Hell on Wheels

Out of control on the road to Iraq's 'liberation,' Bush regime ignored its own advice

U.S. Army

Mass burial transit: Above, a small part of the aftermath of today's vehicular homicide in Baghdad. Below, Bush's own vehicle, down in Crawford, appears undamaged.
White House

If scenes of the Gaza "disengagement" haven't overwhelmed you, then maybe you've seen the photos of today's Baghdad bus bombings.

In both situations, pictures are worth thousands of words. Too bad, though, that in the case of the Iraq deaths—43 at last count—the Bush regime ignored the words of its own little cluster of neocons.

Back in the summer of 2001, before 9/11—before Bush even received the August 6, 2001, President's Daily Brief stating that Osama bin Laden was going to attack us—Kuwaiti professor Shafeeq Ghabra wrote in Middle East Quarterly, one of the neocons' bibles:

    The ultimate causes of Iraq's woes are communal and have to do with the relation between the country's three main religio-ethnic groups. Therefore, before the country can become healthy, this fundamental issue will need to be addressed. It is the prime challenge of the post-Saddam era. Unless this is faced, Iraq will not resolve the decades-long tensions between minorities and majorities, between Sunni, Shi'is, and Kurds, between rulers and ruled, and between Iraq's national needs and the adventurism that undermines those needs.

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Hello?! Anyone there?! This wasn't Seymour Hersh talking. This was the analysis of a guy who, at that very time, the summer of 2001, was the director of the Kuwait Information Office in D.C. He was a friend of the neocons. And he was writing in a journal published by Middle East Forum, a neocon think tank run by radical rightist Daniel Pipes. For God's sake, neocon schnook Doug Feith's father, Zionist legend Dalck Feith, is on the Middle East Forum's board of governors. This major neocon propaganda arm features a "list of experts" that includes Bill Kristol, nabob of the Weekly Standard.

These are people who played a major role in steering the United States into the unjustified invasion of Iraq.

And in the neocons' own journal, Ghabra gave an intense history lesson on the country they were just itching to conquer for the sake of Israel and oil.

In fact, Ghabra specifically addressed the problems of a "post-Saddam government."

Four years later, we know from the Downing Street Memo and other British documents that George W. Bush's handlers made no plans for the aftermath of their unjustified invasion.

But history will be even harsher. Not only was this imperial adventure taken against the advice of our only significant allies, the British, but the neocons launched this in ignorance of their own recounting of Iraq's bloody history.

Yes, Ghabra's article—one of several like it that I dug up from the neocons' own graveyard of words—shows that the Bush regime thought about the aftermath—and then it didn't. Inexplicably.

In other words, the invasion, which has cost nearly 2,000 American lives and tens of thousands of Iraqi lives, was not only wrong-headed but it also was stupid.

The Bush regime can't even get imperialism right.

In the neocons' own journal, Ghabra discussed the very issues that right now—today—are preventing Iraqis from coming to an agreement on a constitution.

Who put these hapless Iraqi pols under the gun? We did. And we expect them to solve age-old problems in the midst of this bloodshed and chaos, and under our thumb? In the midst of violence that all the bunkers and troops and searches can't stop?

Anyway, Ghabra continued his discussion of Iraq's age-old communal problems this way:

    How can a post-Saddam government address this issue? How can it be inclusive and alleviate longstanding grievances among the country's communities?

    This is not an unusual task. One finds many examples of inclusive states all over the world, from Latin America to eastern Europe, and some of them have dealt successfully with inclusion. South Africa, for example, provides an example of power-sharing and the ending of racism. Most of eastern Europe avoided Yugoslavia's route of conflict.

    Iraq's experience can similarly escape civil strife and war, for the past need not haunt the future. In fact, a negative past can in itself be a motivating force to bring about positive changes; note the German and Japanese examples. Iraqis are fed up with being victims of their government's actions. They are fed up with poverty, isolation, and repression. They want to visit other countries; they want not to be treated like outlaws.

OK, fine. That sounds pretty hopeful. Now, fellas, what should we do if we ever get Saddam out of there? What's the long-term solution for letting freedom reign in Iraq? Here was Ghabra's advice:

    The far-reaching changes that Iraq requires can be done only from within— not by exiles or an external power. Yes, the agents of change need international support and Iraq's outside opposition is an important factor, but domestic forces are the key. An Iraq that goes through a truly meaningful change must find the sources at home, not abroad.

And what has the Bush regime done? Well, as the "external power" it installed Jerry Bremer as pasha. With the help of Judy Miller, it touted returning exile Ahmed Chalabi for a while and appointed his crook son, Salem, as the "justice minister" in charge of trying Saddam. It installed returning exile Ayad Allawi as Iraq's first puppet leader.

The Cheney regime placed other exiles in vital posts: Please recall Alaa al-Tamimi's reign as Baghdad governor. In fact, as I noted recently, he was recalled last week—recalled by an armed coup.

I mean, Ghabra titled his analysis "Iraq's Culture of Violence." And his very first paragraph was this:

    No Arab people have been so traumatized by dictatorial rule, foreign adventurism, and war as the Iraqis under Saddam Husayn. To a considerable extent, the cause has been the Iraqi regime's failure to build a national identity that includes all Iraqis. It was this absence of integration that contributed directly to the rise of Saddam Husayn, who emerged from Iraq's need for a power stronger than its divisions.

Now, with Iraq descending rapidly into madness and civil war, we're demanding that its pols produce a document, any document, anything that resembles a "constitution." We don't give a shit what it is. The Bush regime is just worried about its own elections next year.

We never gave a shit about Iraq's 25 million people. What about our own dead soldiers and their grieving families? Good question.

The simplest answer: We just wound up doing the wrong things for the wrong reasons.

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