Backward Thinking

It is no stretch to say there is a great deal of backward thinking in Washington, D.C., but maybe there should be just a little more. Instead of making a plan that will maybe, possibly, hopefully, by some chance bring about victory, it is useful to start at the end and work our way back to see how we can get there.

Imagine first what you consider “winning” to be, because if you do not even know what winning means then how can you win?  Winning this so-called war has already happened.  Mission accomplished.  Combat operations were wrapped up by May 1, 2003. There were no WMDs. Do you think we would have invaded if there were? Saddam Hussein was quickly captured, but not before his sons were slaughtered.  That was a win, or was it?

"Winning" somehow morphed into having a democratic Iraq which would happily vote for leaders who will agree with the U.S. and Israel on all issues, basically a puppet government that will ensure the free flowing oil, graciously pumped out by American companies (for a small fee), and provide a staging base for future wars with Iran or any other potential belligerent.  Therefore, to win you must either change people’s minds so that they will willingly follow your policies or else you must inspire fear in them to cower before your military might.  It is classic Machiavelli, love or fear, whatever works.  Either you have a U.S.-loving Iraqi public or you have a brutal "regime" that will crush anyone who objects to the puppet government taking that pro-U.S./Israel position on behalf of its differently-minded people.  So which Machiavellian method was chosen?

While all the “freedom talk" would suggest "love," the facts seem to indicate otherwise.  What are the chances that a bunch of 18-19-20 year-old kids from small towns are going to inspire love and adoration walking around like freakish aliens from space with guns, kicking in the occasional door, running over the occasional pedestrian and/or car with their giant armored (if lucky) military vehicles, molesting or killing the occasional innocent prisoner in the old Abu Ghraib?  Pretty slim.

Now one thing that the U.S. had going for it was that the Shi’ites and Kurds had been getting the second-class treatment for all these years, so anybody new seemed like a good idea at first.  However, that good will did not last long for obvious reasons as mentioned above.   Add that to the fact that these are the same Americans who have already blown the country to hell for 10-15 years plus imposed the sanctions that led to 500,000+ Iraqi kids dying unnecessarily (or necessarily if you ask Albright).  So love is out, fear is the only way left, and that is what has been tried all along.  You don’t toe the line, you get picked up by the military and never seen again or a bomb falls on your house or else you leave the country for Syria or Jordan or some other neighbor. 

Congratulations, we have our goal, which we now admit is to brutalize the people and get them to follow the path we want for them.  How is that working out?  Umm, not so well. They are fighting back, against the military that spends as much as most of the rest of the world combined.  And maybe the Shi’ites get some weapons from Iran, maybe the Sunnis get some from Saudi Arabia, either way the U.S. military ostensibly controls what moves in and out of the country as best they can so you can be sure it is no cakewalk to get the weapons.  Yet somehow people are still finding the will to create IEDs and shoot down helicopters and snipe at soldiers on patrol.  Kind of like the colonists would have done here to the British in the 1770s if it had been 2007 instead.  People don’t want to be told what to do, especially by outsiders who don’t respect or know the culture or even speak the language

So how are we doing on that goal now, how do the prospects for a win look?  Can the U.S. military break the will of the Iraqi people? Not so far. If enough of the bravest among them ("bad guys" in militaryspeak) are killed, can this somehow be accomplished without creating a whole new crop of brave people who are even angrier about the killing of the last generation?  Maybe if you drop a nuke on every city and just kill everyone there, would that help?  Don’t say you haven’t heard some halfwit suggest it. Then the oil is radioactive and you can’t use the land for a megabase anymore. You didn’t help your “homeland security” any by annihilating millions, not that it was in jeopardy anyway. 

But we must persevere to win! Defeat would embolden the enemy!  After all, when we lost Vietnam the next 26 years were hell. Even Grenada invaded us, or something like that. If only “winning” was defined by the masses as killing the most people, we could never lose. Unfortunately for our leaders, the American people are not there yet.

Author: Jay Barr

Jay Barr is an attorney practicing in central Illinois. When he is not preparing bankruptcy or divorce petitions he is a daily visitor to