Or Resistance Fighters: America’s Dilemma In Iraq
By Gerald Rellick
16 March, 2006
"Hitler's decisions had ceased to have anything in common with
the principles of strategy and operations as they were recognized for
generations past. They were the product of a violent nature following
its impulses, which recognized no limits to possibility and which made
its wish-dreams the father of its acts.”
--Gen. Franz Halder,
Chief of the German General Staff, 1944
his latest book, “Hegemony or Survival,” Noam Chomsky raises
provocative questions about America’s role in the world, and not
just in our current crisis in the reign of Bush II. Ever since World
War II America has assumed the role of the world’s super power,
particularly so after the fall of the Soviet Union.
One critical question he
raises is the difference between terrorism and resistance.
During World War II, after
German occupation of Europe was complete, there arose underground resistance
movements. Prominent among these were the French and the Norwegians.
When I was in high school in the 1950’s I was a World War II buff.
After all, the war was not long over and many men in our small community,
including my father and his three brothers all fought in WWII.
Many have disparaged the
French resistance as too few in number and ineffectual. But while in
high school I recall reading a story of a husband and wife in the French
resistance. One day they were in a café when the Gestapo stormed
in, guns drawn, and advanced toward their table. The husband pulled
out his pistol, shot his wife in the head and then killed himself. They
knew the end was at hand and that before death there would be torture.
It took incredible courage to do that. That was 40 years ago and I have
never forgotten that story. When your homeland is occupied by foreign
troops, extraordinary courage seems to come naturally.
Norway had its own style.
Although Norway had professed neutrality, the country was critical to
the German Navy with its thousand miles of coast line. With Norway in
their control, Germany could launch its submarine wolf pack into the
Atlantic at will. So, in April 1940 the Germans invaded Norway. But
the Norwegians gave the Germans a bit of surprise. They fought bitterly
and the Germans took heavy casualties, although Germany’s superior
numbers won out in the end. But the Norwegians never gave up. They established
an extremely effective underground, and throughout the war were able
to relay to Allied forces submarine movements, the results of which
were critical to the British Navy. Once again, when your homeland is
occupied by foreign troops, destroying all you have lived and fought
for, extraordinary courage is not so extraordinary after all.
Anther story I recall vividly
from those same high school days was that of the Norwegian resistance
discovering a traitor amongst them, a man who had given over names of
the resistance to the Nazis. He was confronted by the resistance in
his home with his family. They tied him to a chair and then summarily
executed his wife and three children in front of his eyes, and he was
allowed to go free, to live whatever life was possible for him.
So, what defines terrorism?
Was this terrorism? Or was it resistance against an occupying force?
This episode echoed the thinking
of the French anarchist, Emile Henri, discussed recently by Alexander
“Asked at his trial
in 1894 why he had killed some many innocent people…Henri explained
to the court that anarchism ‘is born in the heart of a corrupt
society which is falling to pieces; it is a violent reaction against
the established order. It represents egalitarian and libertarian aspirations
which are battering down existing authority; it is everywhere, which
makes it impossible to capture.’ So, said Henri as he faced the
guillotine, "il n'y a pas d'innocents". “There are no
innocents,” at least among the privileged classes.”
And to add one more note
to this saga, let me cite a recent article by former Sen. Gary Hart
in the Boston Globe. Hart writes that, “In 1812, Napoleon Bonaparte
invaded Russia and…marched on and occupied Moscow. Napoleon and
his generals took over the palaces of the court princes and great houses
of the mighty boyars.”
“Sadly for Napoleon,
the Russians had different plans for their nation. Within days after
abandoning their city to the French army, they torched their own palaces,
homes, enterprises, and cathedrals. They burned Moscow down around Napoleon.
Denied his last great triumph, the disappointed emperor abandoned Moscow
and started home. Along the way, he lost the world's most powerful army.”
The lesson of history is
to never underestimate the occupied and oppressed. And the second lesson
is you can’t win against the occupied. You don’t have the
same will. They will die for their cause. Consider our own revolutionary
soldiers, a rag-tag bunch at best, up against a well trained and disciplined
British Army. But through sheer tenacity, determination and courage,
the British were defeated and finally gave in. They realized this war
would go on forever, no matter how many troops they sent to the colonies.
American courage and determination to be free was endless, stopless.
This is how history plays out.
So, now when we look at Iraq,
we see the same thing. Even with the ethnic strife and potential for
civil war, Iraqis want their country back from the U.S. occupiers. In
fact the civil strife has worsened to the point that U.S. military commanders
are ordering their troops to stay in their barracks as much as possible.
So, one asks, why are our troops there if they are only hiding out in
their barracks? What exactly is their mission now?
The sickening answer is they
are to save George Bush’s “reputation.”
The average Army soldier
or Marine in Iraq probably has a pretty decent life at home. Most likely
he is close to his mother and father and is probably married with children,
and has a good job in the U.S. He found the military to be both an adventure
and an opportunity for growth and a chance to honor his country in military
service, just as those who fought in WWII in the Pacific islands of
Guadalcanal, Tarawa, Saipan. He might recall the bloody beaches of Normandy,
where the 2nd U.S. Ranger battalion had the unenviable job of scaling
up the cliffs of Pointe du Hoc, with German troops firing down on them.
Casualties were heavy. At the end of the 2-days action, the landing
force of 225+ was reduced to about 90 men who could still fight.
But there was purpose to
their mission. They fought to destroy Nazism and Japanese Imperialism.
But today our troops in Iraq fight for no honorable cause, and it is
not their fault. They are soldiers. They take their orders. But one
has to wonder about the big guns, General Abizaid and General Casey.
They have shown no courage or commitment to their troops. They have
proven be stooges of Donald Rumsfeld. When the history of this war is
written, the U.S. military command will be seen as weak and compliant,
unwilling and unable to defend America against a rogue president --
nothing more than toy soldiers kissing ass to get ahead. The lesson
is that courage is not to be found in the military.
But now after three years,
and the recognition that the war was a fraud, theses brave soldiers
in Iraq know the difference: 70- 75% of them want the war to end and
want to come home to their families rather than fight George Bush’s
personal war. This is not what they signed up for. They signed an oath
to defend and protect the United States. After three years it has become
clear to them that this is not the goal in Iraq. Good, decent American
soldiers have become the oppressors, destroying much of Iraq’s
infra- structure, where water, food and medicine are hard to come by,
and electric power in Baghdad is available only 20% of the day.
It is time to admit defeat
in Iraq as has concluded ultra- conservative William F. Buckley recently
in an article in the National Review. Writes Buckley:
"One can't doubt that
the American objective in Iraq has failed… Our mission has failed
because Iraqi animosities have proved uncontainable by an invading army
of 130,000 Americans. The great human reserves that call for civil life
haven't proved strong enough. No doubt they are latently there, but
they have not been able to contend against the ice men who move about
in the shadows with bombs and grenades and pistols."
Buckley concludes, “…different
plans have to be made. And the kernel here is the acknowledgment of
Gerald S. Rellick, Ph.D.,
worked in aerospace industry for 22 years. He now teaches in the California
Community College system. He can be reached at email@example.com