Sunday, January 14, 2007

Petraeus! Is Baghdad Burning?

A Good, Long Report
By Stan Goff

Editor’s note: In this piece, a retired U.S. Special Forces soldier takes an oil-filtered look at Bush’s “surge” plan for Iraq.

"......The reason I lead into a discussion of the Bush administration’s military “surge” plan for Iraq by talking about fossil fuels is that neither the government nor the media seem inclined to talk about it. The desperation of the coming escalation of criminal lunacy is based not on some fantasy but on a real and coming competition between the U.S. and basically everyone else for these energy stores, even as most honest experts agree that world production of oil has now peaked and will begin an inexorable and irreversible decline. The reason for attempting to implant permanent U.S. military bases in the Persian Gulf area and install compliant governments (the real reason for the war from the very beginning) has everything to do with securing control over the region......

Before any assessment of the balance of forces in Iraq can be undertaken from a purely military perspective (never possible, since military success is always measured against political objectives), it is essential to survey the major Iraqi military and political actors on where they stand with regard to the proposed Iraqi “oil law.” If the top priority is to salvage U.S. access to future hydrocarbon mining in Iraq, then the fundamental requirement is a comparatively “stable” Iraqi government that supports this access. The fundamental show-stopper is any leader or set of leaders who reject this plan.

The catch for the U.S. is that, as we shall see, the Iraqi leaders who support the hydrocarbon law have no legitimacy upon which to establish stability, and the leaders who have the popular legitimacy to establish stability support neither the occupation nor the hydrocarbon law.

When the situation is looked at in this way, we can bypass all the chatter from government and media mystigogues about regional stability for the sake of the people, democracy, terrorism, et cetera. These rhetorical smoke screens are concealing two inescapable facts: (1) The U.S. has lost the Iraq war and (2) the best retrenchment position possible now is to salvage the draft hydrocarbon law.

Hakim, after all, is practically an Iranian citizen. Why would the Bush administration court the most pro-Iranian leader among the diverse Shiite factions as successor in the event that Maliki fails to live up to U.S. expectations? Hakim has been a consistent and strong supporter of the hydrocarbon law.

The Shiite leader who has most vehemently opposed this law, and the U.S. occupation, has been Muqtada al-Sadr. The press has frequently portrayed Sadr as pro-Iranian, and nothing could be further from the truth. The SCIRI has been most aggressive in the demand to divide Iraq into a very loose federation and transform southeastern Iraq into an Iranian rump state. Sadr has called for Iraqi unification, left the door open to Sunnis for an anti-occupation alliance, denounced the hydrocarbon law, and modeled his political and military leadership on Hezbollah.

Here is where we come to the nub of The Surge, and why it is probably the political death knell of Nouri al-Maliki. The principle aim of The Surge is to break the power of Muqtada al-Sadr. Sadr not only has the seats in the Potemkin parliament of Iraq that put Maliki (a leader in a relatively small Shiite party, the Dawa) into power against the SCIRI (the largest parliamentary faction); he commands the ferocious loyalty of two and a half million people and has an 80,000-strong militia concentrated a stone’s throw from the U.S.-protected Green Zone in Baghdad. Baghdad has about 6 million people; New York City has 8 million, just by way of comparison. The population of Sadr City, the “neighborhood” under the leadership of Sadr, is approximately that of Brooklyn.

To realize this helps in understanding the considerations that go into planning a military operation. We need some kind of comparative scale to really comprehend the dangerous lunacy of The Surge.....

That Baghdad has become the concentrated focus of most U.S. military efforts in Iraq now is material evidence of the scale of the U.S. defeat there; it is also an indication of exactly how desperate the surge notion really is.....

In Fallujah, a mass evacuation was organized before the general assault on the city. The mandatory mass evacuation went through checkpoints in the American cordon sanitaire. While women and children and very old people were allowed out, all “military-aged males” were turned back into the city, which, once the assault started, became a free-fire zone, and those men were dealt with like the Jews of Warsaw. Thousands of people refused to evacuate for a variety of reasons. They were subsequently caught up in the general slaughter. This is the likely operational template for Sadr City......

On Aug. 25, 1944, crushed between the Red Army smashing across the Danube and the Free French, American and Senegalese troops marching through the Champs Elysee, Hitler knew the end of the Third Reich was approaching. He had given the order to Gen. Dietrich von Choltitz, the German “governor” of Paris, to destroy Paris rather than let it fall into the hands of the Allies. As word of the Allied entry into Paris reached Hitler, he is reputed to have called his chief of staff, Gen. Alfred Jodl, and demanded: “Jodl! Is Paris burning?”

I can almost hear the echo now from Cheney’s office, the curtains pulled, the malignant presence glowering in the dark, “Petraeus! Is Baghdad burning?” "


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