Created on Thursday, 08 May 2008 20:59
Fallujah Revisited: Bush, Petraeus Prepare 'Cleansing' of Sadr City
by Chris Floyd
. George W. Bush and David Petraeus are preparing to make a new Fallujah in Sadr City, home to two million Shiites in Baghdad. Thousands of people are already fleeing the area before the full-scale slaughter and destruction begin.
image: Fallujah 2004
As in Fallujah, the multitudes who cannot escape will be trapped in a "free fire zone", subjected to ruthless bombardment and ground assault. Thousands -- perhaps tens of thousands -- of innocent civilians stand in the shadow of imminent death.
The assault is part of the run-up to the coming attack on Iran -- an attempt to secure the rear of that new front by destroying Iraq's Shiite nationalist forces. It is also part of an on-going effort to eliminate the strongest rival to the Shiite extremists that Bush has installed in office in Iraq, before the conquered land's fall elections.
he preliminary assault on Sadr City has already begun, of
course. As the BBC notes, in the last seven weeks around 1,000 people
-- most of them civilians -- have already been killed by the
Bush-Petraeus "surge" into the area. Petraeus is frantically building
high-walled ghettos in Sadr City, slicing neighborhoods in half,
sundering families, destroying communities and livelihoods. Meanwhile,
the Iraqi government is circulating leaflets in Sadr City districts,
warning the people to leave -- or else.
This, you understand, is liberation. This is freedom. This is the glorious "surge" to victory. As Tacitus noted:
rich enemy excites their cupidity; a poor one, their lust for power.
East and West alike have failed to satisfy them.... To robbery,
butchery, and rapine, they give the lying name of "government"; they
create a desolation and call it peace."
That translation of
the quote was taken from a remarkable article by David Bromwich in the
New York Review of Books, a shattering analysis of the nation's hideous
and horrifying moral decay in the Terror War. The title says it all:
Euphemism and American Violence. You should read the whole thing, but
the conclusion is most apt to our immediate subject here:
begins today" was a saying in the Bush White House on September 12,
2001â€”repeated with menace by Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage
to the director of Pakistani intelligence Mahmoud Ahmadâ€”a statement
that on its face exhibits a totalitarian presumption. Yet nothing so
much as language supplies our memory of things that came before today;
and, to an astounding degree, the Bush and Cheney administration has
succeeded in persuading the most powerful and (at one time) the
best-informed country in the world that history began on September 12,
2001. The effect has been to tranquilize our self-doubts and
externalize all the evils we dare to think of. In this sense, the
changes of usage and the corruptions of sense that have followed the
global war on terrorism are inseparable from the destructive acts of
In the name of tranquilized American people, a new
evil is about to externalized upon the bodies of the women and
children, the old and sick, the innocent and vulnerable in Sadr City.
As the BBC reports:
- "The authorities in Baghdad say they are
preparing for an exodus of thousands of people from eastern parts of
the city. Fighting between government and US troops on one side, and
Shia militia on the other, has intensified recently. Two football
stadiums are on stand-by to receive residents from two neighbourhoods
in the Sadr City area...
- "In the last seven weeks around 1,000
people have died, and more than 2,500 others have been injured, most of
them civilians. The fighting so far in Sadr City has been fierce -
street to street, and house to house.
- "Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri
Maliki is showing a determination to disarm the country's Shia militia
groups - particularly the Mehdi Army - that he has never displayed
before. However, Iraqi army operations, backed by US ground and air
support, have so far failed to overwhelm the Shia militiamen, who are
still responding with roadside bombs, sniper fire, mortars and rockets.
government has distributed leaflets in two key districts of Sadr City,
warning people to leave.The speculation is that government forces are
preparing for a big push into eastern Baghdad to end the current
fighting once and for all. Shortages of water and medical supplies have
already made life inside Sadr City extremely difficult."
And this is just the beginning.
story of Fallujah's destruction at Bush's order in mid-November 2004
-- a burnt offering to celebrate his renewal of power -- gives us an
intimation of what is about to happen in Sadr City. This is what I
wrote, in the Moscow Times, about that assault while it was still going
Ring of Fire: The Fallujah Inferno
- "The infernoâ€¦is
what is already here, the inferno where we live every day, that we form
by being together. There are two ways to escape suffering it. The first
is easy for many: accept the inferno and become such a part of it that
you can no longer see it. The second is risky and demands constant
vigilance and apprehension: seek and learn to recognize who and what,
in the midst of the inferno, are not inferno, then make them endure,
give them space."
-- Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities.
is of course no space, nowhere to move or breathe in the sealed chamber
of the American Infoglomerate â€“ the vast entanglement of corporate
media and government propaganda that smothers the body politic with
hysterical outpourings of diversion, drivel and deadening white noise.
Here, events occur in a total vacuum: they have no history, no context,
no consequences. Stripped of the heft and scope of reality, they can
easily be molded and distorted to fit the prevailing political and
business agendas. Amnesia, ignorance, confusion and fear are left to
rule the day: excellent fuel for the stokers of the inferno, who use
the heat to work their alchemical magic â€“ transforming human blood into
- "There are more and more dead bodies on the streets
and the stench is unbearable. Smoke is everywhere. It's hard to know
how much people outside Fallujah are aware of what is going on here.
There are dead women and children lying on the streets. People are
getting weaker from hunger. Many are dying are from their injuries
because there is no medical help left in the city whatsoever. Some
families have started burying their dead in their gardens."
was a voice from the depths of the inferno: Fadhil Badrani, reporter
for the BBC and Reuters, trapped in the iron encirclement along with
tens of thousands of civilians. It was a rare breath of truth. The
reality of a major city being ground into rubble was meant to be
obscured by the Infoglomerate's wall of noise: murder trials, state
visits, Cabinet shuffles, celebrity weddings â€“ and, above all, the
reports of "embedded" journalists shaping the "narrative" into its
proper form: a magnificent feat of arms carried out with surgical
precision against an enemy openly identified by American commanders as
"Satan," the Associated Press reports.
One of the first moves in
this magnificent feat was the destruction and capture of medical
centers. Twenty doctors â€“ and their patients, including women and
children â€“ were killed in an airstrike on one major clinic, the UN
Information Service reports, while the city's main hospital was seized
in the early hours of the ground assault. Why? Because these places of
healing could be used as "propaganda centers," the Pentagon's
"information warfare" specialists told the NY Times. Unlike the first
attack on Fallujah last spring, there was to be no unseemly footage of
gutted children bleeding to death on hospital beds. This time â€“ except
for NBC's brief, heavily-edited, quickly-buried clip of the usual lone
"bad apple" shooting a wounded Iraqi prisoner â€“ the visuals were
So while Americans saw stories of rugged
"Marlboro Men" winning the day against Satan, they were spared shots of
engineers cutting off water and electricity to the city â€“ a flagrant
war crime under the Geneva Conventions, as CounterPunch notes, but
standard practice throughout the occupation. Nor did pictures of attack
helicopters gunning down civilians trying to escape across the
Euphrates River â€“ including a family of five â€“ make the TV news,
despite the eyewitness account of an AP journalist. Nor were tender
American sensibilities subjected to the sight of phosphorous shells
bathing enemy fighters â€“ and nearby civilians â€“ with unquenchable
chemical fire, literally melting their skin, as the Washington Post
reports. Nor did they see the fetus being blown out of the body of
Artica Salim when her home was bombed during the "softening-up attacks"
that raged relentlessly â€“ and unnoticed â€“ in the closing days of George
W. Bush's presidential campaign, the Scotland Sunday Herald reports.
they saw instead were two loudly devout Christians, Bush and Tony
Blair, clasping hands and proclaiming that Artica Salim had been torn
to shreds in order to fight terrorism â€“ specifically, the terrorism of
Jordanian thug Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. The city's alleged refusal to turn
over Zarqawi was the ostensible reason for the attack; yet halfway
through the assault, with dead civilian bodies already stinking in the
streets, Coalition commanders finally admitted the truth: Zarqawi
wasn't in Fallujah â€“ and hadn't been there for weeks, perhaps months.
then, Zarqawi leads a peculiarly charmed life. Three times before the
war, U.S. forces were set to kill him and destroy his organization. It
wasn't that difficult; after all, he was operating in Kurdish-held
Iraqi territory, where the U.S. military had free rein. Yet each time,
Bush called off the strike, the Wall Street Journal reports. He needed
Zarqawi for his pre-war propaganda, so he could point to an "al Qaeda
ally in Iraq" â€“ even though Zarqawi was on Bush's Iraqi turf, not
Saddam's. And Bush still needs Zarqawi, or someone like him â€“ a killer
whose lurid malefactions obscure the even larger crime that set all
these atrocities in motion: an unprovoked aggressive war based on lies,
whose only goal is the imposition of a regime that will enrich Bush's
cronies while advancing American dominance of the world's resources.
and Zarqawi are mirror-image enemies: foreign terrorists breaking into
Iraq to spread indiscriminate death and ruin in pursuit of their brutal
visions. Everywhere they go, everything they touch, everyone they draw
to their cause becomes inferno.