"Stability is an unworthy American mission, and a misleading concept to boot. We do not want stability in Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and even Saudi Arabia; we want things to change. The real issue is not whether, but how to destabilize." Michael Ledeen (The Wall Street Journal, 9/4/02)
In his report on the "American drawdown" in Iraq, the Sydney Morning Herald's Paul McGeough has cited some truly gob-smacking stuff:
"In a pre-departure interview with The New York Times, the commander of US forces in Iraq, General Ray Odierno, tapped into these [gloomy] assessments [by Iraqi civilians (quoted earlier in McGeough's report)]. 'We came in naive about what the problems were in Iraq. I don't think we understood what I call the societal devastation', he said, alluding to the Iran-Iraq War, the Gulf War and international sanctions which, from 1990-2003, decimated the middle classes. 'And then we attacked to overthrow the government'."
We came in naive, did we? No we didn't. We knew exactly what we were doing: we invaded Iraq not for any of the specious reasons given at the time (WMDs etc), and not even for regime change as such, but to destroy it root and branch, both as a nation and a society. (See my 3/12/09 post Revolted)
We didn't understand the societal devastation resulting from the Iran-Iraq War? Yet without our propping up of Saddam in that war, including providing the ingredients for his chemical and biological weapons arsenal, the Iranians would have finished him off in the 80s.
We didn't understand the societal devastation resulting from the Gulf War? Really? Didn't our ambassador tell Saddam in April 1990 that "we have no opinion on the Arab-Arab conflicts, like your disagreement with Kuwait," giving him a virtual green light to invade? Didn't we allow Israel to attack and occupy its neighbours and get away with it, thus suggesting to Saddam that he could do the same? And didn't we subject Iraq's civilian infrastructure to saturation bombing?
We didn't understand the societal devastation of international sanctions? Yet we were responsible for using the UN to starve and degrade Iraqi society from 1990 to 2003, resulting in the deaths of over 500,000 Iraqi children.
And we came in naive after all that?
"Acknowledging America's failure to understand Iraq's ethnic and sectarian divisions, the commander was surprisingly frank when asked if the invasion and its aftermath had exacerbated them: 'I don't know... all these issues that we didn't understand and that we had to work our way through. And did that cause it to get worse? Maybe'."
"These Iraqi and American sentiments and their implications for the future were reflected in the judgment of a Western diplomat. 'There are a lot of really good people here', he said in the air-conditioned comfort of his blast wall-protected office. 'But a lot have left and won't come back. You think they have all this resource wealth and a history of education and expertise, and you wonder, how could they get it wrong. But looking at their history, sometimes it's Iraqis who are most pessimistic. They see 1,000 years of violence and they say it won't change'." (Seven years, 100,000 lives, $700b, 31/8/10)
How could they - the Iraqis - get it wrong?!
And last, but by no means least, here's the ultimate in stomach-churning sentences from Bushama's stomach-churning Address on Iraq: "[Those Americans who died/served in Iraq] stared into the darkest of human creations - war - and helped the Iraqi people seek the light of peace." (nytimes.com)