May 27, 2006

On Haditha, Rage, and the Fiction of an Iraqi Nation

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Photo of dead Haditha civilians courtesy of Reuters and Hammurabi Organisation via Reuters TV


I have known pure rage, that primal emotion that can overwhelm the most rational of people. I have lusted for vengeance against a person who hurt someone close to me, and - if I had ever known that person's identity - I cannot guarantee that my desire to seek the proverbial eye for an eye would not have overridden my normal peaceful personality.

Many were the nights I railed against God and tortured myself with visions of hunting down another human being to exact my Louisville slugger vengeance, which - thankfully - passed after a period of time.

It was with deep sadness that I began to read the news accounts of the purported massacre in Haditha, in which a Marine unit killed as many as 24 unarmed Iraqi civilians. The dead included women and six children; some were shot in the head and some in the back, and the ugly words "execution-style killings" have been used by investigators to describe the November 19, 2005 incident.

The killings were reportedly a violent payback for the killing of Lance Cpl. Miguel Terrazas, 20, of El Paso, Texas.

I feel sadness for the dead civilians, sadness for the American troops who face the impossible task of fighting a seemingly endless, miserable war, and most of all sadness for an America that is losing whatever moral justification it once tried to claim for the Iraq war.

The atrocities, however, in places like Haditha, Fallujah, and Abu Ghraib are only symptoms of a larger problem. The US finds itself in the middle of an unwinnable civil war, and is on the verge of widening that war into a major regional conflict by fanning the flames of hostility with Iran.


The very concept of a sovereign Iraq is a historical anomaly, as the country was created by the British after World War I. The Ottoman vilayets of Baghdad, Mosul, and Basra were lumped together for the benefit of British puppet King Faisal, and the nation has only been held together by a series of strong-armed rulers. American war planners who believed that they could maintain the fiction of a national Iraq either did not know Middle Eastern history, or were deluded by the hallucination that a few years of imported American political structures could somehow undo thousands of years of religious and ethnic traditions.

Without a dictatorial strongman to hold it together the nation of Iraq will implode. An international peace conference that creates separate states from the war-torn remnants of the Iraqi state is the only solution to what appears to be an inevitable Middle East war that will likely widen into a worldwide conflict over energy.

American troops in Iraq are undermanned, underfunded, and unwanted. It is time for them to come home, before horror stories like those in Haditha become everyday occurrences, and before the region devolves into an even bloodier contest for petroleum dominance.

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

Typical liberal treason from a typical liberal wannabe writer. Miguel Terrazas was an American hero, and you are a cowardly punk.

JK, a retired Army patriot from Brownsville TX

Anonymous said...

Your opinions obviously stem from a lack of ever having been in the country in question. Yes, the modern country of Iraq was formed by the Brits, then again so was all of the Middle east, most of Africa, Pakistan, India, Malaysia, Canada, Australia, the United States... Well, you get the idea. The world would look a lot different had there been no United Kingdom.
This however does not stop Iraqis from believing in a unified Iraq. The actions (yet to be proven) of a few Marines do not generalize into the military mindset, much in the same way that the actions of a vocal minority of terrorists in Iraq do not accurately represent the views of the population at large.
The Iraqi people (speaking as one who talks to them daily) want peace, prosperity and unity. The droves signing up for the Iraqi army and police forces attest to that.
With preseverance those goals will be accomplished.

Anonymous said...

Mike, as a long-time reader and friend of yours, I respect the previous comment here (I will not dignify the first outburst of adolescent slander), and predict there will be many more hostile sentiments before this thread is done; they are born of misplaced idealism, nothing more. For my part, I commend your honesty and integrity, since it clear that this war--which I peacefully protested against in March 2003 amidst hurled beer bottles and threats of violence--is 'unwinnable,' just as every war since Vietnam has been unwinnable. I have profound respect for our armed services, but I think they are largely abused and misused by our own government, which makes this recent My Lai no less forgiveable, but saddly expected. The facts are that over half of the American people no longer support this war, and Mr. Bush's approval ratings have remained in the mid-30s for months now. Iraq is not like colonial America, Canada, or Australia, which were infinitely larger land masses, and leaving the painful issues of slavery and indigenous genocide aside, were pioneered by a relatively homogenous population of European Christians. Iraq is much more akin to the Belgian Congo under King Leopold if we are searching for historical anologies. In the end, we must return to prayer, diplomacy, and the hard lessons of Vietnam if we hope to leave this mess with any semblance of hope.

Dariush said...

Mike,

I agree with the great majority of what you express with the exception of this:

"Without a dictatorial strongman to hold it together the nation of Iraq will implode. An international peace conference that creates separate states from the war-torn remnants of the Iraqi state is the only solution to what appears to be an inevitable Middle East war that will likely widen into a worldwide conflict over energy."

Leaving aside the sainted Kurds for the moment, this media-generated meme of "historical animosity" and "blood enmity" between Iraqi Shias and Sunnis is completely bogus and deliberately fabricated in order to achieve the desired result -- the balkanization of Iraq along sectarian lines. Were Iraq to be divided into three separate states the result would be what happened in Yugoslavia in the 90s -- which may be just fine for the occupiers, but not for the ordinary people.

The fact is that Iraqi Shias and Sunnis are not hated enemies of each other but friends, neighbours, schoolmates and relatives. There are many mixed Shia-Sunni families in Iraq. Basra has a huge Sunni population, and Baghdad a huge Shia population. They're not going to pack and leave their homes just because the occupiers and the quisling government tell them "it's in your best interest."

Also, for those who haven't already seen this video, here's the testimony of Jessie Macbeth, former ranger and Iraq veteran (courtesy of Iraq Veterans Against The War).

historymike said...

1. Anonymous #1: Thanks for the drive-by blast of thick-skulled pseudo-patriotism. A) No one said anything about Miguel Terrazas, except that he died; B)It is not treason to express dissent; C)You have never met me, so you are hardly in a position to assess my politics, patriotism, or bravery.
Have a nice day.

historymike said...

Anonymous #2:

1. You are correct that I have never set foot in Iraq, or anywhere else in the Middle East, but that does not disqualify me from weighing in.

2. The horrific crimes committed against innocent Iraqis illustrate the frustration experienced by soldiers who have been asked to complete murky, ill-defined goals in Iraq.

3. From what I have read - admittedly, I am not in contact with Iraqis on a "daily" basis as you - identity for most people in Iraq tends to follow village, clan, ethnic, and religious patterns, and the nationalism you describe is a distant fifth.

4. Please define - or provide evidence for - the "droves" of Iraqis signing up. From what I have read the military and security forces have suffered desertions, intra-unit conflicts, and infiltration by insugents.

Also, until local militias are disbanded and/or merge with state forces, the "nation" of Iraq will continue to control less than half of its territory.

historymike said...

Anonymous #3:

Thanks very much for the words of encouragement. It is difficult to post a thread like this knowing that I will get pounded by war hawks, and it is good to know that there are people looking at the long-term effects of a very short-term mentalité that led to this ugly war.

historymike said...

Dariush:

I am not necessarily looking at this in the Shi'a/Sunni/Kurd trichotomy we are fed by the administration. There are Assyrians, Armenians, and a host of other groups who are competing for political power in the vacuum that is Iraq.

Do you think 90 years is enough time to create a national mindset? You are in a much better position than I to assess Iraq.

Here is what I see as most likely to happen in the next 10 years (and I agree with your Balknanization scenario):

Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Turkey annex chunks of Iraq (or agree to the creation of friendly buffer states), with a small northern nation of Kurdistan created.

What, in your opinion, would it take to maintain a stable Iraq, besides the presence of several hundred thousand Western troops?

My biggest fear is that the saber-rattling of the Bush administration toward Iran will turn Iraq into the center of a much wider Middle Eastern conflict that could escalate into a third world war, as larger players line up and choose sides in the fight for controlling petroleum reserves.

Israel, of course, is the wild card. If they undertake a unilateral strike against Iran's nuclear facilities, I believe the region will descend into chaos.

Dariush said...

Mike: "Thanks very much for the words of encouragement. It is difficult to post a thread like this knowing that I will get pounded by war hawks, and it is good to know that there are people looking at the long-term effects of a very short-term mentalité that led to this ugly war."

Mike,

As I said to someone else else in a previous thread. Bush's approval rating is now right around 28% and showing no signs of doing anything but continue to drop; 62% of Americans believe the Iraq war was not worth fighting and 76% believe the cost in blood and treasure to be unacceptable. (see here for both results)

Furthermore the "ruling elite" now have to deal with that which they fear above all else. The resurgence of "isolationist" (i.e. non-interventionist) sentiment among the American public:

"A 47% plurality believes the U.S. should be no more or less assertive than other nations, while 10% think we shouldn't play any leadership role at all."

....

"Following a spike in internationalist sentiment in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, public skepticism about becoming too involved with world affairs has returned. The percentage of Americans who say the U.S. should 'mind its own business internationally' has risen to 42%; just 30% expressed this opinion in December of 2002."

Results like this haven't been seen the Hoover administration and reflect a deep, deep disconnect between the ruling plutocracy, its kowtowing servants in the elite media and ordinary Americans.

The majority of the remaining 30-35% (let's say 50-60% of that remnant) who both support Bush and the ongoing war and occupation in Iraq are likely to do so no matter what. They'll support him even if he lobs nukes at Iran. Hell, especially if he lobs nukes at Iran.

They may be numerous online, but in the real world the war-hawks are an ever-dwindling minority and they know it, which is why they will lash out at you, and all other perceived "enemies" and "traitors" with an ever-increasing degree of madness and bloodlust. Bear in mind however that they attack in such a manner not due to their strength and confidence, but precisely the opposite.

So no need to despair, just yet. They may yet go gently into the night, despite all their best intentions, without touching off the greatest campaign of mass murder in human history.

In the words of one White House insider:

"Bush has lost, is not losing but has lost, both sides of the aisles in the Senate and the House and a sudden revolt is not to be ruled out. The rebellious Congressmen, and women, had best be careful because the Gonzales people have spies planted amongst aides in Congress and they all snitch on a regular basis to dear Alberto, he of the damp back, who is known here to run sniveling to his Lord and Master in the Oval Office., bearing lists of treasonable Republicans and despicable, Negro-loving liberals on the other side of the aisles.. The time has come, the Walrus said, to remove all of these thieving, walking garbage bags from office. Sooner rather than later!"

josh narins said...

Mr. Mike:

Why did the Ottomans mark the administrative boundaries where they did?

Were they drawn in the sand for ease of administration, just like the British did?

Perhaps they were just inherited from some even earlier demarcation designed to divide and conquer?

The regrettable fact is that the brutal reality imposed on Iraqis has, to some degree, become reality. Yet, I see no freaking reason on Earth to defend the current demarcation on historical grounds alone.

Who should decide?

The Iraqis, of course.

I think a majority of Kurds, but not Kurdish leaders, want to secede.

The mathematics of voting is currently quite primitive. The mathematics of Capital Selection don't even exist, to the best of my knowledge.

liberal_dem said...

Don't you just love these GI Joe types who seem to have all of the geopolitical answers at the ends of their guns.

I bet JK still is looking for those WMD's that Bush told him about. Even Bush made a joke out of it, but these fools actually believed him.

The saddest part is the loss of 2500 of our men and women in this Bush fiasco.

Don said...

"Your opinions obviously stem from a lack of ever having been in the country in question."
That's setting a pretty high bar, anonymous. On your view, is it OK for me to claim that North Korea is an oppressive dictatorship? I've never been there, but I've read about it. I'm wondering if your requirement of visiting a country before having an opinion about it is only for those who have opinions different from yours.

For that matter, what was George Bush's level of expertise on Middle Eastern culture and history prior to deciding to commit our forces there?

Don't answer that question, because we ALL know the answer to that one.

Anonymous said...

here's the testimony of Jessie Macbeth, former ranger and Iraq veteran (courtesy of Iraq Veterans Against The War).

THAT VIDEO HAS BEEN DEBUNKED.

Anonymous said...

Jessie Macbeth is a propaganda stunt.

Jessie Macbeth

Dariush said...

"THAT VIDEO HAS BEEN DEBUNKED."

Absolutely. Iraq Veterans Against The War are saying that they've never heard of him and his sister has come out and said that he's mentally ill.

Also, the website which originally ran the video now consists of nothing more than a photo of the globe.

Disinfo is flying thick and fast from all directions, it seems.

My apologies for that posting that link.

McCaskey said...

Dariush: I gotta tell ya; no, actually I probably don't have to tell ya, that when you put out a link like that that turns about to be total b.s. it hurts your credibility greatly in everything else you post here or anywhere else. It's disappointing.

Dariush said...

Well, I would hope that one link to what turns out to be a completely bogus story doesn't completely discredit everything else that I post.

Of course credibility isn't always based on objectivity. For one man Mr. X and paper Y are unimpeachable sources of truth, while for another they're fountainheads of lies and deceit and it's Mr. A and paper Z that bring truth to light.

I acknowledged it and apologized for it. Not much else I can really do at this point. If I could edit the post, without deleting the whole thing, I would. But that's not an option.

Dariush said...

Here's the statement on the Macbeth video by Iraq Veterans Against the War.

Dariush said...

Mike,

To get back to our discussion about the enforced division of Iraq, one of the major reasons why I'm opposed to this policy of Balkanization (aside from its inherent immorality) is that a similar scheme is being cooked -- in fact, is already underway -- for Iran. (Since I'm going to be studiously fact-checked from this point on, I might as well point out that the artist I linked to here is off by about 2700 years in the topmost map -- which doesn't really detract from the point she's making. 3200 BC is the date of the unification of Upper and Lower Egypt. We were still living in the Russian Steppe at that point and wouldn't make our way south until a couple of millennia later)

I'll get to the roots, reasons and source of this tactic in a later post.

But I'll start off with a couple of reports from ex-NSA and Navy intel officer Wayne Madsen from last year.


**********


August 10, 2005 -- U.S. prepared to grab Iran's southwestern majority Arab and oil-rich province after saturation bombing of Iranian nuclear, chemical, and command, control, communications & intelligence (C3I) targets. According to sources within the German Federal Intelligence Service (Bundesnachrichtendienst - BND), the Bush administration has drawn up plans to hit Iran's nuclear, other WMD, and military sites with heavy saturation bombing using bunker buster bombs and tactical nuclear weapons. The attack will be coordinated with urban and rural critical infrastructure sabotage carried out by elements of the People's Mujaheddin (MEK), Pentagon Special Operations units, and other Iranian dissident groups. The German intelligence comes from classified briefings provided by elements within the CIA that are concerned the neocons in the Bush administration will, in attacking Iran, set off a chain of events that will lead to world war. Intelligence on U.S. plans to attack Iran has also been passed by CIA agents to counterparts in France, Britain, Canada, and Australia. The Bush war plans for Iran also entail quickly seizing Iran's southwestern Khuzestan Province, where most of Iran's oil reserves and refineries are located. Khuzestan has a majority Shia Arab population that has close links with their ethnic and religious brethren in Iraq. The Bush plans call for a U.S. military strike across the Iraqi border and from naval forces in the Persian Gulf in answer to an appeal for assistance from the Al Ahwaz Popular Democratic Front and Liberation Organization rebel forces in Khuzestan, which will declare an independent Arab state of the Democratic Republic of Ahwaz and receive diplomatic recognition from the United States and a few close U.S. allies. After World War I, Khuzestan was annexed by Iran, then called Persia. There are also plans to incite rebellions among Iran's other minorities, including Azeris and Turkmenis in the oil-rich Caspian Sea region. Other minorities targeted by the neo-con planners are Iranian Kurds along the Iraqi and Turkish borders and Baluchis along the border with Pakistan. The neo-con plan seeks to separate Iran from its oil resources and create an "Irani triangle" centered around Teheran, Isfahan, Qom, and other historically Persian centers. In anticipation of the U.S. attack, the spy sub USS Jimmy Carter has placed taps on undersea communications cables in the Persian Gulf that carry Iranian commercial, diplomatic, and military traffic. In addition, Task Force 121 covert paramilitary forces have scouted Iran using the cover of journalists and businessmen to pinpoint military targets.


**********

September 13, 2005 -- The Bush administration continues to back the Khuzestan separatist movement in the oil-rich southwestern province the majority Arab population calls Ahwaz. As reported by WMR last month, the backing for the Sh'ia Arab separatist movement involves direct support by U.S. intelligence operatives. However, this support primarily involves support from the parallel intelligence operation established in the Pentagon under intelligence undersecretary Stephen Cambone and Undersecretary for Policy and Plans Eric Edelman (the successor to Douglas Feith who was, most recently, the U.S. ambassador to Turkey). the CIA largely remains outside of the anti-Iran operations.

In fact, an Arabic speaking Iranian-American from Khuzestan who works for the Department of Defense has been assigned to the Pentagon's Office of Northern Gulf Affairs office within the Policy and Plans Directorate's Near East and South Asia (NESA) division to help coordinate activities with the Ahwaz separatist groups -- some of whom have committed terrorist acts in the province. The Gulf Affairs office replaced the infamous Office of Special Plans that crafted the phony intelligence in the lead up to the war in Iraq.

In addition, U.S. intelligence sources report that the State Department, through the active support of new International Public Diplomacy Undersecretary of State Karen Hughes, is actively supporting clandestine radio broadcasts to Iranian Arabs in Khuzestan. These broadcasts are conducted by the Voice of the Ahwaz Revolution and are transmitted from Basra, Iraq. The clandestine radio broadcasts complement the very public Radio Farda (broadcasts to Iran in Farsi) and Radio Sawa (broadcasts in Arabic throughout the Arab world). Both stations are operated by the U.S. Broadcasting Board of Governors, a State Department entity headed by Norman Pattiz, the owner of radio syndicator Westwood One who has strong ties to the right wing government of Israel.

The Pentagon and State Department are also jointly supporting other propaganda activities aimed at stirring up rebellion among Iranian minorities, including Iranian Kurds, Baluchis, and southern Azeris. In addition to the Ahwaz Arabs, the U.S. actions are having their greatest impact among the Kurds. The U.S. is also supporting clandestine radio broadcasts to incite Iran's Baluchi minority in eastern Iran. These broadcasts are also transmitted from Iraq (Sulaymaniyah, in northern Iraq). Other clandestine broadcasts are aimed at Iranian Azeris and Kurds. U.S. efforts to stir up Iran's Turkmen population along the Caspian Sea have been totally unsuccessful, according to U.S. intelligence sources. "The Iranian Turkmen are only interested in caviar and tobacco," said one U.S. intelligence source.

Dariush said...

Bearing the above in mind, here's some further reading on the subject.

1. The articles of Kamal Artin. This guy has the nerve to post his Kurdish revanchist tracts on Iranian.com and then complain about getting so many angry responses. The basic theme of his articles are the same. Read one and you've read them all. He represents three or four prominent Kurdish organizations in the U.S.

2. Larisa Alexandrovna, The Raw Story, Thursday April 13, 2006, "On Cheney, Rumsfeld order, US outsourcing special ops, intelligence to Iraq terror group, intelligence officials say"

"The Pentagon is bypassing official US intelligence channels and turning to a dangerous and unruly cast of characters in order to create strife in Iran in preparation for any possible attack, former and current intelligence officials say.

"One of the operational assets being used by the Defense Department is a right-wing terrorist organization known as Mujahedeen-e Khalq (MEK), which is being 'run' in two southern regional areas of Iran. They are Baluchistan, a Sunni stronghold, and Khuzestan, a Shia region where a series of recent attacks has left many dead and hundreds injured in the last three months."


3. Kurt Nimmo, April 13th 2006, "Rumsfeld Sends MEK Terrorists into Iran"

4. Agence France-Presse, May 28, "Iran reports arrests over oil city bombings"

5. BBC News, 28 May 2006, "Iran Azeris protest over cartoon"

6. Agence France-Presse, May 28, "Four killed in Iran ethnic unrest, Khamenei blames 'enemies'"

7. Hossein Derakhshan, May 27, "George Bush va Mananistani":

"Iranian regime is handling the crisis in Azerbaijan extremely better than the way they dealt with the student unrests a few years ago. They've punished the provocateurs, used the media to calm down the Turks, and wisely used force to curb the street violence. They didn't do any of this during the student unrests. They've learned such a big lesson. Also, Khamanei's Azerbaijani's roots could be a reason why things are handled better this time."

8. Hossein Derakhshan, May 26, "When China supports Californian separatists"


I'll have to save the last post for tomorrow.

Hooda Thunkit said...

Mike,
Your post and the responses to it paint a very contradictory picture for readers (like me) lacking the depth of historical knowledge that you possess.

I do understand that, taken as a whole, there is much disinformation and outright lies to sort through, along with several viewpoints as to what the truth is.

All that I'm certain of at this point is that the resulting boundaries of any affected lands is best left to the lands inhabitants, not some foreign government.

All of these groups seemed to have managed before we waltzed in there and set up shop.

I am disappointed that the Iraqis haven't set up and taken over more of their own security operations from us by now though.