Former Carter national security advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski, summarized Bushâ€™s plans for a â€œsurgeâ€ of troops in Iraq saying:
â€œThe commitment of 21,500 more troops is a POLITICAL GIMMICK of limited tactical significance and of no strategic benefit. It is insufficient to win the war militarily. It will engage US forces in bloody street fighting that will not resolve with finality the ongoing turmoil and the sectarian and ethnic strife, not to mention the anti-American insurgency.â€
Brzezinski is right; Bushâ€™s plan is just a gimmick that has no chance of succeeding and is likely to make matters worse. 17,500 soldiers arenâ€™t enough to â€œclear and secure entire neighborhoodsâ€ as Bush suggests. The only purpose they might serve is to conduct massive sweeps through Sunni neighborhoods terrorizing the local people and displacing larger segments of the population.
That appears to be the real objective of Bushâ€™s â€œChoosing Victoryâ€ strategy; another major crackdown employing air and ground forces to ethnically cleanse the main Sunnis neighborhoods. The promise of â€œsecurityâ€ is just a diversion.
A number of articles have appeared in the last few days which indicate that Bushâ€™s â€œpurgeâ€ is already underway. Jon Swain of the Times-online provides a chilling description of the military onslaught being carried out in the Haifa neighborhood just a few hundred yards outside the Green Zone:
(The operation involved over) 1,000 American and Iraqi troops backed by Apache helicopters and F-18 fighter jets; it was one of the most spectacular military operations there since the American invasion in spring of 2003. Flames and clouds of smoke filled the area as the battle against Sunni insurgents raged. Helicopters raked the rooftops with rocket and machinegun fire, jets swooped down to almost rooftop level, and tanks and fighting vehicles took up supporting positions as innocent people cowered inside.â€
Swainâ€™s account proves that Bushâ€™s real intention is not security but terrorizing the civilian population into submission. It's atextbook example of military pacification. As one 55 year old resident of Haifa queried, â€œIs this the new paradise the Americans said they would give us when they invaded our country?â€ Then he added, â€œWhen is this nightmare going to endâ€?
Another article which appeared in Azzaman news service, â€œUS Warplanes bomb Baghdad as Street Battles Rageâ€, provides a similar account of US attacks on neighborhoods in the capital:
â€œUS troops are deploying massive air and ground fire against heavily populated residential areas in Baghdad as a prelude to the start of a campaign to retake the city they invaded nearly 4 years agoâ€¦.The victims have been innocent Iraqis and the cityâ€™s rickety infrastructure. Witnessesâ€™ say US bombing has already knocked out several power lines and water mains in these areas.â€
â€œThe sky is burning,â€ said one witness who refused to be named for fear of revenge.
Nothing the Bush administration says can be trusted. To fully understand current policy in Iraq, one must follow events on the ground, thatâ€™s where the truth lies.
The war in Iraq is not an â€œideological struggle against Islamic extremismâ€, as Bush avers, but a brutal colonial war aimed at Iraqi civilians; the rest is merely smoke and mirrors.
Undoubtedly, Bush will make some meager attempt to implement the counterinsurgency strategy of the Pentagonâ€™s newest field-Marshall, General David Petraeus. Petraeus wrote the War Departmentâ€™s updated manual on counterinsurgency and he is expected to prove that Bush has changed directions by using the latest tactics for countering an â€œinsurgencyâ€. But its all just show so Bush can silence his critics who say that he is too stubborn to change course.
The Petraeus plan will seal-off large areas of Baghdad with barbed wire and checkpoints forcing residents to use specially made IDs to exit and enter their own neighborhoods. Sections of the capital will be transformed into mini-garrisons to prove that security can be established with the right combination of tactics and military force. But Petraeus â€œclear, hold, buildâ€ plan (â€œInk spotâ€ theory) requires hundreds of thousands of more troops than the US can provide, so there is no real chance that the plan will succeed. Bush is simply â€œbuying timeâ€ so that he can intensify the bombing and ethnic cleansing campaign which is already being executed behind the iron curtain of media disinformation.
In reality, Bush is sticking with his â€œstay the courseâ€ strategy; expecting a political solution to arise from the scattered-rubble of bombed-out Baghdad. It wonâ€™t happen. Baghdad is too big to be turned into a penal colony and the Baâ€™athist resistance is too cunning to be thrust into a pitched battle with the US military.
The war will persist until political options are pursued.
As for Petraeus, his expertise in counterinsurgency is wasted in Baghdad. Abu Ghraib, Falluja, Haditha, and a thousand other atrocities decided the â€œhearts and mindsâ€ issue long ago. Thereâ€™s no way to win the peoplesâ€™ trust when more than 90% believe that â€œthings were better under Saddamâ€ or when 60% believe that killing American troops is â€œjustifiableâ€.
Iraqis hate America, and for good reason. Petraeusâ€™ efforts wonâ€™t change that.
Disbanding the Militias? Attacking Iran?
Today in Baghdad, Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad announced that American troops would be actively pursuing Iranian networks in Iraq. The Bush administration claims that Iran is directly supporting the resistance even though Iranians are Shiites and the Baâ€™athist-led resistance is Sunni.
Khalilzad said, â€œWe will target these (Iranian) networks in the expectation of changing the behavior of these states.â€ He further stressed that, â€œMilitias will not be allowed to be an alternative to the state or to provide and take on local security around the country.â€
Khalilzadâ€™s threats sound like Washington has decided to expand the war so that it can carry out military operations against the Mahdi Army or perhaps, pave the way for a preemptive attack on Iranian nuclear facilities. But there may be another explanation for the American ambassadorâ€™s statement. The Bush administration is under growing pressure from the other Sunni-dominated capitals (Riyadh, Amman, and Damascus) to demonstrate that they are not strengthening the Shiites to the detriment of the Sunnis. In fact, members of the Saudi royal family have threatened to provide material support for the Iraqi resistance if the administration fails to stop the ethnic cleansing in Baghdad. It could be that Khalilzad is merely trying to appear impartial to US allies, even though the orders to target the Sunnis have already been given.
Reports from Baghdad suggest that Sunni neighborhoods continue to be the main focus of US-Shiite hostilities.
Thus far, their have been no attempts to disarm the Shiite militias. In fact, there have many reports that the militias have swept into Sunni areas under the protection of US air-power and carried out their attacks.
Moreover, the fact that the US did nothing to stop the hanging of Saddamâ€™s two chief aides today, suggests that the administration has cut off all dialogue with the Sunni resistance and thrown their lot with the Shiites. This is another mistake that will only compound Americaâ€™s difficulties.
Honor Bound; a Band of Brothers
Middle East scholar, Juan Cole, has written extensively on the Bush administrationâ€™s inability to understand the position of the Sunnis. In his latest article, â€œMisreading the Enemyâ€, Cole points out that Bushâ€™s ignorance is only exacerbating existing divisions and preventing a political solution. He says:
â€œGuerilla movements can succeed against wealthier, more-populous and better-armed enemiesâ€¦The real question is not Americaâ€™s supposed superiority â€¦.but what exactly the resources and tactics of the enemy are and whether they can be defeated. The answer to the second question is â€œNoâ€.
These guerilla cells are rooted in the Sunni Arab sector, some 20% of the population, which had enjoyed centuries of dominance in Iraq. From it came the high bureaucrats, the managers of companies, officer corps, the people who know how to get things done. They know where some 200,000 remaining tons of explosives are hidden, secreted around the country by the former regime. They are for the most part unable to accept being ruled by what they see as a new government of Shiite Ayatollahs and Kurdish Warlords, or being occupied by the US Army and Marines. These Iraqi Sunnis enjoy the support of millions of committed and sometimes wealthy co-religionists in Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the oil kingdoms of the Persian Gulfâ€¦..Iraq is a country of clans and tribesâ€¦of feuds and grudgesâ€¦.All members of the clan are honor-bound to defend or avenge all the other members. They are bands not of brothers but cousins.
US soldiers cannot stop the Sunni Arab guerilla cells from setting bombs or assassinating peopleâ€¦.And since they cannot stop them, they also are powerless to halt the growing number of intense clan and religious feuds. The US cannot stop the sabotage that hurts petroleum exports in the north and stops electricity from being delivered for more than a few hours a day.
Since Sunni guerillas cannot be defeated or stopped from provoking massive clan feuds that destabilize the country, there is only one way out of the quagmire. The US and the Shiite government must negotiate a mutually satisfactory settlement with the Sunni guerilla leaders. â€¦There first and most urgent demand is that the US set a timetable for withdrawal of its troops.
As long as the Sunnis Arabs of Iraq are so deeply unhappy, they will simply generate more guerillas over time. Bush is depending on military tactics to win a war that can only be won by negotiationâ€. (â€œMisreading the Enemyâ€, Juan Cole)
Jack Murtha: â€œItâ€™s a whole new ballgame.â€
President Bush is already meeting stiff resistance in the Congress for his latest change of plans in Iraq. John Murtha, the acting chair of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, said yesterday on â€œThis Weekâ€ that he will push for immediate â€œredeployment of troops out of Iraqâ€ and to â€œrestrict funding until some of the problems are fixed at home.â€
Murtha proposals are bound to elicit broad support among the growing number of candidates who see that public opinion has dramatically shifted against the war.
As Congressman Murtha aptly stated to George Stephanopoulos on national TV, â€œItâ€™s a whole new ballgame now.â€
Bushâ€™s â€œsurgeâ€ is a last-gasp effort to achieve victory through military force. It offers no hope for a political solution or a timely end to the four year-long humanitarian catastrophe.