I received this via Viewpoint.....Robert Fiske, as always, is insightful and at times,funny. But his view, fashioned by over thirty years of reporting out of the Middle East,needs to be reflected upon. Reality has to someday set in with the Neo-Con Crowd and all the rest of the folks who got us into this mess. I wonder that if in fact it will indeed happen...
Enjoy this, though!!!
The Empire is Failing - by Robert Fisk
The Roman Empire is falling. That, in a phrase, is what
the Baker report says. The legions cannot impose their
rule on Mesopotamia.
Just as Crassus lost his legions' banners in the deserts
of Syria-Iraq, so has George W Bush. There is no Mark
Anthony to retrieve the honor of the empire. The policy
"is not working". "Collapse" and "catastrophe" - words
heard in the Roman senate many a time - were embedded in
the text of the Baker report. Et tu, James?
This is also the language of the Arab world, always waiting
for the collapse of empire, for the destruction of the safe
Western world which has provided it with money, weapons,
political support. First, the Arabs trusted the British
Empire and Winston Churchill, and then they trusted the
American Empire and Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the
Truman and Eisenhower administrations and all the other men
who would give guns to the Israelis and billions to the
Arabs - Nixon, Carter, Clinton, Bush...
And now they are told that the Americans are not winning
the war; that they are losing. If you were an Arab, what
would you do?
Be sure, they are not asking this question in Washington.
The Middle East - so all-important (supposedly) in the
"war on terror" - in itself, a myth - doesn't really matter
in the White House. It is a district, a map, a region,
every bit as amorphous as the crescent of "crisis" which
the Clinton administration invented when it wanted to land
its troops in Somalia. How to get out, how to save face,
that's the question. To hell with the people who live
there: the Arabs, the Iraqis, the men, women and children
whom we kill - and whom the Iraqis kill - every day.
Note how our "spokesmen" in Afghanistan now acknowledge
the dead woman and children of Nato airstrikes as if it
is quite in order to slaughter these innocents because
we are at war with the horrid Taliban.
Some of the same mindset has arrived in Baghdad, where
"coalition" spokesmen also - from time to time - jump in
front of the video-tape evidence by accepting that they,
too, kill women and children in their war against "terror".
But it is the sentences of impotence that doom empires.
"The ability of the United States to influence events
within Iraq is diminishing." There is a risk of a "slide
towards chaos [sic] [that] could trigger the collapse of
Iraq's government and a humanitarian catastrophe."
But hasn't that already happened? "Collapse" and
"catastrophe" are daily present in Iraq. America's ability
"to influence events" has been absent for years. And let's
just re-read the following sentence: "Violence is increas-
ing in scope and lethality. It is fed by a Sunni Arab
insurgency. Shiite [Shia] militias, death squads, al-Qa'ida
and widespread criminality. Sectarian conflict is the
principal challenge to stability."
Come again? Where was this "widespread criminality," this
"sectarian conflict" when Saddam, our favorite war
criminal, was in power? What do the Iraqis think about
this? And how typical that the American media went at once
to hear Bush's view of the Baker report - rather than the
reaction of the Iraqis, those who are on the receiving end
of our self-induced tragedy in Mesopotamia.
They will enjoy the idea that American troops should be
"embedded" with Iraqi forces - not so long ago, it was the
press that had to be "embedded" with the Americans! - as if
the Romans were ready to put their legions amid the Goths,
Ostrogoths and Visigoths to ensure their loyalty.
What the Romans did do, of course - and what the Americans
would never do - is offer their subjects Roman citizenship.
Every tribe - in Gaul or Bythinia or Mesopotamia - who fell
under Roman rule became a citizen of Rome. What could
Washington have done with Iraq if it had offered American
citizenship to every Iraqi? There would have been no
insurrection, no violence, no collapse or catastrophe, no
Baker report. But no. We wanted to give these people the
fruits of our civilization - not the civilization itself.
From this, they were banned.
And the result? The nations we supposedly hated - Iran and
Syria - are now expected to save us from ourselves. "Given
the ability [sic] of Iran and Syria to influence events and
their interest in avoiding chaos in Iraq, the United States
should try to engage [sic] them constructively."
I love those words. Especially "engage". Yes, the
"influence of America" is diminishing. The influence of
Syria and Iran is growing. That just about sums up the
"war on terror". Any word yet, I wonder, from Lord Blair
of Kut al-Amara?
The Baker panel considered four options, all of which it
Cut And Run
Baker believes it would cause a humanitarian disaster,
while al-Qa'ida would expand further.
Stay The Course
Baker accepts that current US policy is not working. Nearly
100 Americans are dying every month. The US is spending
$2bn (£1bn) a week and has lost public support.
Send In More Troops
Increases in US troop levels would not solve the cause of
violence in Iraq. Violence would simply rekindle as soon
as US forces moved.
If the country broke up into its Shia, Sunni and Kurd
regions, it would lead to ethnic cleansing and mass
Baker outlines a fifth option - 'responsible transition' -
in which the number of US forces could be increased to
shore up the Iraqi army while it takes over primary
responsibility for combat operations. US troops would
then decrease slowly.