I suppose the second biggest mystery about the occupation of Iraq - after the fact that the United States is spending billions of dollars to build a series of giant permanent military bases in Iraq without any mainstream media coverage (the complete lack of mainstream media coverage is no surprise) - is the fact that apparently no one - not the media, not the Pentagon, not the learned commentators - seems to have the slightest idea of the nature of the Iraqi resistance. The insurgents are magical characters, able to engage in 50 to 100 organized attacks each day without leaving the slightest trace of who they are. This article by Ghali Hassanis simply the only honest writing on the subject. There are two main American lies:
- the resistance is made up of 'foreign' fighters associated with al Qaeda;
- the non-foreign resistance is comprised entirely of Sunni Baathist agents who are primarily involved in attacking Shi'ites.
Both of these tales make Americans feel somewhat better about the guilt they must feel as they try to wash off the blood, but both are misleading American propaganda.
The lie that the resistance is comprised of al Qaeda fighters is simply a return of the old lie that Saddam was associated with al Qaeda, and is another rather crude attempt to fit the occupation of Iraq into the 'war on terror'. While there seem to be a few foreign fighters in Iraq, this is no credit to the Americans, but just more evidence that the American war on terror is the biggest recruitment aid al Qaeda has ever had.
The lie that the resistance is just Sunni 'deadenders' goes back to Rumsfeld, and is again an attempt to make Americans feel better about themselves by hiding the fact that the entire country is in opposition to the brutal American occupation. Even people who should know better seem to like this tale. The idea that the Sunnis are fighting, not to oust the Americans but to restore Baathist power over Iraq, fits nicely with the American mythology of its noble 'liberation' of Iraq from Saddam. While there is undoubtedly some settling of scores going on, the majority of Sunni-Shi'ite violence is the work of the same agents provocateurs who are trying to start a civil war in Iraq (and the fact that Iraqi politicians on both sides are not taking the bait is an indication that the nature of this provocation is understood in Iraq). The reason that Sunnis are prominent in the resistance is because Baathists made up the officer corps of the Iraqi army, and know where the weapons are hidden and how to use them.
The sad fact of the matter is that when you break international law and start a completely unprovoked war on a sovereign country based on a pile of lies, and then engage in a brutal occupation murdering and torturing innocent civilians, everyone is going to be in the resistance. Not everyone has the ability to fight in the same way, and the most active fighters may very well be Sunni veterans of Saddam's army. Blaming the resistance on foreign fighters or Sunni deadenders is just another in the long series of American lies about Iraq intended to fit this conflict into the American mythology that everything the United States does is good, and all its opponents are bad. This mythology - proven to be a complete lie so many, many times - is so ingrained into American thinking that even the best commentators cannot grasp the reality of the ongoing resistance of the people of Iraq to the evil American oppression. It isn't going to be psychologically possible for Americans to end the occupation until Americans start to accept the reality of the fact that they are not noble liberators but brutal occupiers, and the whole country of Iraq wants them out, now.