December 25, 2005
"We can lose in Iraq and destroy our Army, or
we can just lose."
-- Marine officer quoted by James Fallows in
the Atlantic Monthly
"We are approaching a New Year, and there are
certain things all Americans can expect to see. We will see more sacrifice
-- from our military, their families, and the Iraqi people."
-- New Year Greeting from US President George
1991, after having deceived Iraqi President Saddam Hussein into sending
his invasion forces into Kuwait, the United States assembled a coalition
of 30 or so  nations to militarily eject the Iraqi
forces. Following the first phase of the Persian Gulf Slaughter, having
achieved the stated objective, US President George HW Bush gleefully
proclaimed, "By God, we’ve kicked the Vietnam syndrome once and for all!"
Institute of Technology sage Noam Chomsky continues to cast the Vietnam
War as a "tremendous victory" for US imperialists. 
Chomsky takes the iconoclastic position that the US war on Vietnam was a
"success" because it achieved its major objective of halting the "virus"
of "independent nationalism" from spreading throughout Indochina.
 This is the novel Chomskyian definition of war
victory. There is also the traditional definition: the last warriors left
standing on the battlefield are the victors. When the US military
hightailed it out of Vietnam, the country was left to the Viet Minh;
consequently, the Viet Minh must at the very least also be victors. The
Viet Minh victory brought communists to power in their country destroyed
by US weapons including weapons-of-mass-destruction (WMD).
Chomsky does concede: "it wasn’t a total victory for the US." Certainly
not. In a war, the objectives of all sides must be considered. What about
the major objective of the Viet Minh? It was also achieved: the liberation
of its territory from foreign clutches. Why then trumpet the Vietnam War
as a victory for the US? Was it a US objective for the forces of Ho Chi
Minh to come to power? No. Was it intended that the world would see
footage of Americans scrambling to escape in helicopters from the rooftop
of the US embassy as Viet Minh forces advanced? No. The hasty retreat from
Vietnam was a humiliation to US military might. A peasant army had
defeated the US military! This came after the Viet Minh had defeated the
US-backed French imperialist forces. Therefore, to insist on depicting the
Vietnam War as a victory for the US is puzzling. It seems much more
accurate to state that although the US was defeated it did achieve a major
The defeat gave rise
to Vietnam Syndrome. But before that there was Korea Syndrome. The US
objective was not attained in the Korean War.  It is
difficult to portray the Korean War as any kind of US victory except that
the US forces did manage to avoid being driven off the Korean peninsula by
an ill-equipped peasant Korean People’s army. The US was barely hanging on
in the Pusan region, before it resorted to a vicious offensive to push the
north Korean forces back over the 38th parallel.
Where is the victory
in Afghanistan? The Taliban have been driven from power and Osama bin
Laden and his warriors are in hiding. But Afghanistan remains in turmoil.
Has the major US objective been met? The major objective in Afghanistan
was to draw Afghanistan into the US orbit for geostrategic military and
commercial purposes; among the latter is the laying of pipelines through
Afghanistan to the Arabian Gulf. There is no way that under the present
circumstances pipelines will be laid down anytime soon.
The main objective
in Iraq is controlling the abundant oil reserves. This has obviously not
So the US has
progressed from Korea Syndrome to Vietnam Syndrome to the current Iraq
Desperate for Victory
In January 2002, President George W Bush
gave the State of the Union Address in which he said, "When I called our
troops into action, I did so with complete confidence in their courage and
skill. And tonight, thanks to them, we are winning the war on terror."
14 April 2003, the US declared an end to "major combat operations." A
spokesman for U.S. Central Command, Navy Captain Frank Thorp, warned
however: "It would be premature to say it (the war) is over as long as
there’s continued resistance." 
Then in May 2003, Bush would take part in a piece of foolhardy drama,
landing on the deck of the USS Lincoln in pilot gear. The ship was draped
in a large banner reading: "Mission Accomplished." Bush would later come
under fire for pronouncing a premature end to major combat operations in
In an address to the
nation on 18 December, Bush oleaginously staked a claim to helping
introduce democracy to Iraq, ignoring mention that the US was arm-twisted
by Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani and Shiite officials to hold elections.
Chomsky speaks of the democratization going on in Iraq as "much to the
horror of the occupying forces" who fear the "long-term consequences in
international affairs." Chomsky notes, "Bush and Blair have been so
desperately trying to prevent democracy and any form of sovereignty and
have been forced to back off step-by-step."  It is,
however, insidious to consider a process taking place under the auspice of
occupation as having any meaningful connotation of democracy.
The Bush speech was
chock full of transparent bombast. Chortled Bush, "Our coalition
confronted a regime that defied United Nations Security Council
resolutions, violated a cease-fire agreement, sponsored terrorism and
possessed, we believed, weapons of mass destruction." The US selectivity
in deciding which country must be punished for defying UN Security Council
resolutions is pure hypocrisy, especially considering that the scofflaw
state that calls itself Israel is in decades long violation of such
resolutions. Yet contradictorily, the US rewards Israel. Bush also does
not mention that the US snubbed the UN to aggress Iraq -- in supreme
violation of Nuremberg Law and the UN Charter. He does mention a mistaken
belief that Iraq had WMD -- without any apology. This mendacity requires
something more than an apology because Bush had not claimed a belief
in Iraqi possession of WMD, but had stated it as a known fact.
audacity knows no bounds. Despite the false casus belli, he asserts
without shame, "Yet it was right to remove Saddam Hussein from power. He
was given an ultimatum -- and he made his choice for war. And the result
of that war was to rid the world of a murderous dictator who menaced his
people, invaded his neighbors, and declared America to be his enemy." The
Bush administration has set an international precedent. No longer need a
casus belli be based in fact, a belief is sufficient; but this
belief need not be true. More egregiously, beliefs are irrelevant; it
suffices that when a greater power issues an ultimatum then it must simply
be obeyed. This is otherwise referred to as might-makes-right power
politics or jackboot imperialism. The unsubtle president mixes his
rhetoric with lies. At no time did Hussein make any choice for war. All
Hussein’s actions were contrary to this lie. He feared war, so he opened
up his country to inspections, turned over voluminous documentation to the
UN inspectors, and even went on US TV to speak to the American public with
CBS anchor Dan Rather.
What’s the most important thing you want the American people to
understand, at this important juncture of history?
Saddam Hussein: First, convey to them that the people of Iraq are
not the enemy of the American people. If the American people would
like to know the facts as they are, through a direct dialogue, then I am
ready to conduct a debate with the President of the United States,
President Bush, on television. I will say whatever I have to say about
American policy. He will have the opportunity to say whatever he has to
say about the policy of Iraq. And this will be in front of the world, on
television, in a direct uncensored, honest manner. In front of, as I said,
everyone. And then they will judge what is true and what is false.
But the American
people would not be given the opportunity to judge for themselves. It was
Bush who enthusiastically chose war  and anointed
himself a war president.
Bush demonized the
enemy, sprinkling his speech copiously with the word "terrorists" or
cognate 23 times in the speech. As writing colleague B.J. Sabri points
out: "Technically, terrorism is an extremist violent response to an
extremist violent imposition, but happens only as reaction to an action;
to say the same in a tautological physical sequence, reaction can never
precede action!" That the Middle East and Muslim World in general has been
under the jackboot of western and Zionist imperialism for most of the
preceding century and into the new millennium reveals verifiable
Said Bush, "These
terrorists view the world as a giant battlefield -- and they seek to
attack us wherever they can. This has attracted al Qaeda to Iraq, where
they are attempting to frighten and intimidate America into a policy of
retreat." Retreat? A retreat from where? From the US? No. From the Middle
East? Yes. Do the US forces have a right to occupy lands in the Middle
East where the population does not want them? No. Then what is Bush
blathering on about? Possibly the teleprompter understands better than
According to Bush’s
conviction, "we [Why does Bush include himself? His career is one of
dodging military combat.] will defeat the terrorists by capturing and
killing them abroad, removing their safe havens and strengthening new
allies like Iraq and Afghanistan in the fight we share."
This is nonsense.
Unleashing US-state terrorism for "capturing and killing" people who Bush
labels terrorists (the greater number are disputably not terrorists) gives
rise to new enemies of US imperialism. The wanton killing of civilians and
killing of soldiers defending their homeland as well as the imprisonment
of innocent people in contravention of international law foments
resistance. The rare allies the US has in Iraq are expatriate quislings
like Iyad Allawi and Ahmed Chalabi who were given the electoral thumbs
down recently in Iraq. So much for allies.
Bush continues the
nonsense: "We continue to see violence and suffering, caused by an enemy
that is determined and brutal -- unconstrained by conscience or the rules
of war." Who is this "we" that Bush keeps referring to? Who is it that
barred the media from covering the genocidal attack on Fallujah? Which
military is it that targets the media for elimination? What kind of
conscience was revealed by Tommy Franks and Colin Powell’s disdain for
Iraqi life?  The US government’s conscience was
perhaps best encapsulated by the necrophilic quip of former
secretary-of-state Madeleine Albright that the carnage of a half-million
Iraqi children was a price "worth it" in pursuit of US foreign policy
Knowing that the
tide of American opinion has turned against the occupation in Iraq, Bush
must attempt to convince Americans that victory is still within reach:
"Some look at the challenges in Iraq, and conclude that the war is lost,
and not worth another dime or another day. I don't believe that. Our
military commanders do not believe that. Our troops in the field, who bear
the burden and make the sacrifice, do not believe that America has lost."
This is a faith-based president pleading a faith-based case. Americans are
asked to trust in Bush’s beliefs -- just like they were asked to trust in
Bush’s belief about Iraq’s phantom WMD.
the danger still present in occupying Iraq: "The terrorists will continue
to have the coward’s power to plant roadside bombs and recruit suicide
bombers." It is something pushing the extreme limits of audacity for Bush
to comment on the cowardice of others given that he was a deserter during
the Vietnam War.  Moreover, to label the Iraqi
resistance as cowardly reeks compared to the Shock and Awe campaign
unleashed from great distance upon Iraqis, what Indian writer Arundhati
Roy called: "an act of cowardice that must surely be unrivalled in
Bush asserts that
Iraqis are justifiably optimistic. He derides the partisanship in
"defeatism." Bush informs his "fellow citizens": "not only can we win the
war in Iraq -- we are winning the war in Iraq." This feel-good assertion
is designed to bolster the American public’s dismal perception of the
occupation of Iraq. The American public is coming to realize that the
occupation of Iraq is a sinkhole for taxpayer’s hard-earned money, that
American youth are dying, and that the occupation is a moral cesspool that
has blackened the image of the US and collaborating countries in the rest
of the world.
Bush contends, "It
is also important for every American to understand the consequences of
pulling out of Iraq before our work is done. We would abandon our Iraqi
friends -- and signal to the world that America cannot be trusted to keep
its word." But Americans are understanding that the consequences of
staying in Iraq are tens-of-thousands of US troops coming home mangled,
limbless, or in body bags. Americans are understanding that Iraqi friends
are few when it concerns US imperialism and that the number of enemies of
US imperialism is increasing. Conversely, what Bush does not understand is
the root cause of what he claims to be fighting. This was identified by
University of Chicago political science professor Robert Pape, author of
Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism: "The root
cause of terrorism is occupation." Paradoxically, Bush is creating what he
claims to be fighting. Hence, Bush is in a logical sense the Godfather of
Declared Bush, "To
retreat before victory would be an act of recklessness and dishonor and I
will not allow it." The supreme deserter dares to speak of recklessness
and dishonor. He dares to vow to prevent the retreat of the US as he
himself had retreated behind the cloak of familial privilege. Such is the
mettle of the man who leads the most powerful country on the planet. If
ever there was a paradigmatic case to be made against leadership then Bush
is the quintessential embodiment of such a paradigm.
Bush pleads with
Americans "to have patience in this difficult, noble, and necessary
cause." To have patience to what end? Is this the same noble cause that
Bush refuses to share with grieving activist mother Cindy Sheehan?
But Bush is ready to
gamble the house. He states: "there are only two options before our
country -- victory or defeat."
There is no US
victory to be gained from the invasion and occupation of Iraq. The clear
lesson is that if people steadfastly resist, even the might of the
hyper-power can be thwarted.  What else can one
conclude from the hideously immoral debacle that the US state foisted on
the Iraqi people? Iraq was disarmed of all its major weaponry (except for
the fighting will of its people); the nation was subjected to genocidal UN
sanctions from 1990 to 2003, during which time it was constantly being
illegally bombed; the Iraqis were violently assaulted by the US-UK’s Shock
and Awe; the occupation forces sought to rule through Iraqi proxies; then
the occupiers have sought to incite a civil war and rule through
divide-and-conquer tactics; the latest attempt is to hope for influence
through an illegitimate electoral process. Despite all this, the Iraqi
resistance has persevered unceasingly.
The American people
might learn from the statement of the Iraqi resistance: "We are simple
people who chose principles over fear."
Co-Editor of Dissident Voice, lives in the traditional Mi'kmaq
homeland colonially designated Nova Scotia, Canada. He can be reached at:
 The exact number
of coalition members differs according to source.
on Terror and Iraq: An interview by Andy Clark,"
Amsterdam Forum, 18 December 2005.
the War in Iraq: Noam Chomsky interviewed by David McNeill"
ZNet, 31 January 2005.
 Ho Jong Ho, Kang Sok Hui, and Pak Thae Ho, The US Imperialists
Started the Korean War (Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1993), 14.
President Harry Truman’s memoirs indicate that the US wanted to occupy the
whole of Korea and also Kwantung province in Manchuria.
 Jonathan S. Landay, Sara Olkon, and Martin Merzer, "End
of major combat declared,"
Knight Ridder News Service, 14 April 2003
 Dana Bash, "White
House pressed on 'mission accomplished’ sign,"
CNN, 29 October 2003.
 op. cit.,
pronouncements of Bush administration officials on Iraqi possession of WMD
pre-9-11 and post-9-11 are presented. The uncertainty of pre-9-11
statements contrasts with surety of early post-9-11 statements.
 Martin Merzer, Ron Hutcheson, and Drew Brown, "Bush
pumps fist, 'feels good’ as attack on Iraq begins,"
Knight Ridder News Service, 20 March 2003. An internal television
monitor showed the president pumping his fist and quipping, "Feels good,"
prior to announcing the launching of an illegal invasion of Iraq.
 General Tommy Franks cynically quipped after the invasion of Iraq:
"We don’t do body counts." General Colin Powell expressed similar
sentiments about casualty figures after Operation Desert Storm in 1991:
"That’s not really a number I’m terribly interested in."
 Ian Williams, author of Deserter: George Bush’s War on Military
Families, Veterans, and His Past (Nation Books, 2004), in a personal
communication: "The evidence is clear that Bush used his personal family
influence to secure a coveted slot in the Air National Guard -- which
protected him from conscription and posting to Vietnam. Then he moved to
Alabama and did not turn up for duty at his Texas airbase, nor at the
bases in Alabama, even while the war was continuing. At this time, lesser
mortals who did the same thing were prosecuted and drafted. … As for how
he got away with it… Firstly, there was a pruning of all records from the
Texas Air National Guard, secondly, there were a lot of people who had
colluded in the cover up and had a vested interest in keeping it quiet. …
Secondly, there is an immense deference to authority in the American
media, which predisposes editors against scrutiny of presidential
behavior. … Finally, there is the gullibility of a faith based electorate.
Time and again when speaking on radio in the heartland, I came across
callers who sincerely believed that Bush was a veteran, not least because
he kept appearing at Veterans’ rallies and at military bases, usually in
some form of military garb. There are millions of people in America who
believe what is convenient for their faith systems."
 Kim Petersen, "An
Act of Cowardice that Must Surely be Unrivalled in History: Challenging
the Assumption of Valour,"
Dissident Voice, 29 July 2003.
 Ho et al., op. cit., 230. A similar conclusion was reached after the
Korean War: "The Korean war proved the complete bankruptcy of the
aggression tactics of the US imperialists who tried to achieve their
aggressive aim, counting on their numerical and technical superiority and
resorting to the most brutal methods and means of warfare. It exploded the
myth of their 'mightiness.’"