Monday 7 July 2003

U.S. falling into bin Laden's trap

Bogged down in a guerrilla war, Iraq may be George Bush's Little Big Horn

by Eric Margolis

Here in Canada's "make love, not war" capital, I am reminded of a French reader who asked me last week, "Why was Bill Clinton impeached for making love, while George Bush goes unpunished for making a war over fake weapons?"

Excellent question, monsieur.

Asked on TV this week about steadily mounting attacks on U.S. occupation forces in Iraq, President Bush narrowed his eyes, and hunched forward aggressively - thrilling his ardent fans from Biloxi to Paducah - and growled, "Bring 'em on!" - a call to battle worthy of the famously dimwitted American general, George Armstrong Custer who, like Bush, knew what he knew and didn't need advice.

Listening to such adolescent boasting from a man who never heard a shot fired in anger outside of downtown Washington, D.C. made me gag. Bush, let's recall, dodged real military service during the Vietnam war by making occasional appearances at the Texas Air National Guard. Watching him play John Wayne at Iwo Jima for the benefit of his adoring core voters, some of whom believe Elvis is still alive, made me realize how much American politics has been debased by the double whammy of catch-me-if-you can Bill Clinton and truth-deprived George Bush.

I know a real Marine when I see one. My father served in the Pacific in the renowned 5th Marine Amphibious Division, and fought at hellish Iwo Jima.

I mention these points because I am appalled watching Bush and his neo-conservative handlers pursue an imperial war in Iraq that will kill or wound growing numbers of American GIs and turn Iraq into the ugly twin of the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza. Decent, honest, good-natured American soldiers are now being turned into a colonial occupation army. All colonial wars - Algeria, Chechnya, Kashmir, Aceh, Palestine - are similar. Occupying forces in these dirty wars become brutalized, sadistic and cynical. Look back at Vietnam.

I shudder watching American GIs kicking down doors of civilian homes in the dead of night, threatening screaming children with their weapons, hooding suspects, firing into crowds of demonstrators, and calling air strikes on villages.

As night follows day, this nasty war will lead, as all colonial wars do, to torture, masked informers, reprisals against civilians, secret executions. That's what happened in Indochina. Just last week, Amnesty International sharply rebuked the U.S. for brutalizing and humiliating captives.

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