Humiliation in Iraq


by Al-Hack
21st June, 2006 at 1:42 pm    

Mash is, as usual, on the money:

But, the political debate in Washington ignores the reality in Iraq. The reality in Iraq is that the Bush Administration has succeeded beyond its wildest dreams in installing an Islamist regime in Iraq. The Islamists in Iraq have played the Bush Administration masterfully. They have used the American occupation as cover to do a little bit of house cleaning (ethnic cleansing) and have consolidated power within the military and the police forces. Having consolidated power, now it is time to give the Americans the boot.

In a particularly well-timed op-ed in the Washington Post, Mowaffak al-Rubaie, Iraq’s National Security Advisor, shows the United States the door

Although it may come as a surprise to the still significant number of Americans who believe we are bringing “freedom” to the Iraqi people. It should also not have been a surprise when the Iraqi government declared last week that they would grant amnesty to insurgents who had killed American troops. Even though the Iraqis backtracked from that declaration, it was nonetheless symptomatic of the environment in Iraq where Americans have long been viewed as occupiers.

I have long argued that the United States does more harm to Iraq and its own credibility by staying in Iraq. Our credibility is already damaged in Iraq. Withdrawing from Iraq under our own terms would not have damaged our credibility that much more. However, being told to leave by the Iraqi government will round out the humiliation. That is exactly what is now happening.


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  1. Kismet Hardy — on 21st June, 2006 at 1:46 pm  

    One of those servants grow stronger than masters things is it? Iraq is getting so powerful they’ll tell America to bugger off and bugger off they will with their tails between their legs?

    Funny

  2. Leon — on 21st June, 2006 at 1:57 pm  

    “t was nonetheless symptomatic of the environment in Iraq where Americans have long been viewed as occupiers.”

    Viewed as occupiers!? They ARE occupiers.

  3. Leon — on 21st June, 2006 at 2:37 pm  
  4. Refresh — on 21st June, 2006 at 2:44 pm  

    To paraphrase Clinton:

    “Its the bases, silly!”

  5. PapaHomer — on 21st June, 2006 at 3:11 pm  

    I find the reading of Al-Rubaie’s Op-Ed to be a little disengenous. The preceding paragraph in the piece explains:

    “All the governors have been notified and briefed on the end objective. The current prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, has approved the plan, as have the coalition forces, and assessments of each province have already been done. Nobody believes this is going to be an easy task, but there is Iraqi and coalition resolve to start taking the final steps to have a fully responsible Iraqi government accountable to its people for their governance and security”

    That’s hardly a a thinly veiled and humiliating call for the coalition to leave before they are ready now is it? Except perhaps to those who are desparate to force them to leave before they are, in the hope of inflicting a little humiliation themselves (see the Democrats latest failed resolution on early withdrawal)

  6. Kismet Hardy — on 21st June, 2006 at 3:37 pm  

    Iraqi people, torn between faiths and cultures as they are, have been reliant on a dictator to keep the glue of their society together. The leaders can see they won’t be able to bring them all together, especially now that they’re fighting and killing each other, so, in the absence of Saddam, they’ll ultimately beg for a bigger dictator, Bush, to keep it together so they can go about doing what leaders in poor countries do – make some money before they’re killed

  7. Sid — on 21st June, 2006 at 3:39 pm  

    If the end coalitition’s efforts have resulted in the installation an Islamist Iran-facing theocratic regime and then being told by said regime to get out of Iraq is not humiliating, then they must have a high threshold for humiliation.

  8. Kismet Hardy — on 21st June, 2006 at 3:48 pm  

    Remember how we laughed when the US claimed there were loads of Al-Qaeda in Iraq before they pummelled it?

    Well there are now

    Just as the Talibans in Afghanistan, for all their sins, made the growing of poppies for opium un-Islamic and now, thanks to the US saving the people from the Taliban, 1 in 8 afghanis are forced to be a part of the opium trade

    Maybe the US should target Shelter to solve the problem of homelessness next or maybe Bono to wipe out poverty…

  9. sonia — on 21st June, 2006 at 4:50 pm  

    Whatever. regardless of what good may have come of the invasion, an invasion it certainly was. ‘freedom’ ‘democracy’ aren’t going to be appreciated when you’ve got a gun to your head and you need a hospital – obviously. ( interesting how conversely people are expected to give up freedom/liberties in say Britain and the US for ‘security’ purposes and ‘safety’..)

    In any case the whole thing has been a sad shambles for everyone. Hopefully for people ‘left behind’ they’ll be able to make the best of things.

    but yeah, it’s funny – just cos the ‘occupiers’ thought they were bringing good doesn’t mean the occupied will share the same view! what an incredibly naive perspective for anyone to have had. i don’t imagine the politicians really thought that, but clearly lots of other people did.

  10. j0nz — on 21st June, 2006 at 4:56 pm  

    Our credibility is already damaged in Iraq. Withdrawing from Iraq under our own terms would not have damaged our credibility that much more. However, being told to leave by the Iraqi government will round out the humiliation. That is exactly what is now happening.

    Qui?

    Coalition have always said they will leave when Iraqi government wants them to leave, they’re not just going to cut & run. I don’t think humiliation comes into it at all. I think they coalition would be relieved if told to bugger off. They could save face, surely?

  11. Kismet Hardy — on 21st June, 2006 at 5:07 pm  

    “They could save face, surely?”

    Yeah, like Vietnam

  12. Leon — on 21st June, 2006 at 5:07 pm  

    “I think they coalition would be relieved if told to bugger off. They could save face, surely?”

    If by save face you mean rest the troops in preparation for war against Iran then yes.

  13. sonia — on 21st June, 2006 at 5:10 pm  

    Yes you’d think this would be a good way to save face..

  14. Sid — on 21st June, 2006 at 5:16 pm  

    A loss of another 4500 US troops would be a good face-saving incentive to get out of Iraq.

  15. Leon — on 21st June, 2006 at 5:21 pm  

    You know, thinking this over, I’m not even sure this is about humiliation. Things’ going from bad to worse in Iraq isn’t a humiliation of the US, it’s a tragedy.

    They should be haunted by their actions not embarrassed by them…

  16. Zak — on 21st June, 2006 at 5:59 pm  

    Nature abhors a vacuum..elementry physics. The Pak governments done an exact duplicate on a mini scale in Waziristan.

  17. Tanvir — on 21st June, 2006 at 9:10 pm  

    I find it funniest when people try and push the theory that it was a ‘mistake’ and that Britain and America had the ‘right intentions’. Perhaps their ‘right intentions’ are that imposing democracy/capitalism ‘frees’ people whilst making money for themselves, as if it’s a win-win situation, and since that is a supreme set of outcomes, they can rape and pillage or infact do anything they feel like to create this righteous result.

    I don’t believe this government in Iraq is an Islamist one, nor that the US don’t have control, they have sufficient control for the purpose, the biggest American embassy with tens of thousands of agents backed up with 150 000 troops isn’t a lack of control. The chaos just provides a smokescreen.

    this Iraqi girl shares her sentiments in her blog:
    http://riverbendblog.blogspot.com/

    As for loosing face, unfortunately that’s what happened to two American soldiers they found yesterday. Somebody was saying to me that the insurgents were horrified seeing the reports of torture, they launched an official enquiry, and declared ‘those acts that were carried out were not proportionate to the behavior of ordinary insurgents’ … but an insurgent tribunal cleared the perpetrators of all wrong doing. meanwhile an official statement from another insurgent organization declared the American soldiers had infact committed suicide.

  18. Ravi4 — on 21st June, 2006 at 10:13 pm  

    As PapaHomer says, this doesn’t really look to me like a humiliating demand for the US to get the hell out of Iraq.

    I (reluctantly) supported the Iraq war but have never supported a continuous US or UK presence there. It’ll be a great day when they finally do leave. That’s what most people who supported the war have always wanted, and that’s what the US and UK Govts have always said they want. In fact I’ve never seen or read anything by anyone pro-war advocating permanent US bases in Iraq.

    (Of course, the secret reptilian-Zionist-neocon world conspiracy who magically control the US and UK governments and who have hypnotised all of us pro-war dupes do want permanent US bases in Iraq, but they don’t publish their views on the internet.)

    However, given the ongoing violence, I fear the US/UK etc aren’t going to be leaving as soon as the original post implies.

    Maliki’s Govt is not straightforwardly Islamist or theocratic and he certainly doesn’t seem Iranian leaning as far as I can see. The Sadrists are Islamists and Iran-facing but they’re not the dominant force in government now.

    Sonia – obviously Iraqis want the US and UK out. But Repeated opinion polls in Iraq show most people think removing Saddam was the right thing to do (even if people in the rest of the world disagree) and the majority want the US and UK out only when Iraq is stable. http://www.iraqanalysis.org/info/55

    Tanvir – Riverbend is someone I find really suspect. She openly talks about the nice time she had under Saddam’s regime and yet faces no questions from her idiot western media admirers about why it was that she was so privileged in Saddam’s terror state, or what her blanket condemnation of all Iraq’s politicians as “puppets” or her nostalgia for the reign of the Butcher of Baghdad might say about her motivations, perspectives or judgment.

    For an antidote try this for a reliable, progressive, “street level” Iraqi view of what’s going on in Iraq – “Iraq the Model” http://iraqthemodel.blogspot.com/

    I’ve gone on at even greater length about how great Iraq the Model is here: http://www.pickledpolitics.com/archives/568#comment-23767

  19. Mash — on 21st June, 2006 at 11:42 pm  

    #18 Ravi4 said:

    Maliki’s Govt is not straightforwardly Islamist or theocratic and he certainly doesn’t seem Iranian leaning as far as I can see. The Sadrists are Islamists and Iran-facing but they’re not the dominant force in government now.

    Maliki heads the Iraqi Dawa Party, an Islamist party. He has been a member since its early days. The Dawa Party was funded and based out of Tehran in the 1980s. While based in Iran, the Dawa party formed the Islamic Jihad terrorist wing. This wing of the party exploded the first modern car bomb when it blew up the American and French embassies in Kuwait in 1983. Islamic Jihad also formed the core of what would become Hezbollah that blew up the American Marine barracks in Lebanon.

    In short, Maliki and Dawa party have very strong Iranian roots.

    The other pillar of the current Iraqi government is the SCIRI (Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, the name says it all) which was formed in Iran in th 1980s. Ayatollah Ali Sistani, who was based in Iran, has his unofficial spokeman, Mowaffak al-Rubaie, as Iraq’s National Security Advisor (incidentally, al-Rubaie was the Dawa spokesman when Dawa was blowing up all things Western in the 1980s). The SCIRI also control the Badr Brigade militia which control the Iraqi police along with al Sadr’s Mahdi Army.

    I think given all of this evidence, it is rather clear that Iran has a huge influence in Iraq via its proxies Dawa and SCIRI. Both Dawa and SCIRI are Islamist parties.

    So, I would conclude that Maliki’s government is both Iran leaning and Islamist. Although they look quite nice in suits to impress their American caretakers.

  20. soru — on 22nd June, 2006 at 12:18 am  

    ‘Iraqi Dawa Party’

    I assume you mean the Islamic Dawa Party? If so, it is Islamist, but not theocratic (i.e. doesn’t support explicit rule by clerics).

    http://meria.idc.ac.il/journal/2004/issue2/shanahan.pdf

    To understand Iraqi politics, you have to understand to what extent Saddam and his predecessors made ‘secular’ a dirty word. Imagine if, in the name of secularism, the UK government demolished churches, assassinated vicars, burned bibles…

    In those circumstances, even Anglicanism would become a political movement.

  21. Mash — on 22nd June, 2006 at 12:46 am  

    Soru,

    Yes, I mean the Islamic Dawa Party (or al-Dawa). You are correct, it is Islamist. As to whether it is theocratic, I think it depends on how you define theocracy. Certainly the political system in Iran is a very complex mixture of parliamentary rule, with some executive authority, religious advisors, and a Supreme Leader. It isnt a straight forward theocracy. Here’s my breakdown on the Iranian system of government.

    Dawa’s political philosophy borrows heavily from the Iranian model. Though there is much debate within Dawa about the role of the religious jurists. The SCIRI on the other hand are much more theocratic. Together, they are certainly Islamists and are, depending on your definition, somewhat theocratic.

    Dawa party’s founding principles are, and remain:
    Absolute sovereignty belongs to God.
    Islamic injunctions are the basis of legislation. The legislative authority may enact any law not repugnant to Islam.
    The people, as vice-regents of Allah, are entrusted with legislative and executive powers.
    The jurist holding religious authority represents Islam. By confirming legislative and executive actions, he gives them legality.”

    It how these principles are put into practice that is currently in dispute inside Dawa.

    By the way, excellent link to the article.

  22. Chris Stiles — on 22nd June, 2006 at 10:23 am  


    In fact I’ve never seen or read anything by anyone pro-war advocating permanent US bases in Iraq.

    and yet .. permanent bases are being build.

  23. soru — on 22nd June, 2006 at 11:31 am  

    ‘permanent bases ‘

    As opposed the the type of bases that biodegrade after a specified time period?

    ‘Permanent bases’ is a pure propaganda phrase, with no actual meaning distinct from ‘bases’.

  24. Refresh — on 22nd June, 2006 at 11:53 am  

    Soru – “‘Permanent bases’ is a pure propaganda phrase, with no actual meaning distinct from ‘bases’.”

    How so?

    If lets say the US/UK forces withdraw – by end-2007. And yes because they are asked to leave by the Iraqi governent. But military bases are left behind.

    Are these not permanent?

  25. sonia — on 22nd June, 2006 at 1:12 pm  

    yeah leon you’re right – #15. absolute tragedy. what was it all in aid of? removing saddam? so all those people had to die to remove one man. not a very clever or resource efficient method clearly. what happened to the good old days of getting mossad or some ‘covert’ operatives involved. or – given the amount of money spent on the whole fiasco, you could have paid off all of saddam’s army, men whatever and gone for a much less bloody affair. really the US govt. clearly doesn’t think much of it’s manpower – they obviously think – well they’re in the army so let’s use ‘em.

    but hey.

  26. sonia — on 22nd June, 2006 at 1:14 pm  

    “Sonia – obviously Iraqis want the US and UK out. But Repeated opinion polls in Iraq show most people think removing Saddam was the right thing to do (even if people in the rest of the world disagree) and the majority want the US and UK out only when Iraq is stable. http://www.iraqanalysis.org/info/55

    yes obviously everyone wanted him out. but at what cost was the obvious question.

  27. soru — on 22nd June, 2006 at 2:22 pm  

    ‘Are these not permanent? ‘

    The implicit argument is that because the bases are ‘permanent’, i.e. made of concrete, that, as a consequence of the definition of the word permanent, simply cannot happen.

    It’s just something that bugs me.

    ‘at what cost?’

    The question asked was:

    Thinking about any hardships you might have suffered since the US- Britain invasion, do you personally think that ousting Saddam Hussein was worth it or not?

    _98%_ of ‘Shi’a Arabs’ said yes – the problem for Iraq is that only 13% of ‘Sunni Arabs’ did.

    Also, essentially the same question asked mentioning ‘occupation’ but not ‘Saddam’ gets much more ambiguous results. Polls are tricky things, always look at the exact question asked.

  28. PapaHomer — on 22nd June, 2006 at 2:38 pm  

    I couldn’t let this one pass…

    “Somebody was saying to me that the insurgents were horrified seeing the reports of torture, they launched an official enquiry, and declared ‘those acts that were carried out were not proportionate to the behavior of ordinary insurgents’ … but an insurgent tribunal cleared the perpetrators of all wrong doing. meanwhile an official statement from another insurgent organization declared the American soldiers had infact committed suicide.”

    LOL. They comitted suicide? After they were captured? Of course they did.

  29. Refresh — on 22nd June, 2006 at 2:47 pm  

    soru, you do make it hard for yourself.

  30. David Jackmanson — on 22nd June, 2006 at 5:19 pm  

    There is a non-bigoted but opposing point of view at a site called Iraq the Model, by an Iraqi who wants to see a democratic future for his country, and does not think the fight has been lost yet.

  31. Ravi4 — on 22nd June, 2006 at 10:19 pm  

    Refresh – as Soru says, surely the question of permanent US bases is not whether the buildings are permanent, but rather whether US forces stay there permanently? After all, I’m pretty sure that many of the Indian Army’s bases in India were built by the British Raj and perhaps there are occasional Brit troops housed there for maybe joint training exercises. Does that mean the British have permanent bases in India?

  32. Ravi4 — on 22nd June, 2006 at 10:20 pm  

    Mash – you’ve obviously done a lot more reading into the Iraqi Shia parties than me. But I still find it hard to accept a straightforward link between once having been based in Iran and basically having your strings pulled by Iran. Wasn’t Iran to a large extent operating a policy of “my enemy’s enemy” during the Saddam years? The news reports I’ve read about Maliki (eg BBC, Wikipedia) note that his last abode before Iraq was Syria. Is Assad pulling his strings? (taking it to absurd extremes – Castro launched his revolution from Florida; are his strings pulled by Washington?) If Maliki is doing Iran’s bidding, did they approve of the pictures of him being all chummy with Bush during the recent visit? Again, I’ve not read anything about Maliki (or Sistani) to suggest that either are puppets of Tehran. If you’ve got such references it’d be interesting to see them.

    I’m not saying Iran should not try to exert any political influence in Iraq. It’s probably good that they can exert some influence without having to resort to violence (although they may still be doing the latter eg through the Sadrist militia). That’s the thing about open countries – we can exert influence on each other (eg by contacts with political parties and lobby groups in each others countries) without resorting to war.

    By the way, the debate inside Dawa that your post #21 describes sounds like a reasonably healthy discussion of the place of religion in society and law which could well result in a system that’s not inconsistent with basic principles of democracy and human rights.

  33. Refresh — on 23rd June, 2006 at 2:34 am  

    Ravi, I think its widely understood that by permanent bases we mean US personnel and equipment in fortified enclaves. An example might be Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

  34. Ravi4 — on 23rd June, 2006 at 5:57 am  

    Refresh – I agree, and if the US do establish such bases then I’d oppose them as much as anyone. The point is, I’ve never seen any statement by any US or UK govt official or any leaked evidence which shows such bases are being planned. (Does anyone have links to such evidence?) The US bases in Iraq now are robust looking, but if you have 100,000+ troops in a country for a several year long mission it must be inevitable that they’ll build something more robust than tents around campfires.

  35. Arif — on 23rd June, 2006 at 11:15 am  

    Perhaps this issue of permanent bases can make a good test-case of the intuitions of the anti-imperialist left. The idea that the US and UK wanted to invade and talked up the WMD as a pretext was one intuition, considered paranoid at the time but which people can now put down to hindsight. The idea that the US wishes to establish permanent bases in Iraq offers itself as a further test of whether anti-imperialists (or however you wish to characterise those who suspect the motives of this war and occupation) are on to something. I would never suspect such an agenda from the US if anti-war people had not started raising it. And since the US is not saying they wish to do that, I still assume it is a bit paranoid.

    If the US leaves without trying to establish anything looking like a permanent base in Iraq, I will conclude that the US is unfairly suspected of imperialist ambitions by people projecting their fears on to it. But if they do leave bases, I will have to conclude that I need to be far more suspicious of US foreign policy. And I did not think that could be possible!

  36. sonia — on 23rd June, 2006 at 12:18 pm  

    Well you know, it’s easy enough to establish a base ‘ oh we’re here to check any further military unpleasantness’ at the request of the host country. besides, bases in Kuwait aren’t exactly very far away.

  37. Refresh — on 23rd June, 2006 at 1:14 pm  

    Ravi, I can see it is usual to look for a reading of a situation which most supports our position or inclination. This is normal.

    However if you were to do a simple search there is plenty to support the view that the US is there for the longterm – probably the very longterm

    As Sonia says, there are bases already in Kuwait too. Qatar is another one – but look at this link which mentions budgetary planning for ‘enduring bases’-

    http://www.pickledpolitics.com/archives/600#comment-25427

    As I read what Arif is saying – lets have the US prove the sceptics wrong. And if they don’t we reserve the right to vocally oppose US foreign policy. And I guess it is probably what you are saying.

    My contention is that having proven by their actions, past and current, that there is no honour in their policy – we don’t need to wait until its too late. Protest now so your preferred outcome becomes reality rather than hoping it would be so.

  38. Refresh — on 23rd June, 2006 at 1:31 pm  

    Ravi, sorry try this link:

    http://www.fcnl.org/iraq/bases.htm

  39. Ravi4 — on 24th June, 2006 at 7:47 am  

    Refresh – thanks for the link. Much more detailed than anything else I’ve seen. But in the end, it doesn’t amount to any more than the comments you’ve posted here already. It’s a report by a lobby group, quoting press reports, which says “these bases look pretty robust, therefore they must be permanent”. No reference to US or UK govt plans or leaks or anything. In the end, we’ll just have to wait and see.

    I’m not going to protest about the bases now because I think the US and UK still need to be in Iraq for now (although they ought to be doing a lot better), and they are saying they’ll leave when the mission is finished. I do make clear my view that the US and UK ought to be doing better now and ought to leave when the mission is finished, but I suppose that’s not what you mean by protest?

    By the way, I wouldn’t count it as a permanent base if small numbers of US, UK and other military remain in Iraq to continue training the Iraqi army. That’s pretty normal throughout the world, and it’s not the same as combat troops.

    Question: what if a democratically elected Iraqi govt asks for US troops (or easily reinforceable permanent bases) to stay because they fear eg a credible threat of Iranian aggression, even after the Iraqi security forces take on full responsibility for fighting the insurgency and/or the worst of the violence is over? I wouldn’t want to see it because of the political message it would send in the region and because it would inevitably be interpreted by anti-Americans as US imperialism. But would it not be an Iraqi govt’s sovereign right to ask for this, even if some bloke on the street like me thinks it’s a bad idea?

  40. Refresh — on 24th June, 2006 at 10:28 am  

    Ravi,

    Perhaps we can have this chat in 5 years, 10 years time to see the outcome.

    I am not aware of the committed pro-war crowd worrying about such things, but its a useful basis for building an imaginary world – where everything foul is an abberation.

    Face it, Its imperialism. Perhaps imperialism isn’t a problem for you.

  41. Refresh — on 28th June, 2006 at 11:07 am  

    Ravi

    A must read on Guardian CiF blog:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,,1807335,00.html

    “The story peddled by imperial apologists is a poisonous fairytale” by Priyamvada Gopal

    Probably the best article I’ve read in a very long time.

    Sunny, perhaps its worth starting a thread on this one?

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