Lawrence Kaplan, neo-Jacobin ideologue and shameless apologist for the carnage in Iraq, claims that Americans wouldn't mind having 30,000 of our troops killed in Iraq if it achieves Bush's "strategic objectives."[Tolerating Casualties, From the Top Down, Washington Post, April 3, 2003]
No one knows any longer what these objectives are unless it is to start World War III. The original strategic objectives were all propagandistic lies to justify a gratuitous invasion of a Muslim country, an irrational act that was a strategic blunder that wrecked US foreign policy and isolated the US from the rest of the world.
The year-long Iraqi military adventure has been justified with a series of shifting strategic objectives. First, it was to rid ourselves of the danger of Iraqi WMD. When the befuddled American public learned that there were no WMD, the strategic objective was to sever the al Queda-Iraqi terror link. When it became clear that there was no such link, the objective changed to removing a brutal dictator and building democracy.
As it becomes clear that the US is the new dictator—one moreover that has now killed more Iraqi women and children than Saddam Hussein—intending a permanent military occupation under cover of a puppet government, Shiites have joined Sunnis in resisting the occupation, and US casualties have risen to higher rates than during the military conflict with the Iraqi army.
Just as in Vietnam, American generals are calling for more troops. But there are no more troops to send. National Guard and Reserve units are already deployed filling in the manpower gaps. To bolster our forces against the rising resistance, the Pentagon must renege on the promised rotation of 20,000 US troops, requiring them to remain at their combat stations.
Meanwhile, US forces are poised to attack the Shiite holy city of Najaf in order to kill or capture the rebellious cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. The US started Sadr's rebellion by closing down a Shiite newspaper that was not sufficiently obsequious to the American dictatorship which has taken Saddam Hussein's place.
Moderate Shiite clerics, who have been attempting to hold the US to its promise of democracy and elections, have indicated that an attack on Najaf would lead to a generalized Shiite uprising.
Such an uprising would involve huge numbers. The calls for more US troops would be urgent. The only source of those troops is to reinstate the draft.
If the insane idiots running the Bush administration persist in their macho bully mentality of escalating the conflict, we will have a test of Kaplan's prediction that Americans will gladly sacrifice 30,000 of their sons.
Moderate Shiite clerics cannot be reasonably expected to stand quietly while the US mows down Sadr's followers and destroys holy shrines. Trusting to their numbers prevailing in a democratic election, the Shiites' acceptance of the US occupation has already harmed their credibility and raised questions whether they have been bought by American gold. Until Sadr joined the resistance, only the Sunnis actively resisted the occupation.
A generalized rebellion against the American occupation would likely spill over into generalized conflict in the Middle East—the ignition of which was the precise reason behind the neoconservative plan to invade Iraq.
Although utterly discredited by the failure of their "cakewalk" scenario, the neocon ideologues and their Likud Party allies might yet prevail in starting a Middle Eastern war.
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Paul Craig Roberts was Associate Editor of the WSJ editorial page, 1978-80, and columnist for "Political Economy." During 1981-82 he was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy. He is the author of Supply-Side Revolution: An Insider's Account of Policymaking in Washington.