Thursday, August 16, 2007

Latest Iraq Carnage Once More Demonstrates Obvious Hopelessness

By Manifesto Joe

Tuesday night's attack, blamed on al Qaeda in Iraq, on a Kurdish-speaking religious sect in the northwest part of the country was the vilest of acts. I can certainly identify with the righteous anger so many feel about this kind of homicidal insanity. But it is just one more event that underscores the futility of the U.S. position there.

It was one of the worst attacks on civilians in the war, with the death toll up to at least 250, and estimates ranging as high as 500. Whole neighborhoods were reportedly leveled. Make no mistake about my views here -- extremists who commit such atrocities are nothing short of diabolical. There can be no rationalization, religious or political, for the likes of this.

But the sad fact that most Americans now seem to realize, even if our current leaders do not, is that the world's "only superpower" nonetheless has its limitations. We're trying to police a country that our "leaders" so hideously misunderstood from the beginning that there is no realistic way to clean up the mess.

This is not merely a civil war -- this is multifaceted cultural chaos that, sadly, will have to expend itself over a lot of time. The U.S. military presence doesn't frighten people who are that crazy. And, rather than extinguishing any fire, it seems to fling gasoline upon it, over and over.

There's a difference between being an isolationist and being a realist. And there's a difference between being tenacious in a positive way, and being stubbornly stupid. It's the classic case of people not knowing how to pick their battles. Iraq was clearly the wrong one to begin with, and consequently the U.S. has plenty of blood on its own hands -- several hundred thousand people, from credible accounts. Even if one assents to the amoral, crackpot "pragmatism" of the neocon view, by now even these people ought to have sense enough to know that they did something irreparably foolish.

After such a disastrous detour, it's time to find the road back to a fight against the kind of people who were actually responsible for 9-11. It will mean a senseless loss of many more lives if we have to wait 17 months for a new administration to get that process going. Congressfolk, are you listening?

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.


Marc McDonald said...

>>extremists who commit such
>>atrocities are nothing short of

I have a couple of comments on this:

1. In our eyes, they are diabolical. But it's important to remember that, in their eyes, they are doing God's work. The suicide bombers that participated were absolutely convinced that Allah would reward them and that they would go straight to Paradise afterwards.

Were they just sadly deluded people? Well, no more deluded than the trigger-happy U.S. soldiers going on rampages and killing Iraqi civilians so that they can get "payback" for 9/11.

2. Anyone who believes that Islam is inherently a "violent" religion needs to take a good look at the Christian West's own history. From witch burnings to the Crusades to the genocide committed by the Conquistadors, we (in the supposedly more "civilized" West) have an enormous amount of blood on our hands, in the name of religion.

3. What, exactly, is the moral difference between detonating a suicide car bomb and a U.S. Hellfire missile being launched into a crowded urban area (where our military knows goddamn well that there will be many civilian deaths). White phosphorous chemical weapons (which the U.S. military used in Fallujah) and which melts human flesh, is an more sinister weapon than anything deployed by the terrorists.

4. There are many motivations behind the Iraq resistance and ongoing terrorism. Al Qaeda is motivated by their interpretation of religion. Many of the Sunni militants are motivated by an "expel the infidel military occupier" belief (a view, incidentally, that I really don't blame them for having).

But what was the motivation of our own leaders? It was nothing more than plain, old, grubby money in the form of Iraq's oil. That's something I find as diabolical as anything that has occurred in Iraq.

As far as I'm concerned, nobody in all of Iraq has more blood on his hands than George W. Bush.

Marc McDonald

Manifesto Joe said...

I don't think my post exonerates Bush or his cronies in any way. A point I wanted to make upfront is that there is nothing to ever justify the type of direct attack on civilians that was perpetrated here. Yeah, there's plenty of evidence of U.S. atrocities against civilians in Iraq. But bear in mind, this particular attack was carried out against a specific people, a religious sect, with apparently religious motivations, and coordinated under orders. Women and children were intentionally slaughtered. How do these suicide bombers differ from Nazis, or any other such murderers who nonetheless may be fully convinced that their cause is righteous? If the suicide bombers were convinced they would be martyrs in Paradise after dying for their cause, why did they not directly fight those they regard as diabolical occupiers (rather than a volunteer Army that's just been ordered to a very bad place, and has predictable bad elements that lose their moral compasses)? Murdering women and children under obvious directives from higher-ups can't quite be compared to that. Yes, the U.S. military has a nasty habit of disregarding "collateral damage" to civilians. Atrocities on both sides, certainly. But not all atrocities are equally atrocious.

Manifesto Joe said...

A postscript: In his mind, Eric Rudolph was also doing God's work. Was that an excuse for murder?
Or, what of the people who have murdered doctors over the abortion issue? Oh, Christian extremists can be every bit as violent, every bit as deluded, every bit as crazy as any other extremists. Religious fanatics tend to be the same regardless of creed. The Christian Right over here is almost as scary as are Islamic extremists. I say "almost" right now because they aren't routinely setting off suicide car bombs in our cities. Are they capable of that? We'll have to wait and see. Their DNA isn't different from that of people elsewhere.

Marc McDonald said...

>>>If the suicide bombers were
>>>convinced they would be martyrs
>>>in Paradise after dying for
>>>their cause, why did they not
>>>directly fight those they
>>>regard as diabolical occupiers

Are you disputing that these suicide bombers sincerely believe that they are doing God's work and that they believe they will go to straight to paradise after they blow themselves up? Because frankly, the whole concept of a suicide bomber doesn't really make any sense, otherwise.

Note: I'm not justifying what they're doing. I'm simply trying to shed light on their actions, as seen through their own eyes.

dr sardonicus said...

With a Democratic President and Congress likely to be in power the next four years, the notion that our homegrown Christianist extremists wouldn't become suicide bombers could get severely tested...

Manifesto Joe said...

One more response, Marc:

I don't doubt that all suicide bombers are that fanatical about their religion. But if they had a shred of genuine decency, they would have turned their wrath on the armed occupiers, not on women and children. They are that crazy, and that kind of insanity spills over into unmitigated evil.

What happened in northwest Iraq can't even be dignified by being called "terrorism," because terrorism by definition at least has a political agenda of desperation. This was religious fanaticism morphing into virtual genocide. Those who did this aren't even good enough to be called terrorists.

Yes, the U.S. has been guilty of war crimes in Iraq, in my view. But they were offenses of "collateral damage," in which the perpetrators at least had some pretense of having a military objective. What semblance of that can one discern here?

Anonymous said...

>>>in which the perpetrators at
>>>least had some pretense of
>>>having a military objective.
>>>What semblance of that can one
>>> discern here?

I don't claim to understand the mindset of Islamic extremists. But it seems to me that there IS a military objective in these mass suicide terrorist bombings. Their goal is to create chaos and instability and to make Iraq ungovernable. Remember, Al Qaeda WANTS the U.S. military to remain in Iraq.

I find it interesting how, in the aftermath of many of these bombings, the survivors at the scene tend to lash out at the American occupation. Indeed, in most of the accounts I've read, the ordinary Iraq people at the scene tend to direct their fury more at the U.S. than they do at Al Qaeda.

It's all part of Al-Qaeda's strategy of asymmetric warfare (of which 9/11 itself was an example).

And make no mistake: although 9/11 resulted in the deaths of thousands of civilians, it wound up being a tremendous victory for Al Qaeda.

Whether by design or not, 9/11 succeeded in provoking the U.S. to launch the disastrous Iraq War, which has been a huge drain on the U.S. Treasury.

Bin Laden always said that Al Qaeda couldn't defeat the U.S. in a classic head-to-head military matchup. Instead, he said, Al Qaeda can only prevail if it succeeds in bankrupting the U.S. (just as the Soviets' disastrous invasion of Afghanistan played a role in the later fall of an economically exhausted U.S.S.R.).

The U.S. invasion of Iraq has been a propaganda boon for Al Qaeda beyond its wildest dreams. The fiasco has been a disaster on every level and has isolated the U.S. from much of the world (although I suspect most Americans are blissfully unaware of this).

Indeed, via Gitmo and Abu Ghraib, we've even lost the moral high ground in our fight with Al Qaeda in the eyes of much of the world (something that would have seemed inconceivable in the immediate aftermath of 9/11).

Manifesto Joe said...

Hi, Anon:

Very interesting points. But I think this may backfire on whomever did it, from the propaganda standpoint. If there was any real military objective to this (I doubt that somewhat), it was a gamble as to the U.S. response, as per, stay or get the fuck out. To me, it looks more and more like the American people are ready to wash their hands of this thing, write it off as another Vietnam, etc. There are enormities like this that even "Murka" clearly hasn't got the power to stop. If the idea was to do something vile enough to fire up America to "stay the course" in Iraq, it may not work. We'll see.

imsmall said...


They billed the prospect as a surge
And so it came to be,
A thousand daily with the urge
To pack their bags and flee.

It was a surge in widowhood,
In torture and detention,
For air strikes target bad and good
As equal, should I mention?

Saddam was not the architect
Of the Iraqi state,
Yet, decades of evolved law wrecked,
Wiped clean tradition´s slate--

What else might be expected? All
The laws, like culture stored
In libraries, museums,--fall
The bulwarks by the board.

Some college grad without much sense
In life so then installed
To issue orders--innocence
O it be never called!

One hundred widowed every day,
A million dead so far
And counting! Sam has had his way,
Our "uncle" most bizarre.

The rapes of children, little boys,
The incidents past reckon,
How isolated? It annoys
To have the conscience beckon.

But so face up to the result
Of this foolhardy deed,
Notorious, infamous assault
Born only out of greed.

Not ever for a moment try
To paint it as though it
Expressed some proud nobility
The way the first bombs hit.

Not noble, good, but of deceit
And rank dishonor born--
A fate to pray you never meet,
Too feeble-souled to mourn.