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Published in the 1-15 December 2004 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

Fallujah is battle no. 1 of Bush's Second Crusade

By Karamatullah K. Ghori

Give Bush credit for being ruthlessly open and candid about the agenda of his 'second coming' as commander-in-chief of U.S, the title he prefers over being president. After all, he has been taking a lot of pride in being a 'war president.'

So it is war that goes on unabated, and with renewed zest, now that a majority of his countrymen has confirmed him for a second term. London's mass circulating Daily Mirror may well lament " how could 59 million Americans be so stupid" but that's not the way Bush sees his 'victory' at the polls. To him it is an overwhelming endorsement of his aggressive adventurism abroad.

Fallujah has been made to taste the earliest bitter medicine of Bush's militarism across the globe. Bush, in his own estimation, is within his rights to do so; he has been given a carte blanche by an ignorant American populace, dulled into a non-thinking mode by the likes of Fox News and CNN, to carry his battles wherever it pleases him.

Fallujah had long been in Bush's hairs because of the courageous defiance of its people to the forces of a neo-imperialist United States. Fallujah's valiant defenders had bravely repelled an American incursion into their city last April, to the consternation of Bush and his neo con cohorts. Then, in June, the same Fallujan freedom fighters had refused to accept the legitimacy of the Bush-installed puppet regime of the CIA hireling Iyad Allawi.

So Bush wasted not a minute to throw his full wrath against the beleaguered citizens of Fallujah, as soon as his victory at the polls became final. He won the presidency on November 3, and just four days later, 25 thousand U.S. marines, armed with deadly weapons, swooped down on the Fallujans like hungry vultures. Bush, in full vengeance, clearly wanted to make a horrible example of the heroic freedom fighters of Fallujah.

And a horrible example of Fallujah has indeed been made. It is not yet known how many of the Fallujans have fallen victim to Bush's unbridled appetite for Arab and Muslim blood. The American invaders are not in the business of taking body counts of the hapless victims of their blood lust. But the number of civilians of Fallujah, killed in a senseless bombardment and mad use of lethal fire- power must, easily, be in tens of thousands. 

Fallujah had between 250,000 and 300,000 people before it became crystal clear that Bush was out to target the city for the first battle in his second crusade. A vast citizenry had fled by the time the U.S. invasion of the city began. However, there were still at least 50,000 civilians trapped in the city when the American tanks started rolling in, after more than a month of heavy nightly bombing of the civilian population.

The invading force targeted the two main hospitals of Fallujah, before anything else. This Nazi tactic clearly demonstrated the vandalism in store for the Fallujans. With the hospitals destroyed, the victims of U.S. barbarity had no place to go to for medical help. According to eyewitness accounts, corpses of men, women and children littered the streets of the devastated city, with no one daring to bury them because of incessant bombing and sniping by American soldiers. 

Reporting for BBC and Reuters, an Iraqi journalist, Fadhil Badrani, summed it up most poignantly in these words: " I have seen some strange things recently, such as stray dogs snatching bites out of bodies lying on the streets…those that have survived this far are looking gaunt. The opposite is happening to the dead-left where they fell, they are now bloated and rotting…"

So brutal and barbaric is the U.S. military stranglehold over Fallujah that not even the Red Cross and the Red Crescent convoys, poised on the edge of the devastated city for days, have been allowed to enter the city to feed the hungry and tend to the bleeding victims of an insane mayhem. The puppet Allawi, must be blind in saying with a poker face that 'no civilians' have been killed in Fallujah. To him and his pay masters everyone left in Fallujah must be an 'insurgent' and a 'terrorist.'

So overpowering is the hubris of Bush and his barbaric soldiers that unarmed and wounded men are being killed like stray dogs and mosques are being bombed and desecrated at will by drunken soldiers.

Not surprisingly, the invaders were quick to pronounce, within the first few days of laying Fallujah waste to their marauding, that Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi, the alleged mastermind of terror running the insurgency of Fallujah, had escaped from the city, unscathed. The hunt for Zarqawi, a near-mythical shadowy figure, was given as the main reason for invasion of Fallujah. But Zarqawi had to escape, or allowed to, in order to keep his myth alive. After all, there must be a reason for pouring the wrath of U.S. military might over hapless citizenry of Iraq at will. Zarqawi is that reason and, per se, must be kept alive for as long as the show of devastation and destruction is decided to be kept going in Iraq.

Zarqawi must remain elusive and alive in order to provide the alibi for U.S. military adventurism in Iraq, just as Osama bin Laden must also remain alive, and at large, somewhere in Afghanistan or Pakistan, to keep that region in focus for American militarism and jingoism.

But statistics speak their own incontrovertible truth. According to U.S. own figures of those Fallujan men, captured by November 17, 1,030 men out of a 1,052,total were Iraqi. Amongst the dead-mostly Iraqi youths in their 20s-only 24 bodies, out of hundreds, counted by that date were of non-Iraqis. Figures, thus, give the lie to the incessant American propaganda barrage that the insurgency in Fallujah was a show of non-Iraqi 'infiltrators.'

In the city's wanton destruction and the butchering of its citizenry, for the 'crime' of standing up for their freedom, Fallujah may well rank alongside Beirut and Sarajevo. But this is not going to disturb the conscience of Bush or the team of ultra hawks and radically aggressive neo cons he has been busily assembling to assist him in his second term. To a fundamentalist Christian that he is, Bush thinks he is on a 'divine mission' and God, as well as millions of evangelicals in America, have categorically given their covenant to him. So the world must brace itself for a deadly robust plan of action in his second term. The warrior president is, simply, unrepentant and incorrigible.

That Bush is laying the ground for a more radical next four years is implicit in his choice of Condoleezza Rice to succeed Colin Powell as secretary of state. 

Rice is a loyalist Bushite, par excellence. She is cut from the same cloth as Bush and the supine U.S. media has been bending over backward since her nomination to project the commonality of 'values' between her and her boss. Their shared sense of 'divine mission' is being touted as the natural glue between them, as is their practice to 'pray together.'

There is nary a doubt about Rice being a notorious hardliner in the image of that Zionist-friendly Henry Kissinger, a not-too distant predecessor of hers. Hailed as George W. Bush's tutor in foreign policy and international relations, Rice stridently marketed his global 'vision' as his national security advisor. Just as Kissinger believed in flexing America's military muscles to intimidate real or potential adversaries, Rice is also an unabashed practitioner of power diplomacy. 

Rice's move to the State Department, at the expense of the relatively 'moderate' Powell certainly presages a more hawkish policy of militarism and war in Bush's second phase. 

Ironically, Powell himself may have laid the foundations of it in his dying days as secretary of state. He is unwittingly playing into the hands of the neo cons by making yet another unsubstantiated claim about weapons of mass destruction in the ME, this time about Iran. Powell is rattling his sabre against Iran's alleged nuclear weapons programme on the strength of information given to him by a member of the Iranian National Resistance, based in U.S. And in lending credibility to spurious intelligence, from a shady source, Powell is mindlessly making another fool of himself, out of his soldier's sense of loyalty to his 'chief' forgetting, however, that his own State Department has put this renegade Iranian outfit on its list of terrorist organizations.

The world still clearly remembers Powell's brazen performance at the UN Security Council on February 5, 2003, when he theatrically claimed that Iraq, under Saddam, possessed lethal weapons and posed an imminent threat to world peace. That performance of his, eventually proven devoid of any truth, must haunt him for the rest of his life. It clearly ruined his reputation of a moderate for good but was seized by his nemeses, like Rumsfeld and Cheney, to bolster their nefarious case for Iraq's invasion.

Ironically, again, whilst Bush has clearly given the boot to Powell, he is hanging on to an ultra hawk like Rumsfeld, a principal architect of the Iraqi fiasco and the inspiration behind gross human rights abuses at Guantanamo and Abu Ghuraib.

However, there is no doubt that a reinvigorated team of ultra hawks, like Rice, Rumsfeld and Cheney, will be out to test the will of the world with their witches brew of more military adventures abroad. Of course, they will dare not take on a country like North Korea, capable of hitting back U.S. and American interests in its proximity with devastating effect. But softer targets, like Iran and Syria, may well come in for early testing of Bush's Crusade Number Two.

For relatively easier manoeuvres in Iran and/or Syria, the neo cons will no doubt also be counting on a lot of help from their regional proxy and satrap, Israel. In Ariel Sharon, Bush has a soul mate sharing his agenda of an open-ended and indefinite war against 'terrorism.'

Bush and Sharon have heaved a sigh of relief, if not exactly jubilated, over the demise of Yasser Arafat. They think the death of the "terrorist" who personified the Palestinian yearning for statehood, will snuff out for good any prospect of Israel sharing the holy land with the Palestinians. Bush may pay lip service to the need for a sovereign Palestinian State for public consumption-and to hoodwink the Arab and Islamic world-but he has no will to let that happen. Ariel Sharon is determined to see to it that there is no flagging in Bush's ardent partisanship for an expansionist Israel. 

How iron-clad a control Sharon has over Bush was best articulated, recently, by Brent Scowcroft, doyen of American foreign policy experts and national security advisor to Bush Sr. Sharon, said Scowcroft, has Bush "wrapped around his little finger."
The Bush watchers at home and abroad are also getting an early feel of his renewed hubris vis-à-vis the UN. 

For some time past, Bush and his neo cons had, only reluctantly, seemed to be exiting from their habitual disparaging of UN. But election victory has, apparently, put paid to that brief honeymoon. Obviously on cue from the White House, the American establishment media have renewed their tongue lashing of Kofi Annan for his 'sin' of having declared Bush's Iraqi adventure as "illegal."
But as far as the Iraqi freedom fighters are concerned-be that in Fallujah, Ramadi, Baquba, Balad, Mosul, Tikrit et al-it makes no difference how much Bush leans on the UN to intimidate and browbeat the world body. These valiant fighters know that the destruction of Fallujah, or any other resistance center in the days ahead, will not dent their resolve, grit and determination to roll back Pax Americana in Iraq. Their sheer perseverance, in the face of daunting odds, is proof enough in itself that puppets like Iyad Allawi, sold to Bush for trifle little, will simply not be allowed to rule over them as agents of neo imperialism. The Iraqi people suffered interminably under a despot like Saddam and will not tolerate another with changed stripes.

With the Iraqi resistance gathering pace and strength with every crack of the whip by Bush there now hangs a big question mark over the prospect of elections in January. UN and Kofi Annan have already expressed reservations to this effect. The room for sham elections in occupied Iraq, on the model of Afghanistan, is narrowing.

No matter how low Allawi, and others of his ilk in the U.S. anointed imported ruling elite of Iraq, might stoop and grovel before their imperialist masters, the Iraqis of all stripes seem in no mood to bargain over their mission to throw the invaders of their land out. Fallujah and its example of gritty resistance to tyranny could well derail the Bush Crusade against the world of Islam and trigger its premature demise. The Fallujans have already scored a resounding moral victory over the neo imperialists of the 21st century and deserve everyone's kudos for their heroism. «

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