Thursday, March 15, 2007

Surge and destroy in Iraq

All three prongs of the US military's "surge" strategy in Iraq are desperate measures aimed at reversing the decline of US power in the Middle East. This desperation has led to unprecedented brutality and the consideration of, or even the embrace of, strategies that are even more destructive.

By Michael Schwartz
Asia Times

"If you are trying to figure out how US President George W Bush's new strategy is progressing, or just trying to figure out what is happening in Iraq, here is a diagnosis and a bit of a prognosis.

Bush has promised three prongs to his new strategy: (1) attacking and neutralizing Muqtada al-Sadr's Mehdi Army militia; (2) confronting Iran; and (3) a new offensive against Sunni insurgents.......

The first prong of this new policy is doomed. No area in Baghdad, or for that matter in Iraq, has been successfully pacified in this manner. That includes Fallujah and Tal Afar, where this very strategy has been applied and has failed. About 1,000 American soldiers, supplemented by Iraqi (Shi'ite) troops, have been in Fallujah for 27 months since the city was "cleared" (that is, largely destroyed). They have established a particularly harsh form of martial law and yet the insurgency in the city, without ever having disappeared, has slowly grown again in strength. Fallujah is not pacified and the Americans have never actually initiated a real program of reconstruction there. In other cities, with less comprehensive occupations, the insurgency is even more robust, and there isn't even talk of reconstruction.....

All of this is unsettling enough. Worse yet, in the confrontation with the Sadrists, the Bush administration appears to be edging toward search-and-destroy operations that will rubble-ize Shi'ite neighborhoods; in the confrontation with Iran, it appears to be lurching toward a possible air assault on a remarkably wide range of targets inside that country, guaranteeing staggering levels of civilian casualties; in the confrontation with the Sunni insurgents, it is already mobilizing its ground and air power with the promise of the subsequent imposition of an extreme form of martial law. The hallmark of all these new strategies is the high level of destruction and mayhem they promise.

There is a larger pattern that should, by now, be clear in these developments, and all that have come before. The architects of US policy in the Middle East tend to keep escalating the level of brutality in search of a way to convince the Iraqis (and now the Iranians) that the only path that avoids indiscriminate slaughter is submission to a Pax Americana. Put another way, US policy in the Middle East has devolved into unadorned state terrorism."

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