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"Our numbers have increased in Vietnam because the aggression of others has increased in Vietnam. There is not, and there will not be, a mindless escalation." -- Lyndon B Johnson, March 1966
So . . . Americans demanded an exit plan for Iraq from Bush in the last election, and will get a "way forward" instead. The Iraq plan which Bush is set to announce to the public Wednesday night is simply an escalation of his bloody fiasco. Anticipating Bush's call to escalate the troop presence in Iraq, his generals have reportedly readied some 9,000 combat-ready soldiers to deploy into the quagmire, with 7,000 slated for duty in Baghdad and 2,000 headed to the Anbar province to confront resistance groups in Ramadi and Fallujah.
Many of the goals that Bush will use to justify the deployment will have little or nothing to do with the day to day operations of the reinforced combat units who will be left with the same struggle to survive as a wedge and buffer between the warring factions throughout Iraq; the role that they've been made to endure for almost four years since the initial invasion. Bush will come before the American people and posture as if the conflict was just beginning, and as if an escalation of forces and an increased assault on resistance forces in Iraq hadn't already been tried and abandoned out of utter failure.
So much of the discussion about a solution to the violence and the success of the new Iraqi regime has centered on the military role, but, there is also an seemingly intractable political deadlock in Iraq which cannot be solved by merely introducing more U.S. soldiers into the theater.
In fact, if we follow the conclusions of the president's own intelligence network, as reported in a leak of their recommendations for Iraq which they assembled early last year, the presence of U.S. troops in Iraq has actually fueled the resistant violence and encouraged more Iraqis to align themselves with these militarized resistance groups and identify themselves with our nemesis, al-Qaeda; not lessened the scope and influence of the terrorist organizations as Bush has claimed. It doesn't take a military or political strategist to see that introducing even more U.S. soldiers into Iraq is a recipe for heightening the violence there, and a guarantee that our troops will provide an even greater target for those who would actively oppose the U.S. and our manufactured interests.
What, exactly, would our increased forces be tasked with in Iraq? In Baghdad, there is a continuing effort to stifle the pockets of resistance by knocking down doors; killing and maiming some of the Iraqis who defy them, and locking others away indefinitely, without trial or representation, in the new U.S. sponsored, Iraqi gulags. Same as in Ramadi and Fallujah, where our soldiers have already received their initiation into the same type of wanton killing of Iraqis Bush and others deride the insurgents for.
The last time our troops were directed to launch a major offensive in Fallujah, for example, it developed into little more than a massacre of those civilians who were left in the way of the imperious assault by the U.S. forces and their compromised Iraqi counterparts. Lockheed AC-130 'Spectres' were used to drop bombs and fire indiscriminately into the residential areas of the city in a vain attempt to intimidate the insurgents there into compliance. Cobra helicopter gunships were directed to attack the town's population center. White phosphorus, a napalm-like substance which burns the skin, was reportedly used by the U.S. against Iraqis in the assault, including against women and children.
Not surprisingly, the Iraqi recruits refused to help in the assault on Fallujah in any significant way, and, that's what's bound to happen this time in Anbar and elsewhere if Bush insists on moving "forward" with a mission there using his bolstered forces against Iraqis. Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt, who was then-deputy director for Coalition Operations in Iraq, claimed at the time - after insurgents had killed five U.S. soldiers and four American contract workers - that our forces would run right over the resistance and they'd be victorious in their aggression.
"Fallujah will be pacified, just as Tikrit has been pacified, just as Samarra has been pacified, just as Baqubah has been pacified," Kimmitt told reporters in Baghdad April 1, 2004. "It will be at a time and a place of our choosing. It will be methodical. It will be precise and it will be overwhelming."
Because the military had given the residents of Fallujah several days of advanced warning (along with the insurgents), there were few of the original actual combatants left in the city when the military advanced. But, that wasn't the case with the elderly and young, and those without means to escape the assault. Over 95 American Marines were killed in the Fallujah offensive and over 1,000 wounded. Hundreds of civilians in the way of the assault were reportedly killed by collateral violence. U.S. military estimates were, at the time, that "more than half of Fallujah's 39,000 homes were damaged, and about 10,000 of those were destroyed." That's pretty much the state of Fallujah today, subtracting the ongoing assault from the U.S./Iraqi forces. There are certainly resistance forces which have crept back into that area of Iraq, but, the province is also populated by civilians who have nothing at all to do with the insurgency or with any militarized resistance force. Yet, they will almost certainly be targeted in Bush's latest attempt to pacify the Iraqis into compliance and acceptance of the new regime.
That's the prospect for Bush's new escalation. Our American soldiers will be tasked, once again, with delivering their brand of 'shock and awe' to Baghdad and the towns within the al-Anbar province to cow the population into accepting the unpopular, and increasingly autocratic rule of the Maliki cabal. It's really that simple. Tragic really, that many of the very Iraqis who originally enabled the Maliki regime to assume power with their votes and support -- the same Iraqis Bush claims to be liberating with his continued occupation -- will find themselves, hopelessly, dangerously, in the way of Bush's new crackdown.
So much of the continued occupation is about Bush's fragile vanity. The new escalation is, perhaps, Bush's last chance to mow down as many Iraqis as he can in a desperate attempt to push back and restrain the undefined "enemies" of the U.S. occupation who are embedded within the population to prevent his legacy being saddled with the devastating failure. It's amazing that there is no recognition at all about the self-defeating effect of inflicting harm on folks whose survivors will, one day, find themselves acting against our interests out of basic tenets of liberty and self-determination which Bush disregards as mere obstacles to his consolidation of power.
That will be the legacy the Iraqis recognize when they reflect on the effect of Bush's manufactured coup, and on his military takeover of their country. Bush will be remembered as a man obsessed with suppressing the true destiny of Iraq as determined by the Iraqis. All of the new regime is a U.S. invention, fostered by a brutal military occupation. If anything productive or sustaining emerges from the muckraking it will be despite the fiasco, not as a result of the inflicted violence.
Yet, Bush is set to embark on a new course of more of the same. Americans should be appalled at his arrogance, and outraged by his willingness to sacrifice even more of our nation's defenders to continue his bloody Iraq folly. Bush should not be allowed to forge a "way forward" in Iraq, especially in the face of Americans' demands that he craft a way out for our soldiers. He should not be allowed to continue his slaughter of Iraqis just so he can satiate his ridiculous ego. Through pressure, withholding funds, or whatever lever the new Democratic majority can muster, Bush should be denied his latest escalation of his Iraq occupation and be forced to bring our troops home.