Over the next year, the United States will negotiate the military, political and economic terms of the "enduring" relationship with Iraq that was always intended to follow the invasion of the country.
We need not dwell on the unequal status of the American and Iraqi participants in this negotiation, with 160,000 American troops in Iraq and Prime Minister al-Maliki unable, as he put it last year, to "move even a battalion without American consent." We may assume that the agreement will ratify the permanent presence of American armed forces in Iraq and grant preferential treatment to U.S. investments in the country. But we might ask, just once more, why the U.S. did all this.
There were no terrorists in Iraq before the U.S. invasion, nor had there been any contact between Saddam Hussein and the plotters of the 9/11 attacks on the United States. There were no "weapons of mass destruction" in Iraq, either. Indeed, a number of former American officials have confirmed that the invasion of Iraq was high on the Bush administration's agenda from the moment it took office, eight months before 9/11. But there is no consensus on why it wanted to invade Iraq.
As a rule of thumb, it's best to assume that U.S. leaders are guided by strategic rather than personal considerations. It is also wise to be suspicious of the simpler oil-related explanations: Saddam Hussein lacked the standing to lead the other oil-exporting states in a switch from the dollar to the euro, for example, even if he was toying with such an idea.
There is no need to invade countries in order to get oil from them. There could, however, be a requirement for large, permanent American military bases somewhere in the Gulf if the goal was to be able to stop oil from the region from reaching some other country. Which country?
The only challenger to America's status as sole superpower is China, and the Bush administration has spent the last seven years in tireless pursuit of alliances or less formal military arrangements with countries all around China's borders. ("Containment," they call it.) China is heavily dependent on imported oil, and the bulk of its imports come from the Gulf. An American hand on China's oil tap could be a major strategic asset.
Maybe that's what Iraq was about.
Lucy notes the above from Gwynne Dyer's "The U.S. in Iraq: An 'enduring' relationship that isn't" (Salt Lake Tribune) and let's grab one sentence to pay attention to before we move over to the New York Times: "We need not dwell on the unequal status of the American and Iraqi participants in this negotiation, with 160,000 American troops in Iraq and Prime Minister al-Maliki unable, as he put it last year, to 'move even a battalion without American consent'." With that in mind, Michael Gordon and Stephen Farrell provide "Iraq Lacks Plan on the Return of Refugees, Military Says" which is full of missed opportunities (and since Gordo's involved, missed by choice) to offer reality. Gordo and Farrell can't challenge the myth of the great return, they can't do much more than take down dictation. As the myth of the great return was utilized to generate hours of happy talk, none of the happy talkers stopped to wonder what was being returned to. We're not happy talkers but when these huge, inflated numbers were being reported as fact, we did note that the houses weren't standing empty. When you've got a message taped to your door to get out (if you're lucky, you just got a message taped to your door) and you do, your house doesn't stand empty.
So now the US military makes the point and so you know Gordo's happy to jot down that there's no plan for the small number that has returned. Col. William Rapp declares, "All these guys coming back are probably going to find somebody else living in their house." Well, Rapp, it's not just "guys" that made up the trickle of bused and bought and brought back from Syria. It's nice that your sexism is on display for all to see while you supposedly represent the United States, but remember the statement to focus on above? Who's in charge here? The US. People are returning -- not the huge number that keeps getting tossed around -- and what are they returning to?
Culpable's the word. And putting the con artist Ahmad Chalabi in charge of "developing a plan to provide services" only makes the US more so. Bused and bought and that's been known for some time. Where's independent media? (Again, we're speaking of programs and magazines when we ask that question here.) Gordo and Farrell toss out, as an aside, this important information:
As if to underscore Mr. Maliki's point, 375 Iraqi refugees arrived Thursday in a convoy of buses from Damascus, Syria, escorted by heavily armed policemen. After the lengthy journey, the tired Iraqis were ushered into the white marble affluence of the Mansour Melia Hotel in Baghdad to receive a promised government payout to people returning to the capital.
The promised payout. While Iraqi children in Jordan are in schools now that wasn't the case for a large number of refugees who went to Syria. And the US military and the media sold the lie of 'safety' and they preyed on the weakest (who were already seeing the Syrian government cancel their visas). The 45,000 returnees in one month was a lie. But a trickle does exist. And they are being taken into a dangerous country, they are being bribed, lied to and bused in.
Now some War Hawks try to mask their lust for continued illegal war and claim that the US must stay in Iraq because what would happen if the US left! The great unknown. But notice those same pretending concern aren't raising the issue that the US is in Iraq, that the US is benefitting from the lies of Operation Happy Talk and that Iraqis who went to Syria have been lured back with money, false reporting and false promises, back to where a number of them will die. Culpable.
The United Nations has strongly warned against urging Iraqi refugees to return but the UN is not in control on the ground in Iraq. The US military is.
Though historically Iraq has not seen a "blood bath" when foreign invaders have finally left, the "bloodbath" imagery is used to prolong an illegal war. But notice that as a potential bloodbath is being created the same pretending to be so concerned about the fate of Iraqis don't raise an objection.
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