Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The State of the (Iraqi) Union

We are told fairy tales every day by the government and corporate media that things are getting better every day and every way in Iraq. So why are Americans dropping four times as many bombs as several years ago, still launching major offensives, spending some 11 billion dollars a month, and on and on? Because the delusion that Iraq is some sort of quasi-American suburb under attack by alien "terrorists" is just that, a delusion. Despite all the internicene conflict that we have helped foster by continuousy playing one side off against another, this is still a war of resistance against a brutal, brutal occupation, no matter how many candy-bars the Pentagon tells you they have handed out. Most red-blooded Iraqis are going to continue to fight against the occupation just as we would, if, say, China came over here to "liberate us". But most Americans are so far down the rabbit hole that they can't see this.

Anyway, one of the best and well-sourced journalists on the planet is Pepe Escobar, who writes The Roving Eye column for Asia Times. He has just published his own State of the Union retort to Bush's recent speech. However, Pepe's piece refers to the state of union in Iraq. This is such an important bucket of reality to splash in our collectively stupored faces that I am including a fair bit of it below, plus the link to the entire report:

The state of the (Iraqi) union

By Pepe Escobar

I say this to the evil Bush - leave my country.
We do not need you and your army of darkness.
We don't need your planes and tanks.
We don't need your policy and your interference.
We don't want your democracy and fake freedom.
Get out of our land.

- Muqtada al-Sadr, Iraqi Shi'ite leader

The George W Bush-sponsored Iraqi "surge" is now one year old. The US$11 billion-a-month (and counting) Iraqi/Afghan joint quagmire keeps adding to the US government's staggering over $9 trillion debt (it was "only" $5.6 trillion when Bush took power in
early 2001).

On the ground in Iraq, the state of the union - Bush's legacy - translates into a completely shattered nation with up to 70% unemployment, a 70% inflation rate, less than six hours of electricity a day and virtually no reconstruction, although White House-connected multinationals have bagged more than $50 billion in competition-free contracts so far. The gleaming reconstruction success stories of course are the Vatican-sized US Embassy in Baghdad - the largest in the world - and the scores of US military bases.

Facts on the ground also attest the "surge" achieved no "political reconciliation" whatsoever in Iraq - regardless of a relentless US corporate media propaganda drive, fed by the Pentagon, to proclaim it a success. The new law to reverse de-Ba'athification - approved by a half-empty Parliament and immediately condemned by Sunni and secular parties as well as former Ba'athists themselves - will only exacerbate sectarian hatred.

What the "surge" has facilitated instead is the total balkanization of Baghdad – as well as the whole of Iraq. There are now at least 5 million Iraqis among refugees and the internally displaced - apart from competing statistics numbering what certainly amounts to hundreds of thousands of dead civilians. So of course there is less violence; there's hardly any people left to be ethnically cleansed.

Everywhere in Iraq there are myriad signs of balkanization - not only in blast wall/partitioned Baghdad. In the Shi'ite south, the big prize is Basra, disputed by at least three militias. The Sadrists - the voice of the streets - are against regional autonomy; the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (SIIC)- which controls security - wants Basra as the key node of a southern Shi'iteistan; and the Fadhila party - which control the governorate - wants an autonomous Basra.

In the north, the big prize is oil-rich Kirkuk province, disputed by Kurds, Sunni Arabs and Turkmen; the referendum on Kirkuk has been postponed indefinitely, as everyone knows it will unleash a bloodbath. In al-Anbar province, Sunni Arab tribes bide their time collaborating with the US and controlling the exits to Syria and Jordan while preparing for the inevitable settling of scores with Shi'ites in Baghdad.

Obama and Hillary vs Iraqis

Meanwhile, in the Democratic party presidential race, Hillary Clinton, who voted for the war on Iraq, viciously battles Kennedy clan-supported Barack Obama, who opposed the war, followed at a distance by John "can a white man be president" Edwards, who apologized for his initial support for the war. Obama, Edwards and Clinton basically agree, with some nuance, the "surge" was a fluke.

They have all pledged to end the war if elected. But Edwards is the only pre-candidate who has explicitly called for an immediate US troop withdrawal - up to 50,000, with nearly all of the remaining out within a maximum of 10 months. Edwards insisted Iraqi troops would be trained "outside of Iraq" and no troops would be left to "guard US bases".

For their part, both Clinton and Obama believe substantial numbers of troops must remain in Iraq to "protect US bases" and "to fight al-Qaeda in Iraq". This essentially means the occupation grinding on. Both never said exactly how many troops would be needed: they could be as many as 75,000. Both have steadfastly refused to end the "mission" before 2013.

It's hard to envision an "occupation out" Obama when among his chief advisers one finds former president Jimmy Carter's national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski - the "grand chessboard" ideologue who always preached American domination of Eurasia - and former Middle East negotiator Dennis Ross, who always fought for Israel's dominance of the "mini-chessboard", the Middle East.

So far Obama has not given any signs he would try to counter the logic of global US military hegemony conditioned by control of oil; that's why the US is in Iraq and Africa, that's the reason for so much hostility towards Venezuela, Iran and Russia. As for Clinton - with the constant references to "vital national security interests" - there's no evidence this twin-headed presidency would differ from Bush in wanting to install a puppet, pliable, perennial, anti-Iranian, peppered-with-US-military-bases regime in Iraq.

But more than US presidential candidates stumbling on how to position themselves about Iraq, what really matters is what Iraqis themselves think. According to Asia Times Online sources in Baghdad, apart from the three provinces in Iraqi Kurdistan, more than 75% of Sunnis and Shi'ites alike are certain Washington wants to set up permanent military bases; this roughly equals the bulk of the population in favor of continued attacks against US troops.

Furthermore, Sunni Arabs as a whole as well as the Sadrists are united in infinite suspicion of the key Bush-mandated "benchmark": the eventual approval by the Iraqi Parliament of a new oil law which would in fact de-nationalize the Iraqi oil industry and open it to Big Oil. Iraqi public opinion as a whole is also suspicious of what the Bush administration wants to extract from the cornered, battered Nuri al-Maliki government: full immunity from Iraqi law not only for US troops but for US civilian contractors as well. The empire seems to be oblivious to history: that was exactly one of ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's most popular reasons to dethrone the Shah of Iran in 1979....

to read the entire Roving Eye Report, click here.

1 comment:

Mosquito said...

I have "angst" over what's been done in Iraq. I heard the other day that the children of Iraq no longer ask if the new baby is a girl or a boy...They now ask..."Is the baby normal?" Due to the Depleted Uranium that the U.S. uses the birth defects in Iraq have become an epidemic with no end in sight. The desert winds continue to blow the depleted uranium everywhere in Iraq where it damages the DNA of Iraqi's and American soldiers.

I know for sure that Hillary Clinton is just an extension of past policies. I am confident that Barack Obama offers something different...and hopefully one of the differences will be getting us out of Iraq. I do believe that Obama has said he does not support permanent bases in Iraq...