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eXile Classic / The War Nerd / July 25, 2002
By Gary Brecher

Waiting for Dubya and his Texas cronies to decide whether to hit Iraq is like waiting for Christ. It’s so goddamn slow, and you start kinda doubting it’s gonna happen at all. American tv reminds me of Sunday school teachers talking about the coming of Christ, with all the little reporters trying to get themselves shown with a mike in front of an F-16 taking off, asking, “When will the invasion come — if it comes at all?”

Burning oil and dying birds: all the Iraqi army is good for

Burning oil and dying birds: all the Iraqi army is good for.

Nice question. How about this: “Just how dumb are those Texans, anyway?” The Iraq question depends on how you answer that one. If they’re really as dumb as they seem to be, they’ll do it.

That’s where it’s an advantage living in Fresno. When you live in a place like this, you see what real people, good country people, are like. Like, really stupid. Stupider than you could possibly imagine.

Right now, the papers and TV in Fresno are jabbering about the local semi-pro team. It’s losing money. They can’t handle that. On the other hand…it’s a baseball team. And for them, “Duh…baseball GOOD!” So these fat idiot Christians are in a logical bind like the kind Captain Kirk used to use on alien computers. And there’s smoke coming out of their little ears, because they can’t figure out what to do.

Today the Fresno Republican printed a little poem about baseball, something about:

When the ball is struck, the boy
Advances to first base with joy.

See, you read things like that over breakfast at Mickey D’s every morning and it’s real, real easy to understand why they’re probably going to invade Iraq. It’s because they’re stupid.

The Pentagon has been leaking invasion plans all over for a month. The latest has 250,000 troops attacking, most of them from Kuwait, heading north straight for Baghdad, with elements of the 82nd or 101st landing nearer Baghdad to interrupt reinforcement. The CIA paramilitaries (you know, guys like Johnny Spann who got himself killed in Mazar) will ‘chute in to take out SCUD sites and disable chemical or nuke sites. Meanwhile US air attack squadrons will be hitting the Iraqi Army from the North and West, from bases in eight countries, will be blasting anything that moves.

The attack sounds like a by-the-book Gulf War standard plan, with the B-2s and F-117s going in early to hit the SAM sites and AD guns, followed by F-15Es and F-16s, maybe mixed with a few British MRCAs targeting the biggest military and CCC sites, then hundreds of ALCMs for the slower, softer targets. That part won’t be hard. We shouldn’t lose a single plane, in fact — not with the Predator RPV to go in over high-risk targets. Now that we’ve got the RPVs, we don’t really have to risk the life of a single pilot.

What’s much hairier than the purely military aspect is the issue of where the planes take off from. They say the planes will be based in these eight countries, including Turkey and Qatar. I’m not so sure of that. Turkey, probably, but Qatar? I’m not sure the Emirates are going to be in the mood to help the US again against Iraq.

In fact, that’s my reaction to the whole idea of a second invasion of Iraq: you can’t pull off that kind of thing twice, especially when Iraq isn’t threatening anybody right now. The Emirs of the Gulf are not that bright, but they’re not totally stupid either. They rule very shaky little kingdoms where most of the labor is Pakistani and most of the technicians are Palestinians. The locals don’t do much but sit around collecting oil royalties. They don’t want anything that’s going to upset their mercenaries, because the Pakis and Palestinians between them could probably boot the Emirs right out of their palaces.

The first time around, in Bush Sr.’s Gulf War, they stood up to the line when called because one of their own, the Emir of Kuwait, who was the biggest of them all had been overthrown. But Saddam learned from that. He’s not going to try to grab Qatar or any other emirate. So why should the Emirs risk their real shaky hold on power just to please Bush Jr.? They know the difference between the dad and the son. Bush Sr. was head of the CIA, man — he was a serious person. Bush Jr. is like the Second Coming as comedy. He isn’t somebody you have to take seriously.

The leaked war plan, calling for a classic massed firepower attack from all directions, comes from Tommy Franks, who gave you the big Afghan plan. There are a lot of whispers leaked from the Pentagon about Franks. The basic story is that he’s a plodder, a classic three-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust offensive coach. There’s another plan floating around that’s more “imaginative.” This one comes from Gen. Wayne Downing, who ran a lot of the special ops in Afghanistan and sees the Iraq problem as part of the counterterrorism campaign. He doesn’t want it to be a big conventional war. He wants to use special forces, proxy fighters, local anti-Saddam forces — irregular warfare, in short, backed up by occasional smart strikes directed by a few laser-designating Rangers and Delta guys on the ground.

But Downing just resigned. So much for doing it the smart, quiet way. So it looks like they’re going to do it the big, loud, stupid way. I mean, which way sounds more like Dubya to you? Loud and stupid is just his kind of war. And it looks like he’s gonna have it his way, bigger than a Greek wedding, with a quarter of a million troops, bombs thicker than grass seeds and leaflets dropped on the Shiites and the Kurds telling them to rise, rise, RISE! up against the bogeyman, ol’ Soddom (as Dubya’s dad used to call him, just to rile’im.)

But a lot of those methods won’t work the second time around. That’s what creeps me out about the whole plan: it’s based on the notion that you can use the same tricks on the same people and still expect them to work.

The Gulf states, for starters: they don’t want any part of it. They know what Cheney and Bush don’t: the Emirs are holding onto power very shakily and they don’t want more angry young men milling around, looking for a traitor to shoot. They’re too good a target. If we blast Iraq, the crowds are going to be out in every street shooting off those damn AKs again, and places like Qatar are going to wobble like a trailer tire on a Caddy.

And the Saudis — they hate the idea too. The Saudis are sitting on some very scary people — not just all the Palestinian expats who run their air conditioners and desalinization plants, but the Islam-crazy little Saudi boys who want jihad now.

There’s something you have to remember: it wasn’t poor Palestinians who took over those jets on Sept. 11. 15 out of 19 of the hijackers were Saudis. Nobody seems to notice how weird that is. If the US has been nice to any Arab state, it’s been Saudi Arabia. We coddled those fuckers for 40 years — and they’re the ones who aimed the jets at us. They weren’t “the dispossessed” or any of that shit. They were rich Saudi boys. They weren’t pissed about Israel — they were pissed at us for stepping on holy ground, which is what they consider that expensive desert they live in.

(Just like fucking Bakersfield. Why does oil always grow under the deadest, hottest, driest real estate on the planet? I swear: go to Bakersfield in the summer and you think you’re in Riyadh. Hey, it just occurred to me there’s this other connection: religious crazies! You go to Bakersfield and I swear everybody you meet is a crazy hardshell Baptist. Just like Riyadh! It’s too fucking weird.

The Kurds, for one thing, ain’t gonna get played again. They announced it last week: the Grand Kurd or whatever said, “You know when you told us to rise up back in the Gulf War? An’ how you said you’d be right there behind us if we did? Well, uh, you musta got lost on the way, because the Republican Guards showed up and started gassing us and bombing us and shooting our babies and YOU DIDN’T DO SHIT, YOU GODDAMN LIARS!”

Which is absolutely true: the US Army dropped all those leaflets in Kurdish promising help, and not one little bit of help came. Same with the Shiites — we did our humble American best to make sure the poor fuckers, who have about the most miserable history in the world, got another episode of Hell on Earth. They rose up; we took pictures from our recon satellites and laughed at ’em while they got slaughtered.

I have a friend who was in DIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency. He helped write up those leaflets. I asked him if he felt bad about what happened. He said, and I quote, “They’re just animals anyway.”

I’m not like Jane Fonda here, OK? I’m not like Sally Jesse Raphael, some bleeding heart elitist. But that sucks. It’s just the Bushes trying to act all Imperial, and not knowing how to do it right.

See, the US had “learned from Vietnam.” Which is great, except: stupid people don’t ever really LEARN anything. Stupid people learn stupid lessons. The lesson of Vietnam, the ones Colin Powell kept trying to push, were: go in with overwhelming force or don’t go in at all; think smart and cold about what you want; don’t get all moral about a war.

So the way the Bushes learned that lesson was to try to act like the old-time British Empire, that had a slogan: “Britain has no permanent friends, only permanent interests.” So we did the Gulf War the direct opposite of Vietnam — to the point of stupidity.

As Dana Carvey said in his Bush Sr. imitation SNL, “Won’t be another Vietnam. Nu-uh. Because we have learned the lessons of Vietnam: Stay out of Vietnam!”

No more moral crusade, anti-Commie crap. We played it cool. Lied to the Kurds; lied to the Shiites; hurt Saddam just enough to make him pull his tentacles back north. And left him in power, then just plain left, let’em butcher each other to their little hearts’ content.

There were reasons: the Turks didn’t want a Kurdish state, and the Saudis and Kuwaitis just wanted us out of there as fast as possible. All nice’n’quick. Surgical.

So we’re gonna go back into Iraq now, to clean up the malpractices from our first cool, clean, surgical operation. And of course that’s gonna fuck things up about a hundred times worse. This time they have to get rid of Saddam; the Israelis, for one, won’t have it any other way (and the Bushes made it pretty obvious: they’re with the Israelis, once and for all.)

No Saddam means crazy Kurds, crazy Shiites, scared Saudis, angry Wahhabi loonies, desperate Palestinians…it means we go right up close to the ol’ hornets’ nest and hit it again with a big, big stick.

Boy, it sure is hard to predict what’ll happen then, huh?

That’s IF the abu Cheney clan of the desert oil wells is dumb enough to really do it, really send in 250,000 troops to take Iraq. Militarily it’ll be a joke. You could do it with a battalion of SAS. Those Iraqi soldiers were surrendering to camera crews. That’s the easy part.

The hard part is making up a new happy Western Iraq. Won’t happen; can’t happen. Anybody who ain’t thick as two planks knows that. So will they do it? Are they really that dumb?

Well, all I can say is, I used to live in Bakersfield, and I knew a WHOLE lotta Okies whose dads were in the oil business. The “ah’l bidnezz,” as they called it. And lemme tell you: those boys were so goddamn dumb, and so goddamn religious, they make the Saudis look like little Bohemian university people.

So yeah. They’re dumb enough. They’re way, way, WAY dumb enough.

Yee-ha. Might as well enjoy it, I guess. There better be a lotta good gun-camera shots from the A-10s, cause the rest of it ain’t gonna be much fun.

This article was published in issue #148 of The eXile in July, 2002.

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Add your own

  • 1. warren moon  |  April 16th, 2009 at 10:18 am

    Good call

  • 2. Tony Castellini  |  April 22nd, 2009 at 11:19 am

    Damn right! Fuckin good call. Suck on this, Tom Friedman!

  • 3. whatwar  |  July 6th, 2010 at 4:21 am

    WE need to send your sorry ass to pentagon… to SAVE america.. lol

  • 4. Steve Hickey  |  February 23rd, 2012 at 1:16 pm

    Mr. Brecher,

    I only recently discovered your series and have been reading columns at random. Your predictions on the Iraq invasion (Iraq2, July, 2002) have proven to be absolutely true and accurate in pretty much every aspect. I would like to share this with a lot of my acquaintances as an example of your talent.

    And yes, I do plan on making a donation in the near future– insight like yours needs to be encouraged, because the country desperately needs the guidance.

    If I may be so bold, I’ll sign this from one drunken cynic to another.


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