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'What The Hell Did You Think Was Gonna Happen?'

by Gary Brecher Thursday, Sep. 04, 2003 at 2:31 AM

Truth is, this occupation isn't going that badly. We're losing a man a day, more or less. That's not bad. That's just the way these things go. The British used to lose a few dozen men a day when they ran the world.

'What The Hell Did You Think Was Gonna Happen?'

By Gary Brecher


I can't believe you people.


First you jump around like Alabama cheerleaders for a war in Iraq, then you turn chickensh*t once we lose a few soldiers in the occupation.


I just read the new polls. Americans are losing their war hard-ons faster than a fag in a whorehouse. At the start of May 2003, 61% said the war was going "very well." Now only 19% say that. Back in May, only 4% said the war was going "not well." Now 35% think so.


You make me sick.

What the Hell did you think was gonna happen? The Iraqis were gonna fall in love with an occupying army? "Oh thank you for blowing up our power plants and water supply! Allah be praised, now we have democracy!"


We were so sure the Iraqis would rise up once we landed. That's one feature you'll find in every bad military plan ever devised: "and then the people will rise up." That was how Bay of Pigs was supposed to go: "We'll land a few hundred men, and then the Cubans will rise up." Which they didn't, naturally. Every time a lieutenant in some African hellhole talks a half dozen of his barrack drinking buddies into staging a coup he uses the same line: "and then the people will rise up to help us." Cut to him and his friends hanging from the nearest lamppost.


The Iraqis rose all right. But not against Saddam, against us. They got a lot more upset about foreign troops in the streets than they ever did about not having "democracy." When did Iraqis ever give a shit about democracy? All they know is the air conditioning doesn't work, they have to get their water off the back of a truck, and some scared GI manning the .50 on a humvee just blew half the shacks in the village to kingdom come because he mistook a garden rake for an RPG tube.


That's how occupations go. That's what it's like. It ain't pretty, it ain't good TV, and it takes a long time to make it work.


I tried to tell you it wasn't going to be the "cakewalk" the DC chickenhawks were crowing about, but all you did was send me emails gloating about how easy the march to Baghdad turned out to be. Well, I never said that was going to be the hard part. When you're fighting tank battles in open country like we were then, you can use your air force at maximum efficiency, and we've got the best air force in the world.


But once you take the cities, it's a whole different war. I guess none of you thought it through long enough to figure out you can't use your air force when you're occupying enemy cities. You just belched up a beer-cheer while the gun-camera pix were on the evening news-and now that the occupation's getting rough, you want out.


Truth is, this occupation isn't going that badly. We're losing a man a day, more or less. That's not bad. That's just the way these things go. The British used to lose a few dozen men a day when they ran the world.


Hell, when they tried to take Afghanistan they lost a whole army. But they didn't lose their nerve and start sobbing to the pollsters. They knew it takes blood to run an empire. Even when their wars went bad, like the Boer War-and that was about as bad as it can get-they stuck with it, kept pouring in men and materiel and won. Along the way they had to do some grim stuff. Like concentration camps. Hell yes-you think Hitler invented the concentration camp? Shows how much you know.


Concentration camps were invented by the British for the Boer War.


If you want to know what kind of coldblooded hardass discipline it takes to run an empire, the Boer War is a good place to start. The Boers, mostly Dutch and French, settled in South Africa way back in the 1600s. The British showed up later and took the prime coastal land from them. The Boers fought and lost a big battle in 1842, then just moved inland to get away from the British. For a while the British left them alone. Then gold was discovered on Boer land and the Limeys suddenly decided they needed to bring the blessings of empire to those poor lonely Boers. So they invaded in 1899. They thought that one was going to be a cakewalk too. The Boers were farmers, not soldiers. But the Boers were marksmen and they knew the ground. Even though they could only field about 50,000 men against 500,000 British troops, they were winning.


The Brits didn't lose their nerve. Lord Kitchener, commanding the British forces, took a coldblooded look at the situation and realized that the Brits faced the classic problem in counter-insurgency: the Boer women and kids were acting as spies and supply line for the Boer guerrillas. So the Brits rounded up all the Boer women, kids, and old folks, and put them behind barbed wire in the middle of nowhere, the first concentration camps. Of course with thousands of civilians jammed into a few tents-open latrines, no running water, no doctors-every disease in Africa hit the Boer women and kids. 40,000 of them died.


The British weren't fazed at all. They realized the camps were winning the guerrilla war for them. Every time a family died in the camps, the news got back to a Boer guerrilla hunkered down in the bush-no more wife, no more kids, all died horribly in a camp while he was off playing soldier. Some of the guerrillas went crazy, some killed themselves, and the rest started thinkin' real hard about whether it was worth it. In the long run, reason prevailed, as the saying goes. The Boers surrendered after three years.


We wiped out the Indians' civilian population the same way, for the same reason: we wanted the land and we were willing to do what it took to get it. "Massacres" like Wounded Knee weren't accidents, they were just standard guerrilla war tactics: you kill the civilian population that supports the guerrillas. Mao said guerrillas swim in the civilian population like fish in water. So you drain the lake.


Maybe you think that's too mean or something. Well, you shoulda thought of that before you let a half-dozen talkradio morons and a draftdodger-in-chief talk you into taking over every city in Iraq.


Maybe now you can appreciate how coldblooded and smart our strategy in Gulf War I was. Every chickenhawk on the air was moaning about how Bush Sr. and Colin Powell let Saddam get away in '91, how we shoulda gone in and taken Baghdad. Still think so? Let's see Michael Savage stand on a streetcorner in Fallujah sweating in a kevlar vest, jumping every time a car turns the corner. Let's see Bill O'Reilly do night patrol through Baghdad in a Humvee. In '91 we did it the way the Brits would've: neutralized the threat, then left and let Saddam try to pick up the mess. Sure we betrayed the Kurds and the Shiites along the way. That's what empires do. The most basic tactic for running an empire is using Tribe A against Tribe B: Kurds vs. Sunni, Sunni vs. Shiite, village vs. village. If one gets too strong you bleed it for a while. Then you let it bleed the others. After a while they're all bled out and your imperial troops are the only force in the country worth mentioning.


What the Brits would be doing about now is arming the Kurds and sending them to police the Sunni Triangle. The Kurds have already asked us to let them do it. They're begging for the chance to get a little payback. They said, "We guarantee we'll have the place pacified in a week. We can read these people! You can't! We can tell who's a guerrilla and who isn't! All we need is a few fingernail-pulling pliers and a portable generator hooked up to a cattle prod or two!"


Of course we won't let them, because it'd be messy, like Sabra-Shattila times ten. There'd be dead Sunnis thicker than sagebrush. But the Brits'd do it, and it'd work. Then, when the Kurds had bled the Sunnis out, they'd recruit a new police force, all Sunni and all-volunteer, to go police Kurdistan, bleed the Kurds for a while so they don't get too strong.


That's the sort of thing you have to do if you want to run an empire. But you guys, you're just brave enough to get us into trouble and not brave enough to see it through. You want to kick ass, plant the flag on somebody else's land and blow stuff up, and then have everybody on the ground love you for it.


That's not an empire. That's a bedtime story for pussies.

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Bush lies Parmenides Thursday, Sep. 04, 2003 at 9:59 AM
America is was. Mephistopheles Thursday, Sep. 04, 2003 at 10:18 AM
As an American citizen I expect a lot more... dough Thursday, Sep. 04, 2003 at 10:26 AM
who the hell are you talking to? Sheepdog Thursday, Sep. 04, 2003 at 10:34 AM

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