Friday, August 04, 2006

International: Civil War In Iraq? You're Kidding Me!

08 03 06 Top generals see threat of Iraq civil war
Thu Aug 3, 12:48 PM ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Iraq is caught in the worst sectarian violence yet seen and faces the threat of civil war, two of the United States' senior generals said on Thursday, three years after the U.S. invasion...

Marine Corps Gen. Peter Pace, the most senior U.S. military officer, also said there was a "possibility" of civil war in Iraq, where the violence has claimed about 100 lives a day. Asked whether he would have seen a chance of civil war a year ago, He replied, "No, sir."

So General Pace didn’t see it coming? It “took him by surprise,” did it? This “chance of civil war in Iraq” thing blindsided him, eh?

Then I guess he wasn’t reading my column in the Stillwater Gazette a few years back. Too bad; he would have found out that there was a very HIGH probability of a civil war in Iraq. Too bad; the whole mess could have been avoided if he’d been reading Prendergast, unpaid boy columnist for the Stillwater Gazette. You guys at the Pentagon shoulda subscribed when we sent you that little card in the mail, general.

And it's not like I'm claiming that I had any “privileged secret information” or even any special gift for analysis of the geopolitical calculus of the Middle East. Not me. When I predicted that this Iraq adventure was going to degenerate into a bloody, seemingly endless mess I was merely relying on well-established history; well-established principles of foreign policy.

You see—the reason that the first Bush administration didn’t topple Saddam after the first Gulf was the possibility of a civil war in Iraq. Saddam was and is an evil prick, but his bloody regime held that nation together the same way that that evil prick Tito held the former Yugoslavia together.

Bush the First knew or was told that if he removed Saddam, the state of Iraq was likely to be plunged into bloody civil war--and there was only one nation in the world that would benefit from that scenario: the Shi’ite fundamentalist theocracy of Iran, deadly enemy of the United States and Saddam’s regime. Overthrowing Saddam’s regime would have been the same as throwing everything between Jordan and India to the Iranians—so Bush the First let him stay in power. Bush the First encouraged Iraq’s Kurdish population to rebel, to aid the cause of the Allies—and then cynically abandoned them--because he knew that if Saddam was toppled there’d be civil war and Iran would end up in control of the entire region.

Things were the same under Clinton—wall up Saddam, was the policy; cage him inside his own country, lay on the sanctions, order airstrikes to keep him and his generals weak and fearful. Keep him from rebuilding his military, from rebuilding his air force—but for God’s sake, don’t take him out; the world needs him as a hedge against Iran! If anyone was so stupid as to remove Saddam, by God, the whole country would be plunged into a bloody civil war; Arab versus Shi’ite, Shi’ite versus Arab, and all against the Kurds.

This was the wisdom; so it was written, and so it was done. The Roman and British Empires, during their greatest days, would have played the same strategy to keep foreign enemies weak.

But Bush the Second, the choice of America’s conservatives, did not heed the wisdom. The American conservatives howled for Saddam’s overthrow, heedless of the consequences to the people of Iraq and the people of America. It is as if American conservatives deliberately ignored every established principle of hegemony, every lesson of history, every expert on the region, every dictate of common sense, wisdom and experience… But why? Why would they ignore all that? Why are we stuck in Iraq, about to make some kind of sad, bloody Keystone Kops effort to police a murderous civil war, a war that everyone (except conservative “experts”) knew was sure to come if Saddam was overthrown?

I will give you the answer in an upcoming column. It will astound you. But for now, let’s ponder what it would take to get America’s conservatives to openly acknowledge that Iraq has in fact degenerated into civil war.

Blue versus grey uniforms, is my guess. That must be what they are waiting for, before they will admit the reality of civil war over there. It would probably take another twelve-part hit documentary by Ken Burns, with celebrities reading excerpts from soldier’s letters, the camera panning over still photographs and daguerreotypes to sound of lonely harmonica and violin, funded by grants from Exxon and shown on PBS, marketed for home viewing in VHS and DVD format—before they acknowledge that there is a civil war going on in Iraq.

Or maybe they’re waiting for the Franklin mint to issue commemorative coins before they admit there’s a civil war over there; maybe it would take “the Iraqi Civil War chess sets” to convince them. Maybe they won’t admit it’s a civil war until there are numerous groups of “Iraqi Civil War Re-Enactment” hobbyists re-staging key battles over here.

But I have no idea what it would take to convince American conservatives that their obscene bungling of our foreign policy caused a civil war in Iraq. They will never admit that.


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