Daily Kos
Political analysis and other daily rants on the state of the nation

Wednesday | July 30, 2003

Our priorities in Iraq, water, power, lights camera, action

By Steve Gilliard

Col. Hackworth kindly points out the following:

The word is that Gen. John Abizaid has a highly paid civilian public-relations adviser on his staff, Jim Wilkinson, reported to be a “Republican operative” formerly at the White House who rakes in more than $100,000 a year and holds the equivalent rank of a major general. I’m told he actually wore a uniform while advising Tommy Franks on how to package the invasion to please the patriots back home and play the polls – although, of course, what we were told wasn’t exactly true. Remember poor, exploited Jessica Lynch – how she was positioned as the 21st-century answer to Audie Murphy?

We might all be better served if Gen. Abizaid had reality advisers on staff – say, for example, guerrilla-war pros with hands-on experience. Abizaid could use what he learned from these old soldiers, who wrote the book on putting down insurgents, to start turning the war around. The real deal might become so positive that Central Command could give the spin a miss.

See, the Col. is out of touch. Why would the US Army want people who actually fought guerillas and cared about their troops as more than a means for promotion? Not to say Abizaid doesn't love his people, but he sure did spend a lot of time chasitising them for complaining instead of actually visiting the unit and talking to them and finding out why they were complaining. I may be old fashioned, but the idea that one could visit the men they command and listen to their grips seems to have faded away into history.

Better to take his PR team and focus on successful stories, like intelligence by kidnapping, shooting up private homes and coming up empty and starting riots in politically sensitive places.

You know, in Vietnam, when someone was given the equivilency rank of general, well, they helped run provinces. supported the South Vietnamese Army. But now, since there is no Iraqi government or army to help fight those pesky guerillas. it makes perfect sense to hire some GOP gnome to explain away all that death and destruction.

Seriously, I think Hack's ideas would be sound if there was a government in place to support us. But there isn't and won't be. We're not fighting a guerilla war in the modern sense. We're fighting a colonial war and those wars never end. They may pause, but they never end. We may get people loyal to a paycheck or a nominal government, but we've created a colonial situation where national identity means one has to oppose the occupier at some point.No matter what our proclaimed intentions are, there is no legitimate, elected government.

If you study colonial warfare, you'll notice no lack of wars to discuss. They fade and pop up over and over. Why? Because the colonizers have no legitimate claim to power. Even if the Iraqis had accepted us at first, at some point a nationalist opposition would arise, regardless of Saddam or Islam or anything else.

Now, I'm not saying we want to own Iraq or make Iraqis Americans. But the structure we've set up in Iraq harks back to the end of the 19th Century colonial period and that is not a sustainable structure, regardless of the tactics used. While most Iraqis want stability, they want short term stability, not a long term occupation. Anything which isn't geared towards turning over power to Iraqis is doomed.

So of course, Abizaid needs a PR man. He needs someone to create good news, because very little will be found on the ground as long as we're there.

Posted July 30, 2003 01:41 AM


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