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January 9, 2007

The Surge: Political Cover or Escalation?


by Paul Craig Roberts

The new year began on the hopeful note that Bush’s illegal war in Iraq would soon be ended. The repudiation of Bush and the Republicans in the November congressional election, the Iraq Study Group’s unanimous conclusion that the US needs to remove its troops from the sectarian strife Bush set in motion by invading Iraq, Donald Rumsfeld’s removal as defense secretary and his replacement by Iraqi Study Group member Robert Gates, the thumbs down given by America’s top military commanders to the neoconservatives’ plan to send more US troops to Iraq, and new polls of the US military that reveal that only a minority supports Bush’s Iraq policy, thus giving new meaning to "support the troops," are all indications that Americans have shed the stupor that has given carte blanche to George W. Bush.

When word leaked that Bush was inclined toward the "surge option" of committing more troops by keeping existing troops deployed in Iraq after their replacements had arrived, NBC News reported that an administration official "admitted to us today that this surge option is more of a political decision than a military one." It is a clear sign of exasperation with Bush when an administration official admits that Bush is willing to sacrifice American troops and Iraqi civilians in order to protect his own delusions.

The American establishment, concerned by Bush’s egregious mismanagement, moved to take control of Iraq policy away from him. However, recent news reports and analysis suggest that Bush has turned his back to the American establishment and his military advisers and is throwing in his lot with the neoconservatives and the Israeli lobby. This will further isolate Bush and make him more vulnerable to impeachment.

In the January 5 issue of CounterPunch John Walsh gives a good description of the struggle between the American establishment and the neocons.

Peter Spiegel, the Pentagon correspondent for the Los Angeles Times, reported on January 4 that the neocons have used the failure of the administration’s policy in Iraq to convince Bush to launch an aggressive counterinsurgency requiring the buildup of troop levels by extending deployments beyond the agreed terms.

Raed Jarrar suggests that the Shi’ite militias, such as the one led by Sadr, are the intended targets of the "surge option." There seems no surer way to escalate the conflict in Iraq than to attack the Shi’ite militias. For longer than the US fought Germany in WWII, 150,000 US troops in Iraq have been thwarted by a small insurgency drawn from Iraq’s minority population of Sunnis. It hardly seems feasible that 30,000 additional US troops, demoralized by extended deployment, can succeed in a surge against the Shi’ite militias when 150,000 US troops cannot succeed against the minority Sunnis.

The reason the US has not been driven out of Iraq is that the majority Shi’ites have not been part of the insurgency. The Shi’ites are attacking the Sunnis, who are forced to fight a two-front war against US troops and Shi’ite militias and death squads.The US owes its presence in Iraq, just as the colonial powers always owed their presence in the Middle East, to the disunity of Arabs. Western domination of the Muslim world succeeded by not picking a fight with all of the disunited Arabs at the same time.

Attacking the Shi’ite militias while fighting a Sunni insurgency would violate this rule. If Bush ignores US military commanders and expert opinion and accepts the surge option advanced by the delusional neocon allies of Israel’s right-wing Likud Party, US troops will be engulfed in general insurgency. This is why General John Abizaid resigned on January 5. He wants no part of the Republican Party’s sacrifice of US soldiers to sectarian conflict.

In recent Senate Armed Services Committee hearings, Republican Senator John McCain, who believes in the efficacy of violence and not in diplomacy, pressed General Abizaid to request more US troops to be sent to Iraq. General Abizaid replied as follows:

"Senator McCain, I met with every divisional commander, General Casey, the core commander, General Dempsey, we all talked together. And I said, in your professional opinion, if we were to bring in more American troops now, does it add considerably to our ability to achieve success in Iraq? And they all said no."

Bush is like Hitler. He blames defeats on his military commanders, not on his own insane policy. Like Hitler, he protects himself from reality with delusion. In his last hours, Hitler was ordering non-existent German armies to drive the Russians from Berlin.

By manipulating Bush and provoking a military crisis in which the US stands to lose its army in Iraq, the neoconservatives hope to revive the implementation of their plan for US conquest of the Middle East. They believe they can use fear, "honor," and the aversion of macho Americans to ignoble defeat to expand the conflict in response to military disaster. The neocons believe that the loss of an American army would be met with the electorate’s demand for revenge. The barriers to the draft would fall, as would the barriers to the use of nuclear weapons.

Neocon godfather Norman Podhoretz set out the plan for Middle East conquest several years ago in Commentary magazine. It is a plan for Muslim genocide. In place of physical extermination of Muslims, Podhoretz advocates their cultural destruction by deracination. Islam is to be torn out by the roots and reduced to a purely formal shell devoid of any real beliefs.

Podhoretz disguises the neoconservative attack against diversity with contrived arguments, but its real purpose is to use the US military to subdue Arabs and to create space for Israel to expand.

Not enough Americans are aware that this is what the "war on terror" is all about.


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    Paul Craig Roberts wrote the Kemp-Roth bill and was assistant secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. He was associate editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial page and contributing editor of National Review. He is author or co-author of eight books, including The Supply-Side Revolution (Harvard University Press). He has held numerous academic appointments, including the William E. Simon chair in political economy, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Georgetown University, and senior research fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University. He has contributed to numerous scholarly journals and testified before Congress on 30 occasions. He has been awarded the U.S. Treasury's Meritorious Service Award and the French Legion of Honor. He was a reviewer for the Journal of Political Economy under editor Robert Mundell.

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