Green Zone Down: Bomb Hits Parliament As Bush Moves to Make Baghdad a Prison


The Bush-McCain "surge" is working so well that now the very heart of the American-installed, American-protected Iraqi government has been struck by a bomb, killing at least two legislators, as the Washington Post, AP and the Guardian report.

The Green Zone blast came just hours after another bombing crippled one of Baghdad’s main bridges, killing several people and further choking off movement within the city. But then, that too is part of the Bush-McCain surge plan, whose ultimate goal is to turn Baghdad into a "community prison," restricting the free movement of Iraqis in their own capital. As Robert Fisk reports in a major story in the Independent (entirely overlooked by the American corporate media):

Faced with an ever-more ruthless insurgency in Baghdad — despite President George Bush’s "surge" in troops — US forces in the city are now planning a massive and highly controversial counter-insurgency operation that will seal off vast areas of the city, enclosing whole neighbourhoods with barricades and allowing only Iraqis with newly issued ID cards to enter. The campaign of "gated communities" — whose genesis was in the Vietnam War — will involve up to 30 of the city’s 89 official districts and will be the most ambitious counter-insurgency programme yet mounted by the US in Iraq.

But the imprisonment of Iraqis within Baghdad — a practice that has been carried out on a smaller scale elsewhere, including the wrapping of whole towns in barbed wire — is not the only goal of the Bush-McCain plan, Fisk notes:

But the campaign has far wider military ambitions than the pacification of Baghdad. It now appears that the US military intends to place as many as five mechanised brigades — comprising about 40,000 men — south and east of Baghdad, at least three of them positioned between the capital and the Iranian border. This would present Iran with a powerful — and potentially aggressive — American military force close to its border in the event of a US or Israeli military strike against its nuclear facilities later this year.

The draconian plan to "enclose" vast quadrants of the ancient city goes far beyond the stated policies of the Bush-McCain surge, Fisk reports:

So far, the Baghdad campaign has involved only the creation of a few US positions within several civilian areas of the city but the new project will involve joint American and Iraqi "support bases" in nine of the 30 districts to be "gated" off. From these bases — in fortified buildings — US-Iraqi forces will supposedly clear militias from civilian streets which will then be walled off and the occupants issued with ID cards. Only the occupants will be allowed into these "gated communities" and there will be continuous patrolling by US-Iraqi forces. There are likely to be pass systems, "visitor" registration and restrictions on movement outside the "gated communities." Civilians may find themselves inside a "controlled population" prison.

In theory, US forces can then concentrate on providing physical reconstruction in what the military like to call a "secure environment." But insurgents are not foreigners, despite the presence of al-Qa’ida in Iraq. They come from the same population centres that will be "gated" and will, if undiscovered, hold ID cards themselves; they will be "enclosed" with everyone else.

A former US officer in Vietnam who has a deep knowledge of General Petraeus’s plans is sceptical of the possible results. "The first loyalty of any Sunni who is in the Iraqi army is to the insurgency," he said. "Any Shia’s first loyalty is to the head of his political party and its militia. Any Kurd in the Iraqi army, his first loyalty is to either Barzani or Talabani. There is no independent Iraqi army. These people really have no choice. They are trying to save their families from starvation and reprisal. At one time they may have believed in a unified Iraq. At one time they may have been secular. But the violence and brutality that started with the American invasion has burnt those liberal ideas out of people … Every American who is embedded in an Iraqi unit is in constant mortal danger."

The plan’s failure will be profound, another senior officer told Fisk:

"Once the additional troops are in place the insurrectionists will cut the lines of communication from Kuwait to the greatest extent they are able," he told The Independent. "They will do the same inside Baghdad, forcing more use of helicopters. The helicopters will be vulnerable coming into the patrol bases, and the enemy will destroy as many as they can. The second part of their plan will be to attempt to destroy one of the patrol bases. They will begin that process by utilising their people inside the ‘gated communities’ to help them enter. They will choose bases where the Iraqi troops either will not fight or will actually support them.

"The American reaction will be to use massive firepower, which will destroy the neighbourhood that is being ‘protected’."

But of course, in this, as in every other aspect of the Bush war crime in Iraq, "failure" is a highly relative term. If the stated aim of the Bush-McCain surge were genuine — providing security to the Iraqi people in order to speed reconstruction efforts and aid the nurturing of a non-sectarian democracy — then yes, it is howlingly obvious that the plan to turn Baghdad into a gigantic, open-air concentration camp is doomed to fail. It will simply radicalize more Iraqis, kill more civilians and spike the body count of American soldiers to new heights. But as we have stated here for more than five years — even before the inevitable invasion was launched — nothing that the Bush-led action does in Iraq has anything to do with the welfare of the Iraqi people, or of American soldiers for that matters. They are simply careening around from pillar to post, trying to ride the wild beast of war they have unleashed toward their ultimate goal: strategic and economic domination of the world’s oil heartlands, and the never-ending expansion of an authoritarian militarist-corporatist state in America.

Their main difficulty comes from trying to accomplish this task without stirring up the rubes back home too much. That’s why they have not — yet — adopted the most extreme measures advocated by their cowardly cheerleaders in the armchair warrior brigade, the "more rubble, less trouble" gang so ably exposed recently by Glenn Greenwald. (I know I’ve already mentioned Glenn Reynolds’ genocidal phrase earlier today, but it bears repeating how openly savage and murderous these wretched bootlickers really are.) Most Americans don’t like to think of themselves as genocidal maniacs (instapunditniks excluded, of course); they like to see their country as the "shining city on the hill," a literally holy land incapable of any evil action whatsoever. Thus every plot and ploy in Bush’s thorough-going rapine in Iraq must be portrayed as an act of altruism and idealism, false rhetoric, outright lies and the incessant, obsessive manipulation and/or repression of images and information. The Bushists must constantly calibrate what the political market will bear, and so they do operate within some constraints. Unfortunately, the last few years have shown that the American political market — the electorate, the citizenry — will bear a great deal without really lashing out against the criminals in power. Torture, murder, rape, the destruction of whole cities, the ongoing aerial bombardment of civilian centers, the death of more than 600,000 innocent civilians — none of this has provoked throne-shaking outrage in the American people. The fact that the mild rebuke they delivered in the November 2006 elections has not only been openly scorned and rejected by Bush but largely ignored by the supposedly empowered Democratic opposition (with its "non-binding resolutions" and demands that Iraqis meet the all-important "benchmark" of an oil law that gives the nation’s resources to Western corporations) has not produced any large-scale reaction. Of course, there is some hope to be found in the growing numbers of municipalities and state legislatures calling for an end to the war and/or the impeachment of the gangsters who led us into it. But the fact that Bush has been able to launch a major escalation of the war — raising troop levels and press-ganging soldiers into even-longer tours of duty — after losing the election is yet another indication of how much scope for evil that Bush retains, despite his plummeting popularity.

And so, while he cannot reduce Baghdad to Glenn Reynolds’ longed-for rubble — at least not yet — he can push forward with this new tightening of the screws on his captive colony. When this inevitably fails in its ostensible mission, they will lurch on to something else, another scheme to keep the rubes off-balance for a few months longer, then repeat the cycle again and again. Why? Because the whole point of Bush’s strategy is to prolong the American military presence in Iraq. This is why American soldiers were sent there — to stay there. And they will stay there — no matter how many bombs go off in the Green Zone, no matter how much horrific blowback is generated by the Bush-McCain surge — until the American people make the political costs too high for any politician to bear. And this includes the Democrats, whose vaunted "anti-war" plans so far have all called for retaining some kind of military presence in Iraq, and the handover of the nation’s oil to the West. As the man said, the fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.