Imperial march hits snag in Iraq

Maddening Iraq, conceived as a cakewalk but turning into a quagmire. The one shortage envisioned was of rose-petals: not enough to go around as the grateful people of Iraq lined up to welcome their American liberators. No one in the Pentagon could have thought that a year and a half after President Bush proclaimed “Mission accomplished“ American troops would be complaining of a shortage of vehicle armour.

Now after the lunchtime attack on the US troops in Mosul, it is safe to bet there will be howls of anguish why every dining facility in Iraq is not a fortified bunker, proof against anything short of a direct nuclear hit. This is a strange war the US is fighting. The Americans don’t mind killing Iraqis and reducing Iraqi cities to rubble. Echoing that memorable line from the Vietnam War, that a particular village had to be destroyed in order to save it, destroying Fallujah in order to save it is all right. But if Iraqis hit back they are terrorists and insurgents loyal to that latest bogeyman in America’s lexicon, “Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi.“

The modern American GI is the most heavily armoured soldier in history. Look at all the things strapped to his body. Yet American soldiers want more protection.

They have destroyed a country and its infrastructure and continue to bomb, kill and torture but even if there is one American dead to every fifty or hundred Iraqis killed, there is no end to American outrage. Anyone fighting the Americans is an “insurgent“ — a label implying rebellion against established and legitimate authority.

But one mistake the Americans are not making. Compared to the Vietnam War they are practicing an insidious form of censorship which is successfully shielding the American people, and the rest of the world, from the true horrors of this American exercise in liberation. Instead of spreading light, 24-hour news is obscuring reality.

The US canard that Syria and Iran are surreptitiously engaged in helping the Iraqi resistance is just that: a canard designed to provide a flimsy alibi for the mess in Iraq. Isolation puts into bolder relief the astonishing feats of the Iraqi resistance. If there is any frontline of heroism in the world today it is Iraq, its people up in arms against an occupation no less brutal in method or evil in intent than the Nazi occupation of Europe during the Second World War. For there was no reason for this war, no justification for the destruction of Iraq, other than imperial ambition gone mad, imperialism stoked by a new variant, neo-conservatism.

If Iraq had indeed turned out to be a cakewalk and not a quagmire, does anyone think the war party in Washington, allied closely in spirit to the state of Israel, would have stopped there? That next in line wouldn’t have been Syria and Iran? And after that who knows. America’s imperial march has hit a snag in Iraq for which the rest of us should be grateful. It is precisely the unexpected resistance of the Iraqi people which lies at the heart of the US dismay. War against terrorism? This is a war promoting terrorism. If such a phantom as Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi exists, in the context of Iraq he is a freedom fighter, fighting against a hated occupation, not a terrorist. How does such a perception help the US? No connection between Baathism and bin Ladenism existed before George Bush’s invasion of Iraq. If there is one now, we have only the Bush White House to thank for it.

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