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Beware the Wounded Beast: America Has Lost the Iraq War

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By Dave Lindorff

The Iraq War has been lost.

    The British are acknowledging this fact by pulling out their troops from Basra, Iraq’s second largest city, handing over the city to the control of Shia militias. For all intents and purposes, the “Coalition of the Willing” is now dead. America is now going it alone.

    Bush is not acknowledging defeat, but has indirectly admitted it by saying that some troops can start being brought home soon, even though clearly nothing has been accomplished with the addition of 30,000 troops for the last six months.

    He acknowledged defeat too, by flying into Iraq stealthily in the dead of night this week, landing at a remote desert outpost in western Iraq, instead of going to Baghdad, and meeting with American military officials, instead of with the Iraqi government. (So much for Iraq’s being a “sovereign nation”! Can you imaging a head of state of some foreign government, together with his war secretary and his secretary of state, flying in unannounced to some remote American state, and not even meeting with American government officials?) Clearly the US military could not guarantee the president’s safety in Baghdad and the Green Zone, so he had to go to a remote outpost where he was safe behind razor wire, mines and an obscene arsenal of soldiers, tanks and gunships.

    With the British giving up on their quadrant of Iraq—a strategically crucial location at the northern tip of the Persian Gulf, where the bulk of supplies for the US military in Iraq are offloaded, and from which the vast majority of Iraq’s dismal oil experts are exported—American troops are stranded, and dependent upon air drops for their secure delivery of supplies.

    Reports say that the real reason Bush is talking about troops coming home is because the military in Iraq is broken, and can no longer sustain a commitment of 160,000 soldiers and marines in the country.

There is no choice; they have to start coming home.

    As in Vietnam, where open mutiny and sullen disobedience became the norm after 1968, in Iraq, the military is finally cracking. Seven enlisted soldiers even dared to write an open and scathing critique of the war in an opinion piece in the New York Times, saying that the US was widely viewed as an occupation force in Iraq, and that Iraqis wanted us out—the sooner the better.  The organization Iraq Veterans Against the War is growing rapidly in membership. The military has resorted to offering potential enlistees a whopping $20,000 bonus to go to boot camp immediately, because recruitment and reenlistment numbers for this year are so dismally low. Junior officer resignations are at a record high.

    As military family members are pointing out, the American military is no longer a volunteer force. In name it may appear to be, but once stop-loss orders start routinely preventing troops from quitting the service, it is no longer volunteer, whatever it may be called. People are being coerced into fighting. And once you have a coerced army loyalty goes out the window.

    While there is nothing to be done about the disaster in Iraq, which will go down in military history as one of the great defeats of all time—the most powerful military the world has ever known beaten by a disorganized assortment of ill-trained and ill-equipped guerrilla fighters—this is nonetheless a dangerous moment.

Wounded animals are dangerous animals, and President Bush and his gang of Neocon wackoes, badly wounded by defeat in Iraq, are not anxious to slither off the political stage as losers. Hence the plans in the works to go double or nothing with an all-out aerial assault on Iran.

    Numerous reports, including most credibly one in The Times in London (owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.), suggest that a plan has already been laid out for a three-day massive bombardment on over 1200 targets in Iran, which would attempt to destroy not just that country’s nascent nuclear processing capability, but also its government, communications, and military facilities, essentially leaving the country of 70 million a smoking ruin.

    Such an attack, with no international support, no UN sanction, no threat, imminent or otherwise, and no provocation, would be, pure and simple, a war crime of the first order. It would also put the US at war, not just with Iran, but also with virtually the entire Islamic world.

    The Neocon fantasy is that after such a blitzkrieg, Iranians would rise up and overthrow their leaders—those leaders who survived—but history has shown that in such times of national disaster, people don’t turn on their leaders, but rather rally to them, however unpopular they may have been.  This is likely to be all the more true in the case of Iran, a country with a history going back as long as China’s with a strong sense of national identity, and a long recent history of feeling put upon by the U.S. (America, after all, overthrew Iran’s first democratic government in the 1950 in a CIA-inspired coup which set up the regime of the hated Shah Reza Palevi).

    An Iran at war would be free to set its agents loose to attack American targets around the world, and inside the U.S., and under the doctrine of reciprocity, would be justified in attacking anything in America that came under attack in Iran. If we attacked Iranian nuclear facilities, they could attack American nuclear facilities, with all the concomitant resulting spread of radioactive materials. If we attacked power plants or oil refineries, they would be free to do the same. If we attacked radio and television stations, so could they. To be sure, Iran would have to use guerrilla tactics in its attacks, where America would be using B-1 and B-2 bombers and ship-launched cruise missiles, but as has been observed, a terrorist or guerrilla is just a bomber without a fancy plane.

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Dave Lindorff, winner of a 2019 "Izzy" Award for Outstanding Independent Journalism from the Park Center for Independent Media in Ithaca, is a founding member of the collectively-owned, journalist-run online newspaper (more...)

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