Alice in Wonderland in America's Iraq

"Independence Day" At Home and Abroad

"Then they were the 'ragtag peoples army'. Then the British authorities called them 'rebels' and 'terrorists' and hung them wherever they be found. Then their tactics against the well- trained and armed professional Redcoats of King George mirrored some of the tactics being used their occupation troops today's fractured and on fire Middle East."

"It was a Marine colonel  not joyous Iraqi civilians, as was widely assumed from the TV images  who decided to topple the statue, the Army report said. And it was a quick-thinking Army psychological operations team that made it appear to be a spontaneous Iraqi undertaking."


Mid-East Realities - MER - www.MiddleEast.Org - 4 July 2004: It's Independence Day in the USA. But that's little consolation to the Iraqis, to the Palestinians, or to the Chechnyans or Afghanis and so many other miserably oppressed peoples -- politically, economically, militarily, and culturally -- throughout today's troubled bleeding world. And though the U.S. is hardly alone in causing all the oppression and misery, U.S. involvement and leadership in what is in essence a neo-colonization of the Middle East, along with (the Jewish State in) Israel of course, is dominant. Like the misnomered 'peace process' that has in reality created much worse than apartheid conditions for the Palestinians, the Americans march in lock-step to their own self-congratulating beat of 'freedom' and 'democracy'.
 But these tunes heard beyond American shores ring ever so hollow with few willing to join in the singing unless well paid and well protected from their own.

Even as the Americans celebrate shooting fireworks into the night skies on their 228th 4th of July, they seem to have totally forgotten the realities of their own revolution. Then they were the 'ragtag people's army'. Then the British authorities called them "rebels" and "terrorists" and hung them wherever they be found. Then their tactics against the well-trained and armed professional Redcoat soldiers of king George mirrored some of the tactics being used against the U.S. occupation troops and their compatriots in today's fractured on-fire Middle East.

Iraq in reality, and the U.S. in political rhetoric, have both become Alice in Wonderland indeed - read on to Robert Fisk. The American forces are actually being increased at this time, with permanent military bases established throughout the country and beyond. The CIA has established it's largest station ever since the days of Vietnam.  The U.S. military even controlled and censored the video of Saddam Hussein in the victors court they set up the other day. And now we are learning that it was indeed a U.S.Marine psychological warfare unit that actually orchestrated that Saddam Statue take-down which lingers in memory.

Furthermore, today in Baghdad "everybody knows", confides an insider on the ground, that after the November election U.S. troops and those they pay as modern-day mercenaries are already planning to let loose and pulverize all who oppose the U.S.-installed CIA-trained "Iraqi" faces now out front as an "interim government".

Oh yes...the "interim government". It was supposed to be composed of indigenous Iraqi 'experts and technocrats' and to primarily prepare for a 'free and fair' election -- though such a thing is not actually possible with hundreds of thousands of occupation troops and the CIA rampant throughout the land. But then it was twisted out of the hands of the U.N. envoy and is in fact actually made up of much the same reconstituted 'Iraqi Governing Council' the Americans imposed in Baghdad in the first place -- including a long-time CIA-man at the helm.

The Americans conduct their imperial and colonial ventures a little different than the Brits in the previous era. In the world of a hundred years ago the British looked around for powerful families and clans they could make their own with a little money, much double-dealing, and some weapons to control their own of course. That's not only the origins of the 'royal families' from "Saudi" to Kuwait to Bahrain, et. al.; it's also the origins of the fractured boundaries and divide-and-rule realities still in place and the cause of so much of the rivalry and bloodshed which continues to this day. Oh yes, they tried to do it too in Iraq, until the bloody 1958 revolution when the 'royals' of Baghdad were finally dismembered and dragged through the streets.

But the Americans are far less into 'royalty' even as they have picked up from the British and helped maintain whatever leftover 'royals' would play by their rules and do their bidding. The Americans are much more into 'regime creation' -- client-regimes created by them, funded by them, and kept in power by them through police-state tactics and CIA intrigues.

There is no American journalist with the courage and insights, not to mention the backing of a newspaper like The Independent, as knowledgeable and credible as Robert Fisk when it comes to getting at what's really happening in today's Middle East. Contrast Fisk's biting reporting and analysis with how the corporate newspapers and TV networks U.S. have been reporting "The Handover of Sovereignty" in recent days.

It's "Independence Day" in the USA. But that's little consolation to the Iraqis, to the Palestinians, and to so many oppressed and bloodied people i n our troubled world today.

By Robert Fisk

The Independent - UK - 29 June 2004: 

So in the end, America's enemies s=et the date. The handover of "full sovereignty" was secretly brought forward so that the ex-CIA intelligence officer who is now "Prime Minister" of Iraq could avoid another bloody offensive by America's enemies. What is supposed to be the most important date in Iraq's modern history was changed -- like a birthday party -- because it might rain on Wednesday.

Pitiful is the word that comes to mind. Here we were, handing "full sovereignty" to the people of Iraq ? "full", of course, providing we forget the 160,000 foreign soldiers whom the Prime Minister, Iyad Allawi, has apparently asked to stay in Iraq, "full" providing we forget the 3,000 US diplomats in Baghdad who will constitute the largest US embassy in the world -- without even telling the Iraqi people that we had changed the date.

Few, save of course for the Iraqis, understood the cruellest paradox of the event. For it was the new "Iraqi Foreign Minister" who chose to leak the "bringing forward" of sovereignty in Iraq at the Nato summit in Turkey. Thus was this new and unprecedented date in modern Iraqi history announced not in Baghdad but in the capital of the former Ottoman empire which once ruled Iraq. Alice in Wonderland could not have improved on this. The looking-glass reflects all the way from Baghdad to Washington. In its savage irony Ibsen might have done justice to the occasion. After all, what could have been more familiar than Allawi's appeal to Iraqis to fight "the enemies of the people".

Power was ritually handed over in legal documents. The new government was sworn in on the Koran. The US proconsul, Paul Bremer, formally shook hands with Mr Allawi and boarded his C130 to fly home, guarded by special forces men in shades.

It was difficult to remember that Mr Bremer was touted for his job more than a year ago because he was a "counter-terrorism" expert and that what he referred to as "dead-enders" [Baathist diehards] managed to turn almost an entire Iraqi population against the United States usa/ and Britain in just a few months.

According to Mr Allawi yesterday, the "dead-enders" and the "remnants" belonged to Saddam Hussein. Those of them who had not committed crimes could even join the new authorities, he announced. But it had already been made clear that Mr Allawi was pondering martial law, the sine qua non of every Arab dictatorship -- this time to be imposed on an Arab state, heaven spare us, by a Western army led by an avowedly Christian government. Who was the last man to impose martial law on Iraqis? Wasn't it Saddam Hussein?

No, Mr Allawi and his chums -- along with the convicted fraudster Ahmed Chalabi, now dug up from his political grave -- are not little Saddams. Indeed, it is Mr Allawi's claim to fame that he was a Saddam loyalist until he upped sticks and fled to London. He almost got assassinated by Saddam before -- this by his own admission -- he took the King's shilling (MI6) and the CIA's dollar and (again by his own admission) that of 12 other intelligence agencies.

Yesterday, Mr Allawi was talking of an "historical day". As far as the new Prime Minister is concerned, Iraqis were about to enjoy "full sovereignty". Those of us who put quotation marks around "liberation" in 2003 should now put quotation marks around "sovereignty". Doing this has become part of the reporting of the Middle East.

Perhaps most remarkable of all was Mr Allawi's demand that "mercenaries who come to Iraq from foreign countries" should leave Iraq. There are, of course, 80,000 Western "mercenaries" in Iraq, most of them wearing Western clothes. But of course, Mr Allawi was not speaking of these men. And herein lies a problem. There must come a time when we have to give up cliches, when we have to give up on the American nightmares. Al-Qa'ida does not have an original branch in Iraq. And the Iraqis didn't plan September 11, 2001.

No and neither did Al-Qa'ida - h.

But not to worry. The new Iraqi Prime Minister will soon introduce martial law -- journalists who think they can escape criticism should reflect again -- and thus we can all wait for a request for more American troops "at the formal request of the provincial government". Wait, then, for the first expulsion of journalists. Democratic elections will be held in Iraq, "it is hoped", within five months. Well, we shall see.

True, Mr Allawi promises a future Iraq with "a society of all Iraqis, irrespective of ethnicity, colour or religion." But the Iraqis who Mr Allawi promises to protect do not apparently include the 5,000 prisoners held in America's dubious camps across Iraq. At least 3,000 will remain captive, largely of the Americans.

There were many promises yesterday of a trial for Saddam Hussein and his colleagues although, not surprisingly, Iraqi lawyers felt there were other, more pressing issues to pursue. Paul Bremer abolished the death penalty in Iraq but Mr Allawi seems to want to bring it back. Asked whether Saddam might be executed, he remarked that "this is again something which is being debated in the judicial system in Iraq". He said, however, that he was in favour of capital punishment.

According to American sources, the United States has been putting pressure on Mr Allawi for at least two weeks in the hope that his ministries could  -- in theory, at least -- function without US support. American advisers had already been withdrawn from many Iraqi institutions. Yet when he appeared yesterday, the Prime Minister spoke with words that might have come from George Bush. He warned "the forces of terror" that "we will not forget who stood with us and against us in this crisis". As the new "Cabinet" stepped forward to place their hands on the Koran, a large number of Iraqi flags lined the podium behind them -- though not the strange blue and white banne r which the former Interim Council had concocted two months ago.

The real problem for Mr Allawi is that he has to be an independent leader while relying upon an alien, Western and Christian force to support his rule. He cannot produce security without the assistance of an alien force. But he has no control over that force. He cannot order the Americans to leave. But here is the real question.

If Mr Allawi really intends to lead Iraq, the most powerful demonstration he could show would be to demand the immediate withdrawal of all foreign forces. Within hours, he would be a hero in Iraq. The Americans would be finished. But does Mr Allawi have the wit to realise that this ultimate step might save him? Who can tell, at this critical and bloody hour? America's satraps have been known to turn traitor before. Yet the whole painful equation in Baghdad now is that Mr Allawi is relying on the one army whose evacuation he needs to prove his own credibility.

The Western occupying powers have left behind a raft of dubious legislation. Much of it allows Western companies to suck up the profits of reconstruction -- an issue over which the Iraqis had no choice -- and many people in the country have no interest in continuing Mr Bremer's occupation laws. No one, for example, is likely to spend a month in jail for driving without a licence. But why should US and other Western businesses have legal immunity from Iraqi law? When a British or American mercenary shoots dead an Iraqi, he cannot be taken to an Iraqi court.

But Mr Allawi relies upon these same mercenaries. Which is why, sadly and inevitably, he and his government will fail. The insurgency now has a life of its own -- and a plan. If it can continue to maintain an independence struggle for nationalists within the Sunni Muslim areas north and west of Baghdad, then the Sunnis may also claim that they have the right to form Iraq's first independent, post-American government.

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By David Zucchino

(LATimes, 3 July 2004): The Army's internal study of the war in Iraq criticizes some efforts by its own psychological operations units, but one spur-of-the-moment effort last year produced the most memorable image of the invasion.

As the Iraqi regime was collapsing on April 9, 2003, Marines converged on Firdos Square in central Baghdad, site of an enormous statue of Saddam Hussein. It was a Marine colonel  not joyous Iraqi civilians, as was widely assumed from the (manipulated with only close-camera shots showing the imported Chalabi supporters pretending to be Iraqi civilians) TV images  who decided to topple the statue, the Army report said. And it was a quick-thinking Army psychological operations team that made it appear to be a spontaneous Iraqi undertaking.

After the colonel  who was not named in the report  selected the sta ue as a "target of opportunity," the psychological team used loudspeakers to encourage Iraqi civilians to assist, according to an account by a unit member.

But Marines had draped an American flag over the statue's face.

"God bless them, but we were thinking that this was just bad news," the member of the psychological unit said. "We didn't want to look like an occupation force, and some of the Iraqis were saying, 'No, we want an Iraqi flag!' "

Someone produced an Iraqi flag, and a sergeant in the psychological operations unit quickly replaced the American flag.

Ultimately, a Marine recovery vehicle toppled the statue with a chain, but the effort appeared to be Iraqi-inspired because the psychological team had managed to pack the vehicle with cheering Iraqi children.


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