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Dead Reckoning
Posted August 19, 2003 thepeoplesvoice.org

By Eric Cripe ecripe@trap.mtview.ca.us

Today the public debate centers on the potential success of our occupation in Iraq. The Bush administration has long declared the war over, and the untidiness begun. The papers, always optimistic these days, dutifully quote the generals, who make it sound as though our opposition is reduced to a few remaining pockets of loyalists hiding in caves, plus some foreign mercenaries. Gen. Franks wouldn't call it guerrilla warfare, since there is no popular support - whatever that means.  The death toll of American troops - the only number of any concern to the most patriotic Americans - are reduced to single digits, which seems manageable. The problems of the Iraqi people are reduced to public utility shortages, also nothing more than a nuisance. What is left, as has been said by many politicians and pundits recently, is to 'teach them to rule themselves'. The time frame for such an enterprise has been opened to speculation by the public at large.

I don't know what is more unsettling; that this fantasy is so blatantly and obviously false, or that we believe it so intentionally. If fanaticism is defined as belief in spite of the facts, then what do we make of a patriotism which requires us to believe this stuff? This is a fiction shared only by a small population in the world, all huddled together here in the USA, and yet here in the US it is the most normal thing you can imagine. How is this possible? The free press of the world's greatest democracy hasn't exactly been heroic in its quest for verification of the stories we are told. Why? Stories directly related to the situation are run on foreign networks, but not ours. And not just a few stories. Why? How come we don't know what's going on, and don't want to know what's going on. We're all working together to keep the story alive, is that it?  I didn't know I could get this cynical...

But it is not clear to you that we are have a fantastic view of our victims in the last war? Just how, exactly, do you view these Arabs whom we are liberating? Third world savages? They've been ruling themselves for thousands of years, thank you (for good and ill), and not stumbling around unaware of their histories and their current situations. The Iraqis hated Hussein, yes, and what's more, they know he was able to take power because of his US arms and support.  He was a common thug when the CIA found him. This is an open and admitted fact in America (as it was endorsed by Congress, bragged about by our officials, and occasionally duly noted in our press), yet somehow the majority of Americans consider it irrelevant.  

Perhaps we feel we the subject is ancient history? The Iraqis do not. The average Iraqi blamed Hussein's rise to power on the US, so they blamed the gassing of the Kurds on the US, and everything else he did. Then, in an apparent power game between Hussein and his former masters, they were forced to endure another decade of withering sanctions, for which they again had the US to blame. That's the start. That's the situation we walked into.

And  we bombed them, and now we occupy their major cities and run military sweeps through their villages. And you think their problems with us are about utilities?

Might wanna connect up to reality, folks. A couple weeks ago I read an interesting item. It was the count-to-date of civilian dead in Iraq during the last war, which was at around 3,400. Interested international agencies had thus far gone through the records of about half the hospitals in battle areas - noting that most hospitals gave up trying to keep lists at some point (some were just blood-smeared scrawls), and that, of course, only those who were still alive after they were hit were even brought to a hospital in the first place. So these agencies are a long way from a real tally.

3,400 civilians so far. We've got to be talking casualties of no less than 10,000, hopefully under 100,000.  Ok, so we know the surgical strikes had more collateral damage than we'd hoped. What does that mean? It means, Iraq's family culture being what it is, that every dead woman was somebody's mother, sister, wife, relative, friend, etc. For every civilian killed by American bombs, at least a dozen more were directly, personally affected. Do the math. That's hundreds of thousands of people, no matter how you juggle the numbers.

What do we expect of these people?  Put aside what you don't know about Arabs, and recall what you know about humans. Troops from another country invades and kills my mom, and I'm going to sit around and discuss liberation and good intentions? Are you kidding me? Notwithstanding what the evening news says, these hundreds of thousands are angry, very angry, murderously angry, vengefully angry. And this anger is not the kind that goes away in a few months, or a few years.

Whatever you think is happening in Iraq, you must realize that large numbers of the Iraqi citizenry hates our guts, with a passion marked in blood and fueled by powerless resentment. For my part, I think things are occurring now that always have and always will in an occupied country with hostile citizenry. Patriots and collaborationists are taking their positions for personal reasons or simple opportunism. The controlling army is trying to build a collaborationist force to man the front lines and act as a shield. Military raids of dissidents occur constantly. Nobody wants to be the subject of those raids, so everybody keeps their mouths shut and their plans secret, but they harbor a rage strong enough to effect their daily lives. Guerrilla groups, I'm sure, have swelled their ranks, public support keeps them fed and hidden, able to group and coordinate attacks. Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

Typical guerrilla warfare. But not Vietnam. Good god, no, not Vietnam. Don't even think about Vietnam, it ain't Vietnam. Put the idea out of your head completely. Absolutely nothing at all like Vietnam, no sir, not a thing. Stupid to even say the word...

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Copyright 2003 All rights reserved by Eric Cripe.

 

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