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November 29, 2005 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2005-11-29

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, November 29, 2005


cue Mt diigutt DatIg

Editor in Chief

Editorial Page Editors

Managing Editor



In my life I
have known great
joy and great
sorrow, and now I
know great shame."
- Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham
(R-Calif.), resigning from his seat yester-
day after pleading guilty to accepting
$2.4 million in bribes, as reported
yesterday by The Washington Post.

&K HAVE Cor--)!1 T4jr G E.OCAK: HAs$TAI<SN PLACE N o~ti1R" -PREsIblr4T BuSH, M..1 4



Iraq's inept insurgency

After more than
two years
of carefully
observing patterns of
post-war violence in
Iraq, I was all set to write
my first book, "Armed
Uprising for Dummies:
50 Ways to Expel Your
Foreign Occupier."
Regrettably, I learned
later that some Vietnamese guy - Ho Chi Minh?
- wrote the same book more than three decades
ago. The worst part is he wasn't the first. It turns
out this book has been around for decades, its wis-
dom a generational hand-me-down for 20th cen-
tury revolutionaries from China's Mao Zedong to
Cuba's Fidel Castro.
If there are practical lessons to be learned from
the successful uprisings of the 20th Century,
Iraq's militants have flouted them. If there are
models of tactical military engagement, of local
mobilization, of negotiation and strategic bar-
gaining, they've failed to resonate in Baghdad,
Basra and Mosul. Violence on the ground has
yet to be complemented with any long-term
political objectives. The bloody campaign func-
tions without a unifying principle, without cen-
tral leadership and most importantly, without
the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people. In fact,
viewed through a historical lens, Iraq's is one
of the more poorly organized and operationally
inept insurgencies of its time.
You wouldn't know it from the daily trag-
edies that punctuate the coverage of this war,
or the world-weary war critics who've made a
habit of packaging the bad news with the same
tired talking points and misleading analogies.
This is not Korea. It's not Somalia or Rwanda
or even Bosnia. And it's certainly not Vietnam.

Leaderless, nameless and shortsighted, Iraq's
insurgency is a new and inelegant species, a
makeshift coalition of embittered Sunni Mus-
lims, deposed Baathists and foreign Islamic
extremists with no real ambition other than
immediate and wholesale violence. The sooner
we realize we're not still in Southeast Asia, the
better off we'll be.
War, as von Clausewitz described it, is noth-
ing more than the continuation of politics. The
engine of any successful uprising is a credible
political objective, a cause prominent enough to
marshal broad support and reasonable enough to
preserve legitimacy. In Vietnam, it was a reuni-
fied and ultimately self-sufficient Communist
state. In Iraq, militants have embraced violence
not as instrument to further a political end, but
rather as an end in itself. Save for the immediate
withdrawal of coalition forces, there remains
no coherent agenda or fundamental purpose
behind the ongoing bloodshed. Insurgents have
proposed no substitute for a governing system
and made no claims to territory. They have no
flag to rally around, no captivating leader to
mobilize under. Even if they wanted a stake in
the political process, there exists no political
arm with which they could negotiate.
In Vietnam, the United States faced not only
an armed uprising, but a country willing and
able to support one. The popular support of the
people proved a logistical luxury for Ho Chi
Minh, whose Vietcong insurgents became well-
imbedded in civilian populations. This allowed
the Vietcong to lure U.S. forces into residen-
tial combat areas where civilian casualty rates
were often high, a time-honored insurgent tactic
meant to exhaust local support for an occupy-
ing power. Iraq's insurgents, while apparently
recognizing the logic in maximizing collateral
damage, have an altogether different approach.

Instead of waiting for U.S. forces to slip up,
Iraqi militants target civilians themselves.
This may explain why Iraq's insurgency
operates with such little popular support. It
turns out it's difficult to win the hearts and
minds of the same people whose public buses
you're showering with machine guns, whose
water lines you're sabotaging, whose funerals
you're bombing. The sentiments of nationalism
that initially brought legitimacy to this insur-
gency have been all but drowned out by sectar-
ian violence. This uprising may have caches of
weapons and a ready pool of martyrs, but so
long as it's without a popular base of support,
it's short a backbone. "There's a name for these
guys," guerrilla warfare expert Anthony James
Joes told The New York Times: "losers."
None of this is intended to downplay the cur-
rent intensity of violence or the tragic toll this
armed uprising has taken on the U.S. military
and Iraq at large. This insurgency has severely
hampered the reconstruction process and has
killed more Americans than even the most pes-
simistic forecasts had projected. But the steady
stream of carnage we see on television can't
become our sole point of reference in under-
standing this conflict. Indeed, if this insurgency
has shown an aptitude for anything, it's an ability
to bleed the American military of its most valu-
able asset - public support. To this end, shock
value is the militants' most potent weapon. But
understood in a historical context, this uprising
lacks some of the most fundamental ingredients
of staying power. This cold-blooded campaign
will eventually reach a dead-end. The question
now is whether the United States has the patience
and fortitude to be there when it happens.
Singer can be reached
at singers@umich.edu.

Land of the free, home of the torturers

"We do not torture ... We Freedom-elec-
So said our good president, or he would
have if he wanted to be entirely truthful.
President Bush only said the first part; it took
a "Saturday Night Live" jester to complete his
thought. You see, the president doesn't really
concern himself with minor details like the
torture of prisoners in U.S. military prisons
or the existence of secret CIA jails where,
out of the prying eyes of meddlesome hat-
ers like Amnesty International and Human
Rights Watch, Lord knows what goes on.
"Big whoop," Bush would say.
But then again, why should he care? It's not
as if we Americans hold his flubs against him.
He goes out and spends hundreds of billions
of our good old greenbacks on a deceptively
crafted war, and all we can say is, "Good job,
Mr. President. Here's Ohio for you - stolen
but gift-wrapped."
Since the story of secret CIA "black sites"
broke in The Washington Post more than three
weeks ago, the administration's attitude has
been a thing of beauty. "I am not going to dis-
cuss any specific intelligence activities," said
Bush's faithful lap dog, White House spokes-
man Scott McClellan. Aside from the fact
that his answer does not remotely relate to the
question, it makes a lot of sense. I mean, we the
people have absolutely no business knowing
about the activities of our government, espe-
cially not in America. That's for rich cronies
to know, and we should just eat our apple pie,
watch our football and keep waving the flag of
blind patriotism.

How can we tolerate such blatant abuse of
our own laws regarding the treatment of pris-
oners? Given that there is no evidence of tor-
ture in these secret jails, or evidence of much
else either, are we really to believe that Abu-
Ghraib - the worst photos of which are still
classified - was one lone anomaly? Even if
I drink that Kool-Aid, why can't we at least
let humanitarian organizations in to examine
the conditions in these secret jails? If we are
the leaders of the free world, then why does
it take the European Union to bring about an
investigation on such secret prisons? If we are
fighting this war against brutal authoritarian
regimes that made political dissidents disap-
pear overnight, what makes us any better if we
hold our prisoners in the very secrecy and soli-
tude for which we chastise our enemies?
The truth is this war, this ambush of that
back-stabbin' fool named "terror," is an ideo-
logical war at its core. We are not fighting
any specific countries, there are no weapons
of mass destruction to speak of and there has
been no decrease in terror attacks worldwide
since this crusade began.
Why do we fight then? For no other rea-
son than to prove that "ours" is an ideology
of peace and tolerance and "theirs" is one of
primal hatred and oppression. But the fallacy
of this statement becomes all too clear the
moment we consider the torture of prisoners
done by our own country.
What does the good president have to say
about this? He wants you to believe that there
is no torture, no lying and certainly nothing
to hide. You can picture that playful grin and
trademark full-body jerk as you imagine him
telling us, "We're the good guys, what we do

doesn't matter. Keep your eyes out for them
evil-doers infiltrating us each day, and let us
worry about the prisoners."
As bad as this hypocrisy is, it's not even
the worst part of the situation. It is one (bad)
thing to abuse prisoners of war, but quite
another to create the atmosphere of secrecy
and mob-like barriers into the activity of gov-
ernment that we see in Washington today. We
all yelled at Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick
for fostering an environment in which only
his posse had any power and voters were shut
out. Take that, multiply it by 100 and you have
the situation enveloping the current White
House. But then again, Kilpatrick got reelect-
ed too, so maybe this is the hot new thing in
government: lies, deceit and, of course, nepo-
tism. No wonder that guy named "Scooter"
isn't looking so worried.
Whatever happened to the America of the
good old days? Where is the true land of the
free, where our presidents were hailed as lib-
erators (Woodrow Wilson), recognized that
fear was not a political tool but our greatest
enemy (Franklin Roosevelt) and even won
Nobel Peace Prizes (Wilson, Theodore Roos-
evelt and Jimmy Carter)? Unfortunately, this
administration has besmirched the very repu-
tation and ideology of the peace and freedom it
claims to protect. As a worn Carter expressed,
"This is just one indication of what has been
done under this administration to change the
policies that have persisted all the way through
our history." The saddest part, however, is that
most Americans could care less.
Syed is an LSA sophomore and member of the
Daily's editorial board.



Editorial Board Members: Amy Anspach, Reggie Brown, Gabrielle D'Angelo, John Davis,
Whitney Dibo, Milly Dick, Sara Eber, Jesse Forester, Mara Gay, Jared Goldberg, Ashwin
Jagannathan, Theresa Kennelly, Mark Kuehn, Will Kerridge, Frank Manley, Kirsty McNa-
mara. Raiiv Prabhakar. Matt Rose, David Russell, Katherine Seid, Brian Slade, John Stiglich,

Don't mix up AATA with
University bus system
Th ~etter ,is in renanceto the Daily

the time of day, and most routes run until
2:30 a.m.! The other concern voiced was
not having access to grocery stores. Well,
our Northwood and North Campus routes
stun within one block of the Kroeer store

Compare ours to any other campus in the
Big Ten and any other municipal system
for service hours, frequency of service and
days per week of service, and you will see
that the "Bi2 Blues" come out on too. This


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