New -- 15 September 2003
Updated -- 30 June 2005
Prior to the United States invasion of Iraq in the first Gulf War, Iraq's president-at-the-time Saddam Hussein became widely known for his claim that a U.S. attack on Iraq would result in "the mother of all battles". Clever wits and pundits have delighted in this statement as American and allied troops have twice run rampant over the overmatched defenses of the Iraqi positions. The fact that Saddam Hussein is now under lock and key and awaiting something pretending to be justice has made the Chicken Hawks of every persuasion all the more gleeful (to the point of rollicking laughter and merriment).
Meanwhile, Saddam's alleged arrogance has now been routinely ignored by various Bush Presidents who conduct their Bush Wars with apparent impunity and ostensibly in an attempt to destroy alleged "weapons of mass destruction" -- or whatever the current party line entails (nation building, national security, Haliburton support, and so on and so forth . The truth, of course, is that the Bushites are out to obtain unlimited access to the black gold lying beneath the desert sands -- and thus the additional moniker of Oil Wars might be more aptly applied for the reasons that U.S. and British troops can be found in large numbers in Iraq, Afghanistan, Texas, and whereever.
There are three fundamental questions to ask concerning the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, and the possible underlying meaning of "the mother of all battles."
The first question is: Why did the Bush-led U.S. government really go to these countries and introduce the citizens therein to the latest innovations in bombs, artillery shells, missiles, brilliantly performing troops, and all the winning assets of the most powerful army, navy and air force in the world? As Charles Krauthammer  has noted, for example, that "with the exception of Britain, the U.S. has the only military that can actually fight and win wars." He goes on to say that "We ["We"?] are prepared, albeit reluctantly, to risk [other people's] blood and treasure in places with strategic significance like Afghanistan and Iraq. But we are in no mood to do so in places without strategic significance -- and where the job could be better done by others [like the Red Cross]."
It is becoming increasingly clear -- and for some individuals has been clear from the outset -- that these two wars were not initiated for the purposes stated. Duh. Osama bin Laden has obviously not been found, killed, brought home "dead or alive", or even been dissuaded from continuing to bedevil allegedly American interests. There has been no discovery of any weapons of mass destruction -- [although the recent find of several compasses and protractors might constitute "weapons of math instruction"]. In all likelihood there will be no real discoveries in the future --particularly so inasmuch as even the search has been called off . [Of course, don't put it past the neo-conservatives to plant a few WMDs just to make things a bit more politically expedient.]
The most obvious answer to the question of why Afghanistan and Iraq were invaded -- and not, for example, Liberia (who actually requested in vein the presence of American troops) -- was one based on the oil each of these two nations possess and/or to which they have access. This scenario is developed to some extent in Oil Wars, but may nevertheless be only a part of the picture.
Charles Krauthammer -- one of the more prolific, unofficial mouthpieces for the Bush and neo-conservative so-called vision -- has stated in headline form , "The war is not just to disarm Saddam. It is to reform the whole part of the world." The claim is that invading Iraq is not about oil, but about liberty.
You're kidding, right? Krauthammer -- whose name really says a lot -- propounds, "What the demonstrators, who have the historical memory of a gnat, don't understand is that, on the contrary, oil is why American kept its distance from the region for so long. Ever since Franklin Roosevelt made alliance with Saudi Arabia, the U. S. chose to leave the Arab world to its own political and social devices so long as it remained a reasonably friendly petrol station."
Krauthammer's logic -- which is clearly somewhat less than that of a gnat [my apologies to the gnats of the world] -- claims we didn't go to war for the oil and then says the only reason we didn't attack is because of the "friendly" oil. So apparently, once the oil becomes less friendly, we are at liberty to attack [pardon the pun]. Not for the oil of course, but because it was no longer a friendly petrol station. Furthermore, the only way we can ensure a friendly petrol station is to impose liberty on the Iraqis -- notwithstanding the fact that the phrase "impose liberty" is an oxymoron.
What is more disturbing, however, is Krauthammer's (and the neo-conservative) claim that Iraq is about "reconstituting a terrorized society." Forget for a moment the terror on a society when bombs and missiles are carpeting the ground with destruction and death -- not to mention "shock and awe" . Fundamental to Krauthammer's thesis is that, "A de-Saddamized Iraq with a decent government could revolutionize the region. It would provide friendly basing not just for the outward projection of American power but also for the outward projection of democratic and modernizing ideas." 
BTW, we have now de-Saddamized Iraq, but establishing any "decent government" seems prone to difficulties. It's all a matter of definition or viewpoint, but note in particular the emphasis on establishing a [military] base for American power. That pretty much encapsulates one of the real motives.
As for the threat of terrorism -- that other claimed motive, the Afghanistan supposed justification and the one personified by bin Laden -- we are faced with, in the simplest possible language, the fact that The War on Terrorism Is Bogus. Terrorism had never been the reason -- only the excuse. Homeland InSecurity, the Patriot Act, and the dreaded specter of Patriot Act II are but distractions and attempts to silence Free Speech and thereby attempt to prevent any of the deeper lying agendas from reaching the public at large. Basically the American and British publics have been sold a fraudulent bill of goods.
Ultimately, what the neo-conservative agenda is advocating is that if we don't like how others believe, then we have the right, even the duty, to invade and change their minds!
This is the fundamentalist -- "funda" indicating a "lack of genuine" mental activity -- viewpoint which assumes diversity to be Satanic (on the order of Barney the Dinosaur) and that everyone should be marching in rigid law and order style -- also known as Nazi goose-stepping. It is the thinking of the Bush Administration -- and for that matter, the Saudi Arabian government and all other mindsets which are absolutely convinced that they and only they know what is best for all -- that it is their ordained duty to impose their fanatical views on others. Or just kill, designate as enemy combatants, or otherwise dispose of the nonbelievers. Whatever.
Kurt Vonnegut has a description of people with such a mindset. He calls them "psychopathic personalities -- hereinafter P.P.s -- the medical term for smart, personable people who have no conscience. P.P.s are fully aware of how much suffering their actions will inflict on others but do not care. They cannot care." 
St. Francis -- another radical <g> -- is reported to have established an edict which said, "Preach the gospel at all times; when necessary, use words."  Another way of saying this is: Walk your talk but do the walking before you ever begin the talking. Perhaps then, in lieu of invading countries to preach our "democratic and modernizing ideas", we could act as examples for the rest of the world to emulate. Of course, recent national elections in the United States are so fraught with corruption, deceit, lies, and all manner or chicanery -- the Perils of Democracy -- than such an example might tend to fall on highly skeptical ears.
Unfortunately, the prime example of American and British interests which really stands out -- especially to the Arab world -- is that in the looting of Baghdad after its immediate fall the Coalition forces were ordered to not interfere and thereby specifically allowed the looting of Iraq's hospitals and priceless antiquities. Not only were troops in position to stop the main part of the looting of the enormously valuable Iraq Museum, but the American leaders had been forewarned by scholars before the initiation of the war that there could be a problem. 
Ultimately, much of the loot was returned, but only because the Iraqis themselves had taken pains to hide much of the material and only later allowed its discovery. And yet, a significant percentage remains unaccounted for and apparently lost. Regardless of the return of a portion of the assets -- due to the unilateral foresight of the Iraqis -- the example of the "modernizing ideas" that was conveyed to the world was that none of the American leaders cared about Iraq's astonishing 10,000 years of history and its cultural traditions and heritage. Instead the economically-valuable records at the oil ministry were protected with every military asset available to the so-called Coalition.
This is not exactly an example with which to reap a lot of positive PR.
In fact, the example that stands out is that the Bush Administration -- aided and abetted by Britain's Prime Minister Tony Blair -- went into Iraq for the oil and to establish a power base for future projections of power and ideas. The intent to spread the gospel of democratic ideals is either a sham, or simple stupidity on the part of those who advocate such nonsense. The obvious reality is that a democratic Iraq would likely vote in a fundamentalist Islamic government which would be about as friendly to both America and Britain as the Taliban, Iran, Syria, or if the truth be known, Saudi Arabia.
Furthermore, the "flip-flopping" of the Bush Administration as to why the United States is in Iraq is a very serious problem. As pointed out in The Stratfor Weekly report , "President George W. Bush's press conference on Tuesday evening [April 2004] was fascinating in its generation of a new core justification for the Iraq campaign: building a democratic Iraq. It is unclear why Bush would find this a compelling justification for the invasion, but it is more unclear why the administration continues to generate unconvincing arguments for its Iraq policy, rather than putting forward a crisp, strategic and -- above all -- real justification."
Friedman had earlier  pointed out: "In a war that will last for years, maintaining one's conceptual footing is critical. If that footing cannot be maintained -- if the requirements of the war and the requirements of strategic clarity are incompatible -- there are more serious issues involved than the future of Iraq." And if there is anything that has not been done by the Bush Administration, it has been a lack of stable footing. In fact, one might compare the activities of the Bushites more in terms of "fancy footwork intended to deceive and/or entertain the fundamentally ignorant."
The second question to ask about the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq concerns whether or not "the mother of all battles" is still being waged.
George Friedman , for example, notes that two years after 9-11-2001, the old military communiqué -- "The battle has been joined but the outcome is in doubt" -- is at this time very much appropriate. On the one hand, al Qaeda has apparently been unable to achieve its goal of a massive uprising in the Islamic world. On the other hand, Coalition Forces have been unable to eliminate al Qaeda as a principal player in terrorism, nor have they been able to provide a reasonable certainty that there will not be a massive uprising in the Islamic world.
Meanwhile, "In Iraq there are on average a dozen attacks against American soldiers each day. There are countless acts of sabotage. There is massive theft of oil, copper (from power lines) and electrical equipment. And there are the now weekly high-profile terrorist attacks, like the bombing of the U.N. headquarters two weeks ago and of a shrine in Najaf last week." 
According to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, the monthly cost of the U. S. military presence in Iraq is $3.9 billion. Per month! (This can be compared to the White House projection of the monthly cost of the U.S. presence made last April -- three months prior to Rumsfeld's report -- of $2 billion per month.)  President Bush has asked Congress -- timing his request just prior to the 9-11-2001 anniversary -- for an additional $87 billion, which includes $15 to $20 billion for reconstruction efforts. [6, 8] As for the latest figures, http://costofwar.com suggests as of 7/1/2005, that the current total is now $180 billion and counting... counting to the tune of over $1,000 per second! [Just watching the money add up is enough to leave you in shock and awe.]
It is probably worth noting that the $87 billion President Bush requested for last year's military and rebuilding operations in Iraq and Afghanistan can be compared to the amount of money spent -- adjusted for inflation -- by the Marshall Plan in 1949 (its peak year) in rebuilding Europe after World War II.  Admittedly, Bush's plans include the military operations -- and Europe was perhaps a bit less antagonistic by 1949, with the American effort beginning to be appreciated. But there is also the faint hint of a lot of money going to Cheney's employer, Halliburton, and other members of the oil boy network.
In fact, the general drift of the agenda is exemplified by Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz's -- one of the prime movers in the neo-conservative regime and now actually in charge of the International Monetary Fund [gag!] -- who has made the comment that, "We don't start a job that we can't finish... That's the American Way." This silly statement ranks right up there with going to get Osama bin Laden, "dead or alive", or with the equally idiotic "Bring 'em on" (*). Meanwhile, Democratic Senator Robert Byrd's response to Wolfie's bravado was, "Congress is not an ATM." 
[(*) "Bring 'em on", was President Bush's response in early July to the threat of guerilla resistance in Iraq. As such it stands in direct opposition to the understanding of anyone with combat experience that "You don't invite the enemy to attack your troops." (9)]
Putting aside the pointless rhetoric, Time Magazine has reported that there are an estimated 140,000 U. S. troops in Iraq as of the second anniversary of 9-11-2001. However, the "maximum number of active-duty troops the U.S. can sustain in Iraq after next March" is 40,000 to 65,000 -- assuming that "the Pentagon sticks to its one-year rotation plan, according to a Congressional Budget Office report."  Of course, the latter does not include the potential for calling up the reserves and sending the so-called National Guard overseas where any acts on their part of guarding the nation will be strictly indirect and circuitous.
Meanwhile, "Two new studies in the journal Neurology suggest a link between service in the 1991 Gulf War and an increased risk of contracting ALS, the deadly and incurable illness better known as Lou Gehrig's disease. The studies used different methods but came to the same conclusion: veterans of the war are at least twice as likely as the rest of the population to develop the degnerative disease before age 45. One suspected culprit is exposure to poisonous sarin gas." 
While one might hope that the nation would want to address this issue with its returning veterans. Unfortunately, veterans from all of America's wars have learned: "Ask Not What Your Country Can Do for You." The idea that we're taking care of our own is ludicrous. And the trend toward more and more veterans in need of assistance appears to be ever increasing.
The critical reality which must be recognized and appreciated is that the situations in both Afghanistan and Iraq are those of guerilla wars, and that these guerilla wars are in fact the possible epitome of what may be more accurately described as "The Mother of All Battles." It might not have been the big tank battles, Saddam was envisioning, but rather the fact that the battle never really ends.
Furthermore, the whole of the Middle East -- for which the Bush Administration may be hoping to bring into the fold of being a "friendly petrol station" -- is likely to be as easily invaded as Iraq. But any and all such invasions are also as likely to create further and more intense guerilla wars throughout the region. If you thought the Taliban and al Qaeda were fundamentalist terrorists, then just wait until the Wahhabis of Saudi Arabia come out of their carefully designed covert closet! Osama bin Laden was, of course, just such a Saudi, trained and educated in Wahhabism in Saudi Arabia, along with millions of others over the last several decades.
It is likely that the various governments and religious interests in the Middle East are well aware at this point that they cannot match the U. S. and British militaries in classic pitch battles of tanks, planes, and ships. But they can provide a guerilla force, well supported by the populace -- including covert support by governments and royal families -- and this guerilla war is not something any Western government is particularly good at fighting. The enormously, militarily powerful United States did, if memory serves, lose the guerilla war in Vietnam -- and a just a few short years after the French had lost their own Vietnam War. There is a very real chance that President Bush will lose the war in Iraq (as well as Afghanistan and any other Islamic country he unilaterally decides to invade) -- or he will simply pass on the problem to the next Oval Office occupant. And as noted by Romesh Ratnesar  the "pool of willing recruits [for Al-Qaeda] remains inexhaustible." "In the eyes of budding terrorists Iraq presents an opportunity to prove their mettle by driving a superpower out of the Muslim world as bin Laden's cohort did to the Soviet army in Afghanistan in the 1980s."
Fundamentally, there are now more Coalition troops killed since Bush's pronouncement of victory on a staged trip to an aircraft carrier than were killed in the invasion. But this may be a small portion -- an almost incidental statistic -- to a threat that looms unseen in Iraq. The Mother of All Battles is not over!vvvvv
A third question concerns whether or not the Bush Administration wants to win this Mother of All Battles. It has been noted, for example, that $15 million was awarded to an American firm to build a cement factory in Iraq with U. S. taxpayer dollars. When delays prevented the American firm from doing it, an Iraqi businessman spent $80,000 of Saddam's confiscated funds to build the same factory.  Meanwhile, Vice-President Cheney's primary employer, Halliburton is raking in billions! Why in the world would the Bush Administration neo-cons want to interfere with this gravy train for their corporate partners in crime?
Another concern is the messianic approach with which George Bush conducts foreign affairs. Jim Wallis  has provided an excellent article on the gross misuse of religion -- either through stupidity or intentional deceit (I'm betting on the stupidity angle) -- in justifying Bush's unjustifiable actions. As noted in the preamble to the article:
This is not about questioning Bush's sincerity in terms of his religion, but in his ability to reason theologically. If then added to Bush's obvious preference for the rich and powerful -- the elite which Bush affectionately embraces as his "base" -- the general trend is every so slightly horrific. And nothing will contribute more effectively to a defeat in the Mother of All Battles than greed and stupidity at the highest levels of government.
Another aspect of The Mother of All Battles suggests that the war may not be over for literally centuries. What is occurring in the Middle East is a repeat in essence of what happened at Sodom and Gomorrah in biblical times -- circa 2000 B.C.E. The events at Sodom and Gomorrah resulted in the destruction of the Sumerian Civilization -- that area of the ancient world comprising modern day southern Iraq and Kuwait. The legacy which is again being left is that of a radioactive wasteland.
This modern day legacy stems from the fact that American forces used in the Iraqi War and the Persian Gulf War -- and undoubtedly in Afghanistan as well -- weapons which are referred to as DU munitions. According to the Sierra Times  and other sources, such munitions use Depleted Uranium (DU), a component of toxic nuclear waste. Handling such waste always requires radiation protection gear, if the handlers are not to suffer their own form of radiation sickness.
In fact, one report from Rome's Italian Military Health Observatory indicates that as of October 2004 over a hundred Italian soldiers had died thus far from exposure to depleted uranium. This number exceeded the total number of persons dying in road accidents, such that anyone denyingl the significance of this statistic was acting in bad faith.
The term, depleted Uranium, is something of misnomer. The term is technically used to describe Uranium in its so-called depleted form, i.e. the Uranium is no longer useful as a fissionable material. The isotope of Uranium which is fissionable is U-235. U-238 (with 3 additional neutrons) is not a good fissionable material (although it can be transmuted into a fissionable Plutonium). When uranium is referred to as being depleted, it is only as fissionable material. The term depleted does not in any way reduce its radioactivity or potential for lethal effects,
The Pentagon's DU weaponry include among other goodies: the Navy's Phalanx rapid firing guns, Tomahawk missiles launched from submarines and surface vessels, M1 Abrams tanks, British Challenger II tanks, and A-1 "tank buster" aircraft. The military advantage of depleted uranium is due in part to the weight and density of the very heavy Uranium and its ability to pierce armored targets -- all in the fashion of The Fifth Element. The difficulty is that "DU munitions are classified by a United Nations resolution as illegal weapons of mass destruction. [Catchy phrase!] Their use breaches all international laws, treaties and conventions forbidding poisoned weapons calculated to cause unnecessary suffering." 
The reasons for the UN ban on these weapons is that the weapons kill before being used -- exposing the weapon handlers to the radioactivity -- and then keep on killing after their use -- in the latter case by both the explosive impact and by an individual simply being in the area of the original blast and breathing the air for decades afterwards. Sodom and Gomorrah, after all, were in the south of present day Israel, but the prevailing winds decimated the Sumerian civilization far to the east. The greater part of Iraq -- other than the carefully preserved oil fields -- is now a radioactive area.
It is important to emphasize that not only have 17 million Iraqis been the recipients of tons of depleted Uranium, but the American and British troops delivering the horror -- those who are exposed by handling, being in its presence for extended periods of time, and any other contact -- are even more likely to suffer ill effects. Furthermore the depleted Uranium is scattered upon impact or detonation and ends up as "tiny, ceramic particles of radioactive dust".  Accordingly any American or British soldier, or any Iraqi who breathes the air while in Iraq, is a prime candidate for a long, lingering death or illness. The Gulf War Syndrome of Gulf War I -- which has accounted for so much illness and death of those soldiers returning "victoriously" from the Persian Gulf War -- is likely the result of the DU munitions.
In effect, "The Mother of All Battles" will undoubtedly include radiation sickness and death for everyone in the war theater for any extended period of time. "Kidney dysfunction, lung damage, bloody stools, extreme fatigue, joint pain, unsteady gait, memory loss and rashes and, ultimately, cancer and premature death await those exposed to DU." 
[The entire article on DU munitions  by Amy Worthington of The Idaho Observer -- and which goes into considerably more detail -- is well worth reading and is documented by numerous and credible references. This is a must read!]
The Mother of All Battles is far from over -- and we haven't even mentioned here the possibilities that will inevitably arise when other nations fail to provide the United States government and its Corporate overseers with "friendly oil". Syria, Iran, and Saudi Arabia -- despite the Oil in the Family mentality in the latter case -- may very well be the next to find themselves as part of the ever enlarging battle of America's attempted, so-called reform of the Middle Eastern portion of the world.
"Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive." And in the process declare war on just about everyone in the Middle East.
 Charles Krauthammer, "Coming Ashore", Time Magazine, February 17, 2003.
 Time Magazine, June 30, 2003.
 Quoted from David Hoppe, "Still Vonnegut", Utne Reader, May-June 2003.
 Michael D. Lemonick, "Lost to the Ages", Time Magazine, April 28, 2003.
 Dr. George Friedman, "Two Years of War", The Stratfor Weekly, September 9, 2003.
 Joe Klein, "Who Is Losing Iraq?", Time Magazine, September 8, 2003.
 Notebook, "Numbers", Time Magazine, early July 2003.
 Notebook, "Numbers", Time Magazine, September 22, 2003.
 Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele, "The U. S. is Running Out of Energy", Time Magazine, July 21, 2003.
 Notebook, "Numbers", Time Magazine, September 15, 2003.
 Charles Krauthammer, "Help Wanted", Time Magazine, September 1, 2003.
 "Old War, New Victims", Time Magazine, October 6, 2003.
 Geoge Friedman, "Bush's Crisis: Articulating a Strategy in Iraq and the Wider War", The Stratfor Weekly, 15 April 2004.
 George Friedman, "Smoke and Mirrors: The United States, Iraq and Deception", The Stratfor Weekly, 21 January 2003.
 Romesh Ratnesar, "Al-Qaeda's New Home," Time Magazine, 15 September 2003.
 Notebook, Time Magazine, 27 October, 2003.
 Jim Wallis, "Dangerous Religion", Sojourners Magazine, September-October 2003, http://www.sojo.net.
2003© Copyright Dan Sewell Ward, All Rights Reserved [Feedback]