Chris Knipp Writing: Movies, Politics, Art

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 10, 2003 6:01 pm 
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The Coalition clones the IDF and mimics Israeli killing methods in Iraq

Iraq is already turning into another Israel. And those who look further ahead see another Vietnam.

The bombing of UN headquarters in Iraq on August 20th ended any hope that the US occupation might be working. What is working is the armed resistance, a coalition of Sunni and Shi'a, Baathists but not led by Saddam, Iraqis fighting along with other Arabs -- some of the latter, no doubt, with ties to Al Qaeda.

That same week in August, James P. Pinkerton wrote in Newsday that if America chose to “persevere” in Iraq we would be just like the Israelis, who have “persevered” in Israel against the Palestinians for 36 years with increasingly “violent and tragic results.” “Do we really want to be fighting Arabs on their home turf for decades to come?” Pinkerton asked. Iraq will become America’s West Bank and Gaza, he argued.

It seemed from the outset that the US troops were likely to fall into a similar role in occupied Iraq to the one the IDF plays in the Palestinian territories. It was Israel’s strongest supporters who pushed most forcefully for the Iraq invasion. The similarity between Americans in Iraq and Israelis in occupied Palestine could only grow with time.

It’s not only the role, but the mindset, that is similar. Bush’s promise to “stay the course” and press on to “total victory” means that if he has his way, the US will remain as firmly locked into its Iraqi quagmire as Israel is to its doomed subjugation of the increasingly desperate and angry Palestinian population in the occupied territories.

And the two lands, so different in size, are reduced to the same ugly rubble. Israel is being turned into a vast concentration camp. Its Bantustans are rimmed with a “fence” that’s really a land-grabbing apartheid wall supposedly designed to maintain “security" but really a guarantee of full-time hostility from the Palestinians -- and increasing insecurity for the Israelis. ("Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,/That wants it down.") Sharon’s wall has become the outward symbol of Palestinian rage -- a vast monument to the inhumanity and genocidal aims of the occupiers.

American causes of growing Iraqi rage are visible everywhere as well: the 150,000 troops roaming and killing civilians at a rate of 15-25 a day; the ruins of houses and government buildings; the maimed bodies of the 1,000 children newly injured by unexploded ordnance since the war “ended” and the “mission” was “accomplished”; the increased malnutrition, sickness, and unemployment produced by the attack; the daily and nightly danger and lawlessness throughout the land which the “coalition” troops are powerless to stop.

Last month the American troops had the heaviest losses since the invasion of Iraq. This week we have had Seymour Hersh’s New Yorker story about the new tactics in response (“Moving Targets,” December 15). There are Special Forces units of unknown numbers being sent to work in secrecy in Iraq on targeted killings. These American troops are now being directly trained by the Israelis at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and are meant to emulate Israeli commando units. Their training is also described in a Guardian story by Julian Borger. Eventually, various sources say, Israeli advisors will be working full time in Iraq with the American forces.

A New York Times article by Dexter Filkins describes how in Iraq now, as in Israel, whole populations are being cut off by razor wire fencing and guards and forced to go through checkpoints. Just as in the occupied Palestinian territories, Iraqi houses are destroyed by American troops now, without warning, to eliminate insurgent leaders. In this country where virtual concentration camps at hidden locations already contain thousands of citizens, relatives of suspected guerrillas are now being imprisoned to force them to turn themselves in.

All this may have relieved some of the danger to the American soldiers, but it has increased the hostility of the Iraqis.

In Lebanon The Daily Star ran an opinion piece whose headline read "West Bank East: Americans in Iraq make war the Israeli way." This theme is summarized with many links by Matthew Clark in his article,"Concrete, razor wire, ID cards," in the Christian Science Monitor.

What is the gist of all this? That our worst predictions are coming true. That the US is digging in deeper and deeper; that the conflict in Iraq, not to mention Afghanistan, is getting uglier and uglier; and that the Iraqis are saying things like "I see no difference between us and the Palestinians." The Arabs always knew that Israel was America’s greatest ally in the Middle East. Now the two countries are becoming indistinguishable to Iraqis.

While the hand of the Israelis is clearly visible, Seymour Hersh raises the possibility that this new escalation means the Bush administration is going to "repeat the mistakes of Vietnam." The commando strategy in Vietnam did not succeed because the intelligence was poor. Now the US is going to rely on former operatives of the Iraqi Mukhabarat (Saddam’s intelligence organization) -- who will use assassinations for personal vendettas. The Baath party is run by a cell system, Hersh says: you cannot penetrate it. But even if the targeted assassinations are successful, the whole plan is faulty: Israeli advisors are warning that if the insurgent leadership is wiped out, the resistance will become freelance and even harder to control. That's what has happened in Israel.

The new aggressive approach is doomed to fail. Even if it succeeds tactically, it will fail strategically by building hatred in Iraq and throughout the Arab Middle East.

From the beginning the Bush administration’s response to terrorism has fulfilled every terrorist’s dreams and attracted new recruits in the hidden war against western capitalism and American imperialism. And that American failure is compounded by the increasingly direct link between the US and Israel in Bush’s Iraq war.

©Chris Knipp. Blog:

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