27 June 2006
Americans try ink-spot strategy in Iraq
As has been mentioned in earlier postings, one of the delights of being middle-aged is that we can watch imperialism make the same mistakes today as it made a generation ago. The latest one is a varient of the ink-spot strategy. It basically involves sending troops into a region - or in this case into a city - and taking it over bit by bit. Once this has been done the area is held, pending the arrival of the reconstruction efforts. The idea is to buy off the local population and win them over to the imperialist cause. As areas are won over, they are expanded until the whole country has been covered and pacified.
The problem for the Americans is that their puppets are worse than useless. For ink-spot to work, locally recruited puppet troops are needed to hold down each area after the main colonial forces has wrested it from the guerrillas. The problem that the Americans have is that the Iraqi puppets are not willing to do this. During one operation in Ramadi, only 145 Iraqis turned up out of a full complement of 650. Unless an area can be held, the guerrillas will simply return once the foreign troops have moved on.
The second problem that the Americans have is that this strategy should have been tried three years ago. Now it is just too late: the Americans have tortured, killed and generally humiliated so many Iraqis that the country just wants its revenge.
For those of us who define ourselves as either non-interventionists or anti-imperialists, the fact that the Americans are now copying the same tactics that failed 30 years ago is a relief. It means that they have not thought up anything new and, like the old European colonialists, the only thing that they have to look forward to is defeat and disgrace.