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7 Facts You Might Not Know About the Iraq War

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BurtWorm Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 11:53 AM
Original message
7 Facts You Might Not Know About the Iraq War
Michael Schwartz and Tom Engelhardt totally nail why the US cannot "win" in Iraq. You must follow the link and read the entire post, including Engelhardt's lucid introduction:


http://www.tomdispatch.com/index.mhtml?pid=114108

<From Engelhardt's intro:>

...

The single most basic fallacy underlying the present American catastrophe in Iraq is the belief that the U.S. can somehow solve that country's problems, however extreme and intractable they may seem; that, in short, we are part of the solution in Iraq, not part of the problem. Once you're thinking that way, it's always a matter of setting the latest incorrect or inept tactics right, or of changing a policy that has been incompetently put into operation by unprepared administrators wielding too few resources too poorly.

But the belief in the power of the United States to solve problems for others -- by force -- reflects a deep-seated imperial mind-set that exists not just in the Bush administration, but among its mainstream critics as well. You can see it everywhere, if you care to look. You can note it in the way, as things continue to devolve in Iraq, the military and its various internal critics have been bobbing and weaving from one set of counterproductive counterinsurgency tactics to another (each time claiming that the previous set had somehow overlooked basic insurgency doctrine or the lessons of Vietnam). The latest of these is a modified version of the old (failed) Vietnam "ink blot" strategy in which we pull troops back to Baghdad, a city now evidently in utter, violent disarray, to nail down at least some of the capital's neighborhoods (while denuding troop strength in areas of Sunni Iraq where the insurgency rages).


...

7 Facts You Might Not Know about the Iraq War
By Michael Schwartz

With a tenuous cease-fire between Israel and Lebanon holding, the ever-hotter war in Iraq is once again creeping back onto newspaper front pages and towards the top of the evening news. Before being fully immersed in daily reports of bomb blasts, sectarian violence, and casualties, however, it might be worth considering some of the just-under-the-radar-screen realities of the situation in that country. Here, then, is a little guide to understanding what is likely to be a flood of new Iraqi developments -- a few enduring, but seldom commented upon, patterns central to the dynamics of the Iraq war, as well as to the fate of the American occupation and Iraqi society.

...

    1. The Iraqi Government Is Little More Than a Group of "Talking Heads"

    2. There Is No Iraqi Army

    3. The Recent Decline in American Casualties Is Not a Result of Less Fighting (and Anyway, It's Probably Ending)

    4. Most Iraqi Cities Have Active and Often Viable Local Governments


    5. Outside Baghdad, Violence Arrives with the Occupation Army

    6. There Is a Growing Resistance Movement in the Shia Areas of Iraq

    7. There Are Three Distinct Types of Terrorism in Iraq, All Directly or Indirectly Connected to the Occupation


    ...

    There is still some hope for the Iraqis to recover their equilibrium. All the centripetal forces in Iraq derive from the American occupation, and might still be sufficiently reduced by an American departure followed by a viable reconstruction program embraced by the key elements inside of Iraq. But if the occupation continues, there will certainly come a point -- perhaps already passed -- when the collapse of government legitimacy, the destruction wrought by the war, and the horror of terrorist violence become self-sustaining. If that point is reached, all parties will enter a new territory with incalculable consequences.

    Michael Schwartz, Professor of Sociology and Faculty Director of the Undergraduate College of Global Studies at Stony Brook University, has written extensively on popular protest and insurgency, and on American business and government dynamics. His work on Iraq has appeared on numerous Internet sites, including Tomdispatch, Asia Times, Mother Jones.com, and ZNet; and in print in Contexts, Against the Current, and Z Magazine. His books include Radical Protest and Social Structure, and Social Policy and the Conservative Agenda (edited, with Clarence Lo). His email address is Ms42@optonline.net .
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havocmom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 12:04 PM
Response to Original message
1. .
I'll be back tonight to kick it. Maybe by then people will be tired of posting threads about how tierd they are of Karr threads :eyes:
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Lone_Star_Dem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 12:09 PM
Response to Original message
2. Recommended
Excellent read.
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Imalittleteapot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 12:14 PM
Response to Original message
3. K&R
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BurtWorm Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 12:14 PM
Response to Original message
4. 1. The Iraqi Government Is Little More Than a Group of "Talking Heads"
<Schwartz's words from the article:>

A minimally viable central government is built on at least three foundations: the coercive capacity to maintain order, an administrative apparatus that can deliver government services and directives to society, and the resources to manage these functions. The Iraqi government has none of these attributes -- and no prospect of developing them. It has no coercive capacity. The national army we hear so much about is actually trained and commanded by the Americans, while the police forces are largely controlled by local governments and have few, if any, viable links to the central government in Baghdad. (Only the Special Forces, whose death-squad activities in the capital have lately been in the news, have any formal relationship with the elected government; and they have more enduring ties to the U.S. military that created them and the Shia militias who staffed them.)

Administratively, the Iraqi government has no existence outside Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone -- and little presence within it. Whatever local apparatus exists elsewhere in the country is led by local leaders, usually with little or no loyalty to the central government and not dependent on it for resources it doesn't, in any case, possess. In Baghdad itself, this is clearly illustrated in the vast Shiite slum of Sadr city, controlled by Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army and his elaborate network of political clerics. (Even U.S. occupation forces enter that enormous swath of the capital only in large brigades, braced for significant firefights.) In the major city of the Shia south, Basra, local clerics lead a government that alternately ignores and defies the central government on all policy issues from oil to women's rights; in Sunni cities like Tal Afar and Ramadi, where major battles with the Americans alternate with insurgent control, the government simply has no presence whatsoever. In Kurdistan in the north, the Kurdish leadership maintains full control of all local governments.

As for resources, with 85% of the country's revenues deriving from oil, all you really need to know is that oil-rich Iraq is also suffering from an "acute fuel shortage" (including soaring prices, all-night lines at gas stations, and a deal to get help from neighboring Syria which itself has minimal refining capacity). The almost helpless Iraqi government has had little choice but to accept the dictates of American advisors and of the International Monetary Fund about exactly how what energy resources exist will be used. Paying off Saddam-era debt, reparations to Kuwait from the Gulf War of 1990, and the needs of the U.S.-controlled national army have had first claim. With what remains so meager that it cannot sustain a viable administrative apparatus in Baghdad, let alone the rest of the country, there is barely enough to spare for the government leadership to line their own pockets.
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ComerPerro Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 12:43 PM
Response to Reply #4
7. and here's a picture that proves they are Talking Heads
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JitterbugPerfume Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 12:14 PM
Response to Original message
5. excellent post .Thanks
recommended
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BurtWorm Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 12:40 PM
Response to Original message
6. 2. There Is No Iraqi Army
<Again in Schwartz's words:>

The "Iraqi Army" is a misnomer. The government's military consists of Iraqi units integrated into the U.S.-commanded occupation army. These units rely on the Americans for intelligence, logistics, and -- lacking almost all heavy weaponry themselves -- artillery, tanks, and any kind of airpower. (The Iraqi "Air Force" typically consists of fewer then 10 planes with no combat capability.) The government has no real control over either personnel or strategy.

We can see this clearly in a recent operation in Sadr City, conducted (as news reports tell us) by "Iraqi troops and US advisors" and backed up by U.S. artillery and air power. It was one of an ongoing series of attempts to undermine the Sadrists and their Mahdi army, who have governed the area since the fall of Saddam. The day after the assault, Iraqi premier Nouri Kamel al-Maliki complained about the tactics used, which he labeled "unjustified," and about the fact that neither he, nor his government, was included in the decision-making leading up to the assault. As he put it to an Agence France-Presse, "I reiterate my rejection to such an operation and it should not be executed without my consent. This particular operation did not have my approval."

This happened because the U.S. has functionally expanded its own forces in Iraq by integrating local Iraqi units into its command structure, while essentially depriving the central government of any army it could use purely for its own purposes. Iraqi units have their own officers, but they always operate with American advisers. As American Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad put it, "We'll ultimately help them become independent." (Don't hold your breath.)
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BurtWorm Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 02:18 PM
Response to Original message
8. kick
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lonestarnot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 03:13 PM
Response to Original message
9. kick
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Disturbed Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 03:50 PM
Response to Reply #9
10. Iraq is a Sovereign Nation.
That is another Big Lie perpetuated by the Busholini Regime.
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lonestarnot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 04:23 PM
Response to Reply #10
12. Right now it looks like an occuppied territory in civil war.
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truth2power Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 09:54 PM
Response to Reply #10
16. I wish just once...JUST ONCE..
when the Simpleton says Iraq is sovereign, some reporter would ask about Paul Bremer's 100 Orders, that prevent any sort of independence, in perpetuity. :grr:
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Jed Dilligan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 04:17 PM
Response to Original message
11. Really good article
Someone should make a movie (fiction, not documentary) to dramatize these facts for the largely non-article-reading populace!
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havocmom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 08:59 PM
Response to Original message
13. Kick for the night owls
:kick:

and a special request to BurtWorm: Post this to your journal, Pretty please?
That way, you can refer people to it with a fast link in other threads discussing the failings of the GOP. As Nov comes up, this is all VERY handy info. Great stuff for a mess of LTTE.

Thanks for the wonderful post.

:toast:
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BurtWorm Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 09:36 PM
Response to Original message
14. .
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Major Hogwash Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 09:48 PM
Response to Original message
15. "You're undermining the credibility of the President."
Edited on Mon Aug-21-06 09:49 PM by Major Hogwash
"There is no prize for 2nd place in American politics."

Hi, I'm Joe Lieberman, and I approved this ad.
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Quantess Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-22-06 12:28 AM
Response to Original message
17. Interesting post. Thanks. no/text
:kick:
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madfloridian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-22-06 12:32 AM
Response to Original message
18. And I did not realize how many civilians we had bombed in the 90s.
http://journals.democraticunderground.com/madfloridian/...

This was painful to read. I wasn't paying attention in 1999, but our congress should have been. They had to know we had Saddam contained.
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