Thursday, June 24, 2004
So, what's to be said. Four obvious facts impress themselves with unmediated, compulsory force:
1) Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has stated that he wishes to create civil war between the Sunnis and Shi'ites of Iraq, in order to defeat the Shi'a who are "the insurmountable obstacle, the lurking snake, the crafty and malicious scorpion, the spying enemy, and the penetrating venom." One thing you can never say of Zarqawi is that he uses one metaphor where four will do. He has stated that "targeting and hitting [the Shi'a] in [their] religious, political, and military depth will provoke them to show the Sunnis their rabies … and bare the teeth of the hidden rancor working in their breasts. If we succeed in dragging them into the arena of sectarian war, it will become possible to awaken the inattentive Sunnis as they feel imminent danger and annihilating death at the hands of these Sabeans. Despite their weakness and fragmentation, the Sunnis are the sharpest blades, the most determined, and the most loyal when they meet those Batinis (Shi`a), who are a people of treachery and cowardice."
2) This has nothing to do with resistance, (nor even with traditional Islamism which tends to be unitarian rather than sectarian). The cumulative effect of these attacks has been to turn public anger against the US-led occupation. The long term effect, however, has also been increasing despair, less hope, the increasing possibility that a terrified and exhausted public will allow some strongman to take hold of Iraqi politics. (Yeah, they support Sadr as long as he fights the Americans, but let's see him win an election). With Iraqis this shattered, who would be amazed to see America get its chosen government, get its policies rammed through without dissent and get a strongman to rule, of the sort recommended by the ridiculous Daniel Pipes?
3) The occupation is an utter, utter failure. Even on its own terms, it has led to the exact opposite of what it was supposed to deliver. We're going to fight terrorism, they said. No, terrorism is increasing. We're going to spread a wave of democratic reform in the Middle East, they said. No, repression is getting worse as Arab states utilise the rhetoric of the 'war on terrorism' to clamp down on their own internal foes. We're going to find weapons of mass destru... awe, don't make me giggle and fall off my fucking chair. And, best of all, we're going to bring democracy. Yes, this was always the clincher for the poor, ignorant sods on the pro-war Left who eagerly assumed that America really did intend democracy for Iraqis despite their past conduct and despite every indication to the contrary. Unfortunately, it turns out that the US never believed Iraq could be democratised. As the CIA charmingly put it, in a report drawn up prior to the war which recommended a new 'strongman' be found:
"The towel heads can't hack [democracy]; the only way to achieve stability in the country is to install another strongman drawn from Saddam's Sunni minority."
So, they've got Iyad Allawi in, and he's going to bring in martial law if he has to. Nice going.
4) Al Qaeda has benefited from the so-called "war on terror". This is the reason they may launch an attack on America to influence the elections , (and not for the silly reasons invented by the Department of Homeland Security). Hence, a senior American intelligence official avers:
[A]nother devastating strike against the US could come during the election campaign, not with the intention of changing the administration, as was the case in the Madrid bombing, but of keeping the same one in place. (Julian Borger, "Bush told he is playing into Bin Laden's hands", The Guardian, 19th June 2004)
So ordinary Americans and Iraqis have lost from this war, and will in all likelihood continue to lose. It wouldn't be difficult, according to most experts, for Al Qaeda to acquire some soiled WMD (possibly from Russia). It hasn't been difficult for the Bush administration to capitalise on those fears. However, it is they who are providing the precious lifeblood for Al Qaeda and like groups to thrive in and proliferate. It is they who are recklessly amplifying the threat where they could attenuate it. That alone should cost Bush the election.