January 26, 2007
Iraq and the Ghost of Johnnie Cochran
It was a wickedly simple strategy. It still is. Killer becomes accuser, cop gets crucified, killer walks.
Brentwood the stage then, Baghdad the stage now.
But the play is the same.
Every horror in Iraq today - killing, kidnapping, refugee - was more horrid under Saddam. There was no hope. There was only Saddam.
"I offer my soul to God as a sacrifice, and if He wants, He will send it to heaven with the martyrs"
No matter that his Iraq was more savage than Darfur and rivaled Rwanda.
No matter that thousands fled in terror from him; thousands died grotesquely because of him; thousands of children shriveled into corpses malnourished due to him; rape rooms screamed to the delight of him; bodies twisted, tortured on orders from him; power, marshlands, minds were corroded because of him: so Saddam could be esteemed as supreme, worshipped even more than the God he professed to adore while he whored Iraq.
He would have been even more horrid had he still reigned.
Freed from sanctions, fueled by cash, rebuilding weapons he was determined to gain again - and with Iran arming next door - Saddam would have shown Ahmadinejad how to make the world tremble.
Stories gloated about what Iraq Study Group inspector Charles Duelfer did not find in Iraq after Saddam fell. And junked what he did find.
"Saddam never abandoned his intentions to resume a CW [Chemical Warfare] effort when sanctions were lifted and conditions were judged favorable"
"ISG judges that Iraq maintained the expertise and equipment necessary for R&D of bacteria, fungi, viruses, and toxins that could be used as BW [Biological Warfare] agents up until Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) in March 2003"
"Saddam aspired to develop a nuclear capability-in an incremental fashion, irrespective of international pressure and the resulting economic risks-but he intended to focus on ballistic missile and tactical chemical warfare (CW) capabilities."
"He wanted nuclear weapons to guarantee his legacy and to compete with powerful and antagonistic neighbors; to him, nuclear weapons were necessary for Iraq to survive."
"The Iraqis never intended to meet the spirit of the UN resolutions. Outward acts of compliance belied a covert desire to resume WMD activities."
"The Regime sought a favorable relationship with France because France was influential as a permanent member of the UN Security Council and was in a good position to help Iraq with lifting sanctions."
"as part of his efforts to escape sanctions, Saddam launched a vigorous campaign to shape international opinion. The Regime drew attention to everything from poor sanitation to the absence of electric power; the main effort, however, focused on the impact of sanctions upon children, especially those under five years of age."
For twelve years Saddam stalled, dodged, deceived. UN inspectors proved he had built Weapons of Mass Destruction, demanded proof he no longer had them, ordered him under international law to reveal everything, destroy nothing, turn all - weapons, precursors, plans, plants, documents, equipment - over to UN inspectors.
And received only lie after lie after lie sworn to be truth.
Not one of the UN inspection chiefs - not Rolf Ekeus, not Richard Butler, not Hans Blix, not Mohamed ElBaradei - could prove he no longer had prohibited weapons. Nor did they need to: it was for Saddam - and only Saddam - to convince the world he had nothing.
Colin Powell put it bluntly:
"The resolution does not call for them to go snooping all over Iraq to see what they can find; the resolution puts the burden not on the inspectors but on Saddam Hussein to come forward, complete declaration, full cooperation, and telling us everything that has been going on in Baghdad and throughout Iraq, lo these many years, with respect to weapons of mass destruction."
Instead, Saddam used children as pawns, sympathy pawns to lift sanctions - not for the children - but so he could rearm. Not a single child mattered to him - sacrifices all on his altar to himself. His charade mattered most. Saddam, short order cook ready to fire up, would reign. And be remembered. Uday might succeed him, Qusay might: but neither would be Saddam.
Nebuchadnezzar. Saladin. Saddam. Gods walking the face of the earth. But only Saddam would have weapons that could destroy the earth.
His would-be successors would be even worse.
They too kill - but for here-and-now power, using religion as a mask, suckering those also without soul to die crying "God is great."
As they blast children into scraps of flesh, tidbits of bone.
Cannibals, devouring even their own, to rule.
Saddam used sympathy to get what he sought. His would-be successors use "civil war."
There is no civil war in Iraq. There is no sectarian war in Iraq. There is a power war in Iraq to see who rules - and how.
Al Qaeda would rule as the Taliban ruled Afghanistan. It would use Iraq as Al Qaeda used Afghanistan: to attack, fueled this time by 115 billion barrels of oil. At $60 dollars a barrel, what weapons couldn't it buy?
Al Qaeda is pledged to get WMD. Pledged to use WMD. Pledged to destroy the United States. It cares nothing about life. It cares only about death.
Saddamists would rule as Saddam did: ruthlessly, vengefully, destroying all who brought Saddam down, jeered as he hung, paraded at his death, mocked his name.
Shia fanatics would rule as Iran is ruled. America - Satan - would know Hell. This earth does not matter. Its end does not matter. Death to America matters.
Seventy percent of Iraqi voters instead sought peace, still seek peace. They understand what the 57-nation Organization of the Islamic Conference - Sunni and Shia both - meant when it issued
"a reminder to all Muslim in Iraq of the immense gravity of killing others Muslims, which is considered by Islam as a crime against humanity."
The OIC - "Muslim scholars and the religious establishments in Iraq, Shiite or Sunni combined" - went on:
"every Iraqi will be facing his responsibilities towards his Creator, his faith, his homeland, and his people, if he opts to get himself involved in the sectarian killing, an act which is totally abhorred by the religion"
The OIC's Secretary-General further stressed
- "crimes that Islam strongly forbids but which are used as justification for acts unknown in the religion,"
- "the tide of sedition in Iraq,"
- "the inviolability of the blood of an Iraqi whoever he may be"
- "sedition is worse than killing,"
- "sin and acts of disobedience of God hiding behind the name of religion,"
"this august gathering of eminent Muslim scholars and jurisprudential authorities are determined to put an end to the bloodshed, the killing of innocent human beings, the spreading of evil and wickedness on the earth, the terrorization of the innocent, and filling Iraq with scores of thousands of orphans, widows, and women dispossessed of their children or husbands."
He quoted Ayatollah Sistani saying
"what exist in Iraq was not sectarian strife between Iraqi Shiites and Muslim but political crisis"
and reminding all Iraqis
"to stop all forms of violence against each other so that scenes of car bombs, indiscriminate assassinations, forced expulsions and other tragic scenes will disappear forever."
Ayatollah Sheikh Al Yaqubi proclaimed:
"The violence being witnessed in Iraq is not sectarian as Shiites and Sunnis had up till now lived as brothers loving one another, but largely political championed by the politicians"
Ayatollah Sheikh Bashir Al-Najafi adamantly stated
"the root of bloodshed in Iraq is not sectarian but rather political differences."
The Secretary-General of the Commission of Muslim Scholars declared:
"What is taking place in Iraq is not a civil war; and those who claim so are indeed doing injustice to this country."
Another declaration reinforced this stance:
"These fundamental principles apply equally to the Sunnis and the Shiites without exception.."
"it is incumbent upon all Muslims to adopt caution and vigilance against all attempts to sow division among them, break their ranks, or incite sedition, strife, and hate to corrupt their divine spiritual bonds with each other."
"The Sunnite and Shiite scholars support all efforts aimed at achieving comprehensive national reconciliation in Iraq"
The press, of course, printed nothing of that, preferring instead their spin of civil/sectarian war. There is no civil war, no sectarian war in Iraq. There is arson. And the arsonist is Al Qaeda.
Its spectacular attacks and suicide bombs are Al Qaeda's version of "Shock and Awe" geared to goad Shias to forget their faith and attack, Sunnis to attack back.
Which is why Al Qaeda destroyed the Golden Mosque in Samarra just as it had the Twin Towers in New York.
The Towers were known by Americans, but they were not revered by Americans. The mosque was revered by, sacred to, Shias. Which is why Al Qaeda destroyed it. And gleefully watched as Shias erupted against Sunnis, Sunnis erupted back. Precisely as Al Qaeda had planned.
Twin Towers: Al Qaeda brought them down. Twin Powers - the US and the Soviet Union - Al Qaeda would bring them down, just as it did the Twin Buddhas in Afghanistan. September 11 was one step to defeating America; February 22 - George Washington's birthday - was a second step, the day the Samarra mosque fell, digging a pit for America to fall again.
Al Qaeda would have the world believe Sunnis and Shias are vengeful all, enemies all to the death. No matter that tribe after Iraqi tribe is mixed, with Sunnis and Shias intermarried. No matter that Iraqi Kurds are Sunni and Shia and at peace with each other. No matter that Kurdish Sunni outnumber Iraqi Arab Sunni. No matter that Iraq's interim president, Sunni Ghazi Al Yawar, said while president:
"We resent being called Shiites and Sunnis and Kurds the same way you resent somebody come to you and say, Are you Catholic or Protestant? Are you a Christian or a Jew? We are all Iraqis. We want to melt into the Iraqi identity. This is very important to us.
"These expressions were imported to Iraq... Iraqis are the last people to think about civil unrest. We would be the sole losers."
"My 6-year-old nephew called me from Mosul and he said, Congratulations, uncle. So you are the president.... So you going to kill 50% of the Iraqi society? And I said, My God, how heavy the weight on our shoulders is. It's not to rehabilitate, it's to re-create a nation."
Terrorists - Al Qaeda, Saddamists, Shia fanatics - create chaos, confusion, frustration so that America throws up its hands, throws down its arms, and leaves - leaving Iraq to them.
If America had set out to conquer Iraq, it could have done so long ago, crushing Iraq as it did Japan, leveling Iraq as it did Germany. That is not what Operation Iraqi Freedom sought. It's not what these four years have been about.
"Conquer" Iraq and it would have become to Arabs what Israel is now; but worse. An endless river of jihadists would have rushed to Iraq as they did to Afghanistan when the Soviets tried to conquer it. While others seeped into America to finish what they started on September 11.
Instead, the US set out to do what's never been done before: simultaneously topple a tyrant, aid in reconstituting a nation, help in rebuilding that country. The Marshall Plan didn't begin until three years after Germany fell from a six-year war and took two more years to complete: eleven years from war to reconstruction.
Iraq has had a third as much time.
American success brought on the savagery in Iraq today: Saddam dead, Uday dead, Qusay dead, Zarqawi dead, the deck of cards shredded, constitution endorsed by an enormous majority, parliament seated and legislating on topics no other Arab country would touch, prime minister taking charge, schools and clinics and water and electricity and commerce rising.
Would-be successors see Iraq slipping out of their grasp. And so they attack.
No wonder then that Central Command General John Abizaid said to the US Senate:
"when I come to Washington I feel despair. When I'm in Iraq with my commanders, when I talk to our soldiers, when I talk to the Iraqi leadership, they are not despairing. They believe that they can move the country toward stability with our help. And I believe that."
But no one heard that. Or this.
"when I go to the field, the soldiers are uniformly confident about their ability to face this enemy; make Iraq, Afghanistan, whatever area they happen to be operating in, better; defeat the terrorists wherever they find them, and they all understand it's going to take time."
Nor did anyone heard him add:
"It's very interesting that we testified on Capitol Hill for about nine hours and we take the nine-second sound bites out that seem to get the most headlines."
Who heard General Peter Chiarelli when he said,
"when I was over here in my first year, the issues of sectarianism were something that were possibly below the surface, but when you talked to Iraqis, they considered themselves Iraqis. And there wasn't a single situation that I remember in my first year where they pointed to the difference between Sunni and Shi'a when you went down into the neighborhoods. When you went down into the neighborhoods in Baghdad, where I was the first time, you found mixed neighborhoods of Sunnis and Shi'as who had lived together for many, many years. And quite frankly, neighbors didn't know what the sect of each other was."
He also noted:
"I think the Golden Mosque bombing was absolutely critical. In my two years here, there's not been a single more definitive event that seemed to have changed the way Iraqis looked at themselves and looked at their country."
And Al Qaeda, Johnnie-on-the-spot, smiled.
Who heard British Lt. General Graeme Lamb, Deputy Commander of Multinational Force-Iraq - just last week - say:
"What I see right now is a huge commitment by the Iraqis, politically and militarily, to the endeavor we're now engaged upon. In short, I still believe we can do this."
"I see a commitment with this government that I have not seen before. And don't forget, they've only been in power for, what, some 240 days. It took you 11 years to write your Constitution, and we're still trying to write ours."
"I see the Sunni community looking towards to come back into the political process. I see this government, this prime minister dealing with the militias. We are judged by our actions in this world, and I do see them taking the right actions."
Then why do Americans - by the thousands - re-enlist and return to Iraq after they've served in Iraq? Why do thousands more volunteer to serve knowing they might head to Iraq? Why is Cindy Sheehan dying for attention, while her son only died to serve?
How many Americans know that, before the First Cavalry arrived, Sadr City had 61% unemployment, no electricity or drinking water and sewage two-feet deep? That 1st Cav conducted over 800 engineering projects, constructed 600 schools, hired 20,000 Iraqis, pumped millions in the economy - and that Cindy Sheehan's son was part of that force?
That he enlisted, re-enlisted, chose to volunteer - and died - rescuing fellow troops so they could get back to rebuilding?
For the press, the answer is simple: If you build it, they'll be bored.
Sadr, Sharpton: One.
Iraq will soon see what Prime Minister Al-Maliki already knows: Sadr needs Maliki more than Maliki needs Sadr.
Sadr heard his elders preach and scold him indirectly. He sees his factions split and knows he's losing his political and military base. Without followers he is nothing, just as is Sharpton without cameras.
Sadr is Maliki's Joe McCarthy. Truman urged Eisenhower to berate the senator; Ike chose to let him ruin himself by himself. He did.
Sadr will, too.
Saddam no longer rules Iraq;
but the ghost of Johnnie Cochran does: killer becomes accuser, cop gets crucified, killer walks.
Frame the debate, and you can frame anyone.