its order were remnants of the old regime.
In the meanwhile, as the resistance persisted, the list of labels kept growing to include Saddam’s loyalists, foreign fighters, Baathists, terrorists, Arab Jihadists, Islamists, Qaeda-ists, Iranian infiltrators, Sunni insurgents, Shiite rebels, Shiite renegades, Sunni rebels, thugs, murders, and other labels. As for labels given to Iraq and cities revolting against the occupation, the list is somewhat limited, but indicates the purposeful ideological manipulation of U.S. war managers: war-torn country, restive Fallujah, rebel city, volatile region, Sunni triangle, Sunni provinces, etc.
Two labels though, "Sunni rebels" and "Shiite insurgents" deserve some attention. For one thing, 95 percent of Iraqis are either Sunni or Shiite. Hence, when the U.S. battles Sunnis and Shiites, who else remains in Iraq? Most Arabs are either Sunni or Shiite; and some of Iraq’s non-Arab larger minorities such as the Kurds and Turcomans are mostly Sunni Muslim, but sizable groups within them are Shiite. Knowing this, how do all these groups from all ethnic and confessional backgrounds fit into the U.S. classification of forces hostile to the occupation?
For example, take the large Kurdish minority that is acting (under the occupation) as if it were a large majority. The Kurds are the most enthusiastic backers of the occupation for nationalistic and separatist reasons; yet they are mostly Sunni and have nothing to do with the American-dubbed: "Sunni insurgency." Equally, the term, "Shiite insurgency" is misleading. In fact, not all Shiites, whether Arab, Kurds, or Turcomans, are rising against the occupation; so why does the U.S. generalize the anti-occupation uprising as "Shiite insurgency?"
Moreover, if the U.S. war in Iraq were a war of religions pitting occupied Muslims against mostly Christian occupiers, then the term, "Muslim insurgency" would be more in tune with that situation. But the war in Iraq is a war of colonialism; therefore, it was widely expected that the occupation would change the fundamental connotations of the conflict to achieve its goal of conquest.
Interestingly, when the United States refers to its appointed Arab and Kurdish allies, it invariably calls them, "Iraqis," as in "Iraqi foreign minister, etc.," notwithstanding the fact that those people are either Sunni or Shiite. This means one thing: Iraqis could keep their Iraqi identification, but only if they renounce armed opposition to the occupation. Oppose the occupation or join the uprising, and you instantly become, either a "Sunni insurgent," or a "Shiite rebel."
Consequently, by omitting the national quality from all those Iraqis who oppose the occupation and concentrate on a specific religious creed within Islam, the U.S. is exploiting the traditional internal Islamic confessional discord to reinforce the occupation regime.
To demonstrate the absurdity of the American way of labeling Iraqis, imagine that a foreign power occupies New York City, and that New Yorkers rise against the occupation. The occupiers of NYC would then label the fighters of Bensonhurst, "Catholic insurgents"; the fighters of Borough Park, "Hassidic rebels"; the fighters of Harlem, "Evangelical insurgents"; the fighters of Brighton Beach, "Jewish rebels"; the fighters of Queens, "Catholic renegades"; and so on.
Recently, the "brilliant minds" at the hyper-imperialist press agency, the "Associated Press," entered into the foray of how to nominate the Iraqis by proposing two new categories: (1) Shiite Muslim majority, and (2) Arab Sunni minority. According to trite colonialist categorizations, the AP immediately divided the Iraqis into two factions with the intention to spread ignorance and misinformation among its countless correspondents, world journalists who depend on its reporting, and among the ultimate target: the readers.
Many things are true about Iraq; just as the rest of the ancient world, Iraq has six millennia of history behind it where all races and creeds intermingled. But in modern Iraq, for instance, it is true that Iraqi Arab Shiite Muslims are a majority, but they are not an absolute majority. Second, it is also true that Iraqi Arab Sunni Muslims are a minority, but they are a very large minority that is almost half of the Arab Shiite majority. Regardless of this imperialistically motivated census imposed on Iraq by the United States, is the composition of the Iraqi people relevant to the rationales for the invasion and occupation of Iraq? Of course not, but in its unlimited preposterous ways, the U.S. is still busy dividing the Iraqis in categories and assigning future nominal power as per the result of a bogus election, while its forces still occupy Iraq, and its embassy controls its decision-making and finances.
Conclusively, the rule of a majority or minority is not an important issue under occupation or prospected colonization. If the rule of the majority in Iraq is mandatory, then the U.S. occupation force, as a workforce living in Iraq, is an insignificant minority, thus, categorically, has no right to rule the country.
Furthermore, if Iraq were not occupied, what should count as a political settlement is the rule of a legitimate political majority (regardless of nationality or religion,) coalitions, and consensus. More importantly, the idea of an exclusive rule of a religious majority is fascism, and the only state that practices it is Israel where only people of Jewish faith can immigrate, obtain citizenship, promulgate laws, and rule.
Decidedly, therefore, by employing the terms, "Shiite Muslim majority" and "Arab Sunni minority," the AP pushed its "analyzing" tool to the limit of imperialist sophistry—it juxtaposed the religious-confessional identity of the majority to the national religious confessional identity of the minority. In doing so, it deprived the majority from national reference, but endowed the minority with a nationality attached to confessional identity. The game is all too obvious: by reducing Iraq to miniature antagonistic elements, Cheney and Bush hope to destroy the idea of a national Iraqi character to ease implementing colonialism.
Under this light, any U.S. reference to groups battling its occupation as Shiite or Sunni is the highest point of ideological manipulation and demagogy. According to such labeling, an Iraqi, be it Muslim (Shiite or Sunni), Christian, Turcoman, or Kurd is good only when he or she accepts succumbing to the occupation. U.S. planners are adopting long experimented British colonialist practices to facilitate conquest:
* Divide and rule by exploiting the Arab Shiite resentment toward Arab Sunnis, and artificially tie all of them to Saddam’s regime.
* Inflate the Shiite mirage of attaining power through a bogus election, thus inducing chauvinism and incipient fascism in their political attitudes.
* Exploit Sunni’s chauvinism and prejudice against the Shiites, and threaten them with Shiite power thus cajoling them into accepting the occupation. This is not to mention the threat to label the Sunnis with ties to al Qaeda, meaning relate them to bin Laden, meaning they are the enemy of the U.S.
* Exploit legitimate Kurdish national aspirations, but use their ultra-chauvinist militias as the wildcard against both Sunni and Shiite Arabs.
* Exploit the fear of Iraqi Christian and other non-Muslim groups of a Shiite rule, thus enlisting them as counter-balance to Shiite dominance and Arabism in general.
The latest addition to the occupation’s labeling of the Iraqi resistance, however, is the phrase, "suicide bomber," which is the subject of our brief enquiry on Cheney’s war. Commenting on the latest attack against the American occupation force in the Iraqi city of Mosul, USA TODAY, a flagship of Gannett Company, a traditional imperialist concern that owns several military magazines and owns half of the newspapers and TV stations in the U.S., flashed the headline: "Suicide bomber blamed in blast." ( http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/iraq/2004-12-22-us-iraq_x
.htm ) With just one phrase, the paper transformed the war in Iraq to an unqualified suicide-bomber, and the attack to a blast, as if the military base were a steam engine that imploded because of internal pressure build-up. [Italics added]
The Washington Post, a hyper-imperialist information medium, flashed the headline: "Iraq base was hit by suicide attack, U.S. general says." ( http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A20775-2004Dec
22.html?referrer=email )The WP did two things: (1) by omitting the modifier, "American" from the word "base," it implied that that base was actually an Iraqi base, and (2) by qualifying the attack as suicide, it followed the ideological pattern of Cheney and Bush who reduced Middle Eastern events and the war on Iraq to "suicide-bombers" and "fanatics" running amuck. [Italics added]
As for the New York Times, the "educated" voice of U.S. Zionism, its headline states, "Suicide bombing is now suspected in Mosul attack." [Italics added]. ( http://www.nytimes.com/auth/login?URI=http://www.nytimes.com
/2004/12/23/international/middleeast/23iraq.html&OQ=orefQ3Dl ... )The NYT was theatrical. The editorial board decided that the attack is just a "suspected suicide attack," implying that it could turn out to be something else. The deep implication is that if the attack was not suicidal, then what was it, and for what purpose? Of Course, the NYT could not expand on such questions, because its readers might begin to make questions of their own.
Notice that none of the three headlines hinted to war. But, in spite of this denial, U.S. politicians, political analysts, and media sporadically but grudgingly admit to insurgency, and, on each occasion, they refer to the war as "violence," or isolated acts of sabotage, as if they were not the ones who were responsible for the conflagration of atrocities that are devouring Iraq. In particular, the persistent reference to "violence" in Iraq without giving it a specific context is a strategy aimed at presenting the anti-occupation uprising as if it were internal strife or disorderly street violence.
With this outdated tactic, American doctrinaires of empire could deceive the American people with their characterization of the war, but they cannot deceive themselves: they know that war is raging in Iraq and that it is taking its toll on all sides. They also know they cannot win it, unless they vaporize all Iraqi cities opposing their Nazi-like takeover with nuclear bombs. This is not a remote hypothesis: the U.S. has already used radioactive uranium in its wars, and the use of nuclear weapons to eradicate the resistance is now randomly but consistently advocated by various imperialist quarters in the United States, especially the "Project for the New American Century."
Notwithstanding how Cheney theorizes on his war, warring sides throughout history have fought each other using multiple weapons and tactics. Weapons included animal bones, spears, arrows, and cruise missiles. Tactics included sudden attack, retreat and attack, and traps. As for the extent and determination to fight, do American generals ever hear the popular idiom that one would fight "tooth and nail?" It is axiomatic that those who say it mean they will fight with everything available: teeth and nails, therefore, are instruments of war.
The fundamental question, Is there war in Iraq?" Yes. Or as George W. Bush claims, are the ceaseless attacks against his occupation force "acts of desperation?" No. These attacks are not acts of desperation but daring guerrilla warfare that is demolishing Cheney’s vision of conquest. In the Mosul attack for example, and contrary to American media reports, Iraqi sources speak of over 160 U.S. soldiers killed. There were hundreds of GIs at the mess tent at the hour of the attack. Imagine a car carrying 12 tons of explosives detonates among hundreds of soldiers but leaves only 22 killed! This is not about body count, its falsehood or veracity; but the undeniable fact is that the Iraqi resistance to the American occupation is taking a turn that Cheney and Bush insist upon dismissing—at least publicly.
In fighting terms, is a military attack, such as the Mosul attack, against a fortified American base in broad daylight, an act of desperation or courage? Americans still romanticize the Alamo as a symbol of resilience in the face of sure death, and mythologize Custer for his last stand. So, why do U.S. politicians view an astounding attack against their occupying forces as an act of desperation?
The answer is decisive: (1) it is propaganda to confuse the American people on the course of war, and (2) its purpose is to hide mortal disorientation in front of an adversary that does not accept occupation. By way of enquiry, is "suicide bombing" really suicide or a form of warfare? Let us examine the situation:
The American way of war
After the U.S. invaded Iraq, it continued its war with 138,000 soldiers wearing bulletproof vests and Kevlar helmets, and around 35,000 foreign mercenaries including British contingents. During its daily aggression to subdue the resistance, the U.S. uses F-16s, F-18s, and F-22s, Apache and cobra helicopters, tanks, armored vehicles, artillery, poisonous gas, Napalm, fire, and cluster bombs. Aside from forces stationed in Iraq, the U.S. also has carriers in the Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean; military bases in the Arabic peninsula, Egypt, Jordan, Israel, and Turkey. And as if this were not sufficient, U.S. forces depend on the most modern means of communications and satellite surveillance, as well as on NATO’s logistical support and military bases. In addition, the occupation has the luxury of a free unlimited Iraqi fuel supply, seized Iraqi financial assets, un-audited oil revenues, and it can partially depend on dispossessed or co-opted Iraqis to fight its war.
The Iraqi way of war
With the fall of Baghdad, the dissolution of the Iraqi Armed Forces, state apparatuses, ministries, and the collapse of civilian structures, the Iraqis decidedly lost the organizing force of the state and its war making capabilities. More importantly, in the post-invasion period, the U.S. deliberately destroyed the military hardware of the former Iraqi Army, including jetfighters, tanks, armored vehicles, transport carriers, ammunitions—although it transferred a significant quantity to its Kurdish allies but not to the Shiite Arabs that it regards as enemy despite collaboration. However, this does not exclude that Iraqis, regardless of political affiliation, could have stashed weapons to fight the occupation force. Having this in mind, then, "What is the Iraqi way of war in front of the most formidable military force in history?" Answer: to fight an enemy of superior sophistication, the Iraqis use road bombs, mines, rockets, and . . . they use their lives.
Based on the above, U.S. forces can fight an advanced techno-war, Iraqi fighters cannot—after two devastating American wars on Iraq, and a 13-year old military embargo, they have no such capacity. Regardless, if the resistance with its improvised road-bombs and self-immolating attacks can inflict sizable fatalities and casualties on the aggressors, then why change tactics?
Emphatically, because of a colossal imbalance of power, if an Iraqi citizen could lose his life just by staring at an American soldier, and if frontal assault is impractical even if conducted by 2,000 marching fighters, then it is logical that an alternative way must exist: guerrilla warfare. If the purpose of an Iraqi fighter is to die so his death can contribute to the liberation of his land, then a kamikaze style attack is a valid way of war. If the French did it against the Germans, the Japanese against WWII Allies, then why should it be unreasonable that the Iraqis do it against their occupiers?
A comprehensive answer is simple: U.S. imperialists want to minimize the war to assuage the American people’s fear of a protracted Iraqi military nightmare. Another objective is to wrap the attacks with religious innuendos borrowed from Israeli Zionism, implying that U.S. forces are fighting Muslim fanatics who just like to kill themselves "so they can go to heaven." In fact, by calling an attacker, a "suicide-bomber," the U.S. depicts that particular fighter as if he were some sort of disgruntled employee who, after killing a score of people, commits suicide.
But the Iraqi fighter in Mosul did not kill U.S. soldiers and then end his life! He deliberately carried out a planned attack against a military target (U.S. occupying forces) knowing that he would die instantly in the process.
Maybe Cheney can bulldoze all the buildings in Iraq, but he cannot bulldoze the truth about war.
Next: Part 26: Dick Cheney, numbers and the metaphysics of 9/11
B. J. Sabri is an Iraqi-American anti-war activist.
The views expressed herein are the writers' own and do not necessarily reflect those of Online Journal.
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