Failing in Baghdad -- The British Did It First
Lt. Gen. Sir Frederick Stanley Maude was head of the British army in Mesopotamia when he marched into Baghdad on a hot, dusty day in March 1917. Soon thereafter, he issued the British government's "Proclamation to the People of Baghdad," which eerily foreshadowed sentiments that Bush and his administration would express 86 years later: British forces, Maude declared, had entered the city not as conquerors, but as liberators.But a failure it was.
Maude had arrived in Baghdad after a long and arduous military campaign. British forces had been fighting the Ottoman army for 2 1/2 years and had suffered one of the worst defeats of World War I in the six-month siege of the eastern city of Kut, which had ended in an ignominious surrender to the Turks in April 1916.
Having rallied from that loss and finally reached Baghdad, Maude tried to create common cause between the British army and the city's residents, whom he saw as having been oppressed by 400 years of Ottoman rule. "Your lands have been subject to tyranny," he declared in his proclamation, and "your wealth has been stripped from you by unjust men and squandered." He promised that it was not "the wish of the British Government to impose upon you alien institutions." Instead, he called on residents to manage their own civil affairs "in collaboration with the political representatives of Great Britain."
Maude did not live to see the failure of his efforts to rally the people of Iraq to the British occupation. He died eight months later, having contracted cholera from a glass of milk.
In an echo of what is happening under the U.S. occupation, hopes for a joint Anglo-Iraqi pact to rebuild the country were dashed by a violent uprising. On July 2, 1920, a revolt, or thawra, broke out along the lower Euphrates, fueled by popular resentment of Britain's heavy-handed behavior in Iraq. The British army had set about taxing the population to pay for the building of the Iraqi state, while British civil servants running the administration refused to consult Iraqi politicians, judging them too inexperienced to play a role in the new government.And the lesson?
The rebellion quickly spread across the south and center of the country. Faced with as many as 131,000 insurgents armed with 17,000 modern rifles left over from the war, the British army needed eight months to regain full control of Iraq; 2,000 British troops were killed, wounded or taken prisoner and 8,450 Iraqis were killed. To make matters worse, the British government was forced to pour troops back into Iraq, long after the end of the war, to stabilize the situation.
U.S. presidential candidates now campaigning to seize the White House in 2008 should be forewarned, however: It took Britain 10 more years to jettison its financial and military commitments to Iraq. During that period, a number of governments struggled to reduce the size of the forces deployed in Iraq and the amount of money being spent there. They strove for a decade to stabilize the country and meet Britain's pledges to the international community while trying to placate domestic opinion. The tensions involved in this exercise -- building a state from scratch with a hostile population, under severe budgetary constraints and in the face of rising domestic anger -- ultimately led to the failure of the whole exercise.Now what I didn't notice in Dodge's report was the Shiite-Sunni conflict we are seeing today.
41 die in bombing near Baghdad college
BAGHDAD, Iraq - A suicide bomber struck Sunday outside a college campus in Baghdad, killing at least 41 people and injuring dozens as a string of other blasts and rocket attacks left bloodshed around the city.Of course all of this continued carnage won't stop the wingnuts from declaring
Most of the victims were students at the college, a business studies annex of Mustansiriyah University that was hit by a series of deadly explosions last month. At least 46 people were injured in Sunday's blast.
The wave of attacks around Baghdad came a day after Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki lauded the progress of an ongoing U.S.-Iraqi security operation seeking to cripple militant factions and sectarian killings in the capital.
The suicide attacker detonated a bomb-rigged belt near the main entrance to the college, where students were resuming midterm exams after the two-day weekend in Iraq. Police said that guards confronted the bomber as he tried to enter the college grounds.
A 22-year-old student, Muhanad Nasir, said he saw a commotion at the gate. "Then there was an explosion. I did not feel anything for 15 minutes and when I returned to consciousness, I found myself in the hospital," said Nasir, who was wounded in his head and chest.
The blast left cement walls pockmarked by shrapnel and twisted parts of the metal gate and turnstile. Parents rushed to the site and some collapsed in tears after learning their children were killed or injured. Students used rags and towels to try to mop up the blood.
The school is in a mostly Shiite district of northeast Baghdad, but does not limit its enrollment to that group. The main campus of Mustansiriyah University, located about 1 1/2 miles away, was the target of twin car bombs and a suicide blast last month that killed 70 people.
Earlier, two Katyusha rockets hit a Shiite enclave in southern Baghdad, killing at least 10, and a bomb near the fortified Green Zone claimed two lives, police said.
Shhhh... The Surge is Working
I'm sure the British had their own Patrick Ruffinis 90 years ago.