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Thoughts on the War - The Life and Thoughts of Zach

Apr. 10th, 2003

03:28 pm - Thoughts on the War

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Just some random things I've been talking to people about about the war lately:

Thoughts on the "Short War"

Even if the war was over today, you can't call it a brief war. This has been a 12 year war. The US could not have made the military progress that it has made thus far on the ground were it not for the strategic and systematic destruction of Iraq's infrastructure 12 years ago and the decade of decay that has been in its wake. 12 years ago we wouldn't have dreamed of invading Iraq because it had one of the world's largest and most elite standing armies, it had biological and chemical weapons and a regional delivery system, it had a large amount of money, and a healthy populace that grudgingly accepted the rule of it's leader (hey at least everyone was eating and had access to health care).

During the first Gulf War, the US systematically destroyed Iraq's water supply, much of it's civilian and military communications infrastructure, key transportation capabilities, and medical infrastructure. After the war, through the sanctions system, the UN took control of the import and export of oil (primary source of wealth for the nation), furthered the degradation of the water supply (chlorine was on the sanctions list), furthered the degradation of the hospital system (ambulances were on the sanctions list), detected and destroyed almost all of the weapons of mass destruction (hurray for the effectiveness of weapons inspectors), gained huge quantities of targetting intelligence (boo for US spies working as weapons inspectors), systematically destroyed huge amounts of anti-aircraft and radar assets during "peacetime" (no fly zone enforcement, and operation desert fox in 1998 where we sent hundreds of cruise missles into bagdad to hit military targets identified by weapons inspectors/spies).

We've been engaging Iraq militarily and economically every day since 1991. Now 12 year later we were finally ready to send in the ground troops because the Iraqi military was disabled, the people are demoralized (Iraq has been effectively reduced from a first world industrialized nation to a third world nation without adequate food or water), the WMD are (and have been for a few years) effectively gone or rendered useless, and the political power of the ruling regime has been severely compromised.

Maybe W thinks this is about revenge. Maybe the American people think this is about getting rid of weapons of mass destruction. But this war has been planned and carried out meticulously through 3 (or more depending on how far back you count as "planning") administrations and it has a few simple objectives which are 1) the disciplining of a middle east oil power that dared to stand up to the US in the 1970s (xref the OPEC oil embargo) and has yet to conform to US interests wrt oil. 2) the establishment of a major military presense in the middle east which we can use to more effectively bully the other non-compliant oil nations in the region (Iran, Syria, possibly Saudi Arabia if the political climate there shifts).

Thoughts on "Partying in the Streets"

If suddenly tomorrow, for some reason, all the police and military in our country, or even just in a particular city, were neutralized...don't you think _some_ large group of people would be out in the streets partying and looting? The news reports I've seen of the "celebration" all seem to combine aspects of celebration with looting and riotting. It sounds like a complete breakdown of civil order to me. Seems like the kind of situation where the strong prey on the weak on the personal level (robbery, murder, rape, looting, etc). Is this the kind of thing the US government celebrates as the goal of it's conquest? How long will the "celebrations" last when the people find out the new regime will take years to repair the water system, that there still won't be enough food for everyone, and that the world community will turn its back and allow the promise of true democracy to be subverted by local war lords once worldwide public opinion has lost interest (check out the disheveled state of Afghanistan's "new" government...).

Thoughts on Poor Military Planning

Though all the press is celebrating our presence in Baghdad, this war is far from "over". The advancing US forces blew through southern Iraq without actually _securing_ the cities they fought their way through. Any regime that is put into place in Baghdad will not be able to rule over southern Iraq without a lot more fighting. Will the US fight that fight or will it expect the beleagered Iraqis to fight that fight? Or will the region just be left destablized (hey that's a heck of a lot better for the US's ability to establish control over the resources it wants without having to worry about an Iraqi state with consolidated sovreignity and sense of self-identity getting in the way).

Thoughts on the Fog of War

Remember that all the news we get out of Iraq right now is filtered through the fog of war. We aren't likely to know anything about the truth of what is happening there and throughout the region for several years as all the propaganda gets sorted from the facts and things get put into historical perspective.

Our instant news culture has everyone plugged into the same news sources, quoting and requoting the same news stories, lending credibility and authority to what may be highly spun half truths or outright fabrications. One well placed "Weapons of Mass Destructions may have been found" spreads like wildfire through our meme pool and by the time they report that all they really found was some fertilizer the damage has been done. Don't let the news manipulate you, not matter how compelling the story may seem, there is a good chance that it is essentially a lie.

Adam Brodsky said in a recent email:



This war is like Avril Levigne (which is french for Aavi Levine) anyway everytime I see her on the Mtv, and shes jumping around like a tiny little indie chick jumps. And she's singing about sk8er bois I think, "you go girl, that's right, you don't have to dress in outfits that give you little teenage cameltoe and strut, pout, put it out and all that. You are succeding on your own terms you adorable canadian little punkwaif"...then I think.

HEY HOLD ON A FUCKING SECOND...woah, I was almost sucked into the avril vortex, I'm supposed to be smart, and they almost fooled me. She's just as packaged as the other teen ta tas, only her packaging is supposed to look organic...fuck, they almost got me. But at the last second, I averted media hype. (go me)

Anyway, that's what I want to tell you about the war. Remember it Is genuinely fun to watch the embeds tell stories of US superiority and might and stuff. And it sure does make you feel proud to be an american.

But remember, CNN and MSNBC, and of course FOX are permitted there for a reason. To make us all feel like toby keith.

Just don't forget, that there is a ban on showing corpses. Its been an amazing war. I haven't seen a single drop of blood. My favorite part is the shock and disbelief voiced by the pentagon. They were completely unprepared for the iraqi's to fight us when all we did was preemptively invade their country...why would you shoot a soldier who is only coming to free or kill you?

Ugh.

Well, at least my Halliburten stock should go up.

Anyway remember, you're watching a show. Not the war. If you think differently , you should hang out with any cast member of the real world for a real week, you'll see it ain't like they show you on the TV.

My sister says. "anyone can look cool, as long as they pick the right 1% of your life to show".

Current Mood: infuriatedinfuriated

Comments:

From:(Anonymous)
Date:April 12th, 2003 08:18 am (UTC)
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This may be a small quibble, but I think that it is somewhat important; namely, many news organizations that certainly don't accept the US's version of events at face value were "embedded" with military units. Al-jazeera had reporters embedded w/ troops, as did the BBC, to mention two examples. Certainly, the Americans saw a sanitized version of the war (Hell, I was w/ out internet access for most of it, apparently, and didn't see very much of it, period.) But I don't think there was a systemic effort on the part of the military to control what war looks or feels like. Intelligence about troop movements, plans, yes. Spin control, definitely. I would expect no less. But the Trvth? I don't think we're that smart.

I think the understanding of the last few weeks as the culmination of a decade spanning "long war" is very perceptive. I don't think you can draw a straight line from the Oil crisis of the 70s to the last ten days as representing a coherent, focused effort to pacify badly-behaving brown people. That's seductive, but you can't have it both ways. You can't point to pictures of Don Rumsfeld shaking hands with Saddam in 1983 (not you in particular, Zach just, rhetorically speaking), and point to our past support of Hussein as evidence of our hypocrisy today, while suggesting that there has been a cohesive, escalating pattern of "disciplining" the Iraqi people and government for not cooperating with our oil requirements. Those pressures are very real, and very diabolical. I just don't think we're that smart.

All that said, it has been been three days since Hussain left power. I agree that the riots on the streets now are probably much scarier versions of the kind of stuff that happens in every city when its team wins the NBA championship. I don't think the people we have in Iraq can switch from, you know, "invading and destroying" to "administrating and rebuilding" in a days time. Give 'em a week. I'll end this, and work on a post for my own damn journal now, and flesh this out, methinks. Lots to think about.

W
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From:marezcharz
Date:April 17th, 2003 05:33 pm (UTC)

Wow!

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All I can manage to say is, "Thanks!"
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