Thursday, April 10, 2003

There have been plenty of conspiracy theories regarding the rapid movement of American troops into conspicuous areas of Baghdad (with the made-for-television staged happy Iraqis). Did Saddam do some kind of deal, perhaps with the Russians, to sign over the country in trade for asylum? I suspect he has just decided to hole up somewhere north of Baghdad, and fight his last battle. Time will tell. In the meantime, what do we make of what has happened?:

  1. There comes a point in almost every psychopathic dictator's life when he stares deeply into the eyes of his opponents and realizes that they are crazier and more evil than he is. I'll call this the 'Milosevic moment'. Milosevic surrendered when he realized that NATO would continue bombing Serbia until the last Serb was killed. Rather than be responsible for that carnage, he decided to give up to save his people. Saddam may very well have made the same calculation. He could have attempted to make a last stand in Baghdad, but the Americans made it absolutely clear that they would bomb every last civilian Iraqi in order to win, and Saddam knew that they would eventually win, so he may have thought it pointless to sacrifice these lives to make a quixotic point. Once it was clear that the American media would participate in hiding both the slaughter of Iraqis and the American deaths, there was no American popular opinion that would end the attack.

  2. Whatever conspiracy theory you may have, it was not a coincidence that the following happened in the last few days:

    • the convoy of Russian diplomats was attacked by the Americans

    • Condoleezza Rice was meeting Russian officials in Moscow

    • the Americans specifically targeted the hotel and the specific floor of the hotel where it was public knowledge that Reuters was based

    • The Americans intentionally bombed the apartment building where al-Jazeera was based (obviously intentionally, especially given that the Americans did exactly the same thing in Kabul during the American massacre of Afghanistan)

    • the Russians, while initially furious about the American attack on their diplomats, appear to have agreed to let bygones be bygones, although they are not hiding the fact that they know their diplomats were intentionally murdered by the Americans

    • the Russian spies who were doing the excellent reporting on the attack on Iraq announced that they were ordered to stop by their superiors (". . . our actions meet increasing opposition from the official quarts and in fact are turning into confrontation the outcome of which is not difficult to forecast.").

    It is fairly obvious that an arrangement was worked out with the Russians, probably to have some of the debts owed to them by Iraq paid and perhaps giving them a cut of the Iraqi oil loot. It is also obvious that the Americans felt it to be a precondition of entering Baghdad that independent coverage of both the atrocities they might have to commit, and, more importantly, the casualities they thought they would suffer, would have to be eliminated. It is not a coincidence that Reuters and al-Jazeera were the most prominent independent voices, and any others could draw the obvious conclusion that they would also be targeted if they dared to tell the truth.

  3. American triumphalists are gloating about the 'victory', even saying that the American war plans will be studied in military academies for years to come. I agree. This war proved that a group of peasants using weapons no more sophisticated than hunting rifles and machine guns mounted on jeeps, with no air defense and no aircraft, and only minimal anti-tank weapons, could hold the most powerful and dominating army the world has seen at bay for two weeks. Any country with any kind of air force and any kind of air defenses could have easily defeated the Americans. The main Iraqi problem is that with no control of the air, it could not properly engage the Americans as such engagement would reveal its position for missile attacks by the American planes. These are problems that places like North Korea, China, Russia, or even Iran, won't have. If this attack taught the world anything, it is that the Americans are not invincible. Wealth has made the Americans stupid - from the politicians who micromanaged in areas of their incompetence, to the generals who hadn't the confidence or reputation not to be pushed around, to individual decisions by troops on the ground.

  4. Despite the fact that the American media have declared that the massacre has been won, it is one of the strangest military victories ever. Besides empty areas of desert and the southern oil fields, it is fair to say that the 'coalition' controls no part of Iraq. The 'coalition' has consistently declared that towns and cities have been captured when in actual fact all that has happened is that the 'coalition' has ensured that no official Iraqi army is present, and then has sealed off the area. If ten American or British soldiers attempted to walk through any of these 'captured' towns or cites, ten soldiers would come out in body bags. Since the Americans only came to steal the oil fields, it is appropriate that they have announced a victory once some of the oil fields have been captured. The American attack on Iraq began with imaginary weapons of mass destruction, an imaginary threat by Saddam's powerful army to Iraq's neighbors, and an imaginary fantasy that the Iraqis wanted to be liberated by Americans, and ends with an imaginary victory.

  5. Simply considering the number of battles fought by the 'coalition', the number of Iraqis killed, and the number of destroyed 'coalition' war machines, the 'coalition' death toll must be much higher that the numbers that have been admitted to by the Pentagon. It will be interesting to see how this is revealed in the American media (or have they agreed to participate in hiding it?).

  6. Despite the 'fall' of Baghdad, the grim mathematics of Iraq remains exactly the same: the Iraqis have to know that there is an as yet undetermined number of Americans who will have to die before Iraqis stop being slaves. They can: 1) work on whittling this number down now; 2) pick the American occupiers off one by one; 3) kill them wholesale in Beirut-style bombings; or 4) remain enslaved for the rest of their lives. The bottom-line is that the enslavement won't end until the magic number is reached.