Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
April 22, 2005

Cost-Effective, Humane, Even Thrilling

The counter on Helena Cobban's site says

82 days since Iraqis elected an Assembly with a UIA-list majority, without a government accountable to that Assembly being allowed to take power.

Meanwhile longtime CIA asset's Allawi list refuses to join Iraq cabinet without five posts

Allawi's Iraqiya list took just 40 of the 275 seats in parliament in landmark elections on January 30. The Shiite-led United Iraqi Alliance took 146 seats, while the main Kurdish bloc took 77.

You are free to guess who gave the advice to Allawi to further block the creation of an Iraqi government with his ridicules request. It is time for Sistani to call for some impressive peaceful demonstrations or for Al Sadr to induce some other forms of mass protest.

The military situation of the U.S. forces is getting worse day by day. In a Washington Post report by an embedded reporter we find this scene from a Forward Operating Base only 25 miles from Baghdad:

Capt. Ryan Seagreaves, of Allentown, Pa., told [his commander] McMaster that he needed engineers to reinforce and expand his austere base so that there would be room for more Iraqi forces. He said he also needed dirt to fill protective barriers. Iraqi contractors are so terrified to work in the area that a convoy of 10 earth-filled dump trucks recently refused to travel south to McMaster's base. One driver fainted when told the destination, he said.

USA Today writes about another FOB:

Unable for safety reasons to patrol the city on foot and in vehicles, troops are limited in their ability to gain important street-level intelligence. So the Marines primarily mount counterattacks on insurgents and criminals who fire into the camp. Last week, the Marines averted disaster when three car bombers backed by 30 insurgents assaulted the camp.

May I suggest that situations where you are "unable to get dirt" and you are "restricted to counterattack" are exactly those, that tell you it is game-over and to get your ass out of there. These under supplied FOBs are ready to be run over. One of them will inevitably be annihilated by the insurgents within the next weeks. I do not expect them to allow for survivors.

In this context an important book by Andrew J. Bacevich has been released and excerpts are available at Mother Jones and elsewhere. From the The Normalization of War:

The American public's ready acceptance of the prospect of war without foreseeable end and of a policy that abandons even the pretense of the United States fighting defensively or viewing war as a last resort shows clearly how far the process of militarization has advanced.
The old twentieth-century aesthetic of armed conflict as barbarism, brutality, ugliness, and sheer waste grew out of World War I, as depicted by writers such as Ernest Hemingway, Erich Maria Remarque, and Robert Graves. World War II, Korea, and Vietnam reaffirmed that aesthetic, in the latter case with films like Apocalypse Now, Platoon, and Full Metal Jacket.

The intersection of art and war gave birth to two large truths. The first was that the modern battlefield was a slaughterhouse, and modern war an orgy of destruction that devoured guilty and innocent alike. The second, stemming from the first, was that military service was an inherently degrading experience and military institutions by their very nature repressive and inhumane. After 1914, only fascists dared to challenge these truths. Only fascists celebrated war and depicted armies as forward-looking -- expressions of national unity and collective purpose that paved the way for utopia. To be a genuine progressive, liberal in instinct, enlightened in sensibility, was to reject such notions as preposterous.

As it is convenient (and profitable) for the established media not to show the real aesthetic of war, you can watch some videos made by the legitimate resistance to get some sense of what is going on. Here are some links form the Oxford Antiwar site:

Mercenary chopper shot down - no prisoners taken (RealMedia)
Vehicle born IED on convoi (RealMedia)
Secondary IED attack on US troops (RealMedia)
IED on Stryker vehicle (mpeg)
Kid gets shoot by US(?) sniper (Windows media player)


In the right circumstances, for the right cause, it now turned out, war could actually offer an attractive option--cost-effective, humane, even thrilling. Indeed, as the Anglo-American race to Baghdad conclusively demonstrated in the spring of 2003, in the eyes of many, war has once again become a grand pageant, performance art, or a perhaps temporary diversion from the ennui and boring routine of everyday life.

War has not changed, but the people and the ruling class of the United States. As Bacevich says: "only fascists celebrated war."

Posted by b on April 22, 2005 at 20:46 UTC | Permalink


I don't understand why senior military officers allow this impossible situation in Iraq to go on without speaking out.

Posted by: maxcrat | Apr 23 2005 0:36 utc | 1

Way OT, but...

...also cost-effective, humane and thrilling.

Mr. Springsteen has come to the aid of an ailing Left Coast of Canuckistan (details at my place)!
Figured it might bring back fond memories for ol' Barflies of the night Bruce told the Rovians to go to hell.

Posted by: RossK | Apr 23 2005 0:38 utc | 2

NYT Kurds' Leaders Said to Attempt to Block Shiite

Some leading Kurdish political figures are trying to stall the formation of a new Iraqi government in an effort to force out Ibrahim al-Jaafari, the Shiite chosen two weeks ago as prime minister, Iraqi and Western officials said.
several Iraqi political figures said they doubted that would happen. They cited strong opposition to Dr. Jaafari in the Kurdish alliance, which has agreed to form a coalition government with the Shiite majority. Under Iraq's transitional law, Mr. Jaafari will automatically lose his position if he does not name a cabinet by May 7, a month after his appointment.
The Shiite and Kurdish alliances agreed to try to include Dr. Allawi's party in the new government. But he has been insisting on four cabinet posts, including key positions such as the Defense or Oil ministries. He has also demanded a deputy prime ministerial position.

Shiite officials say Dr. Jaafari cannot offer that much to Dr. Allawi without facing a rebellion among the Shiites. But the Kurdish leadership insists that Dr. Allawi be accommodated, said Salam al-Maliki, a member of the Shiite alliance.

So the real problem are not the Kurds but the CIA's Allawi.

Posted by: b | Apr 23 2005 8:26 utc | 3

Bacevich writes:

Otherwise acutely wary of having their pockets picked, Americans count on men and women in uniform to do the right thing in the right way for the right reasons. Americans fearful that the rest of society may be teetering on the brink of moral collapse console themselves with the thought that the armed services remain a repository of traditional values and old fashioned virtue.

Confidence in the military has found further expression in a tendency to elevate the soldier to the status of national icon, the apotheosis of all that is great and good about contemporary America.

WaPo: Top Army Officers Are Cleared in Abuse Cases
An Army inspector general's report has cleared senior Army officers of wrongdoing in the abuse of military prisoners in Iraq and elsewhere, government officials familiar with the findings said yesterday.
The investigation essentially found no culpability on the part of Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez and three of his senior deputies, ruling that allegations they failed to prevent or stop abuses were "unsubstantiated." A military source said a 10-member team began the investigation in October and based its conclusions on the 10 major defense inquiries into abuse and interviews with 37 senior officials, including L. Paul Bremer, who led the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq. The report has not been released.

Posted by: b | Apr 23 2005 9:17 utc | 4

There is a curious, almost routine character to those links (the ones I could get, many we're "forbidden"?). What is obvious is that the occupation has (de)evolved into a distinctly garrison(ed) role. The disappearance of all the NGO's, contractors, wanna be capitalists, and military attaches -- all about the country interacting with the locals are now gone, along with their projects. And so when the cats away, the mice will, you know, be hard at work standing up resistance in ways both infinitesimal and heart-breaking. This I would assume is happening also in areas that are supposedly stable (the shia areas) and political and armed force is quietly being consolidated under the nose of what now is precieved with (in the US) a yawn as business as usual. Truth is that the US position has been systematically degraded into its present situation, now banking exclusively on controling the larger political agenda to meet their objectives. The Allawi farce is indicitive of degeneration on this front also, sure, Jaffari is going to hand over the oil ministry to him? Haha, fat chance -- no the tactic is boa-constrictor, squeeze and more squeeze.

Posted by: anna missed | Apr 23 2005 9:50 utc | 5

Just go to the original site "Here are some links form the Oxford Antiwar site", anna missed you can DL them all there, no blocking.

Posted by: SJS | Apr 23 2005 11:02 utc | 6

Hey, RossK, I just linked a couple of two-forty Gordie's mug shots on your comments page. Maybe you could post them.
For those of you not from British Columbia, Canada-we are having an election in early May. Our present premier Gordon Campbell was caught just after Christmas 2003 driving drunk and doing 70 in a 35 zone. The two-forty is from my estimate of his blood alcohol when he was driving (.240 BAC). Mugshots here and here

Posted by: doug r | Apr 23 2005 14:19 utc | 7

...does this strange story about hostages in Al-Madain have anything at all to do with these end games over who gets to play Sadam Lite?

In particular this General Adnan Thavit fellow who has already been involved in dark psy-op and has connections to Allawi from way back before the Liberation...

Something just doesn't add up. Well, yes it does, but you have to put your tin-foil hat on and jerk off a bit...

Excuse me, I have to puke (again),


Posted by: BarfHead | Apr 23 2005 15:23 utc | 8

Halliburton evaluating risk-reward ratio in Iraq

WASHINGTON - Halliburton Co. is reconsidering whether its contract to rebuild southern Iraq's oil industry is worth all the risks involved.

Last year, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers awarded the Houston-based oil-field service giant an assignment - initially valued at up to $1.2 billion - to retrofit refineries, repair pipe-lines and boost oil production in the southern part of the country.

But that work has been hampered by repeated attacks by insurgents, and company officials are starting to wonder whether the project has become too dangerous.

Posted by: Nugget | Apr 23 2005 16:19 utc | 9

Substantial chunks of Bacevich's Book has published two excerpts from a remarkable new book -- Andrew J. Bacevich's The New American Militarism, How Americans Are Seduced by War.

Tom Englehardt writes:

>>I've long recommended Chalmers Johnson's book on American militarism
and military-basing policy, The Sorrows of Empire. Bacevich's The New
American Militarism, which focuses on the ways Americans have become
enthralled by -- and found themselves in thrall to -- military power
and the idea of global military supremacy, should be placed right
beside it in any library. Below, you'll find the first of two long
excerpts (slightly adapated) from the book, and posted with the kind
permission of the author and of his publisher, Oxford University
Press. This one offers Bacevitch's thoughts on the ways in which,
since the Vietnam War, our country has been militarized, a process to
which, as he writes, the events of September 11 only added momentum.
On Friday, I'll post an excerpt on the second-generation
neoconservatives and what they contributed to our new militarism.

Bacevich's book carefully lays out and analyzes the various influences
that have fed into the creation and sustenance of the new American
militarism over the last decades. It would have been easy enough to
create a 4-part or 6-part Tomdispatch series from the book. Bacevich
is, for instance, fascinating on evangelical Christianity (and its
less than war-like earlier history) as well as on the ways in which
the military, after the Vietnam debacle, rebuilt itself as a genuine
imperial force, separated from the American people and with an ethos
"more akin to that of the French Foreign Legion" -- a force prepared
for war without end. But for that, and much else, you'll have to turn
to the book itself.<<

Posted by: mistah charley | Apr 23 2005 16:32 utc | 10

"as the German race to Paris conclusively demonstrated in the spring of 1940, in the eyes of many, war has once again become a grand pageant, performance art, or a perhaps temporary diversion from the ennui and boring routine of everyday life."

Having bases overrun by the enemy doesn't always mean the occupation is doomed. The English eventually won against the Zulus, and Caesar eventually crushed the Gauls. But when there hasn't been any consistent victory in a real battle since so long, and since the whole army is decaying to the point Hannibal's army in Capua would look like a model of morale and fighting spirit, indeed you have to seriously consider a major defeat and withdrawal as probable outcome.

Posted by: CluelessJoe | Apr 23 2005 18:28 utc | 11

Read this

Posted by: Friendly Fire | Apr 23 2005 21:25 utc | 12

@Friendly Fire

Thanks for that, but the way report describes a partitioning and fractioning of Iraq on ethnical and religious faultlines it sound more as an excuse for or explanation of the future US dominated collection of statelets in Iraq.

The splitting of Iraq is not the interest of any group in Iraq except the occupation force.

Posted by: b | Apr 23 2005 22:06 utc | 13

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