Mission accomplished. Really.
It's been two years since the photo-op that defined the Homeland's "War President." How's the accomplishment coming along?
Most reality-based critics don't hesitate to call it a catastrophic mistake, and so it is. But how's it measuring up for the war-makers? As they've demonstrated countless times, it's only their judgement that is supposed to matter. After all, it is their war.
No WMD? The measure of success for that MacGuffin was never meant to be their finding. It was the concentration of the American hive mind upon the urgency of "taking out" Saddam. Paul Wolfowitz admitted as much shortly after it became apparent the great stockpiles of apocalyptic weaponry were phantoms of convenience. It was a smashing success domestically, and even though many have since come around to understand they were told lies, enough have taken up the subsequent lie of "needing to finish the job" that the truth still can't find the elbow room. Washington never really put its heart into the international campaign, which was a reluctant sop to Colin Powell and Tony Blair (who has assumed the doomed stoicism of a blackmail victim, which could explain much). Powell is gone and Blair is bleeding, but what's the cost to Republicans to let a Labour Prime Minister twist in Bush's idiot wind?
Civil War? Let's put it this way: do you believe the idealogues of invasion ever intended to leave Iraq a strong, united country? Its atomization into impotent, submissive bantustans has been on the neoconservative agenda nearly as long as there have been neoconservatives. In 1982, Israeli journalist Oded Yinon wrote (and thanks to xymphora for the quote):
The dissolution of Syria and Iraq later on into ethnically or religiously unique areas such as in Lebanon, is Israel's primary target on the Eastern front in the long run, while the dissolution of the military power of those states serves as the primary short term target.... Iraq, rich in oil on the one hand and internally torn on the other, is guaranteed as a candidate. Its dissolution is even more important for us than that of Syria.... So, three (or more) states will exist around the three major cities: Basra, Baghdad and Mosul, and Shi'ite areas in the south will separate from the Sunni and Kurdish north.
One year ago, Robert Fisk wrote "Odd, isn't it? There never has been a civil war in Iraq. I have never heard a single word of animosity between Sunnis and Shias in Iraq":
Al-Qa'ida has never uttered a threat against Shias - even though al-Qa'ida is a Sunni-only organisation. Yet for weeks, the American occupation authorities have been warning us about civil war, have even produced a letter said to have been written by an al-Qa'ida operative, advocating a Sunni-Shia conflict. Normally sane journalists have enthusiastically taken up this theme. Civil war.
I think of the French OAS in Algeria in 1962, setting off bombs among France's Muslim Algerian community. I recall the desperate efforts of the French authorities to set Algerian Muslim against Algerian Muslim which led to half a million dead souls.
We are entering a dark and sinister period of Iraqi history. But an occupation authority which should regard civil war as the last prospect it ever wants to contemplate, keeps shouting "civil war" in our ears and I worry about that. Especially when the bombs make it real.
And just last week, Pepe Escobar wrote that "Pentagon financing of [Sunni] militias and the active involvement of Allawi in all these operations suggest that the Pentagon itself is destabilizing the country it is supposed to control. Destination: civil war." Will they get there by mistake, or by design?
It may be a cold comfort to think the Bush braintrust incompetent rather than this calculating, and I know we need to take our comforts where we can, but when they wind up with a result which is in accord with Mephistophelean calculation, what should we call them? Incredibly lucky? Again?
Casualties? To the neoconservative mind, there is even an upside here, since they seek to create a martial society out of a soft and flabby decadent republic. To get there, Americans must first become desensitized to battlefield sacrifice. Since Vietnam, the United States has known only cheap victories. But an empire worthy of global domination needs an imperial army that has tasted its own blood.
Oil? Under the occupation, Iraqi output has been reduced to a trickle. So what? The US has no immediate need for it. The objective was to steal it from potential adversaries. So again, mission acomplished. But that was secondary to the provision of bases for future aggression in the heart of the Middle East, which conveniently replaced those the US abandoned in Saudi Arabia. (Yes, the same bases which Osama bin Laden had demanded the US abandon. Talk about a quid pro quo.)
I'm not suggesting the neoconservatives are the only players, or even the most important. But they are the change agents. They see catastrophe as a necessary precursor to imperial makeover. To them, everything's going swimmingly, albeit in blood.
I suspect, and I've written, that on a deeper level the neoconservatives are themselves being played, in order to bankrupt and bleed and crash the system to effect a Global Year Zero. And those players are also working some mighty fine chaos magick.