Progressive Writers Bloc

The Law of Holes

By Uncle Bill Warner

In 1998, former President George H.W. Bush and his former National Security Advisor, Brent Scowcroft, collaborated on the book: A World Transformed, a political history covering significant world events which occurred during the first three years of his presidency. In Chapter 19, he discusses the 1991 Gulf War, which he orchestrated, ostensibly to liberate Kuwait from the invading Iraqis. The US-led coalition forces stopped short of going on to capture Baghdad. The following quote was prophetic:

"Trying to eliminate Saddam, extending the ground war into an occupation of Iraq, would have violated our guideline about not changing objectives in midstream, engaging in "mission creep," and would have incurred incalculable human and political costs. Apprehending him was probably impossible. We would have been forced to occupy Baghdad and, in effect, rule Iraq. The coalition would instantly have collapsed, the Arabs deserting it in anger and other allies pulling out as well. Under the circumstances, there was no viable "exit strategy" we could see, violating another of our principles.

"Furthermore, we had been self-consciously trying to set a pattern for handling aggression in the post-Cold War world. Going in and occupying Iraq, thus unilaterally exceeding the United Nations' mandate, would have destroyed the precedent of international response to aggression that we hoped to establish. Had we gone the invasion route, the United States could conceivably still be an occupying power in a bitterly hostile land. It would have been a dramatically different and perhaps barren outcome."

In other words, don't dig a hole for yourself in Iraq!

Well, here we are in 2004, sweating out the very scenario President G.W. Bush's dad had foreseen after the first Gulf War. Our "coalition" in the present situation is a farce. We have had to go it alone, in defiance of international law, which forbids pre-emptive war unless there is an imminent threat of invasion. GWB&Co. ignored the millions of people who took to the streets opposing the U.S. invasion. We are trying, unsuccessfully at the moment, to "rule Iraq", either through the current puppet governing council or a future puppet government, similar to the unpopular Saudi Royal Family, or the former Shah of Iran who was deposed by a popular revolution because of his U.S. ties.

The US has never much cared for freedom or democracy so much as control. After the first Gulf war, the Sabah family returned to ruling "liberated Kuwait" as a feudal kingdom. We will support anyone. We supported this "demon" dictator Saddam Hussein when he was helping to keep Iran in line. Our main ally in the region is a despotic family, sitting on top of the world's largest oil field in Saudi Arabia. They do things like cutting off the hands of thieves (the ones that steal bread, not the big boys like Ken Lay) and dumping a truckload of rocks on one of their royal princesses for adultery. As I said, we'll support anyone who gives us the keys to their kingdom.

What the U.S. wants is a weak Middle East that cannot defy us when we tell them what to do. We want a big say in where their oil production goes, how much they produce, and how much they get for it. There are big profits to be made, not only for the companies involved in the oil biz (like Dick Cheney's Halliburton), but for companies like Coca Cola and AT&T.

It seems there is another dimension that has crept in to the picture, though. Our President has more than once mentioned God as supporting his actions in Iraq. The word "crusade" has been used more than once. We may have forgotten this bloody period in history, but the Arabs haven't! The Arab world is not pleased. What we are doing, and how we are doing it, is driving them further and further from us. They already do not care much for Israel, which is built on confiscated Palestinian lands and brutally dominates the rest of Palestine. You might recall that when Israel was formed, the Arab countries surrounding it promptly invaded them. Without U.S. support, Israel would never have made it. Today Arab solidarity with the displaced Palestinian people is the single most potent roadblock to peace. The Arabs, if they controlled their own oil, could certainly put pressure on the U.S. to stop supporting Israel!

President Bush and his advisors must have known that Saddam Hussein and his secular Sunni Muslim buddies were the only thing holding the Iraqi Shi'ite majority in check. Our administration is great for both propaganda and self-deception in this matter, even claiming a connection between secular Saddam and his arch-enemy, the ultra-religious Osama! Osama's supporters hate Saddam; they even had a contract out on his life.

We have dug ourselves a hole in Iraq that gets deeper every day that we stay there. Can't we just let them have free elections and leave?

The last thing the US wants in Iraq is free elections. Giving Iraq one-man-one-vote-democracy would surely mean a victory for the majority Shi'ites. Then if they got cozy with the Shi'ites in Iran...well, you can see a problem developing. So there we sit in Iraq...sitting targets for the Iraqis who want us to go home. Polls have shown that up to 90% of Iraqis want us to pull out. Yet, we insist on staying and installing a "friendly" government (translate that puppet government). And the Kurds...we won't even go into that in this essay.

We have no exit strategy. Our presence in Iraq and in Saudi Arabia as well as our support for Israel guarantee future "terrorist" attacks on the U.S. and its buddies. Terrorism is the only thing that gets our attention.

George Santayana, it is said, once noted that those who can't remember history are condemned to repeat it. President Bush, ignoring history, world opinion, and even his own father's advice, seems to be ignoring the Law of Holes:

Law of Holes: when you have dug a hole too deep for you to get out, stop digging.

Unfortunately, we are in the hole with him.

Getting out of the hole in the Middle East is not going to be easy, especially as no one in a position of authority here seems ready to take responsibility for having dug the hole in the first place. If we are going to avoid future 9/11s, we had better consider helping our country build an exit ladder based on cooperation and respect for the right of peoples through out the world to control their own destinies.

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