Victory will never be at hand

“We understand the Americans have sided with the Shi’ites. It’s shocking. It doesn’t fit American values. They have spent so much blood and money here, only to back the creation of an Islamist state. I can’t believe that’s what the Americans really want or what the American people want.”

A secular Kurdish politician in Iraq expresses dismay at American claims of spreading democracy in Iraq. Fairfax’s embedded Washington reporter Michael Gawenda may claim that, “there are no lessons from Vietnam that apply to Iraq”, but he’s clearly been spending too much time in White House briefings. “Bush’s place in history depends on something he can call a victory and he has three years to do it.” Victory? Gawenda’s belief that “victory” is possible is laughable. What exactly does he have in mind? That Bush is still able to implement democracy in Iraq? Almost nobody believes that anymore, apart from the usual stragglers.

Back in reality land, news reports are finally giving us the perspective long denied: insurgents are taking over the country and “Coalition” forces have little or no control over large swathes and regions. Take this Guardian report from Haditha:

“A three-hour drive north from Baghdad, under the nose of an American base, it is a miniature Taliban-like state. Insurgents decide who lives and dies, which salaries get paid, what people wear, what they watch and listen to.”

Or a report in Saturday’s Washington Post:

“Shiite and Kurdish militias, often operating as part of Iraqi government security forces, have carried out a wave of abductions, assassinations and other acts of intimidation, consolidating their control over territory across northern and southern Iraq and deepening the country’s divide along ethnic and sectarian lines, according to political leaders, families of the victims, human rights activists and Iraqi officials.”

How about Robert Fisk’s latest eyewitness journalism from beyond the Green Zone:

“On Friday night, this crusader castle was bathed in its usual floodlights. I was looking up at the stars over the city when there was a dull sound and a flash of light from within the Green Zone. Somewhere not far from me, someone had launched a mortar at the illuminated fishbowl that has become the symbol of occupation for all Iraqis. Many ask what will become of it when the whole Western edifice here collapses. Some say it will become insurgent headquarters, others the next parliament. My guess is that whoever runs Iraq once the occupation collapses will turn the whole thing into a theme park. Or maybe just a museum.”

Where exactly is any good news? Now that government propagandist Arthur Chrenkoff is retiring, who will tell us dear readers about the progress of Western forces in Iraq? This person? How about this individual?

I can picture it now. Just like some still defend Vietnam as a necessary battle against rampaging communism, deluded souls will still be talking about the “glory days” of American imperialism in years to come. Of course, most of the world will treat these dangerous ideologues with appropriate disdain; there are always people under Western-led bombs.

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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