President Bush, U.S. Sen. John McCain and other supporters of the war on Iraq continue to deceive the American people by mischaracterizing the situation there. War supporters argue that the war in Iraq is the central front in a war against ``terrorism'' and that if we don't fight the terrorists there we will have to fight them here later. This is a ludicrous assertion.
This falsehood goes back to the lies advanced by the Bush administration in the propaganda campaign to market the war that Iraq was involved in the Sept. 11 attacks and had operational ties to al-Qaida. There was no evidence of such ties or involvement.
We must understand the violence in Iraq is not caused by ``terrorists'' but by the American military occupation. Our presence there does not prevent violence -- it causes it. The ``enemy'' we are fighting in Iraq is the Iraqi people who are resisting the belligerent occupation of their country, as many of us would do. The ``insurgents'' are various Sunni and some Shiite militias who are resisting the American occupation and the puppet government that the United States is attempting to impose.
There are a small number of foreign jihadists, including some members of al-Qaida, who have come into Iraq since the U.S. invasion. But they are a very small presence, only 1,000 to 2,000 strong according to the Iraq Study Group. A February report of the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency noted that ``attacks by terrorist groups account for only a fraction of insurgent violence.''
According to most experts on the Middle East, this small group of foreign terrorists has no ability to come to the U.S., no ability to take over the Iraqi government and will be driven from Iraq as soon as the U.S. leaves. As University of Michigan Middle Eastern history professor Juan Cole points out, ``Turkey, Jordan and Iran are not going to put up with an al-Qaida stronghold on their borders; nor would Shiite and Kurdish Iraqis.''
Rather than fighting terrorism, the invasion of Iraq has caused more terrorism. In a recent report, the Oxford Research Group noted that ``treating Iraq as part of the war on terror only spawned new terror in the region and created a combat training zone for jihadists.'' Thus, continuing this war makes us less safe from future terrorism, not more.
Again, it is critical to understand that the central source of the violence in Iraq is the illegal United States invasion and occupation. The invasion and occupation has caused the deaths of an estimated 650,000 Iraqis according to the best scientific study published in The Lancet. It has resulted in more than 3,000 American deaths.
Sunni insurgents resisting the brutal actions of the occupation and its administration attack U.S. forces and Shiite collaborators. Shiite militias take revenge on Sunnis. Many of these Shiite militias are a significant part of the Iraqi army and police force. In fact, as Tom Hayden points out, the new de facto U.S. policy in Iraq is ``to support, fund, arm and train a sectarian Shi'a-Kurdish state, one engaged in ethnic cleansing, mass detention and murder of Sunni Arabs.'' U.S. support of this Shi'a-Kurdish state allows the current Iraqi government to avoid compromise.
The violence will continue until the American occupation ends. As Cole argues, ``The key to preventing an intensified civil war is U.S. withdrawal from the equation so as to force the parties to an accommodation. Therefore, the United States should announce its intention to withdraw its military forces from Iraq, which will bring Sunnis to the negotiating table and put pressure on Kurds and Shiites to seek a compromise with them.''
Furthermore, as it withdraws its military forces, the U.S. should work cooperatively with the United Nations to convene a regional conference, that must include Iran, Syria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan, for the purpose of developing a security, stabilization and reconstruction plan for Iraq along the lines suggested by George McGovern and William Polk in their book, ``Out of Iraq.''
Some commentators think nothing can be done to salvage Iraq at this point. That may be true, but ending the occupation offers the best chance to stop the violence and give Iraqis a chance to determine their own fate.
Just another Reality-based bubble in the foam of the multiverse.
Monday, May 28, 2007
Dr. Ron Kramer of Western Michigan University: