Monday, December 27, 2004

Questions for Rumsfeld

pv vivekanand

US Defence Secretary Ronald Rumsfeld has told American soldiers in Iraq that the insurgency there needs an Iraqi solution and that he does not expect the guerrilla attacks against the US-led forces to fade away with the elections next month.
Of course, it reflects an increasing understanding of the irrefutable realities on the ground today, but it raises one prime question: Who is responsible for the chaos in Iraq today and how does the US expect the Iraqis to come up with a solution?
The ideal scenario for the US is quite simple: All the 25 million people of Iraq do nothing other than support next month's elections without reservation, elect the people that Washington could count on to protect American interests, and then endorse the constitution the elected 275-member assembly would draft by the end of 2005.
They should not complain about the lack of security, jobs, food, water and power; nor should they object to the high-handed and contemptuous manner the US military is dealing with them; they should report without fail every "foreign militant" who enters the country, and they should allow their country to be turned into an Israeli Trojan horse in the Arab World.
In his recent tour of the region, Rumsfeld conceded that the insurgency has staying power and a seemingly endless supply of weapons, and the time has come for ordinary Iraqis to realise that they not the Americans will ultimately decide who prevails in this conflict.
He also admitted that it would be unrealistic to predict that the level of violence will recede once the Jan.30 elections are held. In the end, he said, it will be a "uniquely Iraqi solution," not American.
But then, wasn't it an American solution that the Bush administration sought to impose on Iraq with last year's war? Isn't the worsening crisis in the country is the direct result of the US attempting to play out its own script for the future of Iraq that has more to do with external interests than Iraqi interests?
How could Rumsfeld say that ending the crisis is an Iraqi responsibility when the beginning of the crisis was American initiated?
And how exactly does Rumsfeld envisage the divided Iraqi society coming together to solve the problem which the mighty US military failed to address?
While one could not really assert that the US did wrong when it toppled Saddam Hussein, given his regime's oppression of the people of Iraq, the world holds Washington responsible for the spiralling crisis in the occupied country. The international community knows that it was not the welfare of the people of Iraq or any great love for democracy in the Arab World — or anywhere else for that matter — that the Bush administration had in mind when it sent in its military to invade Iraq and that it wrong wholesale in its approach to dealing with the people of Iraq.
Washington had and still has its secret agenda in Iraq. These include using Iraq as an advanced military base in the Gulf region as part of its quest to dominate the globe, employing the oil resources of Iraq to ensure America's energy security and as a weapon to manipulate the international oil market to counter other industrialised countries in the race for global business, and removing Iraq, once among the strongest in the Arab World, as a potential threat to Israel, the staunchest American ally in the region.
Few would be ready to accept that it was any great sympthy for the "oppressed" people of Iraq that prompted the US to launch war against that country and all that Washington wanted was to save Iraqis from Saddam Hussein.
Indeed, the people of Iraq do have their role in containing the insurgency and put their country on track towards an atmosphere conducive to address some of the root problems they face. However, they were rendered unable to do so from the word go when the US took them for granted and invaded Iraq without taking into consideration the realities on the ground except that the country was ruled by a regime which challenged American interests in the region and stood in the way of an American ally's quest for regional domination.
Let us also not forget that it is the first time the people of Iraq are faced with the question of how to shape their future and the US-designed plans for them are alien to their thinking and political mindset.
Some of the key questions (not necessarily in the order given here) that would have to be answered by Rumsfeld and others in the US administration as well as the neoconservative hawks who orchestrated the invasion and occupation of Iraq include:
—  Did the people of Iraq invite the US to "liberate" them from Saddam Hussein and do the half-baked job that it did?
—  Did the people of Iraq ask Washington to resort to whatever deception it took — weapons of mass destruction and Al Qaeda links included — to justify the invasion of their country and thus lose world support for its action in Iraq?
— Did the people of Iraq ask Rumsfeld to keep down the number of American soldiers to be deployed in the war so that they were kept spread too thin and too wide to make an impact against the expected insurgency?
— Why did the US fail to realise that while its military had the ability to invade and occupy another country, it did not have any experience or expertise in administering another people with sharp cultural, social, economic, and religious differences with the American style?
— Why did the US fail to realise that it stood in absolute need of the UN in Iraq? Why did it dump the world body on the wayside and assume for itself its self-assumed supremacy of the world was enough to claim legitimacy for the illegal war?
— Why did the US fail to accept the wisdom in inviting the UN and the Arab League to take over post-Saddam Iraq with all transparency?
— Wasn't it Rumsfeld who led the Washington camp in blindly backing Iraqi exiles who hoodwinked him into believing that they had enough influence and popularity among Iraqis in order to take charge of running the country and insisted on disbanding the Iraqi armed forces and purging the administrative establishment of Baathists as a priority in post-Saddam Iraq?
— Why did the US intelligence agencies fail to establish that the American military would not be able to ride on the wave of being "liberators" for more than a few days after the ouster of the Saddam regime unless it ensured, with proper planning, that the life of Iraqis was disrupted to the minimum?
— Why did the US military fail to realise that the infrastructure that it was destroying as if with a vengeance in the war — water and power installations and facilities that US intelligence agencies knew to be genuine industrial establishments — was vital to any reconstruction effort in post-Saddam Iraq?
— Why did the US military make a beeline for Iraq's oil installations and deploy soldiers to protect them rather than preventing the chaos in the country's civil society in the days immediately after the Saddam regime fell?
— Why did the US fail to take prompt action towards ensuring the security and safety of the Iraqis and allow anarchy to reign in the country after ousting Saddam?
— Why did the US fail to realise that uncontrollable violence and chaos would follow any military action that ousts a regime unless accompanied by a well-planned strategy to deal with such a situation?
— Why did the US fail to realise that the Iraqis, like all other Arabs, are a proud people who draw immense strength and pride from their history and would not cower before the hamburger or the fish and chip culture?
— Why did the US fail to take careful note of the fact that the history of Iraq was always bloody and full of upheavals that had turned the people of Iraq into being perpetually rebellious?
— Why did the US fail to realise that the tribal roots of Iraqis are stronger than any relation that an external force would try to impose on them and they would fight the external force first before fighting their own people?
— Why did the US military adopt actions that were predictably seen as anti-people in its drive for the elusive security in Iraq, including summary storming of family homes with little regard of Arab pride and that inflicted utter humiliation on the Iraqi society?
— Why did the US adopt an obvious attitude that everything was permissible in action against Iraqis, however tough and humiliating and wherever and whenever?
— Why did the US fail to check actions that clearly implied that benefiting American corporations with tens of billions of dollars both in American as well as Iraqi money was among its top priorities in Iraq?
— Why did the US fail to see that it would be treading on the interests of others in the world, Europeans prominent among them, with the invasion of a strategically placed, oil-rich Arab country and thus alienating them into opposing American plans for the country and staying away from helping Washington?
— Why did the US fail to realise that its biased approach to the Arab-Israeli conflict had already deprived it of credibility among the Arabs, including the Iraqis, to an extent beyond repair when it tried to portray an image of honest intentions?
The sum total of answers to these questions would clearly show that the Americans went into Iraq in order to serve their own interests as well as those of their strategic partner,  Israel, but made a total mess of things there beyond any hope of repair and got themselves into a Vietnam-like trap. And now their defence minister says that the problem needs an Iraqi solution.
Indeed, it has to be an Iraqi solution, but then, in order for that to happen the field should be cleared for the Iraqis to play the leading role, and the Iraqis have to decide who among them should lead them in that role. What the US has been doing and continuing to do is usurping that right from the people of Iraq.
Any hope of justifiably addressing the crisis in Iraq today needs direct Iraqi, Arab and international involvement in total transparency, and any American effort to deal with the problem while it zealously considers the country as its backyard is doomed to fail.