By Michael I. Niman ArtVoice,
’s hardened warmongers are beginning to admit that we’ve got a nimrod in the
White House who doesn’t understand the first thing about war.
He can start them, creating death and chaos, but that’s about as far as
he’s gotten. What he hasn’t
learned is that there’s more to ending a war than simply making a unilateral
declaration that it’s over.
. Our supposed war to rout
terrorists from that sorry little piece of scorched earth killed more civilians
than the 9/11 attacks against
. Yet, over a year after George W.
Bush declared “victory,” the
is still spending $99million per month on troops still mired in combat against
a regrouping Taliban army. The last year has seen, according to The Los
Angeles Times, “A boom in opium production” and “rampant banditry.”
The occupation government of Hamid Karzai has no functioning authority
outside of the cities of
Press reports indicate that the Taliban enjoy little
popular support. This is not
surprising. It was not a populist
uprising that put the Taliban into power. They
seized control propped up with American arms and money at the end of the cold
war, maintaining power by terrorizing the people of
. This is what they’re continuing
to do today: burning schools that admit girls, killing international relief
workers who are trying to rebuild the country and feed its people, and attacking
workers attempting to clear mines from roads.
They’re doing this, according to reports in The Los Angeles Times and
The Washington Post, with a growing army of mercenaries openly hired and
The Washington Post reports that while Bush’s
Afghan war forced the Taliban leadership underground for six months, they’re
now back roving the countryside in bands of 50 or more fighters.
Joining the Taliban in terrorizing the country is a plethora of warlords
and narcotraffickers (with lines between the three groups often blurred). During
the past week, some combination of these groups ambushed and killed six
government workers. In recent months
they’ve executed workers attempting to repair the country’s water system,
build schools and feed the population. As
a result, the number of aid organizations working in
, for example, has dropped from 22 to eight, with reconstruction projects and
food distribution grinding to a halt. The
situation for women has also worsened in recent months, with organized gangs of
men attacking and raping women both in schools and in their homes. Human Rights
Watch reported last week that the
helped put these warlords into power in the wake of the war against the Taliban
and that they are now terrorizing the population with impunity.
Muslim clerics are also coming under fire, with no
effective protection from coalition forces or peacekeepers.
In recent months, according to The Post, three Mullahs were
executed after voicing support for the government of Hamid Karzai.
In this environment, the establishment of a stable democracy stands
little chance, with one Pashtun ethnic leader complaining that “If someone
rises up to say something about democracy or social equity, than tomorrow he
won’t exist anymore.”
Of course all of this instability and violence creates an
ideal environment to nurture terrorists and the organizations that support them
– hence the
is back where it started in
. The only difference is that
Afghanistan is more chaotic, violent and certainly more drug infested than it
was at the onset of this little endless war – except now, thousands of people
are dead and American troops are sitting vulnerable in the middle of this mess.
is George Bush’s nightmare,
is the apocalypse. Sporting his
signature smirk – dumb, yet arrogant - Bush appeared on the world’s
televisions on May Day (May 1st) to declare victory in
. The war, according to Bush, was
over. Since then, however, ABC
News reports that 115 more
troops died in
. Tell their parents that the war is over. This number includes 55 troops who
died under enemy fire while supposedly not fighting in a war.
The total number of troops killed in this not-a-war situation (115) is in
fact rapidly approaching the number killed in the official war (140).
If current trends continue (and I sincerely hope they don’t), by
mid-September, more American troops will have died since Bush declared
“victory,” then in the actual “war” itself.
Wars don’t end just because the official rhetoric says they are over.
While the official number of troops wounded during both the
war and the “peace,” remains at 827 (Pentagon number) or 926 (Central
Command in Qatar’s number), US officials such as Lt. Colonel Allen DeLane, who
commands the airlift of wounded troops to Andrews Air Force Base, place the
number much higher. In an interview
with National Public Radio, DeLane claims to have transported about 4,000
wounded troops to Andrews, with 90% of the injuries being directly war-related.
That number, he said, doubles when you take into account injured troops
transported to other facilities such as
and Bethesda Navel Base. Since the
war “ended,” the number of injured troops arriving at Andrews has increased,
with about 1,500 arriving during the month of May.
American deaths in peacetime
are so common that the Associated Press reported that last week’s
killing of an American soldier “broke a period of relative peace” since
soldier had been reported killed in combat in
in more than 48 hours” – an odd statement for a news outlet that reported
the war had ended a month earlier.
’s Ultimate Sacrifice
I need to stop and take a breather here for a second.
Quantifying dead people as statistics is one of the cold hard evils of
social science. At least in the case
of some of the American dead, it is possible to put names with the numbers.
This is where Disney’s ABC News division deserves credit –
their “Primetime” website lists the names and hometowns of the American
troops who died in
, adding a breath of humanity to a cold heartless statistic.
Reading this list illustrates the lopsided burden this war
has placed on poor and working class Americans whose children make up over 90%
of the armed services. Notably
absent from this list of hometowns were names like
. Instead the listed included places
– poor communities with high unemployment rates.
, now sporting one of the lowest per-capita income rates in the country, was
horribly over-represented, losing three young people in
The result of this war is that
, is now mired in chaos. Rapes,
armed robberies, random killings and assassinations are now as common as the
Humvees patrolling the streets of
. We now know the original premise for the war was built on a foundation of
shoddy lies. Like many former CIA
“assets” now serving as dictators around the world, Saddam Hussein was a
brutal thug. The war, however, was
and is illegal – violating both US and international law.
, Americans are dying every week while the nation wonders in vain trying to
figure out why they are there. Speaking
to Reuters last week, Colonel David Teeples, commander of US forces for
’s largest province, said American troops are virtually powerless to stop
escalating attacks against their convoys. Fearful
of potential bombs, Teeples explains, they now look with suspicion at “any
piles of sand, bags, garbage, tires [or] anything that may be close to the
road.” Any unfortunate Iraqis
caught near such a pile or hump in the sand will potentially come under attack,
according to Teeples, who says, “There will be action by the convoy against
those that may be close enough to command detonate that.”
In short, with the war supposedly over, American troops are sitting ducks
shooting at shadows. And Iraqi
civilians are still dying, caught in a crossfire of fear.
In a letter to his local newspaper, The Oregonian, a
20 year-old Army private in
complains about poor morale, writing, “It’s hot, we’ve been here for a
long time, it’s dangerous, we haven’t had any real down time in months and
we don’t know when we’re going home.”
He goes on to explain that “we’ve become an occupation force” in
the eyes of the Iraqis. “We
don’t feel like heroes anymore.” High
tech weaponry, he explains, is useless in this type of conflict.
“We are outnumbered. We are
exhausted. We are in over our
heads…. It would take a group of supermen to do what’s been asked of us.”
We’re clearly seeing shades of
here but with a new twist. Above
the private’s letter, on the online version of The Oregonian is a
banner ad beckoning readers to “Test drive the Hummer H2.”
In a twisted surreal moment we see real working class soldiers mired in
endless combat while chickenhawks back home play war with their personal
fuel-guzzling Hummers on reconnaissance missions to the mall.
The Pentagon’s solution to the morale problem is not to
bring these troops home, or in any way increase their morale.
According to PR Week, it’s to curtail troop interactions with
the press. To that end, they’re
shrinking their embedded reporter program, controlled and contrived as it was,
and firmly ordering troops not to talk to the press without a public relations
officer present. If they’re
effective, we won’t be hearing many more grunts quoted like they were two
weeks ago on ABC News, calling for Donald Rumsfeld to resign or including
George W. Bush on a personal “most wanted list.”
This is a war seemingly without end, and as evidenced by
the false declaration of victory, without an exit plan.
Even George W. Bush, while declaring his family’s victory over the
rival Hussein mob and a supposed end to the war, has all but admitted the defeat
of his supposed policy in
. On July 31st, Bush
issued an executive notice declaring a continuation of the “National Emergency
With Respect to
” and calling for maintaining sanctions against that country.
Now this is certainly odd.
One of Bush’s prime justifications for the war was to remove the
Hussein government, and hence, end the crippling sanctions that were leading to
the deaths of so many Iraqi children. The
Hussein government is gone. In
Saddam’s place right now is a
is supposedly running
. The war is supposedly won and
over. Yet George W. Bush wants to
continue the sanctions, still claiming
poses a threat to US interests.
There’s a modicum of reality here.
today is more of a threat to US interests than it was before the war.
According to The Boston Globe, George W. Bush’s State of
speech assertions about al Qaida links to
were just as false as his statements about Weapons of Mass Destruction.
The Globe points out that in a 2001 State Department map of 45
countries with al Qaida operations, Iraq was not listed (Interestingly, al Qaida
did operate in the US controlled Kurdish autonomous zone in Northern Iraq).
They cite former CIA counterterrorism specialist Judith Yaphe, who claims
Saddam saw al Qaida more as a threat than as an ally in a potential war against
. “Bin Laden,” she says,
“wanted to attack
after it invaded
in 1990.” The
, however, after initially approving
’s attack on
, quickly turned on its former ally and beat al Qaida to the punch, beginning
what history will see as the Bush Wars.
The “post-war” situation is now different.
Al Qaida’s strongest opponent on the ground in the
, Saddam Hussein, is now powerless. In all liklihpood, he’ll soon be dead.
The region’s strongest secular government, Saddam Hussein’s
, is now gone. Fundamentalist forces
which were never a factor in Iraqi politics, now have a strong foothold in
as the country remains mired in chaos (commonly misidentified as “anarchy”
in the press). Al Qaida, for the
first time, is now openly operating in
proper where they bombed the Jordanian embassy last week, killing about 20
people. All the sympathy that the world felt towards the
after 9/11 is gone, with the
now reviled around the globe – a
political reality that thwarts international cooperation in the fight against al
Qaida. And images of US troops
killing Muslims, coupled with the creation of
thousands of martyrs (at press time, almost 8,000 civilians have been
killed by US troops in the Iraq war) has given al Qaida a PR boost and
recruitment tools that would have been unimaginable just months ago.
American troops are now bogged down fighting
style wars against guerrilla forces in
– yet Americans are exposed to more of a terrorist threat now than we were
before these wars began. If the
Afghan war was a sloppily executed knee-jerk reaction to the 9/11 attacks, the
war was pure political opportunism. The
9/11 attacks created an opening for a nasty violent reactionary political
culture while transforming the unpopular Bush into a popular leader.
With this culture in place, the Bush administration had little difficulty
leading a confused frightened nation into war. Endless code oranges kept us
distracted while hyper-patriotism quelled potential dissent among dazed
Democrats. A sudden nationwide bout
of amnesia disposed of lingering questions regarding Bush’s ascendancy to
power. In this political environment we could have been led into almost any war
– the Bush team strategically picked targets they identified years ago –
. Both of these countries,
ironically, sported regimes which were formerly supported and armed by the
Reagan and Bush Senior administrations.
The recent congressional probe into the 9/11 attacks,
however, identifies a different foreign culprit. Their final report identifies
the government of
as being connected to the attacks. And
if the Bush administration had its way, this is a fact that you’d never know,
since they declared 27 pages of the long awaited report as “classified” –
not for public view. The Los
Angeles Times and the mildly conservative weekly, The New Republic,
however, got access to the information on the classified pages, with both
publications quoting US Government officials who read the classified report.
According to The Times, one of their government
sources describes the report as documenting “very direct, very specific
links” between Saudi government officials and two of the 9/11 hijackers as
well as other co-conspirators “that cannot be passed off as rogue, isolated or
coincidental.” Another official
described the report as “really damning,” explaining, “What it says is
that not only Saudi entities or nationals are implicated in 9/11, but the Saudi
government as well.” The New
Republic’s government source claims that,
“If the people in the [Bush] administration trying to link Iraq to al
Qaida had one one-thousandth of the stuff that the 27 pages has linking a
foreign government to al Qaeda, they would have been in good shape.”
The obvious question is why, if its the Saudi government
that’s connected to, or responsible for, the 9/11 attacks, did the
go to war with
? And why, with those wars still
droning on with no end in sight, is the Bush administration rattling its sabers
? The answer is painfully obvious.
With Dick Cheney’s Halliburton once again active in
, with US pipelines under construction in
and with the
’s oil ministry, it’s clear that these wars had nothing to do with 9/11.
The big question now is, if the allegations against Saudi
Arabia hold true, why would a government with very close ties to both the Bush
family and the Bush administration, launch this horrendous attack against our
Dr. Michael I. Niman’s previous ArtVoice columns are
archived online at www.mediastudy.com.
If you would like to easily lobby your elected representatives and encourage
them to stand up for American values by launching an independent investigation
into the criminal behavior of the Bush administration, visit www.moveon.org
and www.truemajorithy.org. You can
help change the world.
Return to mediastudy.com