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Iraq: Break It You Own It

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Sometimes I get an incredulous and go MEGO – Mine Eyes Glaze Over. I get that look on my face when I listen to the statements on Iraq oozing from both Republicans and Democrats behaving like a bunch of disoriented bumbling fools trying to dance a tango to an orchestra playing a waltz. Going MEGO allows me to stop giggling in a way that to the casual observer would call for closer scrutiny of the type usually reserved for the criminally insane.

The surreal nature of the Iraq war has taken on a kind of quixotic overtone that suggests on the one side “America is winning in Iraq and we’re winning the war on terror.” That’s Bushspeak for “I don’t know what the heck is going on over there with those camel F***ers.” Then there is the “oh, really?” crowd silently mumbling to our severely challenged commander-in-chief “O, you poor, poor silly and disillusioned man, can’t you see that because you broke it you must now own it?”

Limited military successes are blown up and out of all proportions, magnified by sycophantic media spin to hype these small victories to make them appear bigger and bolder than the reality of the situation. With suicides now becoming as regular in the armed forces serving in Iraq as text messages and the admission that the insurgency is becoming more and more sophisticated and effective we’ve turned to blaming Iran and Al-Qaeda for everything that’s wrong in Iraq.

Now our dear demented leader is contemplating arrogantly naming the national army of a nation that he does not like a special terrorist organization. Maybe Iran’s enigmatic president will then retaliate by naming American forces in Iraq an illegal, occupation force that is committing acts of terrorism on a daily scale. We alone, rather President George Bush alone, is allowed the near divine right to meddle, invade, sell arms, decide who is a terrorist, enemy combatant, rogue state, dictator and American friend and ally.

Of course, this also comes on the heels of President Bush announcing a $30 billion military aid package to Israel, Saudi Arabia and a few other oil-rich Middle East states and nuclear cooperation with India. So while President Bush berates and threatens Iran about a nuclear program that it claims is for peaceful means he not only wants to arm Israel – a state that reportedly does have nuclear bombs – to the teeth; he rewards the Saudis with more military hardware – the same nation whose cousins are fighting and killing American servicemen in Iraq and whose nationals killed innocent Americans right here in 2001.

And we wonder why America has lost credibility around the world.

The daily propaganda drivel that the troop surge and new military tactics in Iraq are working is for domestic consumption only. The Iraqi insurgency is testing each and every day the capabilities of the world’s most technologically equipped military. Urban guerilla warfare is a 100 times more deadly than rural guerilla warfare. In the jungle the lines are more distinct. In an urban setting there is absolutely no way for a 19- year old kid from Ohio, scared so stiff that he’s literally crapping in his pants, unable to speak any other language other than English, to know that the nice guy who said “God Bless America” at 8:00 a.m. when he drove by is the same guy how pointing an RPG-7 at his humvee 8:00 p.m in a dark street in Sadr City.

But what the United States and its allies in Iraq have forgotten is that while counter insurgency tactics boils down to a military contest between two groups of armed combatants there is a vitally more important component that does not have a military tag on it. Insurgents derive their power from the support that they receive from the population. Without that the insurgency in Iraq would have long ago fizzled out.

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The problem for the American occupation is that it cannot claim the moral high ground nor does it have the propaganda control to demonize the insurgency because of the modern nature and time of the war. And America cannot win over a population that sees itself as faring worst in terms of human, social and economic improvements when compared to the former rule of Saddam Hussein. Indeed, the most backward student of guerilla warfare would have to conclude that the insurgency is winning since the huge American military presence has done little to win the hearts and minds of ordinary Iraqis. On the contrary, it has only helped these organizations to recruit more and more foot soldiers.

The sad thing is that Mr. Bush and company who rushed into this military adventure are now caught in a bind. Withdrawing from Iraq without some tangible victory will be seen as a humiliation. But there will not be a military victory because when all is said and done the one uniting factor between all of Iraq’s insurgency factions is a collective hatred for America and a fanatical disposition to kill any American on Iraq’s soil. This hatred of Americans is not limited to the insurgency but is a sentiment that permeates throughout the Iraqi population.

So that when President Bush and company start yapping about how America is winning and in control of the battlefield, again I go MEGO. Is there a clearly defined battlefield? Pray show me it on the Iraqi map. What we broke and now own is an Iraq where the forces lined up against the United States occupation looks something like this: Sunni extremists, Al Qaeda terrorists, Shiite militiamen, criminals and armed tribes. A weak puppet government headed by  a man who is loyal to Iran – not the United States or President Bush – and a disloyal, corrupt Iraqi police force and army that are in league with the various factions now killing our servicemen and women.

Recently published reports say that the United States military in Iraq could not account for over 190,000 weapons including rifles, handguns and ammunition. We know that it did go to Iraq. So where is all that hardware now? You can bet in the hands of the insurgency. And Italy foiled a multi-million dollar plot to ship more arms to the insurgency in Iraq. That’s only ONE foiled plot. How many more were successful?

Then we hear about how Sunnis are joining with the occupation forces to battle Al-Qaeda militants on the ground and the mainstream media touts this as “progress in Iraq.” And we’re also arming some of the militiamen to help as proxies in this counterinsurgency war. Yes, proxies and alliances are necessary tools in any counterinsurgency and the United States military has no choice but to use them. But can their loyalties be guaranteed? When the national police are collaborating with militia commanders and not the central government holed up in the Green Zone then these alliances are suspect at best.

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Finally, what we broke we now insist be fixed by an Iraqi government that we helped to install and only succeeded in fueling more anger and resentment. Today, Iraq is more divided than anytime in its history and only a common and abiding hatred for America and Americans unites these warring factions committed to killing as many Americans as they can. The Shiite-dominated Iraqi government does not love President Bush or the American occupation but it cunningly tolerates the US presence while it consolidates its rule.

Learning from the lessons of history the majority Shiite population have used the American invasion to get rid of a pesky dictator, subjugate the minority Sunni that ruled Iraq for decades, and got the bonus of a large, armed force that offers it protection and hunts down and kills its enemies without the government ever having to leave the Green Zone. In this regard the Shiites have not made the mistakes it made when England invaded Iraq and it lost political power by actively leading an internal rebellion.

Nouri Al-Malaki, Iraq’s Prime Minister, is tied to the apron strings of Iran. The mistake that President Bush and company are making is that they want to instill and dictate American values, systems and processes in Iraq without taking into consideration the complexity of the tribal and ethnic situation and the religious issues that impact the economic and socio-political processes there. That is why the Iraqi government constantly fails American-ordered “benchmarks” and US lawmakers express consternation when those benchmarks are not met.

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MICHAEL D. ROBERTS is a top Political Strategist and Business, Management and Communications Specialist in New York City's Black community. He is an experienced writer whose specialty is socio-political and economic analysis and local (more...)

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