Play It Again Sam! (A Look Back on the increasing resistance of The U.S. Military in Iraq, by the Iraqi Resistance: November 19, 2003)
With the increasingly deadly spate of attacks by Iraqi resistance forces culminating in the November 2nd downing of a US Chinook helicopter killing 16 GIs in the second deadliest day of the war, the Administration is growing increasingly desperate in its attempts to paint its Iraq adventure as a success in an effort to reduce what most political pundits agree is its greatest electoral vulnerability in the months prior to the next presidential election. Larry Sabato, a pollster at the University of Virginia forecasts trouble in Camelot. “If casualties continue at this rate, Bush will lose the next election; I don’t care how good the economy is. Americans are clearly seeing Iraq as Vietnam without the jungle.”
There appears to be a concerted effort by the Administration to engage in a perception management campaign and whitewash all of the bad news and increasing casualties occurring in Iraq to prevent further erosion of public support for its questionable policies. On October 26th, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz narrowly missed being killed by a rocket attack mounted against the Al-Rashid hotel where he was staying by increasingly emboldened Iraqi resistance forces. Following this attack, the President responded by stating that the latest attacks provided clear evidence that the Administration’s Iraq policy was succeeding because they showed the desperation of those who oppose the US-led occupation.
That statement led Senator John McCain (R-AZ), one of the nation’s leading neocon warhawks to exclaim, “This is the first time that I have seen a parallel to Vietnam, in terms of information that the administration is putting out versus the actual situation on the ground.” Retired Marine Lieutenant General Paul Van Riper was even harsher in his criticisms. He stated that the administration’s behavior is “almost a repeat” of Vietnam-era rhetoric. “For the president to say these attacks show we are winning is almost Orwellian,” Van Riper concluded. The President appears either increasingly divorced from the reality of the situation in Iraq or unwilling to admit the failure of US policy there or perhaps both.
The administration’s credibility with the American people has taken a serious dive as a result of its latest PR attempt to divert public attention away from its failure in Iraq to find any of Saddam’s purported WMD stocks, capture Saddam, stem the rising death toll among US troops and defeat the Iraqi resistance. For the first time since the war began, a recent Newsweek poll shows that a majority of the American people disapprove of the President’s performance with regards to Iraq.
Many seasoned US military veterans are finding the smoke and mirrors emanating from the Administration all too familiar. “We heard the garbage and the lies,” retired Marine general Anthony Zinni told a group of Marine Corps officers Sept. 4, referring to the government’s handling of news in Vietnam. “We saw the sacrifice, and we swore never again would we allow it to happen,” said Zinni, who fought in Vietnam and went on to command all U.S. forces in the Middle East before retiring in 2000. “And I ask you, is it happening again?” Retired Army Lieutenant General Dan Christman says that if the United States is struggling to maintain order in Iraq a year from now, a battalion of dissenters could grow into a small army. “There are an awful lot of retired officers who agree with General Zinni,” he says. “This really resonates.” Other retired general officers who’ve publicly challenged the handling of the war are Major General Nash, former secretary of the Army Thomas White, General Barry McCaffrey, and former NATO Supreme Commander, General Wesley Clark.
Contrary to the image that the Administration is attempting to portray, time may not be on the coalition’s side. U.S. intelligence and military officials are now saying U.S. forces in Iraq have a limited time to break the resistance before the general population joins it. In its October 28th edition, the Washington Post quoted a senior intelligence official who estimated that the United States has a three-to-six-month window to put down the resistance. The military believes that insurgencies like the one in Iraq coalesce into larger rebellions if allowed to fester.
The number of attacks on US troops in Iraq per day has nearly tripled, going from a dozen attacks a day in July to an average of thirty-three attacks a day in late October. The Al-Rashid hotel bombing and the shoot-down of a US Chinook helicopter the following weekend made for one of the bloodiest weeks of the US occupation of Iraq. Together, they present a more accurate picture of the Administration’s ongoing failure to restore peace and security to Iraq, belying their recent public relations offensive to “put a happy face” on the occupation.
These increasingly successful enemy attacks call into question the Administration’s entire Iraq policy, which is in desperate need of immediate and radical revision in order to save the lives of hundreds if not thousands of US soldiers who will otherwise end up dying in Iraq during the next several years. Swift changes in US policy in Iraq are required to counteract the increased threat of terrorism and the rising trend of global anti-Americanism which have arisen from the unprovoked US invasion and subsequent botched US occupation of Iraq.
The truth is that the level of US casualties in Iraq is completely unacceptable. Worse, these casualties are completely unnecessary seeing that the continued US occupation and US taxpayer rebuilding of Iraq does not serve US interests. Our troops are not expendable as the neocons, who believe that their deaths are necessary sacrifices in their continuing quest to set up a new American Empire centered in the Middle East, would have us believe.
A decade from now, a majority of US historians will likely look back upon the present conflict in Iraq as an unnecessary war in which hundreds if not thousands of brave American soldiers lost their lives only to see America stage a humiliating retreat in the face of mounting casualties. They will recall that these casualties were inflicted by an increasingly numerous and well-coordinated guerilla enemy which began with a few sporadic attacks and ended with a nationwide rebellion against US imperial occupation. They will describe the conflict as America’s second Vietnam War. Will they also record this war as the main issue that brought down a once popular US President? Only time will tell. ***
David T Pyne currently serves as DUV-PAC Chairman, President of the Utah Republican Assembly, and as Vice President for the Association of the United States Army’s Utah Chapter. A former national security expert, he has served as President of the Center for the National Security Interest, worked as a defense contractor and International Programs Manager, as an International Analyst for the Office of the Secretary of Defense and Department of the Navy, and as a Research Assistant for the Center for Security Policy.