The burdens of empire

Instead of a nice, clean occupation that results in the first Arab democracy — and a network of Army bases from which to project power throughout the region — I predict the United States will have years of guerilla insurgency from nationalistic Iraqis (some of the fiercest nationalism in the Arab world), the dirty job of suppressing Kurdish and Shi’ite independence movements and Sunni power grabs, the problem of al Qai’da slipping across the borders (with the help of Iran and sympathetic Saudis) into the country to stike at American troops and meddling in Iraq’s internal affairs by Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Russia.

hog sunset.jpgSecretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld on Friday signed deployment orders for 62,000 more troops to head out to the Persian Gulf, nearly doubling the number of troops already there to about 107,000. Most defense planners expect the total number of troops to between 200,000 and 250,000.
The latest order directs 27,000 additional personnel to the gulf, including thousands of marines, an Army airborne infantry brigade, a squadron of Air Force F-117 Nighthawk stealth fighters, and two squadrons of F-16CJ radar-jamming fighters. An order late Friday sent 35,000 troops, half of them marines, to the region.
Also deployed Jan. 11 is the British aircraft carrier Ark Royal, heading a 16-ship flotilla officially sailing for long-planned naval exercises in the Middle East. This is the largest British amphibious task force to be deployed since the Falklands War, and officials say the flotilla has been strengthened with two battalions of Royal Marine commandos added — in case it is needed for an attack on Iraq.
At the same time, Tukish Prime Minister Abdullah Gul arrived in Saudi Arabia Saturday to talk about peaceful solutions to the standoff between the United States and Iraq. This meeting happened a day after Turkey finally gave permission for American military inspectors to assess the status of bases in Turkey, a necessary first step if Turkey is to be a staging area for an attack by American ground troops. (Turkey had already given the nod to the United States that it could use air bases such as Incirlik, but it’s been dragging its feet on allowing U.S. ground forces to be stationed in-country, as there is widespread opposition to the United States and a war with Iraq among the Turkish populace.)
Also mentioned in this CNN story is a series of strikes Sunday by American-Anglo planes in the southern “No-Fly” zone. There is no word on wounded or damage.

Continue reading “The burdens of empire”