"His inability to listen to the Kurds, who were fighting and surviving against seemingly impossible odds in Iraq before Major General Petraeus was born, did not aid the Coalition in its continuing struggle to kill Iraqi insurgents."
~ Mike Tucker, Hell Is Over.
~ Mike Tucker, Hell Is Over.
Peter Galbraith opines on the Saddam execution, from the Boston Globe:
The Kurdish genocide was the gravest - and by far the best documented - of Saddam's crimes. I stumbled across its beginning in September 1987 when, as a staff member for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, I got permission to visit Kurdistan. When Haywood Rankin from the US Embassy in Baghdad and I crossed from Arab to Kurdish territory, we were amazed that places shown on our maps no longer existed. Later, we came across deserted towns with bulldozers parked next to partially destroyed houses and realized what was happening. By 1990, Saddam had destroyed 4,500 of Iraq's 5,000 Kurdish villages. He also used chemical weapons to attack at least 200 villages and towns. In September 1988, I led a mission with Chris Van Hollen (now a Maryland congressman) to document a series of bombings on 48 villages that took place days after the end of the Iran-Iraq war: 65,000 survivors made it to Turkey and the ones we interviewed provided graphic - and totally believable - accounts of what they experienced.
[ . . . ]
The Kurdish trial also promised to shed light on a deeply amoral period in Western diplomacy where the major powers, including the United States, chose to overlook genocide for strategic and economic reasons. According to his former foreign minister, Tarek Aziz, Saddam apparently intended to make an issue of Western support in his trial. This could also have been awkward for some in the current administration. While serving in the Reagan or Bush administrations, some of the principals of the current war - including Donald Rumsfeld and Colin Powell - played down the significance of Iraq's use of poison gas, including, in the case of Powell, against the Kurds. And months after the 1988 gas attacks on the Kurds, the current president's father - with the apparent support of his defense secretary, Richard Cheney - doubled US financial assistance to Iraq.
An extension of Saddam's life for the few months would have made little difference to his eventual fate. But it would have made an enormous difference to have had an irrefutable record that Saddam was responsible for the genocide against the Kurds. As it is, the door is open to a future leader in Baghdad asserting it was never proven. Saddam's trials could have served as the basis for truth and reconciliation, as similar processes have done in so many other countries. Instead, the hanging will further divide Iraqis, and not just the Sunnis whose protests were predictable. Only President George W. Bush, who still sees Maliki as a genuine national leader, could believe Saddam's execution, as it was carried out, to be a milestone on Iraq's path to democracy.
Saddam got the justice he so deserved. The rush to execution by Iraq's revenge-driven sectarian government denied the same to all but the tiniest fraction of his victims.
There's little I can add to that, except to point out that the "deeply amoral period" apparently included Turkish involvement in Saddam's genocide. Since Turkey has had the complete support of the US for over fifty years, the US had to help rush the execution along not only to protect such war criminals as the Vice President, but also to protect NATO's very own terrorist state, Turkey.
PoliticalAffairs.net, brought to you by Marxist Thought Online (yeah, Marxist; get over it) reminds us about the American leader who betrayed Kurds in 1975. Hint: They just planted him this week. Check it out:
It was left to the perpetually and reflexively contrarian Christopher Hitchens to connect the two. After Saddam signed a friendship treaty with the Soviet Union and nationalized Iraq’s oil in 1972, the United States turned against him, even though it had likely been involved in the ascension of the Ba’ath Party just four years earlier. Ford inherited a policy of supporting the Kurds in the north, with the aid of the Shah of Iran, in order to de-stabilize the Iraqi government.
But when the 1975 Algiers accord was signed, briefly ending the enmity between Iraq and Iran, the Shah abandoned his support of the Kurds, and Ford lost no time in hanging them out to twist in the wind of Saddam’s deadly counterinsurgency. Henry Kissinger justified this to Congress by explaining that “covert action should not be confused with missionary work.”
Similarly, little mention was made of Ford’s giving the “green light” to Indonesia’s Suharto to invade the tiny nation of East Timor, which had just shaken off the yoke of Portuguese colonialism. As Ford and then Carter supported the Indonesian military’s genocidal killing of over 200,000 people, one-third of the country’s population, with military aid and diplomatic interference, the issue got almost no coverage in the American media.
It is probably true that Ford was a decent man, to those who entered into his moral calculus – this would include Washington insiders and the U.S. political elite, on both sides of the aisle, but did not include Iraqi Kurds and East Timorese, and at best marginally included the American underclass, or African-Americans.
[ . . . ]
No mention needed to be made for Americans of his crimes – the phrase “gassed his own people” has been ringing in our ears for 15 years – although, oddly enough, we never ever heard the phrase while he was doing it 18 years ago. It would, I suppose, enter the heads of few journalists to compare what Saddam did in Iraqi Kurdistan in the late 1980’s with the support of Reagan and Bush with what Indonesia did in East Timor in the late 1970’s with the support of Ford and Carter.
Given the brutality of Saddam’s mostly U.S.-backed crimes, it is sad to think that the United States and the new Iraqi government handled the entire affair in such a way as to engender doubts in the minds of many across the world – even here – about those crimes.
The Christopher Hitchens op/ed mentioned in that quote can be read here.
Hold on to your seats because there's more fabulous news: General Petraeus is returning to Iraq, this time as the senior American commander, from the NYTimes:
The selection of Lt. Gen. David H. Petraeus to serve as the senior American commander in Iraq signals an important turn in United States strategy.
As a supporter of increased forces in Iraq, General Petraeus is expected to back a rapid five-brigade expansion, in sharp contrast to his predecessor, Gen. George W. Casey Jr., who has been openly skeptical that additional troops would help stabilize the country.
Having overseen the recent drafting of the military’s counterinsurgency manual, General Petraeus is also likely to change the American military operation in Baghdad. American forces can be expected to take up positions in neighborhoods throughout the capital instead of limiting themselves to conducting patrols from large, fortified bases in and around the city.
It looks like Petraeus was Robert Gates's choice. You'll remember that Robert Gates is the new Defense Secretary and that he's Scowcroft's boy. He also never got a clean bill of health from the Iran-Contra hearings. The best the special prosecutor for those hearings could say was that Gates couldn't be convicted due to lack of evidence. Gates failed to convince anyone that his character was sterling.
You have to hand it to the Brits, they have a sense of humor, and that's why I kinda liked the Telegraph's article better than that of the NYTimes; It's funnier:
David Petraeus holds a Princeton doctorate, is an accomplished runner and has proved himself a fearless combat leader who can also cut quick deals with tribal leaders to achieve stability once major fighting has ceased.
A skilled communicator, he is spoken of as a potential future president. But he will need all his military and intellectual skills as well as physical robustness to make a success of the most challenging appointment of his 35-year career.
[ . . . ]
After leading the 101st Airborne Division during the Iraq invasion, Petraeus won praise for pacifying the volatile city of Mosul. He rejected diktats from American officials in Baghdad to fire all the members of Saddam's Ba'athist party from the municipal government and also funded rebuilding projects that won the confidence of local sheikhs.
[ . . . ]
His unit's spell in Mosul is still regarded as a textbook example of counter-insurgency operations, which he recently enshrined into a new US military doctrine. When troops went on search operations, they would tell each family: "Thank you for allowing us to search your home." Signs posted at bases asked troops: "What have you done to win Iraqi hearts and minds today?"
In spite of its understated and, perhaps unintentional, hilarity, the Telegraph is lying about the Mûsil situation after Petraeus. Petraeus enabled the "insurgency" in Mûsil with his "textbook example of counter-insurgency operations," which led to numerous beheadings of Kurds and the encouragement of the same by the Arab imams of the city. In fact, Petraeus would be especially qualified to write a textbook on how NOT to conduct counter-insurgency operations. From Hell is Over: Voices of the Kurds after Saddam, by Mike Tucker (Buy the book and read the whole thing. There's a lot of illuminating information.):
Major General Petraeus liked to use the phrase, in speaking of winning Iraqi hearts and minds in northern Iraq, "money is ammunition." He directed the spending of millions of dollars to that end. In Mosul, since his departure, little of that money appears to have bought any goodwill, much less security. I don't know how many hearts and minds he won in Mosul. but I do know that he did not drive a stake through the heart of Ba'athism in northern Iraq. In terms of crushing and killing the Iraqi insurgency in Mosul, Major General Petraeus fired blanks. His inability to listen to the Kurds, who were fighting and surviving against seemingly impossible odds in Iraq before Major General Petraeus was born, did not aid the Coalition in its continuing struggle to kill Iraqi insurgents.
[ . . . ]
Security and counter-insurgency operations, focused on annihilating Ba'athism, were not Major General Petraeus' top priority. I was informed of that by Major General Petraeus himself when I interviewed him in Mosul in August 2003.
[ . . . ]
Most unfortunately, Major General Petraeus disarmed in Mosul, in May 2003 the only combat unit in all Iraq with vast experience in guerrilla warfare: the Kurdish peshmerga. After the U.S. disarming of Kurdish peshmerga in Mosul, insurgent attacks rose sharply throughout the summer of 2003. Strategically, the insurgents no doubt saw the removal of the peshmerga from the battlefield as a godsend.
(Tucker, Mike. Hell is Over: Voices of the Kurds After Saddam. Guilford: Lyons Press, 2004.)
What an idiot! And they're sending him back to Iraq? Man . . . someone tell the "insurgents" they just won the lottery.
Petraeus' bumbling frustrated and angered the senior pêşmerge in the KDP, Babakir Zebarî, to such an extent that the 10th Special Forces Group commandos had to spend 10-days of hand-kissing and phone calls in order to get Kak Babakir to listen to them. As Kak Babakir told Tucker during an interview, the Americans refused to listen to pêşmerge and denied critical intelligence that Kurds had gathered, because the US feared the Turks and Arabs. But why bother to listen to those "who were fighting and surviving against seemingly impossible odds" when you were still in diapers? Why bother to save lives, hold key terrain, win friends, and influence people when you could be engaged in an exercise of overwheening arrogance on a massive scale instead?
Will the incompetent, arrogant, and ignorant Petraeus have to call on Kak Babakir to pull Petraeus' chestnuts out of the fire in Baghdad in the coming months? I have no doubt of it, especially since the new Thieves of Baghdad (the Shi'a), who managed to steal justice from the Kurdish people last weekend, seem to have already cooked up something with Bush at the Amman, Jordan, meeting to put pêşmerge in charge of security in Baghdad.
I don't care how many more Americans die and I don't care how many more Arabs die. I do care how many more Kurds die, so my advice to Kak Babakir is this: Dude, don't do it.
By the way, doesn't somebody have a bullet with al-Sadr's name on it?