October 31, 2005
"When faced with an unsolvable
problem—expand the problem." This cynical political advice
supposedly hangs on the wall of U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald
Today it is clear to the entire world that the
U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq is an unsolvable problem. It is a howling
blunder, an arrogant miscalculation by the political servants of U.S. monopoly
Lt. Gen. William Odom, former director of the National Security
Agency, has labeled it "the greatest strategic disaster in United States
The war is a crisis for the increasingly isolated and
beleaguered Bush administration, whose approval ratings have plunged to an
all-time low of 38 percent.
The generals are complaining that recruiting
figures are in a death spiral. The U.S. military machine is stretched beyond its
ability to fill the next troop rotation.
Now the official number of U.S.
dead in Iraq has passed the 2,000 mark.
In evaluating the orchestrated
confrontations with Iran and Syria, which are increasing, it is essential to
look at U.S. history. The latest threats of military action and regime change
may seem to be political madness. But expanding the problem—or widening
the war in the Middle East—is a dangerous Pentagon option that is now
under active consideration.
From Vietnam to
Thirty-five years ago the U.S. war in Vietnam became an
unsolvable crisis for U.S. imperialism.
President Richard Nixon had
promised to establish a stable puppet government and train a Vietnamese army to
take over the fighting from U.S. troops. But the war was unwinnable because the
Vietnamese resistance could not be broken. By 1970 the U.S. population had
turned decisively against the war.
The Pentagon suddenly opted to
"expand the problem" by invading Cam bodia, widening the war to
engulf all of Southeast Asia.
Today, the corporate media dutifully report
on endless charges that the resistance in Iraq is fueled by
"foreign" insurgents and that both Iran and Syria are aiding the
resistance. On Oct. 15 a New York Times headline read, "GIs and Syrians in
Tense Clashes on Iraqi Border."
Top officials discussed cross-border
military operations and other "special oper ations" at an Oct. 1
White House meet ing. Two days later, Iranian President Ahmadinajad accused
Britain of involvement in bomb attacks in the southern Iranian city of
On the diplomatic front the United States and Britain pressured the
Interna tional Atomic Energy Agency board to overrule its own inspectors in
order to push a discussion of Iran’s nuclear program into the United
Nations Security Council. Meanwhile, John Bolton, U.S. ambassador to the UN,
warned that if the Security Council doesn’t deal with Iran, its relevance
will be damaged.
This is a clearly implied threat that the United States
will act on its own—as it did in Iraq.
UN report charges
On Oct. 22 a 54-page report delivered to UN Secretary General
Kofi Annan by German prosecutor Detlev Mehlis, a political appointee, blamed
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for the assassination of Lebanese Prime
Minister Rafiq Hariri. Annan had appointed an international committee to
investigate the assassination.
The Mehlis report is full of
unsubstantiated charges based on secret witnesses and statements from exile
groups in the pay of the CIA. Similar charges by the White House about Iraqi
"weapons of mass destruction" turned out to be a total
Much of the U.S. and European corporate media are giving the same
uncritical coverage to Mehlis’s UN report as they did to reports, leaks
and interviews with right-wing exile groups leading up to the U.S. invasion of
The very day Mehlis delivered his preliminary report, U.S., British
and French officials jumped on it to demand that the UN Security Council meet
and take drastic action, including imposing sanctions against Syria. France, it
should be remembered, was once the colonial power in Syria and
The role of the UN Security Council in all this confirms that
Washington still has enormous leverage there—through economic, political,
diplomatic and military pressure on smaller and weaker countries—to
fabricate a crisis and push through its resolutions.
The choice of whom to
accuse in the Mehlis report is highly political. It names top Syrian military
officials and Pales tinian leaders, while linking Pales tinian and Lebanese
charities to terrorist activities.
In order for Syrian President Assad to
comply with the continuing investigation, he would have to turn over top
officials in his own government, expel leaders of Palestinian organizations in
Syria, and assist in the disarming of Hezbollah in Lebanon.
demanded of Syria amount to an all-out effort to topple the government and
impose "regime change." At the same time they further demonize the
Palestin ian resistance and all Islamic aid
The ruling groups in
the United States and Israel clearly had far more to gain from the assassination
of the Lebanese president and the resulting destabilization of the area than
Syria did. While an all-out campaign has forced the withdrawal of Syrian forces
from Lebanon, it is important to remember that the same Western imperialist
countries now denouncing Syrian interference in Lebanon continue to say and do
nothing about Israel’s 38-year occupation of Syria’s Golan
The day after the Mehlis report was released, hundreds of
thousands of Syri ans poured into the streets of Damascus and Aleppo to protest,
rejecting the charges and the outrageous demands made on their
This is the real force U.S. imperialism is up against in the
entire region. Every effort to pressure, weaken or overturn governments and
destroy national sovereignty in the Middle East is an effort to push back the
popular movements on which these governments were originally based.
struggle in Iraq has shown, it may be possible to sanction, starve and invade a
country, overthrow its government and put the president in the dock. But it is a
far more difficult task to subdue a whole people determined to resist
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