Americans have largely stopped thinking about Iraq, even though we still have approximately 110,000 troops there, as well as the largest “embassy” on the planet (and still growing). We’ve generally chalked up our war in Iraq to the failed past, and some Americans, after the surge of 2007, even think of it as, if not a success, at least no longer a debacle. Few care to spend much time considering the catastrophe we actually brought down on the Iraqis in “liberating” them.
Posts Tagged ‘oil’
Times Online/UK, Oct 9, 2009
By Sherwood Ross | Consortiumnews.com, Aug 17, 2009
Editor’s Note: Except for some die-hard neocons, it’s widely recognized that the Iraq War has been a debacle for the United States – paid for in unnecessary loss of Iraqi and American lives, international opprobrium, and the diversion of an astronomical sum of money from domestic priorities to warfare.
However, some military contractors have done quite nicely, thanks; so too have many oil companies, even as the ancillary costs of the $1 trillion-plus war continue to ripple through a devastated U.S. economy, as writer Sherwood Ross describes in this guest essay:
“On my last day in Iraq,” veteran McClatchy News correspondent Leila Fadel wrote August 9, “as on my first day in Iraq, I couldn’t see what the United States and its allies had accomplished. … I couldn’t understand what thousands of American soldiers had died for and why hundreds of thousands of Iraqis had been killed.”
Quite a few oil company CEO’s and “defense” industry executives, however, do have a pretty good idea why that war is being fought. As Michael Cherkasky, president of Kroll Inc., said a year after the Iraq invasion boosted his security firm’s profits 231 percent: “It’s the Gold Rush.”
|USAF / Staff Sgt. Samuel Rogers|
One might think that if Barack Obama believes he can make a success of his new administration by largely reconstituting the Clinton administration, Hillary Clinton included, he should know better than to take on the reckless ambitions and commitments of the George W. Bush administration as well: the government that gave America the Mideast and Asian crises, blunders and humiliations of the past 6 1/2 years.
The world has witnessed a futile, destructive and illegal American invasion of Iraq, a war conducted on false pretenses, supposedly against terrorists, accompanied by worldwide actions that have made American policy in Bush’s “global war on terror” seem to many Muslims an attack on Islamic society itself.
Obama is now taking on the quasi-impossible tasks of bringing to a successful and responsible conclusion the Bush government’s wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, as well as what shows signs of becoming another military intervention of grave and unforeseeable consequences in Pakistan. He is doing so without challenging the assumptions and goals of Bush administration policy.
It has been the mindset of the Bush administration—and, unfortunately, of much of the neoconservative-influenced foreign policy establishment in Washington—that international society’s problems are reducible to wars that American armies will win. They are wrong on both counts. But some still argue that this is the way to a better and more democratic world.
Obama has no choice but to accept responsibility for these American crises. But why should he accept them on the distorted and even hysterical terms by which the Bush administration has defined world affairs since 2001?
Iraq has been a victim of the United States. Washington had no legal or moral justification for invading the country and destroying its infrastructure, killing an uncounted number of Iraqis and displacing half a million or more to ruined lives while setting off the sectarian conflicts that have wracked the country since 2003.
There is a heavy American responsibility to do no more harm, however well-intentioned. The present volatile situation in the country is for the moment a largely political shoving match between the divided and possibly ephemeral Shiite government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and his rivals, who include the Shiite radicals of Muqtada al-Sadr, and the Sunni, and largely ex-Baathist, Awakening Movement, sponsored by the U.S. Army to defend Sunni tribal regions against the foreigners of the fundamentalist al-Qaida. In addition, are the two Kurdish movements that together control, and plan to make independent and permanent, a Kurdistan nation incorporating—if they have their way—the oil-rich Kirkuk region.
One can make the political—and moral—argument that as the American invasion is responsible for the Iraqi upheaval, Washington should somehow settle it. The answer is that it’s impossible for Americans to do so. The U.S. cannot do it by continued military occupation and intervention in the country’s affairs.
Only the Iraqis themselves can settle this, and doing so may entail even more religious and ethnic struggle. The neighboring Shiite great power, Iran, will play its cards in the country. The Saudis will play theirs. Israel will do everything in its power to prevent an American withdrawal. All of this will probably add still more tragedies to those of the last six years, but at least the U.S. responsibility will have become only indirect, which is bad enough.
Barack Obama started off his presidential campaign by saying that he would get American troops out of Iraq by mid-2010. That was a strong, simple position that, if resolutely carried out, would make it clear to the Iraqis what they have to do to save themselves, and how long they have in which to do it.
Since the early campaign, the president-elect has been forced to qualify his position, weaken it, blur it, say that actually many U.S. troops probably will stay on, the dates may change, American involvement will continue, and so on. He has been forced back toward the Washington consensus opinion, the centrist and “responsible” position, close to the Bush opinion.
Nearly everyone is against his sticking to his original policy: The Iraq factions all plan to exploit American ambiguities to strengthen their own positions and maneuver the American command to favor them. The Kurds want time to make their proto-Kurdistan even more impregnable (while encouraging their reluctance to deal with Turkish and Iranian hostility to a sovereign Kurdistan, as well as deal realistically with their fellow Iraqis).
In Washington, the Pentagon is against withdrawal on Obama’s terms. It still wants permanent bases in Iraq. It claims Obama’s timetable is logistically impossible. The Republicans will shout “treason” and “betrayal.” American oil companies and the corporations that are already part of the occupation, as well as those that have big ambitions for moving into an American-secured Iraq, will demand that the U.S. stay.
All this must be resisted if Obama is to be his own man. He has to rid himself of George Bush’s folly. He must make Iraq truly independent. If he doesn’t, it could destroy his administration.
Visit William Pfaff’s Web site at www.williampfaff.com.
© 2008 Tribune Media Services Inc.
By Robert Parry | Consortiumnews.com, August 6, 2008
It might seem unlikely that the United States would elect John McCain to succeed George W. Bush when that would ensure continuation of many unpopular Bush policies: an ill-defined war with the Muslim world, right-wing consolidation of the U.S. Supreme Court, a drill-oriented energy strategy, tax cuts creating massive federal deficits, etc., etc.
But there are reasons – beyond understandable concerns about Barack Obama’s limited experience – that make a McCain victory possible, indeed maybe probable.
Here is one of the big ones: The U.S. news media is as bad as ever, arguably worse.
On Monday, Obama gave a detail-rich speech on how he would address the energy crisis, which is a major point of concern among Americans. From ideas for energy innovation to retrofitting the U.S. auto industry to conservation steps to limited new offshore drilling, Obama did what he is often accused of not doing, fleshing out his soaring rhetoric.
McCain responded with a harsh critique of Obama’s calls for more conservation, claiming that Obama wants to solve the energy crisis by having people inflate their tires. McCain’s campaign even passed out a tire gauge marked as Obama’s energy plan.
For his part, McCain made clear he wanted to drill for more oil wherever it could be found and to build many more nuclear power plants.
These competing plans offered a chance for the evening news to address an issue of substance that is high on the voters’ agenda. Instead, NBC News anchor Brian Williams devoted 30 seconds to the dueling energy speeches, without any details and with the witty opening line that Obama was “refining” his energy plan.
So, instead of dealing with a serious issue in a serious way, NBC News ignored the substance and went for a clever slight against Obama, hitting his political maneuvering in his softened opposition to more offshore drilling.
Williams’s quip fit with one of the press corps’ favorite campaign narratives, Obama’s flip-flopping. But the coverage ignored far more important elements of the story, such as the feasibility of Obama’s vow that “we must end the age of oil in our time” or the wisdom of McCain’s emphasis on drilling – and nuking – the nation out of its energy mess.
And, as for flip-flops, McCain’s dramatic repositioning of himself as an anti-environmentalist – after years of being one of the green movement’s favorite Republicans – represents a far more significant change than Obama’s modest waffling on offshore oil.
The Sierra Club, one of the nation’s premier environmental organizations, has repudiated McCain and now is running ads attacking his energy plan. But McCain’s flip-flops – even complete reversals – remain an underplayed part of the campaign story. They just don’t fit the narrative of maverick John McCain on the “Straight Talk Express.”
Loving the ‘Surge’
The major U.S. news media has been equally superficial in dealing with the Iraq War and the “war on terror.” It is now a fully enshrined conventional wisdom that George W. Bush’s troop “surge” was a huge success and vindicates McCain’s early support for it.
On Obama’s overseas trip, it became de rigueur for each interviewer to pound him for the first 10 or 15 minutes with demands that he accept the accepted wisdom about the “surge” and admit that he was wrong and McCain was right.
by Andrew G. Marshall
Global Research, July 10, 2008
Establishing an “Arc of Crisis”
Many would be skeptical that the Anglo-Americans would be behind terrorist acts in Iraq, such as with the British in Basra, when two British SAS soldiers were caught dressed as Arabs, with explosives and massive arsenal of weapons. Why would the British be complicit in orchestrating terror in the very city in which they are to provide security? What would be the purpose behind this? That question leads us to an even more important question to ask, the question of why Iraq was occupied; what is the purpose of the war on Iraq? If the answer is, as we are often told with our daily dose of CNN, SkyNews and the statements of public officials, to spread democracy and freedom and rid the world of tyranny and terror, then it doesn’t make sense that the British or Americans would orchestrate terror.
However, if the answer to the question of why the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq occurred was not to spread democracy and freedom, but to spread fear and chaos, plunge the country into civil war, balkanize Iraq into several countries, and create an “arc of crisis” across the Middle East, enveloping neighboring countries, notably Iran, then terror is a very efficient and effective means to an end.
An Imperial Strategy
In 1982, Oded Yinon, an Israeli journalist with links to the Israeli Foreign Ministry wrote an article for a publication of the World Zionist Organization in which he outlined a “strategy for Israel in the 1980s.” In this article, he stated, “The dissolution of Syria and Iraq into ethnically or religiously unique areas such as in Lebanon is Israel’s primary target on the Eastern front. Iraq, rich in oil on the one hand and internally torn on the other is guaranteed as a candidate for Israel’s targets. Its dissolution is even more important for us than that of Syria. Iraq is stronger than Syria. In the short run, it is Iraqi power which constitutes the greatest threat to Israel.” He continued, “An Iraqi-Iranian war will tear Iraq apart and cause its downfall at home even before it is able to organize a struggle on a wide front against us. Every kind of inter-Arab confrontation will assist us in the short run and will shorten the way to the more important aim of breaking up Iraq into denominations as in Syria and Lebanon.” He continues, “In Iraq, a division into provinces along ethnic/religious lines as in Syria during Ottoman times is possible. So, three (or more) states will exist around the three major cities: Basra, Baghdad and Mosul and Shiite areas in the South will separate from the Sunni and Kurdish north.”
The Iran-Iraq War, which lasted until 1988, did not result in Oded Yinon’s desired break-up of Iraq into ethnically based provinces. Nor did the subsequent Gulf War of 1991 in which the US destroyed Iraq’s infrastructure, as well as the following decade-plus of devastating sanctions and aerial bombardments by the Clinton administration. What did occur during these decades, however, were the deaths of millions of Iraqis and Iranians.
A Clean Break for a New American Century
In 1996, an Israeli think tank, the Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies, issued a report under the think tank’s Study Group on a New Israeli Strategy Toward 2000, entitled, “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm.” In this paper, which laid out recommendations for Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, they state that Israel can, “Work closely with Turkey and Jordan to contain, destabilize, and roll-back some of its most dangerous threats,” as well as, “Change the nature of its relations with the Palestinians, including upholding the right of hot pursuit for self defense into all Palestinian areas,” and to, “Forge a new basis for relations with the United States—stressing self-reliance, maturity, strategic cooperation on areas of mutual concern, and furthering values inherent to the West.”
The report recommended Israel to seize “the strategic initiative along its northern borders by engaging Hizballah, Syria, and Iran, as the principal agents of aggression in Lebanon,” and to use “Lebanese opposition elements to destabilize Syrian control of Lebanon.” It also states, “Israel can shape its strategic environment, in cooperation with Turkey and Jordan, by weakening, containing, and even rolling back Syria. This effort can focus on removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq — an important Israeli strategic objective in its own right — as a means of foiling Syria’s regional ambitions.”
The authors of the report include Douglas Feith, an ardent neoconservative who went on to become George W. Bush’s Under Secretary of Defense for Policy from 2001 to 2005; David Wurmser, who was appointed by Douglas Feith after 9/11 to be part of a secret Pentagon intelligence unit and served as a Mideast Adviser to Dick Cheney from 2003 to 2007; and Meyrav Wurmser, David’s wife, who is now an official with the American think tank, the Hudson Institute.
Richard Perle headed the study, and worked on the Pentagon’s Defense Policy Board Advisory Committee from 1987 to 2004, and was Chairman of the Board from 2001 to 2004, where he played a key role in the lead-up to the Iraq war. He was also a member of several US think tanks, including the American Enterprise Institute and the Project for the New American Century.
The Project for the New American Century, or PNAC, is an American neoconservative think tank, whose membership and affiliations included many people who were associated with the present Bush administration, such as Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, John Bolton, Richard Armitage, Jeb Bush, Elliott Abrams, Eliot A. Cohen, Paula Dobriansky, Francis Fukuyama, Zalmay Khalilzad, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Peter Rodman, Dov Zakheim and Robert B. Zoellick.
PNAC produced a report in September of 2000, entitled, “Rebuilding America’s Defenses: Strategy, Forces and Resources for a New Century,” in which they outlined a blueprint for a Pax Americana, or American Empire. The report puts much focus on Iraq and Iran, stating, “Over the long term, Iran may well prove as large a threat to US interests in the Gulf as Iraq has.” Stating that, “the United States has for decades sought to play a more permanent role in Gulf regional security,” the report suggests that, “the unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate justification,” however, “the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime change of Saddam Hussein.”