War That Won't Disappear
Despite administration strategy to keep the war in Iraq out of sight, the official image formed over the past five years busted out in the open last week. The accompanying text confirmed the road to peace had made another violent turn. Those surprised belonged to the administration's Coue faction.
As older readers may recall, Emilie Coue created a sensation after World War I with highly popular autosuggestions. The Frenchman's most famous mantra ran "Every day in every way we are getting better and better." There are those, and I know a few, who practice a similar mode of hopeful wishing about the war. We are not talking solely about politicians.
Before and after the 2003 capture of Baghdad, they allowed patriotism to blind them from reality. Their numbers include a large coterie in the White House. Sheer emotions dictated the abrupt air strikes that instigated the longest war in U.S. history. We were informed opposition would collapse under the shock and awe created by American weapons; it didn't happen. Only some fat-headed racist believed it would happen.
The killed and wounded casualties remain low, by comparison to other conflicts, but that can be attributed to how Republicans resisted those who wanted to bring back the draft. Summoning National Guard units helped, but their deployment to high-risk situations still remains a no-no except when there are no Regular Army troops available. With so few bodies in ranks, generals have tried to protect their resources.
Before our tanks rolled over Kuwait's border, we were told the bloody struggle would be swift. Witness George W. Bush, wearing a Navy pilot's leather jacket and a white scarf, proclaiming victory. That happened in May 2003.
For five years and six days, our men, women and children have been wooed with the fairy tale we are there in Iraq only until the people recover enough to assume responsibility, especially for the war among sects and races. Somehow, we were never told how. The Kurds, the Sunnis and bitterly opposing factions of Shi'ism supposedly will imitate the Biblical lion and lamb, under a regime imposed by the American occupation authorities. Go, figure!
Throughout the five years and ten months since Mr. Bush raised high his arms, the world has been treated to spectacle tinged with blood and slathered with optimism. The approach has been entirely political. Military officers were forced to choose between telling the truth and their careers and pensions.
Over the past week, all the White House's propaganda flew apart. The so-called surge's restoration of order collapsed. As I have written for TheTentacle.com, the improved security had less to do with additional U.S. troops' presence than a young man named Moqtada al-Sadr.
Rather than leave his followers vulnerable to the new increased firepower, the Shiite leader ordered last summer a cease fire, which he strictly enforced. A measure of tranquility reigned until his Shiite rivals decided to wipe out his Mahdi army in Basra, the country's southern metropolis and principal port. (Mahdi, by the way, is the name for Islam's messiah.)
The U.S.-approved Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki's party lined up with Iraq's powerful Islamic Supreme Council and attacked Tuesday, hoping to run off al-Sadr's armed followers and demonstrate their superiority. Mr. al-Maliki actually moved down to Basra for the campaign. Within 48 hours, the prime minister complained publicly about the lack of a plan, while the Mahdi army emerged in other parts of the country, notably Baghdad.
Coming into this week, Moqtada al-Sadr ordered a truce, which was negotiated in and by Iran; the White House had nothing to do with it. As five years back, Americans and their government are relegated again to pawns in the hands of Iraqi powerbrokers, who use U.S. troops for their own ambitions and purposes.
This is what the latest outbreak in the ancient land demonstrated, and forcefully.