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December 18, 2006

Our Tinhorn Napoleon Iraq

All this talk of a US "troop surge" in Iraq, as if the November elections never happened. It's crazy, it's outrageous — and it's doomed to end very, very badly. Juan Cole:

[Consider] the Iraq War Coup now being conducted by W. You thought that the American people had spoken [in the November elections]? They want the troops out? They want to be extracted from the quagmire? Too bad.

You see, we do not have a democracy, with the Bush administration in power. We have an elective dictatorship. The elections are like lotteries. Many of them don't even reflect the popular vote or the general will. The Rehnquist Coup of 2000...And the incumbents feel they owe nothing to the electorate, nothing whatsoever. They have the Power. They act as they please. The rest of us are just onlookers.

So Bush's response to the clear public demand for a change of course and a disengagement? It is to run to Henry Kissinger's apron strings. And what does the Butcher of Chile and Indonesia urge? That Bush should put another 40,000 US troops into Iraq!

The problem is that Iraq is a 500,000 troop problem. Another 40,000 are just going to anger locals. And, apparently, they would be sicced on the Shiite Mahdi Army in hopes of permanently crippling the Sadr Movement headed (in part) by Muqtada al-Sadr. And maybe they'd be used in a new offensive against the Sunni Arab guerrillas.

Let me explain why it won't work. It won't work because Iraqis are now politically and socially mobilized. This means that they have the social preconditions for effective political and paramilitary action (they are largely urban, literate, connected by media, etc.) And they are politically savvy and well-connected. They are well armed, gaining in military experience, and well financed through petroleum and antiquities smuggling and through cash infusions from supporters abroad. The Mahdi Army fighters can be defeated by the US military, as happened twice in 2004. But they cannot be made to disappear, as they were not in 2004. That is because they are an organic movement springing from the Shiite poor, and are the paramilitary arm of a large social movement with a national network and ideology. [...]

I am not saying that popular protests cannot be crushed. They can and have been. I am saying that when you have a whole country that is politically mobilized and has substantial resources, a crack-down is likely doomed unless it is almost genocidal. [...]

The US is not going to commit the half a million troops it would take to have a chance of winning in Iraq. Nor is it going to use genocidal methods to strike absolute terror into the hearts of the Iraqi people.

The Iraq situation has gone beyond the point where 40,000 troops can retrieve it. And that is if we even had 40,000 troops to put into Iraq and keep them there any length of time, which we do not.

In fact, since most of the "coalition of the willing" troops have now left (Italy, Spain, etc.), one of the two US divisions would only be putting the number of Coalition soldiers back up to what it was earlier in the Occupation, when things were also not going well.

The fact is that if provincial elections were held today, the Sadr Movement would sweep to power in all the Shiite provinces (with the possible exception of Najaf itself). It is increasingly the most popular political party among Iraq's Shiite majority. For the US to cut the Sadrists out of power in parliament and then fall on them militarily would just throw Iraq into turmoil. It would increase the popularity of the Sadrists, and ensure that they gain nationalist credentials that will ensconce them for perhaps decades.

The "surge" tactic is being generated by Rupert Murdoch's Weekly Standard and by Frederick W. Kagan and Bill Kristol, i.e. by the same plutocratic American Enterprise Institute (Likudnik Central) that brought you the Iraq War with champagne toasts in the first place.

Kagan has a recent book on Napoleon. Napoleon's most prominent characteristic was his willingness to waste his troops' lives lightly. [...]

Bush is the Napoleon of our age, trampling on whole peoples, a Jacobin Emperor mouthing the slogans of liberty and popular sovereignty while crushing and looting those he "liberated." [...]

And you thought a mere election would make a difference. No one had to elect the American Enterprise Institute. No one needs to crown the emperor, he can do it himself. Welcome to Year 1 of the Empire. [Emphasis added]

The November elections were a referendum on Iraq, but you'd never know it. Not by what the Republicans are doing — or the Democrats either. People want to believe elections will change things, but like the Wobblies used to say, if voting really mattered, it would be illegal. It's going to take a lot more than voting, a lot more.

Posted by Jonathan at December 18, 2006 10:35 PM  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb


Elections are won by men and women chiefly because most people vote against somebody rather than for somebody.

- Franklin P. Adams

Posted by: Jeff at December 19, 2006 12:05 PM

Sometimes I wish I lived in another time just to experience, first hand, people like His Imperial Majesty Emperor Norton I. (Of these here United States)


He died in 1880 but some of his thoughts, decrees and actions echo today.

Posted by: Jeff at December 19, 2006 08:05 PM