Thursday, July 29, 2004

Wait! I thought we won?!


Scott Ritter, a constant thorn in the Bush Administration's side, has laid out his beliefs on who is going to come out on top in Iraq. It ain't who you think.

Citing recent intelligence(see: one decade old), apparently only available to journalists, Ritter shows that not only had Hussein's regime shifted from supporting only Baathists to a more mixed soup of Islamic ideals, but he had the forethought to infiltrate the various splinter cells of Islamic fundamentalism. Yet his gain was not to take these cells down, but to understand and possibly use them in case of a future invasion by foreign occupiers. That would be us.

Let's let Scott take it from here.

In August 1995, Saddam's son-in-law, Hussein Kamal, defected to Jordan. Fourteen months into the U.S. occupation of Iraq, Kamal's testimony that Iraq's weapons of mass destruction had been destroyed in the summer of 1991 has taken on new relevance, given the fact that to date no WMD have been found.

More important is Kamal's self-described reason for defecting: Saddam's order that all senior Baath Party officials undergo mandatory Koranic studies. For Saddam, this radical shift in strategy was necessary to his survival, given the new realities of post-Gulf War Iraq.

The traditional Baathist ideology, based on Iraq-centric Arab nationalism, was no longer the driving force it had been a decade prior. Creating a new power base required bringing into the fold not only the Shiite majority - which had revolted against him in the spring of 1991 - but also accommodating the growing religious fundamentalism of traditional allies such as key Sunni tribes in western Iraq.

The most visible symbol of Saddam's decision to embrace Islam was his order to add the words "God Is Great" to the Iraqi flag.

The transformation of the political dynamics inside Iraq, however, went largely unnoticed in the West. It certainly seems to have escaped the attention of the Bush administration. And the recent "transfer of sovereignty" to Allawi's government reflects this lack of understanding.

One of the first directives issued by Paul Bremer, the former head of the CPA, was to pass a "de-Baathification" law, effectively blacklisting all former members of that party from meaningful involvement in the day-to-day affairs of post-Saddam Iraq. The law underscored the mindset of those in charge of Iraq: Baathist holdouts loyal to Saddam were the primary threat to the U.S.-led occupation.

Senior Bush administration officials recognized their mistake - though a little too late. In April, 2004, Bremer rescinded his "de-Baathification" order. The Pentagon today speaks of a "marriage of convenience" between Islamic fundamentalists and former members of Saddam's Baathist regime, even speculating that the Islamists are taking over Baathist cells weakened by American anti-insurgency efforts.

Once again, the Pentagon has it wrong. U.S. policy in Iraq is still unable or unwilling to face the reality of the enemy on the ground.

The Iraqi resistance is no emerging "marriage of convenience," but rather a product of years of planning. Rather than being absorbed by a larger Islamist movement, Saddam's former lieutenants are calling the shots in Iraq, having co-opted the Islamic fundamentalists years ago, with or without their knowledge.

One look at the list of the 55 "most wanted" members of the Saddam regime who remain at large reveals the probable chain of command of the Iraqi resistance today. It also underscores the success of Saddam's strategic decision nearly a decade ago to disassociate himself from Baathist ideology.

Keep in mind that there was never a formal surrender ceremony after the U.S. took control of Baghdad. The security services of Saddam's Iraq were never disbanded; they simply melted away into the population, to be called back into service when and where they were needed.

The so-called Islamic resistance is led by none other than former Vice President Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, an ardent Iraqi nationalist, a Sunni Arab and a practicing member of the Sufi brotherhood, a society of Islamic mystics. His deputy is Rafi Tilfah, who headed the Directorate of General Security (DGS), an organization that had thoroughly penetrated Iraqi society with collaborators and informants during Saddam's regime.

As a former UN weapons inspector, I have personally inspected the headquarters of the DGS in Baghdad, as well as the regional DGS headquarters in Tikrit. The rooms were full of files concerning those who were working with or on behalf of the DGS. There is not a person, family, tribe or Islamic movement in Iraq that the DGS does not know intimately - information that is an invaluable asset when coordinating and facilitating a popular-based resistance movement.

I also interacted with the former director of the Special Security Organization, Hani al-Tilfah, on numerous occasions during 1997-98, when he was put in charge of riding roughshod over my inspections. Today he helps coordinate the operations of the Iraqi resistance using the very same officers.

Tahir Habbush headed the Iraqi Intelligence Service that perfected the art of improvising explosive devices and using them to carry out assassinations. In the months prior to the U.S.-led invasion, he was ordered to blend his agents back into the Iraqi population so as to avoid detection by any occupying force.

The recent anti-American attacks in Fallujah and Ramadi were carried out by well-disciplined men fighting in cohesive units, most likely drawn from the ranks of Saddam's Republican Guard.

The level of sophistication should not have come as a surprise to anyone familiar with the role of the former chief of the Republican Guard, Sayf al-Rawi, in secretly demobilizing select Guard units for this very purpose prior to the U.S. invasion.

The transfer of sovereignty to the new Iraqi government of Iyad Allawi is a charade that will play itself out over the next weeks and months, and with tragic consequences. Allawi's government, hand-picked by the United States from the ranks of anti-Saddam expatriates, lacks not only a constituency inside Iraq but also legitimacy in the eyes of many ordinary Iraqi citizens.

The truth is that there never was a significant people-based opposition movement inside Iraq for the Bush administration to call on to form a government to replace Saddam. It is why the United States has instead been forced to rely on the services of individuals tainted by their association with foreign intelligence services, or drawn from opposition parties heavily infiltrated by agents of Saddam's former security services.

Regardless of the number of troops the United States puts on the ground or how long they stay there, Allawi's government is doomed to fail. The more it fails, the more it will have to rely on the United States to prop it up. The more the United States props up Allawi, the more discredited he will become in the eyes of the Iraqi people - all of which creates yet more opportunities for the Iraqi resistance to exploit.

We will suffer a decade-long nightmare that will lead to the deaths of thousands more Americans and tens of thousands of Iraqis. We will witness the creation of a viable and dangerous anti-American movement in Iraq that will one day watch as American troops unilaterally withdraw from Iraq every bit as ignominiously as Israel did from Lebanon.

The calculus is quite simple: the sooner we bring our forces home, the weaker this movement will be. And, of course, the obverse is true: the longer we stay, the stronger and more enduring this byproduct of Bush's elective war on Iraq will be.

There is no elegant solution to our Iraqi debacle. It is no longer a question of winning but rather of mitigating defeat.


Scott Ritter, a UN weapons inspector in Iraq from 1991 to 1998, is the author of "Frontier Justice: Weapons of Mass Destruction and the Bushwhacking of America." This article was distributed by Global Viewpoint for Tribune Media Services International.

Special thanks to the International Herald Tribune, who has graciously decided to publish this article in it's entirety, so I didn't have to.


Sunday, July 11, 2004

Kerry Is A Heretic


John Kerry(shown above in his memorable role in the shock/gore flick Reanimator) has been charged as a heretic by the Boston Catholic Archdiocese because he received communion while being decidedly pro-choice.

The 18-page document was sent to the archdiocese June 14, but released to the public only yesterday by Marc Balestrieri, a Los Angeles-based canon lawyer and an assistant judge with the Archdiocese of Los Angeles' tribunal, an ecclesiastical court.

"Heresy is a public, ecclesiastical crime," said Mr. Balestrieri, 33, whose complaint is posted at www.defide.com. "It affects entire communities. It is one of the greatest sins you can commit."

If the Boston Archdiocese, which is refusing comment on the case, decided to press heresy charges, the Massachusetts senator could be excommunicated.

Of course, we all know that the Catholics are the pinnacle of morality and sit at the right hand of God. Their multiple molestation charges, one of which has resulted in an Oregon Roman Catholic Archdiocese filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in order to not be liable to pay off an eight-figure settlement from one of these suits, have not clouded their sense of what's right and what's wrong.

Balestrieri said he isn't interested in money or excommunication, just Kerry's repentance. Good luck, bro. The guy walked around with his head in a dissection tray killing people, you think he's gonna buckle under a threat of excommunication?

It is sickening how much the Roman Catholic church has been trying to throw themselves into the political melee, where they really have no place under our Constitution, in order to try and draw attention away from their own problems. They are slowly turning themselves into another political tool, possibly hoping that "their" man, Dubya, will be in office four more years and somehow absolve them of any wrongdoing in return for their support.

Of course, since the Bush administration has told the Pakistani government that they need to pick up bin Laden in the next couple of weeks in order to coincide with the Republican national convention, he may get the popular vote. But even if he does, the Catholics are still doomed to Hell. And good riddance to them.

Special Thanks to Julia Duin of The Washington Times for selected excerpts

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Berkeley Is Just So Fuckin' Weird!


I guess it's just a slow news day in South Dakota. You know you are on the low rung of the newspaper totem pole when you have to write an op/ed piece about how strange Berkeley is. I guess that living so close to this spiritual vortex has dulled it's image to me. Also, I spent quite some time living on the streets in Berkeley. But I can't see the merit in wasting valuable print pages to it's many mysteries for a bunch of assholes living in South Dakota. Not saying that all people who live in South Dakota are assholes, just the ones who read.

Long story short: there is nothing to see in Berkeley. Unless you are amazed at watching winos piss on public buildings or are in the market for crappy tie-dyes, just stay at home and watch an old episode of That 70's Show. All that being said, I still think it is a city with one of the prettiest views of all.