The Likely Historical Significance Of The War In Iraq

May 9, 2007
John Chuckman
Names like Haditha, Fallujah, Samarra, and Abu Ghraib are likely destined to become, at least in the Muslim world, iconic symbols for America's bloody adventure in Iraq. This will not so much represent the deliberate selecting of horrors to remember and feature, for America's entire crusade has been a horror, but the impulse to have tough summary images of complex events.
America invaded Iraq for two main reasons. First, it wished to sweep what it regarded as a chronic problem, Hussein's Iraq, off its foreign-affairs plate. Second, it wanted to remove Israel's most implacable opponent.
I would add the personal element, without emphasizing it too much, yet aware that it is important in the backrooms of history, of a man obsessed by a fairly extreme love-hate relationship with his more distinguished father, although some readers may be unaware of the times George Bush had to be stopped from going to fisticuffs with his father or of the flip way he introduced himself years ago to Queen Elizabeth as the family's black sheep. Iraq did seem to offer the magical opportunity to do what his father had avoided doing and for once in his life achieving something big on his own, a psychological force not to be completely discounted.
The invasion was not about oil. It related to oil in that continued future oil revenues promised to keep Hussein going a long time. It also related to oil in that Bush's people aimed to place those resources into hands friendlier to American policy, a straightforward extension of America's general approach to imperial rule: use locals but only the locals friendly to American purposes.
The neo-cons, a narrow group that has enjoyed great influence over Bush, expected, or so they claimed, other desirable side-effects. One was striking fear into the heart of an autocratically-ruled Middle East where resources flowed in opposition to the American policy fixation with Israel. This came to be reflected literally in the rather Hitler-like concept of Shock and Awe.
The neo-cons also proposed that an invasion could spark enthusiasm, in some undefined manner, for democratic government through the region. The desirability of this, at least for neo-cons, is predicated upon the belief that democratic government would in future be more friendly to American policy, a very na´ve belief indeed.
One has to believe, for some of the neo-cons are bright people who merely lack judgment and humanity, that the democracy business was a pleasant fairy story because there is no historical record of the United States, and especially its right wing, being a genuine promoter or defender of democracy. Neither is there an historical record anywhere of bombing and strafing people into democracy. The only vaguely realistic interpretation of this notion I can imagine is that democracies can on average be more easily bribed and manipulated, activities in which the CIA engages regularly.
Insincere defenders of democracy behaving as they have in Iraq only succeed in calling into question over much of the developing world, the human-rights values of countries embracing that form of government. When the United States makes its depressingly pompous statements about democracy in the world, it is playing on the near-universal belief that democratic government is associated with positive, humanistic values. But history tells us that that is not necessarily true, and America has only once again demonstrated the fact.
It is now clear, to all but an ever-diminishing circle of Bush devotees and former drinking buddies, that the crusade has been a total failure. Yes, Hussein is gone, but America has achieved the bizarre result of having ordinary Iraqis telling reporters they would be better off were he back.
And they are right. A once prosperous and advancing country, one certain to have become a democracy in not too many more years along the natural path by which all growing countries eventually become democracies, has been torn apart and set back a very long time.
Only a new strongman is likely to hold Iraq together, a conclusion, I'm willing to bet, Bush's people have already reached in secret. But where is that strongman and how do you gracefully insert and support him with all the blubbering about democracy? Otherwise, Iraq is likely to split into three smaller states, full of resentments and eager to compete for foreign military assistance and power. In other words, America has achieved instability over the foreseeable future, something that is hardly in anyone's interest, and certainly not Israel's.
The failure is far greater and more pitiless than most Americans even suspect. A colossal fortune has been spent by Bush and his spineless Congress, and yet much of Iraq still has no dependable water, electricity, or jobs. You simply cannot build any kind of society whatever on that basis.
And the United States cannot continue to spend funds at the level it has spent them for four years, much of the shrink-wrapped pallets of freshly-printed hundred-dollar bills secretly flown-in having gone to corruption, bribery, insane private armies, and subsidizing the fortunes of American firms like Halliburton. This grotesque spending came on top of a balance of payments and general government-deficit spending that seem out of control. The excesses of the American economy have put great strain on the dollar, even raising the serious issue of its future as the world's reserve currency.

Iran's position in the region has been strengthened by the invasion, a matter presumably of considerable concern to Washington, and Shia Muslims, who dominate great swathes of the region and who also are not particularly friendly towards Washington, have been invigorated and strengthened by America's massive strategic blunder.
Terrorism - that pliable word used to describe those with whom you disagree, whose views and interests you utterly ignore, and who are driven to desperate measures because they are at the mercy of superior military power - has never had a better recruiting impetus than America's well-publicized brutality and insensitivity in the occupation. Nor has it ever had a better, more realistic and effective training ground than America's Iraq.
Those learning by doing in Iraq and Afghanistan are gaining priceless experience to share with others, experience one could never have imagined coming from bin Laden's small, isolated cluster of tents in the mountains.
Israel, its bullying hubris rising to new heights under the influence of Bush and his phantom conquests, came to think as perhaps never before that it was free to do whatever it liked. Then, in its pre-planned invasion of Lebanon, feebly excused by the kidnapping of two soldiers who were themselves likely on a questionable mission inside Lebanon, Israel ran into Hezbollah, a Hezbollah strengthened by the example and experience of those in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The long-held view of Israel as an unstoppable military force evaporated. Not that Hezbollah came anywhere near to matching Israel's sophisticated weapons or its American intelligence assistance or its capacity to inflict horrific damage quickly, but Hezbollah demonstrated the kind of resistance we associate with Russia's armies stopping the Wehrmacht.
Israel has always wanted part of Southern Lebanon as part of its national territory, and its leaders are on record to that effect, always exploiting the idea of Katysha rockets hitting Northern Israel, most people being unaware that these small rockets are primitive and ineffective unless fired in the huge barrages for which they were designed and that Hezbollah only fires them when Israel violates the Lebanese border, something it has done regularly and secretly for years.
Israel's savage attack on Lebanon - leaving behind 1,500 dead, thousands of homeless and mangled, and a blanket of hideous cluster-bomblets for Lebanon's children and farmers to discover in future - proved as complete a failure as America's crusade in Iraq when viewed on Israel's own terms. I like to think the revulsion of the world's people and especially the stunned reaction within Israel have brought something of a psychological and political turnaround to the region, at least the beginnings of a turnaround.
The world is weary of Israel's relentless refusal to spend anything but words on peace. A sequence of bloody regional failures - Afghanistan, Iraq, and Southern Lebanon - just might set the stage for new a new ordering of priorities and policies. Bush's ignorant pride has been damaged, as has been Israel's, and everyone must look to something new.
And in the United States, the not-to-spoken truth that Israel's grinding injustices and America's tireless efforts to defend them had a great deal to do with 9/11 and many violent events after it may just be sinking in. Important and fair-minded people have written published on the excessive, corrupting influence of Israel on American policy.
The U.S., for the first time in years, has shown interest in talking to Syria and Iran, countries with vital interests in the area, long ignored. Perhaps, it finally means the beginning of the end for the destructive idea of Greater Israel, the beginning of some degree of justice and hope for a people, the Palestinians, long without either. Perhaps it means genuine effort towards peace, rather than the tiresome, ongoing fraud of a "peace process."
I'm hopeful, but not too optimistic. Ignorance, prejudice, the great industry of war, and jingoism are mighty powerful foes.
No Party Affiliation
Excellent article. And the one other significance is the fact that it brought back liberalism in the USA.
No Party Affiliation

Bush's war.
The US went in to Iraq to create a killing field for wannabee terrorists. With kill ratios approaching 100-1 and entire generation of radicals are being wiped out. Will it work? That remains to be seen.
Phil B
Quote: Originally Posted by RomSpaceKnight View Post

The US went in to Iraq to create a killing field for wannabee terrorists. With kill ratios approaching 100-1 and entire generation of radicals are being wiped out. Will it work? That remains to be seen.

Not all the radicals are being wiped out, some seem to have stayed at home in the us and the uk..
It kinda fell apart when it claimed this " one certain to have become a democracy in not too many more years along the natural path by which all growing countries eventually become democracies"

Most countries do not, and will not ever become democracies, it is not natural human behaviour. If it were, then a democracy left unchecked would not immediately drift into totalitarianism.

Look no further than Russia, it had a 10 year stint in its thousands of years of history, with democracy, and already reverts to totalitarianism. No nation has ever forged itself into a democracy or democratic republic without external powers influencing it quite directly, giving it the leg up it needs to take on an authoritarian regime.

Its a nice pipe dream, but the fact is running a democracy takes alot of work. That a group can on the one hand bemoan about how America is slipping away from democratic principles because no one is paying attention to who they vote for, then on the other claim somehow Iraq was on its way to become a democracy is sheer lunacy.
Quote: Originally Posted by Zzarchov View Post

No nation has ever forged itself into a democracy or democratic republic without external powers influencing it quite directly, giving it the leg up it needs to take on an authoritarian regime.

What about England? It may be a constitional monarchy not a republic yet is still a democratic nation. In fact it may be the first truly democratic nation. Perhaps the period when Rome was ruled by the senate may come first.

England naturally developed a democratic tradition born out of the Saxon traditions. England even flirted once with being a republic but it was short lived. When Cromwell died it went back to being a monarchy with increased rule by parliment.
Quote: Originally Posted by RomSpaceKnight View Post

The US went in to Iraq to create a killing field for wannabee terrorists. With kill ratios approaching 100-1 and entire generation of radicals are being wiped out. Will it work? That remains to be seen.

Where did this come from? Does your source count women, children and old men as radicals?
Hey yoo-hoo's..
Someone help me here, keep me from loosing my mind!
I am a USMC Veteran (2 tours from late 2002 to late 2005), I've seen things you wouldn't allow in your nightmares, most people's understanding of the Iraq situation is formed only by what is presented to them via 'mass media'.
I've read the above contributions to this well read forum. & here's my delimma..
As a topic. We could talk about China:
How some of the worlds highest I.Qs, and tactful minds hail from that area of the world. Yet they have a polution level that exceeds unacceptable. Do they have a plan for resolution? Or is the U.S. just preaching all of the greenhouse warming literature as a business strategy? Y'see, here we have one president that invades a country in the name of democracy, gas prices topple thru the roof, then some of his future oponents are making films (The unfortunate truth? biased) and publishing books on the matter. When they (D) succeed in the office seat will the U.S. economy revert to saving the Earth? Bottles of water reach 8-9 $ a bottle, or whatever 'earth saving' charges may be incurred?
The U.S. govt. seems to have targeted the 2 most natural items on Earth it seems (fossil fuels and H2O)..given an act that has existed since the dawn of time a marketable name (terrorism) and our lives are orchestrated by the controlling powers that be.
The Earth's climate, historically, changes apprx. every 30 yrs. In 30 yrs. will the new marketable panic be an all new 'Ice Age' ?

I can't believe the America I grew up in has become so bent. What t-f is happening in our present day and age??

respectful regards,
CG..aka NORMLman
Quote: Originally Posted by earth_as_one View Post

Where did this come from? Does your source count women, children and old men as radicals?

Nope just armed men. I got the stat from a cleansing operation in some Iraqi city. The kill ratio was very very impressive. It may harken to the early days of the war when radicals were more inclined to try to actually fight the US armed forces directly. I'm sure they have learned their lesson by now.
Quote: Originally Posted by RomSpaceKnight View Post

Nope just armed men. I got the stat from a cleansing operation in some Iraqi city. The kill ratio was very very impressive...

Yes and we all know how accurate a stat from a cleansing operation in some Iraqi city can be.

Was the city's name Haditha?

The Haditha killings (also called the Haditha massacre) occurred on November 19, 2005 in Haditha, a city in the western Iraqi province of Al Anbar. The incident was preceded by an attack on a convoy of United States Marines with an improvised explosive device which killed Lance Corporal Miguel Terrazas. Up to 24 Iraqi non-combatant local residents were subsequently killed by the Marines. It is alleged that they were massacred by Marines in retribution for the insurgent attack earlier in the day.[1]
A Marine Corps communique initially reported that 15 civilians were killed by the bomb's blast and eight insurgents were subsequently killed when the Marines returned fire against those attacking the convoy. However, media reports contradicted this story.[2] The evidence uncovered by the media prompted the U.S. military to open an investigation into the incident. Evidence collected by this investigation "supports accusations that U.S. Marines deliberately shot civilians, including unarmed women and children", according to a Pentagon official.[3]...

When this story first broke, all the Iraqi dead were reported as armed militants. But then pictures of dead mothers holding their dead babies were published. Now its a war crime trial. But Haditha would not have resulted in a war crime trial, except that unlike other mass killings, the evidence in this case was recorded and reported. Most mass killings/massacres of Iraqi civilians go unrecorded and unreported or are reported as armed militants. But these types of incidents are far more common that most people realize:


...When Marine Sergeant Jimmy Massey enlisted in the Marines, he never expected that he would be ordered to kill civilians. He enlisted in good faith, and he trusted his Commander-in-Chief to tell the truth, to follow the Geneva Conventions and the rule of law. He was even ready to risk his life for his country in the event that the United States faced a real or imminent attack.

In January 2003, Jimmy was deployed to Iraq. During the initial invasion he was involved in a number of “checkpoint killings,” the kind of atrocities that occur over and over today without fanfare or scandal.

A hard-core Marine, Jimmy was in charge of a platoon of machine gunners and missile men. It was their job to secure the road out of Baghdad. As bombs rained down on the ancient city of five million people, civilians fled in panic. There was chaos at the checkpoints.

“All Iraqis,” Jimmy told me in a recent interview, “were considered a menace.”
“One particular incident really pushed me over the edge. It involved a car with Iraqi civilians. We fired some warning shots, but the car did not slow down. So we lit ‘em up. Well, this particular vehicle we didn't destroy completely, and one gentleman on the ground looked up at me and said, ‘Why did you kill my brother? We didn’t do anything wrong.’ That hit me like a ton of bricks.”....

...Like Jimmy Massey, Darrell Anderson is fighting the dark ghosts of atrocity. A 22-year-old GI from Lexington, Kentucky, who won a purple heart after he was wounded, Anderson was stationed at a checkpoint near a police station in Baghdad, when a speeding car swerved in his direction. Darrell said he received orders to shoot. There was a family—two children, a man and his wife—in the car. Darrell’s buddies screamed: “Shoot! Why don’t you shoot? Why don’t you shoot?”

According to Darrell, he simply could not pull the trigger of his M-16. “The car posed no threat,” he told me.

“My superior came over and said, ‘What are you doing?’ I said, ‘Look, there’s children in the back. It’s a family. I did the right thing. It’s wrong to fire in this situation.’ My superior told me: ‘No, you did the wrong thing. You will fire, next time, or you will be punished. That’s our orders.’”

There is constant pressure to kill Iraqi civilians, Anderson said. “At traffic stops we kill innocent people all the time. If you are fired on from the street, you are supposed to fire on everybody that is there. If I am in a market, I shoot people who are buying groceries.” ...

...Darrell Anderson said he was riding in his self-propelled Howitzer when he was ordered to fire rounds into downtown Najaf in response to a mortar attack. Artillery rounds are filled with little BBs or shrapnel. Like cluster bombs, the “ kill-ratio ” is wide, and bystanders are covered in the blanket of destruction. Under orders, Darrell said, “we fired about 70 or 80 rounds. My buddies came back and said, ‘We killed a lot of people.’ About a hundred civilians. They were just people downtown. Killing downtown civilians is a typical incident.”...

Iraqis may have been oppressed before the US led invasion, but its a fact confirmed by many studies and surveys that they were far safer.


The Human Cost

of the

War in Iraq

A Mortality Study, 2002-2006

A new household survey of Iraq has found

that approximately 600,000 people have
been killed in the violence of the war that began
with the U.S. invasion in March 2003...

If you look for the stories you can find them almost daily. For example:




8 May 2007

An attack by a US helicopter against suspected insurgents in Iraq has killed a number of children at a primary school, Iraqi security sources say.

The attack took place in Diyala province north-east of Baghdad, the sources say.

A spokesman for the US military said there had been helicopter activity in the area but he was not able to confirm any other details.
The school is in the village of al-Nedawat close to the Iranian border.

One police officer said the helicopter was shot at from the ground during the morning.

The school was said to have been hit when the aircraft returned fire.
The officer said police had spoken to eyewitnesses and that six children had been killed and six injured but the figures have not been independently confirmed...

Doesn't all this civilian death and destruction in Iraq resulting from the US led invasion to eliminate Iraq's massive yet non-existant WMDs arsenals bother you. Or do you really believe that Iraqis are better off?

Last edited by earth_as_one; May 10th, 2007 at 12:56 AM..
BBC News report regarding the Haditha killing/massacre:

Does this incident's kill ratio impress you?

What lesson did Iraqis learn as a result?

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