Iraq: One Year Later

A year after we allowed ourselves to be lied into war with Iraq, what have we got to show for it?

Rising casualties, including at least two inflicted by U.S.-trained and subsidized Iraqi police.

As many as 10,000 wounded.

A bill, so far, of over $100 billion, amid rising deficits, with more on the way.

At least two congressional investigations into the phony “intelligence” cited by this administration as proof that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.

A pair of grand juries looking into possibly illegal actions engaged in by U.S. government officials – including exposing an undercover CIA agent and forgery – as part of the effort to stampede us into war.

Instead of being greeted as liberators, the U.S.-led “Coalition” forces were resented by much of the populace almost from the beginning, and now they are almost universally hated. Here’s why.

Osama bin Laden is still at large, while a man who had nothing to do with the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Saddam Hussein, is under lock and key. Not only that, but the Evil One’s minions are on the offensive, striking now at Spain, and threatening to hit the US next. Is it just a coincidence that the Madrid bombings took place 911 days after 9/11?

Oh, but what about all our accomplishments, the pro-war whiners complain: what about all the good things we’ve done in Iraq, that never get reported by the previously quiescent and safely “embedded” conspiracy of antiwar journalists that supposedly now dominates the news media? Well, then, let’s look at one of these alleged achievements, the new Iraqi Constitution, recently approved by the U.S.-appointed Interim Governing Council.

In the wake of the complete failure to find Iraqi WMD, and with the definitive debunking of the canard that Saddam and Osama hooked up on Craigslist, the President was in a pickle. When the parents and wives and children of slain soldiers ask “For what did they die?” our Commander-in-chief has to have a ready answer, and none of the above will any longer suffice. So they had a meeting and started emphasizing a new angle. The White House and the neocons quickly switched gears and starting touting the export of American democracy to Iraq as a worthwhile goal in itself, one that justified the war in any case. But if the President thinks he can look those parents in the eye and point to Iraq’s new Constitution as evidence that their sons and daughters died for a noble cause, he and his strategists are bound to be sorely disappointed.

There is a confessional aspect that goes into the writing of a Constitution: the genre, by its very nature, is akin to speculative fiction, in that it harbors an inherent utopianism. Authors are free to construct, in its articles and clauses, the structure of an ideal society. While inherently a political document in the sense that it papers over disputes between rival factions, the Iraqi Constitution is a prime example of the genre. Aside from the various devices meant to balance the interests of contentious ethnic and religious groups against each other, the political values and vision of the Iraqi Founders – and their American patrons – comes out in article 14:

“The individual has the right to security, education, health care, and social security. The Iraqi State and its governmental units, including the federal government, the regions, governorates, municipalities, and local administrations, within the limits of their resources and with due regard to other vital needs, shall strive to provide prosperity and employment opportunities to the people.”

Baffled conservatives who are wondering how health care can be a “right” in Iraq, and a product in capitalist America, might consider that we’re exporting democratic socialism rather than just democracy to Iraq.

On the other hand, liberals who want to know why health care is a “right” in Iraq, but not in the US, have just been handed a major talking point. Our own maimed soldiers returning from the battlefield apparently don’t have this “right,” yet they risked life and limb so that the Iraqi people could possess it. Is this idealism, or a monstrous moral inversion? I report. You decide.

The balancing mechanisms that create a system of multicultural “democracy,” with each ethnic group entitled to education and services delivered in its own dialect or language, recalls the old Yugoslavia of Tito’s day. Such a system requires a strongman at its center, a personage who will anchor the power of the central government and keep the federative system from flying apart. Yugoslavia had Tito, but who fits the bill in Iraq?

Ahmed Chalabi would like to think he does. The old swindler and liar was very prominent at the signing ceremony: he was the first to affix his name to the document, on the very desk once used by King Faisal, which was, according to the Iraqi blogger Zeyad, “specially refurbished for the occasion, after which he shouted ‘Long live Iraq!'”

However, Zeyad doesn’t specify which King Faisal: Faisal I, the puppet monarch of “Greater Syria” deposed by the French and invited by the British to serve the same function in Iraq, or Faisal II, his ineffectual grandson, who was overthrown in a coup by soldiers opposed to intervening against rebels in “Transjordan” and Lebanon. In either case, the evocation of this ill-fated dynasty is an evil omen on such an auspicious occasion, one that hints at the ultimate ambitions of Chalabi and his American supporters.

The first King Faisal was the son of the King of Hijaz, in the Western region of Saudi Arabia, site of Mecca and Medina, and this is the key to understanding the real goal of the War Party, which is just beginning its campaign to “transform” the Middle East: the break-up of the Saudi kingdom down into its constituent parts, separating out the historically independent Hijaz from the oil-rich Eastern provinces.

The goal, in short, is to reestablish the old Hashemite dynasty, backed up by American firepower, and not only engage in “regime change” but work to eliminate targeted states, such as Syria, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia, as a prelude to an offensive against the big prize: Iran.

This is the basic strategic vision enunciated by ex-LaRouchite Rand Corporation “defense intellectual” Laurent Murawiec in his controversial briefing to the Defense Policy Board under Richard Perle’s aegis, during which he PowerPointed the following dicta:

  • Iraq is the tactical pivot
  • Saudi Arabia the strategic pivot
  • Egypt the prize

Okay, so maybe there was some disagreement as whether to go East, or West, but Iran’s decision to go nuclear seems to have settled that issue for the time being. At any rate, these Napoleonic calculations are not for you and I to decide, but concern only the Great Men of history, the Murawiecs, the Chalabis, the Perles, and their neoconservative comrades fighting in the trenches – but only in cyberspace, and in print, never on the battlefield.

I believe that desk probably belonged to King Faisal I, if only because his alliance with the French, and then the British, resembles nothing so much as the fabled opportunism of Chalabi, whose career as a front man for foreign occupiers currently enjoys a six-figure subsidy from the US Treasury.

The effect of the Iraqi Constitution, which is designed to limit the power of the majority Shia by enshrining the idea of “federalism,” is to weaken the Iraqi state so that real responsibility and power devolves back to the US and its allies, who will establish permanent bases in the country. This is in line with the larger goal of leveling the entire region, and breaking up any large concentrations of Arab military power.

How this revolutionary program serves American interests is difficult to imagine. Regional tumult can only advance Al Qaeda’s cause in the Middle East. The only other beneficiary is Israel. America, however, loses out, as Bin Laden’s legions get plenty of reinforcements and become contenders for power in the former Saudi kingdom.

But don’t all these “captive nations” of the Middle East have the right to self-determination? Yes, with the emphasis on the word self. If the Kurds yearn to be free, so that they can throw out the Turkmen and Arab minorities, why is this any of our concern? Do we intervene on the side of the Kurds, against the Sunnis and the Shias, if it comes to that? Zeyad reports that jubilant Kurds, on the news that the Constitution was finally ratified, burned Iraqi flags in the streets – a tribute to the “federalist” aspects of the document. Or will we take the side of the Turkmen, and Arabs, who have been routed out of their homes in Kirkuk in anticipation of a general ethnic cleansing? An American military proconsul will have to make these decisions, and that is what it means to be stuck in a quagmire.

Yes, it’s the dreaded “Q-word,” which, a year ago, was disdained by the triumphant War Party as an impossibility. Today, it is a reality. Chaos reigns in Iraq, and the Iraqi state seems to be breaking apart, with the tremors just beginning to be felt in neighboring states. Rational human beings – especially those resident in Iraq, including American soldiers – will agree that this is a bad situation, but the Great Men at the helm in Washington don’t agree – because they planned it that way.

With the US – and Israel, lurking in the background – towering like twin colossi over the pulverized and prostrated Arab states of the Middle East, the goal of the Iraq war will have been largely accomplished. The last act of this drama will be the “reconciliation” at gunpoint of Israel and the Arab remnants, with the former somewhat larger and militarily dominant in the region. The restored Hashemites will absorb the Palestinian refugees and reconstitute them as “Jordanians,” in accordance with the latest Israeli propaganda line that defines an entire people out of existence.

We are left, in the end, with the Middle East in smoldering ruins (except for Israel, of course), its people seething with hatred at their conquerors, more than willing to strike out whenever and however they can. More Madrids. 9/11 redux, and an endless “war on terrorism.” The dark vision of the neocons becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

That’s the future, if they have their way: endless war rationalized by lying propaganda, a nightmare out of George Orwell‘s imagination at its blackest. In 1984, his pessimistic vision of a future world of perpetual war and permanent tyranny, Orwell speaks through the character of O’Brian, who is interrogating Winston Smith. Winston has rebelled against the Party, and O’Brian, a high official, is trying to convince him that there is no hope for the future. To Winston’s fatuous hope that the proles will be a liberating force, his tormentor has a ready answer: if he wants to think of what the future will really be like, says O’Brian, imagine “a boot stamping on a human face, forever.”

One year later, the War Party, it can be said, has accomplished the first phase of its long-term strategy. The only problem is that public support for the ongoing war – and the decision to invade in the first place – is rapidly dropping. Oh, but not to worry: they have it fixed so that both parties are running on essentially the same foreign policy platform, with minor deviations from the script occasioning the partisan “debate” over details. As the British writer John Laughland pointed out in an excellent piece, Senator Kerry’s recent utterances accusing Bush of being soft on the Saudis shows that the Democrats are on board as far as phase two of the strategic plan is concerned:

“Kerry’s astonishing attacks on Saudi Arabia, stated in both the UCLA and in the CFR speeches, in which he alleges that funding for terrorism and Islamic extremism come from the peninsula, are identical to those propagated by [David] Frum and Perle in their latest writings. In his CFR speech, Kerry even accused the Saudi interior minister of ‘hate speech,’ and of promoting ‘wild anti-Semitic conspiracy theories,’ just as Frum and Perle call the kingdom ‘an unfriendly power.'”

If Bush shows signs of backing out of his Iraqi commitment, the neocons can always turn to Kerry, especially if Bush dumps Cheney and takes on Giuliani, who is currently looking for work. Will McCain take to the campaign trail with his old friend Kerry, in a grudge match against his former adversary? Stay tuned. The machinations are going to be dizzying, as a cabal of professional backstabbers and political quick-change artists fights desperately to keep its grip on power.

Read more by Justin Raimondo

Author: Justin Raimondo

Justin Raimondo is the editorial director of Antiwar.com, and a senior fellow at the Randolph Bourne Institute. He is a contributing editor at The American Conservative, and writes a monthly column for Chronicles. He is the author of Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement [Center for Libertarian Studies, 1993; Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2000], and An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard [Prometheus Books, 2000].