Iraq is in melt-down. As of this typing, the US is engaged in firefights with the Iraqi people on at least 7 different fronts. Sky News reported 130 US dead, a number that was quickly retracted. Other reports have the Italian and Spanish forces being pushed into retreat, and the British “negotiating”.
I say the Iraqi people because Bush and his hatchet-man Bremer have succeeded in uniting the Sunni and Shi-ite. The Arab media is already blaring the pledge of the two groups to set aside their differences in the face of their common enemy, the United States. Contrary to the spin put on the fight by the mainstream media, the US military is not arrayed against a few loner “Saddam loyalists” or “Sadr militia”. The US military is staring down their gun barrels at the entire united Iraqi people.
This puts a new political dimension on the war. Bush cannot continue to “pacify” (translation: “murder”) the Iraqi people without casting himself as the new Saddam Hussein. One of the justifications given for the Iraq war was that the government of Iraq under Saddam was killing the Iraqi people. Now we have the government of Iraq under Bush killing the Iraqi people. It will be a tough sell why one is okay and the other is not. Every new Iraqi death underscores Hans Blix’s observation that Iraq was really better off under Saddam then under the US Occupation.
There is, to put it bluntly, no way to win this war. Even if Bush simply wipes out the Iraqi people, it will not be seen as a victory because the US will have failed in its stated objective to bring western-style freedoms to the Iraqi people. It is a bitter irony that the present conflict was sparked when the US occupiers shut down a newspaper for “wrong reporting” (i.e. wounding Bremer’s vanity). There never were any weapons of mass destruction. Everyone knows that was a lie. And with Saddam in jail, the US has already lost any justification to have stayed this long in Iraq in the first place. Continued occupation will make the US the most hated and mistrusted nation on Earth. Outright defeat would only be marginally more damaging to the US.
There is no way out of this mess for the US Government. There is nothing that the US can do which will be seen as a moral victory.
This war is a disaster, no matter what happens from here. And the American people, impoverished by the war, bereft of their children by the war, are starting to wake up from their long denial. They will be angry. They will want to know who is to blame for this disaster. They will want the hides of the men who lied us into this war for the benefit of a foreign power (as 9-11 Commission head Philip Zelikow admitted recently in a public speech) tanned and nailed to the barn door. They will want the hides of the media executives who whored themselves to the war machine, who clearly thought the sacrifice of other people’s children a small price to pay for higher ratings and increased FCC cooperation.
The bottom line is that those of us who had the courage to stand up and declare that this war was wrong, well, we were right. There is no way to avoid that now. There were no WMDs, Saddam hasn’t killed anywhere near as many of the Iraqi people as Bush has, and even Israel (the aforesaid foreign power) has recently admitted that it “overestimated” the threat from Iraq all along.