TITOLO: The Denial: trying to imagine an end of the Iraqi tragedy

WRITTEN BY: Lorenzo Matteoli

DATE: November 21st, 2005

Kindly edited by W. Charnell

The denial:
Trying to imagine an end of the Iraqi tragedy

Lorenzo Matteoli
November 21st, 2005

This short exercise analyzes the present complex situation in Iraq, and the various ongoing conflicts in the region, identifies and confirms the need for a rapid withdrawal of the US Army, and suggests possible means to set out the conditions for such deployment. Against the current established opinion that the deployment of the US Army can take place only after a reliable Iraqi Army has been organised and is operational, my assumption is that the pre-condition for the withdrawal is political and not military.
The reason for the current multifaceted civil, religious and tribal wars raging in the region is the control of the Kirkuk oilfields: until that time-bomb has been defused with complex political negotiations there will be no peace in Iraq.
Supporting reference:

The present situation

The invasion of Iraq and subsequent military occupation of the country by the US Army evolved into a confused tragedy from which it is possible to discern a number of conflicts:
A. Sunni terror/resistance against Americans and Shiites;
B. The military and political action of the Kurds to secure regional autonomy from Sunnis, Pashto, Turks, Shiites and Afghans;
C. Shiite resistance against Americans and Sunnis;
D. A civil/terror war of the residual Ba’ath Party for its political survival;
E. A civil war of the Provisional Iraqi Government against the residual Ba’ath Party;
F. Military and political infiltration of Iranian Shi’a to impose a theocratic regime in Iraq;
G. Coordinated actions of various Islamic terror groups in order to gain political visibility and space in the future asset of Iraq against everybody (Shiites, Sunnis, Kurds, Americans and Iraqi civilian population)
Torture, political assassination and kidnapping are common practice by various gangs, factions or parties, departments, or whatever. By the Iraqi “police”, by the provisional Government, by the CIA embedded in the US Army.
In the general chaos, billions of dollars are spent for the “reconstruction of Iraq” through the hands of Corporations, friendly and close to the US Administration. Huge sums of this money are gobbled up by widespread corruption and some of the money may even end up financing the so-called insurgency and terrorist groups (through blackmail, protection, kidnappings, extortion).
To complicate the above even further the various actors can associate in many ways:
Shiites and Sunnis may gang up against Kurds and Americans. Shiites and Iranians may operate together against Ba’athists, Sunnis and Kurds. The US Corporations may seek protection through alliance with any of the factions. Their projects are usually blocked by boycotts or terrorism against their Iraqi collaborators. They pay huge sums for protection, to support security companies and private paramilitary groups (mercenaries) to protect their personnel and staff. Each project is usually sabotaged when finished so that they never reach the operational stage or go beyond commissioning;

The American occupation Army is under siege in fortified barracks outside Baghdad. Whenever they go out on patrol they confine themselves in their armoured vehicles and drive at reckless speed to limit the danger of Improvised Explosive Devices (IED).
Fear and stress induced by continuous terror attacks, IEDs and suicide bombers have driven the military to unbearable levels of nervous tension and they often snap and shoot, unprovoked, on unarmed civilians. The suicide percentage is high (13.5 per 100 thousand which is 30% above the general US Army average) or 7% of the MIAs, 20% of military personnel suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) when dismissed.
Iraq is now the point of entry for thousands of Islamic terrorists from the Middle East plus criminals and mercenaries from all over the World.
Warlords are organizing their gangs and armed corps to control sections of the city under the cover of some “Islam” trade name. Clerics of various Islamic denominations lend their authority, hoping to gain political power and leverage as a result.
The defeated US Army on the territory does not interfere with the activities of the various “militias/gangs” and in fact is the cover or justification for their criminal activities usually labelled as “resistance” and “insurgency”.
None of the entities on the ground is at present in the position to organize a credible profile of territorial management or political control. Let alone military.
The military defeat of the US Army is now a matter of fact, with no hope of changing the chaotic trend, no control on the ground and passive acceptance of the various forms of resistance/insurgency, terrorism.
The Iraqi political challenge is beyond the cultural understanding of the “occupying” forces. The Iraqi people have been forced into hostility by the behavioural pattern to which the US Army personnel has been drawn by relentless terrorist pressure. The road ahead leads straight into a general rout.
Last December, the top general in the Army Reserve warned that his organization was "rapidly degenerating into a 'broken' force" because of the Pentagon's "dysfunctional" policies and demands placed on the Reserve by the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. (New York Times, Nov. 10th, “An Army ready to snap” by Bob Herbert).
The Army's commitments have dangerously and rapidly expanded, while recruitment has plunged.
During the last few weeks, signs of change have started seeping out of the American Press. The question of intelligence fabrication by the Administration to force “their war” on the American People is now openly asked and it is an embarrassing one. Bush and Cheney are keen to avoid it and usually react by accusing those who ask that question of lack of “patriotism” and of being disloyal to the men out there fighting for their country. The documents are unequivocal and very damning.
One question of particular concern: is if the WMDs and the “mushroom” dangers were a fabrication, what truth did they cover? What reasons were there for the unilateral invasion, that had to be concealed?
The dreadful suspicion is that behind the lies there was just the irresponsible vacuity of the “war president” and his megalomaniac neo-cons cabal?
In other words: if it was not a desperate last-ditch war for the survival of Western Civilization, it was the unbelievable folly of an arrogant culture.
The dead GIs and Marines (2100 and counting) deserve an answer and the dead Iraqis (100 thousand and possible many more) deserve an answer too.
What is dawning in the United States is a traumatic awakening to reality of a society doped into indifference by manipulating media: the American People have to shift from “denial” to a “reality check”. There is not much time available. There is no political leadership capable of taking them through the process. There is no cultural structure capable of setting out and sustaining the transition.
Except for a few marginal instances – but worse: there is no information to make them aware of what is really happening and help them to understand.
Bush is intellectually incapable of tackling the problem and perseveres in his confused arrogance with no connection to the real world, sinking deeper and deeper into the psychotic mud of his deception.
The clan of amateurish strategists who designed the scenario of America’s World Dominance (Rumsfeld, Wolfovitz, Perle Cheney, Rice), those who forecast and proclaimed a glorious welcome for the US Army in Iraq are now entrenched in denial. Cold fear is evident through their false assertiveness, aware as they are of the sheer vastness of the tragedy into which they led their Country and the World.
Sadly in these tragic circumstances there is not yet a competent figure capable of leading America.A drastic defeat of the Republican Party is almost certain in the coming Senate elections and the possibility of somebody starting an impeachment trial to oust the deluded “rout president” cannot be easily dismissed.
Another possibility is that the Financial Institutions and Corporations that control the US Economy, aware of the impending catastrophe and political bankruptcy of the Administration, assume the proper initiatives to protect their interests and survival, which would seal Bush’s experience and destiny once and for all.
The debate on Bush’s lies about WMDs and the nuclear threat is now totally useless. It is now much more important to face the problem of how to get out of this horrible mess. A compelling article on this matter is Nir Rosen’s in The Atlantic Monthly, December 2005 issue, (If America left Iraq) where the absurd logic behind the idea of “staying the course” is thoroughly and convincingly taken apart.
All the supporting points for that idea are proved baseless. To stay in Iraq would only mean the death of many more young American men and Iraqi civilians not to mention the expenditure of extra few billion dollars.
Another dramatic picture of the Iraqi situation is given by James Fallows’ article in the same issue of A.M. (Why Iraq has no Army). For an orderly withdrawal from Iraq to be successful it is essential to have a well organized and reliable Iraqi Army ready. Which, at present, is a far-fetched assumption, and in my opinion a wrong one.
From the military point of view there is no hope of shifting the present disastrous trend of guerrilla, resistance, insurgency warfare based on suicidal bombers and on more and more sophisticated IEDs.
Technically the US Army will not be able to stay in Iraq for more than eighteen months, after which they will be in total disarray with disastrous consequences and huge casualties.
To form a reliable Iraqi Army in such a short time is impossible: thus the pre-condition for withdrawal cannot be a military one.
Against the currently established assumption that a reliable Iraqi Army must be organised and operational before the start of the withdrawal, I think it is much more important that a reliable political condition be set out.
Two events recently marked what will probably be recalled as the ”tipping point” of the question:
- the call of Congressman John Murtha (Pennsylvania) for a swift withdrawal of the troops from Iraq (Nov. 18th, 2005)
- the unanimous vote of the Iraqi leaders meeting in Cairo for a withdrawal schedule (Nov. 20th, 2005)
Congressman John Murtha’s call caused a passionate debate, but the outcome was quenched by a political maneuver of the Republicans. The White House immediately heavily attacked the Congressman, to change the attitude after a few hours…on second thoughts.
These two events could open the debate for a political platform on which to work a possible exit solution.
The conditions for structured communications between the warring factions must be organised so that a set of solutions may come from within the Iraqi reality.
The enormous power and wealth that will come from the control of the Kirkuk oilfields is a time-bomb that must be dealt with and properly defused. Without a manageable agreement on this problem there will be no peace for this region in the future.
This agenda and course of action requires a cultural vision and political authority that is not currently available.
This, clearly, could be the scope for an International Institution like the UN or a UN Agency, strongly supported and assisted by the World Community.
We will see, in the coming days/weeks, if the Cairo resolution of the Iraqi leaders has any serious meaning and potential of implementation or if it is just the usual exercise in empty words.
One consequence is already evident: the talk of pulling out from Iraq which was foolishly dismissed as the talk of cowards and traitors, until just a few days ago, is now currently accepted as elementary commonsense and the military are now dealing with the logistics.

In the meanwhile
Bush and his gang of delusional, arrogant advisers will persevere in their denial of the most apparent evidence, defending the desperate idea of a catastrophic stay-the-course-finish-the-job policy. The only reason being that they think to save face. Patriotism and loyalty have nothing to do with that.
It will take some time for the American People to dismiss the “patriotic” syndrome and the stay-the-course-finish-the-job rhetoric hammered into their heads by an irresponsible leadership, numbed and traumatized by the enormity of the mistakes made and of their horrific outcome.
But, if the real reason to invade Iraq was “oil”, as I have always thought and denounced, there will be some new twists in the strategy of the Washington “gnomes”.
To accelerate the process we must work on information at all levels and at every available opportunity.

Lorenzo Matteoli
November 21st, 2005.