Dead Cities: The Fallujah Option in Iraq?

Of all the war crimes that have flowed from the originating war crime of George W. Bush's unprovoked invasion of Iraq, perhaps the most flagrant was the wanton destruction of Fallujah in November 2004. Now, as ignominious defeat looms for Bush's Babylonian folly, some of the key players in fomenting the war are urging that the "Fallujah Option" be applied to an even bigger target: Baghdad.

What these influential warmongers openly call for is the "pacification" of Baghdad: a brutal firestorm by U.S. forces, ravaging both Sunni insurgents and Shiite militias in a "horrific" operation that will inevitably lead to "skyrocketing body counts," as warhawk Reuel Marc Gerecht wrote cheerfully last week in the ever-bloodthirsty editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal. [Via Robert Dreyfus on TomDispatch.com.] Gerecht's war whoop quickly ricocheted around the rightwing media echo chamber and gave public voice to the private counsels emanating from a group whose members now comprise the leadership of the U.S. government: The Project for the New American Century.

As oft noted here, PNAC was founded by Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Jeb Bush, Zalmay Khalilzad, and the now-indicted Lewis Libby, among others. In September 2000, they publicly called for sending American forces into Iraq – even if Saddam Hussein was already gone – as well as planting new U.S. bases in Central Asia, putting weapons in space, building new nukes and funding a vast militarization of American society. Being such savvy inside players and all, they recognized that this lunatic program of aggression and world domination would not be accepted by the American people – unless, of course, the nation happened to be struck by a "catalyzing event" like "a new Pearl Harbor." Who says dreams don't come true?

Gerecht, an ex-CIA man, is a Senior Fellow at PNAC. He was one of the many munchkins who laid the groundwork for the mass deception that led to the war by constantly undermining any CIA report that failed to conform to the warmongers' highly profitable fantasies of America's imminent destruction by the broken, toothless regime of Saddam Hussein. The intelligence services' many caveats about this bogus threat were placed directly on Bush's desk, as the National Journal reports, but the P-Nackers in the White House tossed them aside. They dreamed of war, and they got it.

But the natives failed to play their part in the imperial masque macabre. As noted here last week, they have churlishly failed to show proper appreciation for being slaughtered, looted, tortured and controlled. Even the Shiites, hailed by the Bushists just a few weeks ago as salt-of-the-earth lovers of moderate democracy, are now denounced as hate-filled sectarians, even worse than the Sunni insurgents – who are suddenly being courted by Bush's man in Baghdad, the P-Nacker Khalilzad, the BBC reports.

Not that the Shiite death squads – backed by the U.S.-backed Iraqi government – have been all bad, mind you. Sure, they've been kidnapping Sunni civilians, drilling holes in their skulls, beheading them then dumping the corpses on city streets or burying them in schoolyards – but all of this been "healthy," says Gerecht, because it has made the Sunnis and Kurds fear "Shiite power." Or something. To be honest, Gerecht's column is filled with so many canards, delusions and logical inconsistencies that it often leaves the plane of rational discourse altogether. But its import is clear: by daring to defy Washington's edicts now and then, the Shiites have gotten too big for their britches and must be brought to heel – along with the rest of the scum who are making the Dear Leader look bad back home.

You think that's a joke, but it's not. One of Gerecht's main reasons for "pacifying" Baghdad in a hydra-headed war on every ethnic faction is because "the U.S. media will never write many optimistic stories about Iraq if journalists fear going outside" the city's fortified Green Zone. There you have the Bushist vision in a nutshell. The war is not actually happening in the real world, where real people are dying by the tens of thousands; no, it's really being fought on the monitors of Fox News, CNN and NBC, in the flimsy pages of the New York Times and Washington Post, and on the overheated airwaves of talk radio. Baghdad must be pacified – like Grozny, like Guernica – so that Americans can see a few more peppy stories on the tube on their way to the ballgame or the mall.

The fate of Fallujah provides a template of the grim fate awaiting Baghdad if Gerecht and the government P-Nackers have their way. Fallujah was encircled in a ring of iron; water, electricity and food supplies were cut off (a flagrant war crime). The city was bombed for eight weeks, then hit by an all-out ground attack with both conventional and chemical weapons – white phosphorous and napalm – which killed thousands of civilians and left more than 200,000 homeless. Among the first targets were Fallujah's hospitals and clinics (another flagrant war crime): some were destroyed, killing doctors and patients alike, others were seized and closed, all in order to prevent any stories about civilian casualties from reaching the Western media, the Pentagon's "information warfare" specialists told the New York Times. Once again, manufactured image trumped blood-stained reality.

Perhaps this cup will pass from Baghdad. Perhaps Bush and his P-Nackers will instead move forward with their frenzied plans for a nuclear strike on Iran, as the New Yorker reported last week. But Gerecht's article is a perfect snapshot of the depraved minds that now rule America. Somewhere, somehow – and soon – another city is going to die.

Chris Floyd/This is a version of an article appearing in the April 14 edition of The Moscow Times. Links to sources can be found below.
Dead Cities
Returning to the Scene of the Crime (Fallujah)
TomDispatch, April 4, 2006


Can the Shiite Center Hold?
Wall Street Journal, April 3, 2006


The Iran Plans
The New Yorker, April 10, 2006


US 'in talks with Iraq militants'
BBC, April 7, 2006


Fallujah: The Flame of Atrocity
Empire Burlesque, Nov. 11, 2005


Ring of Fire: The Fallujah Inferno
Empire Burlesque, Nov. 19, 2004


Cutting and Running in Iraq
TomDispatch.com, April 6, 2006


Rebuilding America's Defenses
Project for a New American Century, September 2000


Inside Fallujah: One Family’s Diary of Terror
Scotland Sunday Herald, Nov. 14, 2004


Iraq Hospitals Could be Used as Propaganda Centers, says Pentagon
New York Times, Nov. 8, 2004


US Strikes Raze Fallujah Hospital
BBC, Nov. 6, 2004


Ghost City Calls for Help,
BBC, Nov. 13, 2004


Fallujah a Sea of Rubble and Death After Offensive,
Reuters, Nov. 14, 2004


A City lies in Ruins, Along with the Lives of the Wretched Survivors
The Independent, Nov. 15, 2004


Running Out of Patients: Fallujah Hospital Bombing
The Village Voice, Nov. 7, 2004


Smoke and Corpses
BBC, Nov. 11, 2004


20 Doctors Killed in Strike on Clinic: Red Crescent
UN Integrated Regional Information Network, Nov. 10, 2004


US Rolls out Nuclear Plan
Los Angeles Times, April 6, 2006