Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Go Ahead, Make My Day... in Iraq

Could their be any sillier analysis than this, by the Sydney Morning Herald's twice (2009, 2011) rambammed* international editor Peter Hartcher?

"It was the US decision to invade Iraq, using September 11 and bin Laden as a pretext, and supported by Britain and Australia, that proved so destructive. Bin Laden died knowing that he had not only killed nearly 3000 people in his attacks on the US. He had also successfully goaded the US into pointlessly invading Iraq, damaging US credibility, sacrificing more than 4000 of its own soldiers, hundreds of allied forces, and more than 100,000 Iraqi civilians." (Bin Laden offers us a few lessons, 3/5/11)

On the one hand bin Laden is a mere pretext for the US invasion of Iraq. On the other, he actually goaded the US into invading Iraq.

Bin Laden said, in the only kind of language Bush could possibly understand, and deliberately chosen for maximum effect, Go ahead, make my day, infidel dog... in Iraq; and poor old Uncle Sam, 'e just lost 'is cool completely, y' know, bellowed Them's fightin' words, bin Laden, barged on in, steam a comin' outta 'is ears somethin' terrible, furiously started pokin' around in every nook and cranny, but, godammit, just couldn't find that varmint bin Laden nowheres, nosiree, Bob.

Oh really?

OK, if any of you out there can find any evidence of bin Laden goading Uncle Sam in the following introduction and precis, by Bruce Lawrence, editor of Messages to the World: The Statements of Osama Bin Laden (2005), of bin Laden's 11/2/03 Message to the Iraqi People, then congratulations, there's a job as international editor of a mainstream newspaper waiting for you:

"From the autumn of 2002 onwards, it became increasingly clear that the United States was preparing to invade Iraq and overthrow the Ba'ath regime... Five weeks before the assault was finally launched, the first of 3 messages from bin Laden to the Iraqi people, consisting of a 16 minute-long audio tape, was delivered to al- Jazeera, and immediately broadcast. It appears to have been issued in response to appearances on al-Jazeera by leading figures of the Bush administration, including Condoleeza Rice, Colin Powell and Donald Rumsfeld. Although al-Jazeera broadcast the message within hours of receiving it, Washington seems to have known about the tape in advance, for shortly before the letter was aired, Secretary of State Powell told a Senate panel that a tape that al-Jazeera was about to broadcast was evidence of bin Laden's partnership with Iraq.

"Condemning in advance the invasion of Iraq, which he predicts will combine massive airstrikes and a non-stop propaganda campaign, bin Laden encourages the population to resist by recounting in detail the defensive tactics that enabled him and his fellow fighters to survive the saturation bombing of their redoubts in the Tora Bora mountains in December 2001. But in Iraq, he writes, 'What the enemy fears most is urban and street warfare, in which heavy and costly human losses can be expected'. Insisting on 'the importance of dragging the enemy into a protracted, exhausting, close combat, making the most of camouflaged defense positions in plains, farms, hills, and cities', he also stresses the capacity of 'martydom operations' to inflict 'unprecedented harm' on the enemy. These prescriptions describe with remarkable accuracy the tactics that would be successfully adopted by much of the Iraqi resistance from the summer of 2003 onwards.

"In the great new battle that is imminent, bin Laden excoriates the Arab leaders who act as accomplices to America, declaring them hypocrites and apostates who have put themselves outside the community of Islam: 'It is possible to take their money and their blood'. The Saudi rulers, though nervous of the upcoming war, had in fact already closed a number of airports near the Iraqi border to civilian aircraft so they could be secretly used by the US military. Muslims must rise up and free themselves from such traitorous tyrants... In Iraq itself, Muslims can fight with a good conscience alongside Ba'athists, however atheist they may be, against the common enemy - since socialist rulers are finished anyway, whether in Aden or Baghdad..." (pp 179-180)

[* See my 30/3/09 I've been to Israel too]

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