Trends forecaster looks back on Iraq predictions; fears history is repeating

It was in 2004, with Washington trumpeting the forthcoming Iraqi elections that would put Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in power as a means to establishing democracy, when then-Vice President Dick Cheney declared the Iraq War to be “behind us,” and Maj. Gen. Raymond Odierno predicted “we have six to 12 months left of this insurgency.”

It was also in 2004, before those elections, that trends forecaster Gerald Celente wrote: “Rather than unite the country, the upcoming Iraqi elections will create deeper political/tribal conflict, harden religious divisions and push Iraq into more chaos and a bloody Civil War. There will be no democracy, no independent government, nor will there be an Iraqi armed force capable of accepting the transfer of United States’ military power.”

Celente’s assessment seems as if it could have been written this morning. By June 2014, every pundit and politician was declaring that al-Maliki’s authoritarian and sectarian rule was part of the problem and that he must go. In fact, the events currently unfolding in Iraq and Syria follow the script Celente outlined over a decade ago in his quarterly Trends Journal, one that he has refined over the years through numerous media appearances, during his nightly Trends In The News broadcasts and in countless articles: “Iraq will not be united and terror will reign for decades as tribal leaders, ethnic factions, religious sects and national separatists fight it out for their piece of the pie…(May 2004)”

New plot same as old plot

In 2014, the battle-hardened gunmen of ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) blitzkrieged through northern Iraq, sending the Iraqi army fleeing in disarray as they captured Mosul, the nation’s second largest city. More than 100,000 of the city’s residents became refugees; at least $429 million was looted from the central bank and flowed into ISIS coffers as their juggernaut advanced to within an hour’s drive of Baghdad.

In a speedy, not yet panicked, response Russia sent fighter planes to the Iraqi air force; Iran sent advisers from its elite Quds force, tons of military equipment and massed as many as 10 divisions of troops on the Iran/Iraq border, ready to come to the aid of Baghdad and Shia communities; Syria carried out airstrikes against ISIS troops in western Iraq; and the US began its contribution to the chaos with 300 advisers, surveillance drones and the threat of airstrikes.

In a brilliant stroke of rebranding, the Sunni extremists of ISIS topped off its heady three weeks of military success by declaring the formation of an Islamic Caliphate reaching from eastern Iraq to the Syrian city of Aleppo and announced that the entity formerly known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) would henceforth go by the streamlined moniker of “Islamic State.”

Disgusted by failed script redux

Celente views these events with a profound sense of déjà vu, lingering outrage at the ham-fisted nature of US foreign policy and continuing anger about the mainstream media’s complicity in stifling inquiry and dissent in order to further government goals.

In February 2003, one month before the much heralded invasion of Iraq, Celente predicted in a Trend Alert to subscribers: “While victory on the battlefield may be swift, considering the massive military power of the US, the war against Iraq will eventually be lost… They will not let the US, or any western sympathizer, run their country. So, while it may appear that victory is at hand, the battle will have just begun and the war won’t stop at the Iraqi borders.”

A year later (May 2004), in a special edition of the Trends Journal dedicated to Iraq, Celente observed that, “Iraq never was, and most likely never will be, a Western model democracy.” He called out every pertinent lie, deception and misrepresentation of fact that political leaders delivered, and too many in the media bought into, that twisted the real facts behind the roots of turmoil in Iraq into a fantasy that, he predicted, would make “terrorism” the new “Communism.”

For his prescience, Celente became persona non grata for the mainstream media, no longer welcome on TV programs where he had long been a regular. “The press was complicit with government aims,” says Celente. “They were getting pressure from the top, from their corporate owners, and they folded.”

A study by FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting) bears Celente out. The study found that in the three weeks after the start of the invasion, the ratio of pro-war US TV guests to anti-war guests was 25 to 1 and that 68 percent of the pro-war guests were current or former government officials.

Those same pressures on the media are being applied today. The analysis of media bias in the war against the Islamic State has not yet been done, but does anyone doubt that it will be just as tilted?

Distortions, deceptions, propaganda

“I am outraged that morality has been marginalized in today’s culture,” Celente says. “The fish rots from the head down. That’s more than a metaphor, it is a reality. The people at the top set an example and societies take on the attitudes and behaviors of their leaders. The attitude today is that it’s stupid to be moral and take a stand when you can get away with grand theft, larceny, and murder. Imagine, allowing Dick Cheney, a chief architect of many of today’s ills, to appear on TV as an apologist and critic, fielding soft-ball questions when he should be appearing in a court and tried for war crimes.” 

In Celente’s view, the original media frenzy surrounding ISIS, in June of this year, reflected the clever use of publicity on the part of that group and also offered a convenient way to distract the public from Washington’s tragic failures.

“What they’re doing is making another bogeyman to cover up the failure. This is a Civil War that’s been going on nonstop, one that I’ve been reporting on for the last three years in Trends in the News broadcasts and which I predicted even before the Iraq War started,” Celente said at that time. “It’s not ISIS that is capturing cities, it is the coalition of criminal elements advancing the Sunnis against the Shia. Focusing on ISIS makes it easy to spread the propaganda and hate the enemy, four letters to remember and a religion to hate.” 

Celente stressed that continuing foreign involvement in the crisis would make a bad situation worse and risked destabilization of the entire Middle East as well as contagion stretching to Europe.

Four months later that is assuredly the case. Dozens of nations, including five Arab states, are involved in military action against ISIS. Tensions are high between Europe’s muslim communities and its extreme political groups.

What currently looks like a practice version of World War III, prosecuted solely from the air, could morph at any moment into a full-scale ground war as well. With each passing day the message that ISIS must be destroyed is intensified even as a growing cadre of generals and military observers declare that the air war is not sufficient to the task. It’s only a matter of time before the question of whether ground forces should be committed will become a question of how many of them to send.

“The people need to recognize that the future is in their hands,” Celente says. “If they don’t want to see their future being destroyed by the same people who have been destroying it all along, they have to stand up and take action.”

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