Posted August 19, 2003
By Eric Cripe email@example.com
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
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
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,
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...
© Copyright 2003 All rights reserved by Eric Cripe.