Tuesday :: Nov 16, 2004

We Have All Been Here Before

by pessimist

History is one of the greatest educators we have available to us today, and that might be one reason that it's taught so badly. We couldn't fall for the lies presented to us by our leaders of whatever political persuasion if we just knew our history.

We would know, for example, that America's current status in the world has a precedent:

In 431 BC, the Greek world went to war against Athens. Thucydides claims that the reason for war was the “growth of Athenian power and the fear which this caused.” The Athenians were a proud people who had ultimate faith in their institutions. They saw themselves as a model upon which the whole Greek world should mold itself. “I would prefer ...that you fix your eyes everyday on the greatness of Athens as she really is,” stated Pericles, “and you shall fall in love with her.”

The problem for Athens was that the majority of city-states in the Greek world did not share the Athenian vision. To most of the city states, especially those within the Delian League, Athens was an arrogant, power-hungry entity that would do anything to keep and maintain power. Athens bullied members of the Delian League into providing cash for security.

Sounding familiar yet? There's more!

The brutal actions of Athens toward the people of Lesbos and Melos sparked uprisings all over the empire. Although much of these were suppressed by Athens, this weakened the great democracy, eventually bringing a tragic defeat to the once mighty empire. Athens had to give up all colonies and the people were forced to stand by as the tattered remains of their glorious navy was put to the torch.

History has a way of repeating itself. I am afraid that we are setting a course for the same fate that Athens experienced in the 5th century B.C. And recent events in Fallujah have only helped clarify that idea in my mind.

While rereading Pericles’ funeral oration from Book 2 of The Peloponnesian War, I could see George W. Bush, standing in front of a joint session of Congress or on the deck of an aircraft carrier. The locations may have changed, but much of the rhetoric is the same: we are great, the world envies us because we are free, the world wants to be like us, we don’t have to apologize for anything, we are the greatest idea to ever become a reality. Same basic ideas broken only by 2,500 years of history.

In Fallujah, we are battling insurgents who are rebelling against our empire. But we are not only killing insurgents, but women and children—entire families are being gunned down as they try to flee their burning city. We came to liberate them from Saddam, yet in the process of their “liberation” some 100,000 Iraqi civilians have now died. We are punishing the very people we are purportedly “liberating.”

And then we wonder why they are not thankful? We wonder why the world does not side with us? We wonder why this “coalition” we have is breaking apart as more allies are leaving?

Today, it was revealed on NBC that there is footage of a US marine killing an unarmed, wounded Iraqi in a mosque.

Take that image and combine it with the stacks of prisoners being humiliated at Abu Ghraib, you have the makings for more insurgency — not just within Iraq, but from the entire Muslim world who sees us not as liberators, but as power-hungry imperialists bent on taking away the rights and freedoms of Middle Easterners and dividing the land among wealthy American businessmen.

Like Athens 2,500 years ago, people all over the world are fearful of American power and American willingness to use its power at the expense of others. The results of this will be disastrous. When more Americans are beheaded, sympathy will not come our way. When more American buildings crumble, we will not get the outpouring of grief that we did before.

The next time, more and more people the world over, including some among the ranks of our allies, will quietly shake their heads and say, “They had it coming.”

From the fiscally conservative - and generally in support of Bu$hCo - Asia Times, comes this critique that tends to support this idea:

A thousand Fallujahs

"The bombs being dropped on Fallujah don't contain explosives, depleted uranium or anything harmful - they contain laughing gas - that would, of course, explain [Pentagon chief Donald] Rumsfeld's misplaced optimism about not killing civilians in Fallujah. Also, being a 'civilian' is a relative thing in a country occupied by Americans. You're only a civilian if you're on their side. If you translate for them, or serve them food in the Green Zone, or wipe their floors - you're an innocent civilian. Just about everyone else is an insurgent, unless they can get a job as a 'civilian'."
- Riverbend, an Iraqi civilian girl, author of the blog Baghdad Burning

Fallujah now is a network: it's Baghdad, Ramadi, Samarra, Latifiyah, Kirkuk, Mosul. Streets on fire, everywhere: Hundreds, thousands of Fallujahs - the Mesopotamian echo of a thousand Vietnams. The Iraqi resistance has even regained control of a few Baghdad neighborhoods.

Baghdad residents say there are practically no US troops around, even as regular explosions can be heard all over the city. Baghdad sources confirm to Asia Times Online that the mujahideen now control parts of the southern suburb of ad-Durha, as well as Hur Rajab, Abu Ghraib, al-Abidi, as-Suwayrah, Salman Bak, Latifiyah and Yusufiyah - all in the Greater Baghdad area. This would be the first time since the fall of Baghdad on April 9, 2003, that the resistance has been able to control these neighborhoods.

This next paragraph caused me to think of recent reports about how the GOP used churches to spread its message of 'moral values' and how well that worked for them:

Massive US military might is useless against a mosque network in full gear.

In a major development not reported by US corporate media, for the first time different factions of the resistance have released a joint statement, signed among others by Ansar as-Sunnah, al-Jaysh al-Islami, al-Jaysh as-Siri (known as the Secret Army), ar-Rayat as-Sawda (known as the Black Banners), the Lions of the Two Rivers, the Abu Baqr as-Siddiq Brigades, and crucially al-Tawhid wal-Jihad (Unity and Holy War) - the movement allegedly controlled by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

The statement is being relayed all over the Sunni triangle through a network of mosques. The message is clear: the resistance is united.

Finally! Proof that Owwer Leedur really IS a uniter, not a divider!

There are at least 120 mosques in Fallujah. A consensus is emerging that almost half of them have been smashed by air strikes and shelling by US tanks - something that will haunt the United States for ages.

This alone will be played up in Islamia as proof that the United States is anti-Muslim.

The mosques stopped broadcasting the five daily calls for prayer, but Fadhil Badrani, an Iraqi reporter for BBC World Service in Arabic and one of the very few media witnesses in Fallujah, writes that "every time a big bomb lands nearby, the cry rises from the minarets: 'Allahu Akbar' [God is Great]".

This demonstrates to me that US efforts to weaken the will of the Iraqi Resistance are failing miserably. Any aggressive action the US takes only steels the resolve of the 'insurgents' who see themselves as patriots in defense of both their nation and their religion. This can only lead to more tragedy. More American soldiers will pay for this with their lives.

This isn't going to help the American image either:

The Pentagon is pulling out all stops to "liberate" the people of Fallujah. According to residents, the city is now littered with thousands of cluster bombs. In an explosive accusation - and not substantiated - an Iraqi doctor who requested anonymity has told al-Quds Press that "the US occupation troops are gassing resistance fighters and confronting them with internationally banned chemical weapons".

The Washington Post has confirmed that US troops are firing white-phosphorus rounds that create a screen of fire impervious to water.

This could very well be all that the US is doing in Fallujah, but will the world listen? This web pundit doubts they will. Our record in Vietnam is screaming loudly. Sympathy is definitely with the Iraqi Resistance, so they will get the benefit of the doubt about their statements - and America's reputation suffers one more time.

And then there is this. Remember this each time you hear some Bu$hCo Bullshitter brag about 'humanitarian aid to Iraqis':

Dr Muhammad Ismail, a member of the governing board of Fallujah's general hospital "captured" by the Americans at the outset of Operation Phantom Fury, has called all Iraqi doctors for urgent help. Ismail told Iraqi and Arab press that the number of wounded civilians is growing exponentially - and medical supplies are almost non-existent. He confirmed that US troops had arrested many members of the hospital's medical staff and had sealed the storage of medical supplies.

The wounded in Fallujah are in essence left to die.

There is not a single surgeon in town. And practically no doctors as well, as the Pentagon decided to bomb both the al-Hadar Hospital and the Zayid Mobile Hospital. So far, the International Committee of the Red Cross has reacted with thunderous apathy.

There isn't much a humanitarian organization can do in the face of an active military operation. The Red Crescent has already released many statements exposing conditions in Fallujah, and they work closely with the Red Cross, so I would discount this last statement as a bit of expressed angst.

But this angst is certainly justified. Why isn't there more opposition coming from the various capitals of the world? How long will those who hold the debt of the US in their national hands going to allow this to continue? Do they not realize that they will someday have to face the military might of the US if they do nothing now?

Are we to have to accuse them of appeasing an insatiable dictator and his appetite for conquest? Are we going to have to call them 'Sons of Chamberlain'?

The future in Iraq is grim, and there is little chance that Bu$hCo will realize its stated goal of making Iraq 'safe for elections':

When a few snipers are capable of holding scores of marines for a day in Fallujah - an eerie replay of the second part of Stanley Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket - and when eight of 10 US divisions are bogged down by a few thousand Iraqis with Kalashnikovs and grenade launchers - the fact is the US does not control anything in Sunni Iraq. It does not control towns, cities, roads, and it barely controls the Green Zone, the American fortress in Baghdad that is the ultimate symbol of the occupation.

In 1999, the Russians bombed and destroyed Grozny, the Chechen capital, a city of originally 400,000 people. Five years later, Chechen guerrillas are still trapping Russian troops in a living hell there. The same scenario will be replayed in Fallujah - a city of originally 300,000 people.

All this destruction - which any self-respecting international lawyer can argue is a war crime - for the Bush administration to send a brutal message: either you're with us or we'll smash you to pieces.

The Iraqi resistance does not care if thousands of mujahideen are smashed to pieces: it is actually gearing up for a major strategic victory. The strategy is twofold: half of the Fallujah resistance stayed behind, ready to die like martyrs, increasing the already boiling-point hatred of Americans in Iraq and the Middle East and boosting their urban support. The other half left before Phantom Fury and is already setting fires in Baghdad, Tikrit, Ramadi, Baquba, Balad, Kirkuk, Mosul and even Shi'ite Karbala.

They may be decimated little by little. But the fact is Sunni Iraqis are more than ever aware they are excluded from the Bush administration's "democratic" plans for Iraq. The only Sunni political party in interim premier Iyad Allawi's "government" is now out. And the powerful Association of Muslim Scholars (AMS) - the foremost Sunni religious body - is now officially boycotting the January elections. There are unconfirmed reports that Sheikh Abdullah al-Janabi, the head of the mujahideen shura (council) in Fallujah and a very prominent AMS member, died when his mosque, Saad ibn Abi Wakkas, was bombed.

If true, we have just created another martyr for the Iraqi Resistance - and all of Islam - to rally around.

The Sunni Iraqi resistance is now configuring itself as a full-fledged revolution. According to sources in Baghdad, the leaders of the resistance believe there's no other way for them to expel the American invaders and subsequently be restored to power - especially because if elections are held in January, the Shi'ites are certain to win.

Contemplating the dogs of civil war barking in the distance, no wonder Baghdad's al-Zaman newspaper is so somber: "Iraq will remain a sleeping volcano, even if the state of emergency is extended forever."

Father Andrew Greeley takes on what should be the position of the American People:

How many more Iraqis must die for our revenge?

The election is over and so we can forget about the Iraq war. It is no longer a political issue and hence matters to no one. The American electorate has followed the tradition of standing by a wartime president and thus endorsing the president's war. It was once his war.

Now the election has made it our war.

A recent report suggested that if one compares the number of deaths that usually occur in Iraq per year with the number since Bush's invasion, the cost of the war in dead Iraqis may be more than a hundred thousand human beings.

Now Iraqi deaths don't count because they look funny and talk funny and have a funny religion. Besides they're Arabs, and we have a score to settle with Arabs because of their attack on the World Trade Center.

Yet if we are able to sustain the number of deaths that have happened as a consequence of the invasion, we will soon have accounted for as many as Saddam Hussein did. That's a lot of dead Arabs -- and a lot of bereaved spouses, parents, children, other relatives and friends.

How many before will we have to kill before we're satisfied with our revenge?

Someone might say that when leaders of a country have caused so many deaths that they might just deserve to be hauled before an international court of justice as war criminals -- especially if the war was based on false premises and conducted with an ineptitude that staggers the mind. Because we are the only superpower, there is little chance that our leaders will be indicted as war criminals or that an invading army will punish the American people the way we punished the Germans after the war.

It is an unnecessary, unjust, stupid, sinful war. The majority of Americans have assumed responsibility for the war. Therefore they share responsibility for all the Iraqi deaths.

I think Americans -- so serenely confident that the Lord is on our side -- should live in fear and trembling about punishment.

An unjust war is an unjust war and the death of innocents is the death of innocents. Where does one want to draw the numerical limit after which the unnecessary deaths of the innocent become a horrible crime? How many hundred thousand?

The United States has fought unjust wars before -- Mexican American, the Indian Wars, Spanish American, the Filipino Insurrection, Vietnam. Our hands are not clean. They are covered with blood this time, and there'll be more blood this time.

The war will never end unless and until the American government or the American people say that it's time to get out.

Will that require four more years?

And before Catholics write me hate mail saying that I'm a disgrace for attacking the war, they should ponder writing a letter to the pope who has made no secret of his opposition.

And the band played on:

Attacks Spread Through Iraq's Sunni Areas

U.S., Iraqi Troops Launch Mosul Offensive

Will we ever learn?

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pessimist :: 7:32 AM :: Comments (9) :: Digg It!