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Monday, August 22, 2005

Victory will never be at hand

"We understand the Americans have sided with the Shi'ites. It's shocking. It doesn't fit American values. They have spent so much blood and money here, only to back the creation of an Islamist state. I can't believe that's what the Americans really want or what the American people want."

A secular Kurdish politician in Iraq expresses dismay at American claims of spreading democracy in Iraq. Fairfax's embedded Washington reporter Michael Gawenda may claim that, "there are no lessons from Vietnam that apply to Iraq", but he's clearly been spending too much time in White House briefings. "Bush's place in history depends on something he can call a victory and he has three years to do it." Victory? Gawenda's belief that "victory" is possible is laughable. What exactly does he have in mind? That Bush is still able to implement democracy in Iraq? Almost nobody believes that anymore, apart from the usual stragglers.

Back in reality land, news reports are finally giving us the perspective long denied: insurgents are taking over the country and "Coalition" forces have little or no control over large swathes and regions. Take this Guardian report from Haditha:

"A three-hour drive north from Baghdad, under the nose of an American base, it is a miniature Taliban-like state. Insurgents decide who lives and dies, which salaries get paid, what people wear, what they watch and listen to."

Or a report in Saturday's Washington Post:

"Shiite and Kurdish militias, often operating as part of Iraqi government security forces, have carried out a wave of abductions, assassinations and other acts of intimidation, consolidating their control over territory across northern and southern Iraq and deepening the country's divide along ethnic and sectarian lines, according to political leaders, families of the victims, human rights activists and Iraqi officials."

How about Robert Fisk's latest eyewitness journalism from beyond the Green Zone:

"On Friday night, this crusader castle was bathed in its usual floodlights. I was looking up at the stars over the city when there was a dull sound and a flash of light from within the Green Zone. Somewhere not far from me, someone had launched a mortar at the illuminated fishbowl that has become the symbol of occupation for all Iraqis. Many ask what will become of it when the whole Western edifice here collapses. Some say it will become insurgent headquarters, others the next parliament. My guess is that whoever runs Iraq once the occupation collapses will turn the whole thing into a theme park. Or maybe just a museum."

Where exactly is any good news? Now that government propagandist Arthur Chrenkoff is retiring, who will tell us dear readers about the progress of Western forces in Iraq? This person? How about this individual?

I can picture it now. Just like some still defend Vietnam as a necessary battle against rampaging communism, deluded souls will still be talking about the "glory days" of American imperialism in years to come. Of course, most of the world will treat these dangerous ideologues with appropriate disdain; there are always people under Western-led bombs.


Blogger Glenn Condell said...

Gawenda, Joe Gutnick hagiographer and Leunig censor, is obviously a rusted on Likudnik. At least they put his manure under the word 'comment' nowadays instead of sneaking his boosterism into the news.

Poor bloke; his neocon mates in Washington are still able to swing their dicks around, but he's aware he has to pull his horns in at the Herald. Turning it's educated readership into the sort of drones who believe what they read in the Tele or the Australian is a dirty job, but someone has to do it, and while he possesses the trademark relentlessness and resistance to both common sense and the historical record of his peers, he's not in the top grade, lacking the evasive skills of a William Kristol for example.

Today, he wrote: 'the Vietnam war was lost because America had lost confidence in itself, because the 60s cultural revolution, of which the antiwar movement was a part, had undermined American institutions and shared values'

Now it's not absolutely clear whether this is Gawenda, or Gawenda chanelling the neocons he is discussing. The blurring is probably deliberate; certainly he makes no attempt to challenge or criticise or even examine this childish and dangerous formulation. His antipathy to the baby boomer protestors by contrast is palpable.

The neocons are discussed in almost admiring tones, these chickenhearted warmongers who sent other people's children off to fight their wars.

The war was lost because it was WRONG Mr Gawenda; it was not a war of self-defense, it was a war of choice, a war of aggression, so there was no animating force, no unifying moral centre for it to cement a winning American effort. The soldiers, utterly ignorant of the people who's land they were destroying, largely took refuge in drugs. Underestimating the enemy didn't help either.

As always, the right's dreams of conquest are to blame and it's no good telling me McNamara was a Democrat... there is no real left in America, just two wings of the War Party, backed by business.

Of course, Gawenda is partly about setting us up for blaming the left again, this time for the disaster in Iraq. Cindy Sheehan will be the scapegoat in chief when it all goes pear shaped, for creating the divisons she simply gave expression to, in the continuing absence of the corporate media.

As for Bush's place in history, providing most of the op-ed slots in the media of Western democracies continue to be occupied by foot soldiers of Mr Gawenda's stripe, that place is assured.

History is after all written by the winners, but despite their conviction that they now create reality as well, I have a feeling reality might have a few surprises for them.

Monday, August 22, 2005 6:11:00 pm  
Blogger Antony Loewenstein said...

Glenn, little more than I can add. Gawenda's column is rather pathetic but is part of an increasing number of pieces in the Fairfax press, especially the Herald, defending the war. Strange, really. They simply can't bring themselves to admit reality...

Monday, August 22, 2005 6:50:00 pm  

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