Neo-Cons Call For Exterminating the Resistance
a tidal wave of bad news from the Iraq occupation they did so much
to promote, neoconservatives are calling for U.S. President George
W. Bush to pursue a military solution against resistance fighters
the Insurgents in Iraq," screamed a column in Sunday's Washington
Post by prominent New York politician-banker Lewis Lehrman and
Bill Kristol, the editor of The Weekly Standard, the magazine
that comes closest to defining orthodoxy among neoconservatives.
immediate task is ... the destruction of the armies and militias
of the insurgency – not taking and holding territory, not winning
the hearts and minds of Iraqis, not conciliating opponents and critics,
not gaining the approval of other nations," the two men wrote.
"All of these can follow after victory over the violent insurrection."
advice clearly goes against the general drift of U.S. policy since
last month's politically disastrous siege of Fallujah and the outbreak
of the Sadr rebellion in Baghdad and the predominantly Shi’ite southern
part of the country.
the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Richard Myers, who
has been widely criticized by the other military brass for being
too deferential to Rumsfeld and his neocon aides, insisted last
week, "we can't win with the military alone." Victory
will require efforts on "the political and the economic fronts
as well," he added.
with reports from more than one U.S. intelligence agency that Ahmed
Chalabi, a prominent Iraqi exile who championed the U.S.-led attack
on Iraq in 2003 and has been touted by the neocons as Iraq's "George
Washington" for much of the past decade, has been doing the
bidding of who neocons call the "the terror masters" in
Tehran, and the fact that virtually all of their pre-war predictions
about the occupation have turned out to have been wishful thinking,
one might think that Kristol and company would be inclined to reflect,
at least a little, before ranting.
one would be wrong.
has become an article of faith among neoconservatives that, as one
of their number – syndicated columnist Mona Charen – recently put
it, "the question of the moment is not whether we've done enough
good, but whether we've been tough enough."
have been calling for months for their erstwhile ally, Pentagon
chief Donald Rumsfeld, to send in tens of thousands more troops
to bolster the occupation, if only to persuade the "Ba’athist
dead-enders," the "Islamo-fascists," and "foreign
fighters" that resistance is futile against overwhelming U.S.
are members of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's Ba'ath Party.)
all of Iraq – particularly the infamous "Sunni Triangle"
– had been subject to the "shock and awe" of Washington's
military might, in neo-cons' view, the Fallujah siege, which began
April 2 after U.S. officials vowed to capture those responsible
for the killing and mutilation of four U.S. civilian guards and
"pacify" the city, would never have happened.
expect a strong – even 'overwhelming' – military response,"
Kristol wrote at the time. And indeed, that's what seemed to be
underway as tanks and helicopter gun ships blasted away at suspected
targets, killing at least 700 Iraqis, including many women and children
– much of it broadcast live on Arab television, evoking fury throughout
the Arab world and even among Iraq's majority Muslim Shi’ite population.
on the ground knew it was a disaster and, with White House backing,
eventually agreed to lift the siege and permit a former Revolutionary
Guard general, who had been cashiered under Chalabi's "de-Ba’athization"
program, to organize a local security force that includes other
ex-Ba’athists but which so far has also kept the peace.
as "appeasement" by the neocons, that agreement is now
seen by the uniformed military, as well as the realists in the State
Department, the intelligence agencies and the British Foreign Office
– who have always considered the neocons' dreams of "transforming"
Iraq into a democratic, pro-Western, pro-Israel state fanciful –
as the model for dealing with other restive parts of the country,
including the Shi’ite South.
this infuriates the neocons who, despite their constant rhetoric
about democracy and the importance of the "war of ideas,"
have always considered military force to be the only language their
enemies can ever really understand, be they Iraqis, Arabs, Muslims,
Soviets, Communists or even Sandinistas in Nicaragua.
shortly after the war in Afghanistan, neoconservative columnist
Charles Krauthammer, exulted, "Power is its own reward. Victory
changes everything, psychology above all. The psychology in the
region is now one of fear and deep respect for American power."
the eve of the Iraq war, the Wall Street Journal, whose editorial
page is another important source of neoconservative thinking, warned,
"before the U.S. can worry about rebuilding Iraq, it has to
win militarily, and decisively so. As (Princeton University Orientalist)
Bernard Lewis and other scholars have long noted, Arab cultures
despise weakness in an adversary above all."
more than 15 months later – with close to 90 percent of Iraqis,
according to the latest survey, saying they consider U.S. troops
to be "occupiers" rather than "liberators,"
Kristol and Lehrman insist that "decisive military victories
in Iraq would be respected by Sunnis, Shi’ites and Kurds alike."
Sadr's militia must be rendered powerless, they wrote, while "Fallujah
must be conquered."
how Fallujah or other towns and cities are to be "conquered"
without piling up horrendous civilian casualties that alienate people
far beyond Iraq's borders is unclear. Kristol suggested last week
that "any site where Americans are attacked will be regarded
as a combat zone," a suggestion that curiously recalled what
since 1982 has been cited by neoconservatives as "Hama Rules,"
although to make an entirely different point.
of Hama, a city in northern Syria, was levelled by Syrian government
forces in order to put down a radical Islamist uprising in 1982.
From 4,000 to 20,000 people were believed to have been killed in
the assault. Since then, "Hama Rules," as used mainly
by neoconservatives, has referred to the ruthlessness of Arab governments
in repressing challenges to their rule.
Charen wrote last month, "Iraq cannot be truly liberated until
it has been transformed. And it cannot be transformed if the bad
elements are not afraid of American soldiers. Those gleeful faces
in Fallujah make the point: they think we are patsies."
Lobe is Inter Press Service's correspondent in Washington, DC.
© 2004 Inter Press Service