One retired, one active duty speaks out: Iraq
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Special Forces Master Sgt Stan Goff (Ret.) Speaks Out - Iraq
The Occupation Runs Out of Gas
It Was the Oil and It Is Like Vietnam
By STAN GOFF
September 19, 2003
Apologists for Bush's little war in Iraq, whose numbers are diminishing in the face of relentless reality, have invested a mighty labor in dismissing two claims; that the war in Iraq is about oil, and that there is a comparison to be made between the Iraq War and the Vietnam War.
The war was never intended as a liberation, the bullshit story that went center stage when the weapons lies fell apart . It was always a re- colonization, now euphemized even by many Democrats as "re-construction."
Nonetheless, the Bush administration believed they would be welcomed as liberators, because Bush has surrounded himself with people whose principle skill is self-delusion, and whose principle aversion is hearing anything that doesn't conform to their preconceptions. If Daddy supervised the tragedy, Junior is supervising the deadly farce.
People who only want to hear good news from their own perspective are easily taken in by con men, and the con man this time was Ahmed Chalabi,
an Iraqi expatriate facing 22 years at hard labor in Jordan for embezzlement. This is the character upon whom Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz--themselves (neo)con men--relied for insight into Iraq, and who told them they'd be welcomed by cheering, flower-bearing, confetti-slinging crowds not unlike Parisians in 1945. That Chalabi hadn't been in Iraq for decades hasn't deterred our intrepid neo-con ideologues. They still want to make Chalabi the Quisling leader of Iraq, under the Kissinger-tutored Viceroy Paul Bremer's.
Neither were the neocons deterred by intelligence summaries that told them there was no threat from Iraq. They just made shit up, repeated it five million times to a credulous, tele-hypnotic American majority, and we swallowed it whole... sugar provided by the ersatz journalism of America's entertainment media. Hearing only what we want is a generalized cultural characteristic shared by leaders and followers alike.
If, as a child, I had told lies as transparent as this administration's, Mother would have sent me out to the privet hedge to get her a switch. But white America (Let's be clear here. The Republican Party's single unifying principle is white supremacy.) finds the real world just too much to bear, and so clings desperately to the skirts of its simplified, racialized world view . That's why even "liberal" white America finds itself incapable of perceiving the Iraqis as capable of self-governance, and now calls for a UN occupation, imagined under the direction of European-extracted officials bearing the white man's burden now recoded as "democratization.
In the real world, Bush's little junta wanted control of the oil, and that was always the reason, and it never changed. If Iraq's principle resource had been chick peas, our troops wouldn't be there. There were never any mushroom cloud ready to bloom over New York, and never any connection between September 11th and Iraq. The only mushroom cloud was the smoke blown straight up America's ass by these shameless thugs. It was oil. It still is oil. They are waging economic war on Europe and Asia, and oil is the lever. And so they repeat the word "liberation, liberation, liberation" like a mantra.
The repetition of words like 'remnants' and 'foreigners' is another childish cover story (It's a good thing my Mom isn't in DC, or she'd tear that ass up.) to conceal the fact that the Iraqis are not conforming to the neo-con script.
In Vietnam, there was a huge effort, once the US military was entrenched, to convince the American public that foreigners were the aggressors, and that the resistance to military occupation was not indigenous. But it was. The resistance in Iraqi is indigenous, too. Operations like the ones being conducted by Iraqi guerrillas can not happen without roots in the local populations.
In Vietnam, troop morale plummeted as the lies about the reasons for war became ever more apparent. The morale of the troops in Iraq began to fall as soon as the reality that they weren't liberating anything sank in. Most troops are prepared to face danger and hardship. They just don't like facing them for lies.
Since the political decision in August to cut US casualties, the US has minimized operations and largely drawn the troops back inside the concertina wire. They were tangled up with pinprick strikes, and the slow, steady stream of US casualties was harming Bush politically. It still isn't working. Fixed installations need logistical support, and that means convoys, so the Iraqi resistance is schooling itself on the art of ambush.
From an operational tempo that was lethally strenuous, American troops are now subjected to mind-numbing boredom, where they can concentrate on how slowly the calendar pages turn, how hot it is, how bad the sand fleas are, how much they miss home-cooked meals and making love and air-conditioning. The occasional mortar attack gives them something to talk about. The US is stuck right now, having lost the battlefield initiative, and is losing the war. This is another parallel to Vietnam.
Rumsfeld's Defense Policy Board has usurped the Department of Defense, just like Lyndon Johnson's Defense Secretary Robert McNamara's "whiz kids"
that oversaw the Vietnam defeat. If McNamara was Johnson's bad counsel, Rumsfeld appears to be Bush's Rasputin. Another flim-flam artist, with his
silly robo-war doctrine. Even the generals despise this arrogant pretender. The generals apparently still remember Vietnam, about which Bush's cabinet has experienced a deep amnesia, but even they--especially they--will protect their careers and remain largely silent as they are led into the swamp.
Perhaps we need to revisit some good advice from Vietnam. When asked how we could get out of Vietnam, one simple answer was tragically ignnored: With ships and airplanes. The Iraqis--a talented people with 5,000 years of experience in civilization--are more qualified to determine their own future, however painful that process may be, than Bush's cabinet, or the UN for that matter. End the occupation. Bring the troops home now.
Stan Goff is the author of "Hideous Dream: A Soldier's Memoir of the US Invasion of Haiti" (Soft Skull Press, 2000) and of the upcoming book "Full Spectrum Disorder" (Soft Skull Press, 2003). He is a member of the BRING THEM HOME NOW! coordinating committee, a retired Special Forces master sergeant, and the father of an active duty soldier. Email for BRING THEM HOME NOW! is email@example.com.
September 18, 2003
We Are Facing Death In
Iraq For No Reason
A Serving US Soldier Calls
For The End Of An Occupation Based On Lies
By Tim Predmore
For the past six months, I have been participating in what I believe to be the great modern lie: Operation Iraqi Freedom.
After the horrific events of September 11 2001, and throughout the battle in Afghanistan, the groundwork was being laid for the invasion of Iraq. "Shock and awe" were the words used to describe the display of power that the world was going to view upon the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom. It was to be an up-close, dramatic display of military strength and advanced technology from within the arsenals of the American and British military.
But as a soldier preparing to take part in the invasion of Iraq, the words "shock and awe" rang deep within my psyche. Even as we prepared to depart, it seemed that these two great superpowers were about to break the very rules that they demanded others obey. Without the consent of the United Nations, and ignoring the pleas of their own citizens, the US and Britain invaded Iraq. "Shock and awe"? Yes, the words correctly described the emotional impact I felt as we embarked on an act not of justice, but of hypocrisy.
From the moment the first shot was fired in this so-called war of liberation and freedom, hypocrisy reigned. After the broadcasting of recorded images of captured and dead US soldiers on Arab television, American and British leaders vowed revenge while verbally assaulting the networks for displaying such vivid images. Yet within hours of the deaths of Saddam Hussein's sons, the US government released horrific photographs of the two dead brothers for the entire world to view. Again, a "do as we say and not as we do" scenario.
As soldiers serving in Iraq, we have been told that our purpose is to help the people of Iraq by providing them with the necessary assistance militarily, as well as in humanitarian efforts. Then tell me where the humanity is in the recent account in Stars and Stripes (the newspaper of the US military) of two young children brought to a US military camp by their mother in search of medical care.
The two children had, unknowingly, been playing with explosive ordnance they had found, and as a result they were severely burned. The account
tells how, after an hour-long wait, they - two children - were denied care by two US military doctors. A soldier described the incident as one of
many "atrocities" on the part of the US military he had witnessed.
Thankfully, I have not personally been a witness to atrocities - unless, of course, you consider, as I do, that this war in Iraq is the ultimate atrocity.
So what is our purpose here? Was this invasion because of weapons of mass destruction, as we have so often heard? If so, where are they? Did we
invade to dispose of a leader and his regime because they were closely associated with Osama bin Laden? If so, where is the proof?
Or is it that our incursion is about our own economic advantage? Iraq's oil can be refined at the lowest cost of any in the world. This looks like a modern-day crusade not to free an oppressed people or to rid the world of a demonic dictator relentless in his pursuit of conquest and domination, but a crusade to control another nation's natural resource. Oil - at least to me - seems to be the reason for our presence.
There is only one truth, and it is that Americans are dying. There are an estimated 10 to 14 attacks every day on our servicemen and women in Iraq. As the body count continues to grow, it would appear that there is no immediate end in sight.
I once believed that I was serving for a cause - "to uphold and defend the constitution of the United States". Now I no longer believe that; I have
lost my conviction, as well as my determination. I can no longer justify my service on the basis of what I believe to be half-truths and bold lies.
With age comes wisdom, and at 36 years old I am no longer so blindly led as to believe without question. From my arrival last November at Fort Campbell, in Kentucky, talk of deployment was heard, and as that talk turned to actual preparation, my heart sank and my doubts grew. My doubts have never faded; instead, it has been my resolve and my commitment that have.
My time here is almost done, as well as that of many others with whom I have served. We have all faced death in Iraq without reason and without
justification. How many more must die? How many more tears must be shed before Americans awake and demand the return of the men and women whose
job it is to protect them, rather than their leader's interest?
Tim Predmore is a US soldier on active duty with the 101st Airborne Division, based near Mosul in northern Iraq. A version of this article appeared in the Peoria Journal Star, Illinois