Saturday, September 20, 2008
The War Within by Bob Woodward should be read by all those who want to understand the American war and occupation of Iraq. There are many things that have not been mentioned in the media reviews of the book. Woodward is unlike himself in this book: he has more cited sources and more (very brief and in passing) analytic conclusions than usual. You really are struck that none of the civilians who handle Iraq at the White House know the Middle East, or have studied the Middle East. Those who know the Middle East were in the military and were skeptical from the beginning. Gen. Abizaid for example drew the right conclusion early on: "We need to get the fuck out." (p. 5). You read that Ahmad Chalabi was seen by the US government as the future leader of Iraq--kid you not. Apparently, Chalabi had promised to show up in Iraq with 10,000 to take over the country. (p. 49) What is lacking in reviews of the book is the most damning conclusion: that the Bush administration was lying to the American public throughout: statements that were made in public were contradicted by classified reports that were read in private meetings. In fact, the best case scenario for Iraq was according to them a Mubarak-like dictator. In the words of Sen. McConnell: "I'd settle for Egypt."(p. 81) And you read about the pathetic sectarian figure: the puppet prime minister, Nuri Al-Maliki. The puppet is at pains to dismiss accounts of public opinion surveys that point to Iraqi public rejection of American occupation. He assures US officials: "We do not have public opinion polls in Iraq...There are definiately those who talk about the Americans leaving. But it is the top-level people who will decide, and we want you to stay." (p. 111) Some people spoke of "bringing Saddam back" as plan B for Iraq. (p. 123) And Gen. Moseley summed up his views on Israelis and Palestinians: "Pack of assholes on both sides."(p. 174) And it is quite amusing to see that Bush and Rice and other officials refer to Middle East leaders as their examples of Middle East public opinion. Bush was thus bragging that he is supported in Iraq by Musharraf, Karzai, and Saudi king. (p. 209). And you read that puppet Maliki was offended when ambassador Khalilzad would dictate orders to him. He wanted more respect as a puppet. (p. 210) And you really have to read Secretary Rice analyzing Arab public opinion. I mean, who can you blame such people: her chief adviser on Arab affairs is Elliott Abrams, for potato's sake. She insists that "Many of the Arabs see Iran now as more dangerous problem than Israel." (p. 220) Such is the quality of Middle East expertise at the White House. I remember that chief Middle East hand at Clinton's White House, Bruce Reidel telling Middle East Quarterly that Arab public opinion is not displeased with the sanctions that were imposed on Iraq in the 1990s. (He now advises Obama on the Middle East, I heard). You read how Gen. Petraeus orders another US puppet, Iyad `Allawi: "Get in the game." (p. 332). And Bush summs up his views of Iranians: "These are assholes." (p. 334) And you think that Sarah Palin is woefully ill-prepared to be president? When Bush is a two-term president? And you read about the Saudi King: how unhappy he is about the Iraq situation. He was expecting a replacement of Saddam by another Sunni dictator. He was angry with the Americans over that and would refuse to discuss the matter. And like Saudi media, he would refer to Shi`ites as "Safavids"--he is as ignorant as his media, not knowing about the glories of the Safavid dynasty.(p. 347) You read that Hadley at the White House decides where puppet Maliki should go and visit.(p. 354) And Hadley was handing out copies of a column by Thomas Friedman.(p. 420). If this is where they get their wisdom on the world, can you blame their ignorance? And Bush refer to the American imperial occupation in the Middle East as "freedom hegemony" when somebody told him to refrain from using the term "military hegemony."(p. 425). That is all folks.
Posted by As'ad AbuKhalil at 8:38 AM