Will Iraq survive the Iraqi
Who is the Iraqi
resistance, and what motivates it? Reasonably soon, we
will know whether America's presence in Iraq represents
the beginning of a democratic Middle East, or a
preliminary engagement in a civilizational war lasting
generations. Saddam Hussein's capture will demonstrate
soon enough whether the resistance to American
occupation depends on the personal resources and influence of
a deposed dictator, or whether an extensive group of
Iraqi military and intelligence professionals is
prepared to fight to the death.
and executed strikes against coalition forces continue
at November's pace, Washington's moment of triumph will
fade into a crisis of policy.
"Crisis of policy"
is the appropriate term, rather than "strategic crisis".
This is not Vietnam, where the Vietnamese communists
enjoyed the protection of a nuclear superpower. Iraq has
no such friends. The concept of Iraq as such - a nation
protected by a superpower - may be the eventual victim
of the success of the Iraqi resistance. That would imply
a revolution in American policy towards the Middle East.
A former US intelligence official and prolific
author, Angelo M Codevilla, wrote in the November issue
of American Spectator that Washington "missed Saddam's
decision to take his regime underground, to expose his
army and non-essential cadres to destruction and to wage
his fight after what America considered the war".
Saddam, observes Codevilla, emptied the jails of
criminals, moved his government out of public buildings,
created a US$1 billion reserve fund and took related
measures for post-battlefield resistance.
did not direct the resistance operations against
American, Italian, Spanish and Japanese occupiers in
November. Who did? Foreign jihadis filtering into Iraq
and willing to blow themselves up may offer a convenient
resource for the resistance, but these visiting jihadis
are incapable of directing a consistent pattern of
attacks. If the resistance fails to disintegrate in the
wake of Saddam's capture, America will be fighting an
underground regime motivated by something other than
loyalty to its erstwhile leader.
portrayed its antagonists on the ground in Iraq as a
band of thugs gathered around a bully, salted with a
handful of jihadi fanatics. The US, however, may find
itself fighting a well-trained, highly motivated elite
willing to die in order to push the American presence
out of its country.
The CIA knows the
Who are these people? If George W
Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin had made the
appropriate inquiries among their own people, they would
have found that American as well as Russian intelligence
still have extensive dossiers on the leaders of the
Iraqi resistance. They know Saddam embarrassingly well.
As Codevilla explains, the Central Intelligence Agency
backed the Ba'athist clique that in 1959 sought to
overthrow then-premier Abdul Karim Kassem. Among this
group was the 22-year-old Saddam. After a failed coup
attempt "the CIA then set up Saddam in luxurious exile
in Cairo, where he continued to be handled both through
Egyptian intelligence and directly from the US embassy",
reports Codevilla. Another attempt to kill Kassem
succeeded in 1963, and Saddam headed the secret police
in the new regime.
Under the Jimmy Carter
administration, Codevilla adds, the CIA collaborated in
effect with its Soviet counterparts to bring down the
Shah of Iran. "By 1978," he writes, "Saddam's secret
services were contributing logistics, cash and Shi'ite
agents to the coalition that destroyed the Shah.
Although the Ayatollah Khomeini was indispensable to it,
so were Soviet line organizations. Notably, Yasser
Arafat's Palestine Liberation Organization provided the
bulk of the street fighters. The radio of the Islamic
revolution was run by the KGB out of Soviet Baku."
Codevilla's article, entitled "The Sorcerer's
Apprentices", provides critical points of background to
the story of American support for Saddam during the
Iran-Iraq War. Asia Times Online's Pepe Escobar
recounted this well-known story in his December 19
report (How Saddam may still nail Bush) -
to the fury of numerous readers. Yet Escobar's story is
less sensational than the one told by Codevilla, a
former Ronald Reagan administration intelligence
official and senior staffer for the Senate Intelligence
Committee. Saddam's dossier has the potential to
embarrass the US and its intelligence services.
Of greater interest are the dossiers of the
thousands of Ba'athist cadre trained by the US or the
Russians during the past four decades. What sort of men
are they and what motivates them to resist the American
They are fighting for survival - not
of a regime, but of their people and their culture.
Europe and Japan will not survive the transition to
modern culture from traditional society. With between
1.1 and 1.3 children per female in all the major
countries of continental Europe, as well as Japan, the
Old World must suffer a slow and miserable death by
attrition (see Why Europe Chooses Extinction,
April 8). Eliminate the certainties of a world in which
religious faith is a reflex and women are relegated to
nursery and kitchen, and the will to reproduce shrivels
US troops spread bacillus of American pop
How much less chance do Muslims coming
from traditional society have to make an adjustment that
the Europeans themselves cannot make? With the best of
intentions, the American soldiers in Iraq bear with them
a bacillus quite as deadly as the smallpox with which
the Spanish conquerors of the New World inadvertently
wiped out most of the native population. That bacillus
is American popular culture.
Speak to Westerners
who have trained Iraqi officers in the military and
security forces - some of them are still around - and
they will argue that the guerrillas are fighting not for
Saddam, whom they despised, nor for his regime, which
most of them hated, but for their country. They want to
continue living the way they used to live, without the
American-style democracy that threatens to dissolve the
bonds of traditional society and destroy everything they
The Iraqi resistance will no more
disappear after Saddam's capture than the Russian
resistance in World War II would have disappeared had
Josef Stalin been captured, observes one old campaigner.
Does this mean that America will in turn abandon its
Iraqi venture after the fashion of Vietnam? That is
extremely unlikely. Much more likely is a revolution in
Angelo Codevilla began the article
cited above with the following observation: "Iraq was
not a good idea in the first place. American and British
Wilsonians decided to recreate something like the
Babylon empire: Sunni Mesopotamian Arabs from the
Baghdad area would rule over vastly more numerous
southern Shi'ite Arabs, and Arabophobe Kurds. Why the
ruled should accept such an arrangement was never made
clear." To frustrate the Iraqi resistance, eliminate
Iraq itself, Codevilla implies.
That is the
logical response of American policy to the unexpected
success of Iraqi resistance. Plans have been floating
about for years to create a separate Shi'ite state in
the south, hand the west of Iraq over to the Hashemites
of Jordan, maintain a semi-autonomous Kurdish zone and
leave a rump state around Baghdad to become a killing
zone for counterinsurgency.
The report by Angelo M Codevilla cannot be found on the
Internet, but may be ordered in hard copy via www.spectator.org.
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