Posts Tagged ‘occupation of Iraq’

The Murder of Iraq: It Never Happened

February 23, 2010

By Paul Street, ZNet,Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Paul Street’s ZSpace Page

“We Do Not Subjugate Others”

The doctrinal assumption that “we” (the United States) are inherently benevolent, noble, well-intentioned, helpful, and democratic in our foreign policies is ubiquitous in U.S. dominant media and indeed across the spectrum of respectable opinion in “mainstream” American political and intellectual culture.

“The United States is good,” Bill Clinton’s Secretary of State Madeline Albright explained in 1999. “We try to do our best everywhere.”

Three years before, Clinton explained that the U.S. was “the world’s greatest force for peace and freedom, for democracy and security and prosperity.”[1]

“More than any other nation,” Barack Obama said at West Point last December 1st, “the United States of America has underwritten global security for over six decades. Unlike the great powers of old, we have not sought world domination. We do not seek to occupy other nations. We are still heirs to a moral struggle for freedom.”[2]

“We do not use our power to subjugate others,” Obama added in a nationally narcissistic Newsweek essay (deceptively titled “Why Haiti Matters”) last month: “we use it to lift them up.”[3]

These are core (and preposterous [4]) suppositions that American “mainstream” journalists and pundits who wish to keep their jobs know not to challenge in any fundamental way. Efforts to move media personnel off the premise of American “goodness” are generally futile, consistent with Upton Sinclair’s observation that “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”

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Michael Schwartz: Will Iraq’s Oil Ever Flow?

February 3, 2010
Michael Schwartz , TomDispatch.com,February 3, 2010

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.

Continues >>

The Story of My Shoe: My Flower to Bush, the Occupier

September 15, 2009

By Mutadhar al-Zaidi, Counterpunch, Sep 15, 2009

Mutadhar al-Zaidi, the Iraqi who threw his shoe at George Bush gave this speech on his recent release.

In the name of God, the most gracious and most merciful.

Here I am, free. But my country is still a prisoner of war.

Firstly, I give my thanks and my regards to everyone who stood beside me, whether inside my country, in the Islamic world, in the free world. There has been a lot of talk about the action and about the person who took it, and about the hero and the heroic act, and the symbol and the symbolic act.

But, simply, I answer: What compelled me to confront is the injustice that befell my people, and how the occupation wanted to humiliate my homeland by putting it under its boot.

And how it wanted to crush the skulls of (the homeland’s) sons under its boots, whether sheikhs, women, children or men. And during the past few years, more than a million martyrs fell by the bullets of the occupation and the country is now filled with more than 5 million orphans, a million widows and hundreds of thousands of maimed. And many millions of homeless because of displacement inside and outside the country.

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The US War against Iraq: The Destruction of a Civilization

August 22, 2009

by James Petras, Dissident Voice, August 21st, 2009

The US seven-year war and occupation of Iraq is driven by several major political forces and informed by a variety of imperial interests. However these interests do not in themselves explain the depth and scope of the sustained, massive and continuing destruction of an entire society and its reduction to a permanent state of war. The range of political forces contributing to the making of the war and the subsequent US occupation include the following (in order of importance).

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Tony Blair and Gordon Brown to blame over Iraq war, says Army report

June 29, 2009

By Rupert Hamer | The Mirror/UK, June 28, 2009

Tony Blair visits gaza (pic: Getty)

A secret report by Army bosses to be presented to the Iraq war inquiry blames Tony Blair and Gordon Brown for the botched occupation of the country.

The dossier – prepared for ex-military chief General Sir Mike Jackson – criticises then Chancellor Mr Brown for withholding funds to rebuild Basra for FIVE months after our troops went in. And the 100-page document attacks Mr Blair for “uncritically” accepting flawed US plans for the March 2003 invasion, which led to tens of thousands of deaths, including those of 179 British troops.

The report – Stability Operations in Iraq – will not be officially made public because the inquiry’s head, Sir John Chilcot, ruled all documents will remain secret.

But the contents have been leaked to the Sunday Mirror.

We can reveal that a lack of cash for the operation meant British troops sent to fight in Iraq:

Used mobile phones to communicate in combat because radios did not work.

Were forced to leave wounded soldiers on the battlefield for an average of two-and-half hours before getting them to a field hospital.

Needed more “spy in the sky” aircraft to track rebel fighters.

Lacked machine guns, night- vision equipment and grenade launchers when protecting supply convoys.

Were in danger of breaching the Geneva Convention by having so few resources. The convention says occupiers must provide vital services such as humanitarian aid and water.

In a broadside at the then PM Mr Blair, the report says the battle for the hearts and minds of ordinary Iraqis was lost because of a lack of planning and the five-month delay in starting to rebuild their country.

It says: “The failures to plan… seriously hindered Coalition chances of stabilising post-Saddam Iraq. The lack of improvements to essential services and the standard of living together with disorder meant many locals who were ‘sitting on the fence’ were not persuaded to support the Coalition.”

It was only after riots in Basra in August 2003 that Mr Brown agreed to release £500million for reconstruction work, the report says.

And it contradicts six years of Government spin which claimed ordinary Iraqis backed the “liberation”, saying troops “found themselves fighting insurgents without clear support (from local people)”.

MOST DAMNING CONCLUSIONS:

Flawed US plans were rubberstamped by Blair

Brown blocked vital funding for five months

It took mass rioting in Basra to make him pay up

Chaos lost us the battle for Iraqi hearts & minds

Obama Wants $736 Million Colonial Fortress in Pakistan

June 1, 2009

Critics say the White House wants to use the new “embassy” for “pushing the American agenda in Central Asia.”

By Jeremy Scahill | RebelReports, June 1, 2009

Ah, good thing the US quest for violent global domination was brought to a screeching halt with the November presidential election. Without Obama’s election, we’d still have an occupation of Iraq, mercenaries on the US payroll, torture of prisoners, an unending and worsening war that kills civilians in Afghanistan, regular airstrikes in Pakistan, killing civilians and an embassy the size of Vatican city in Baghdad, which was built in part on slave labor. Not to mention those crazy “Bush/Cheney” neocons running around trying to become the “CEOs” of foreign nations. Wow, glad that’s all over. Whew! And, it’s a really good thing Bush is no longer in power or else the US would come up with some crazy idea like building a colonial fortress in Pakistan to defend “US interests” in the region.

From McClatchy:

The White House has asked Congress for — and seems likely to receive — $736 million to build a new U.S. embassy in Islamabad, along with permanent housing for U.S. government civilians and new office space in the Pakistani capital.

The scale of the projects rivals the giant U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, which was completed last year after construction delays at a cost of $740 million.

[…]

Other major projects are planned for Kabul, Afghanistan; and for the Pakistani cities of Lahore and Peshawar. In Peshawar, the U.S. government is negotiating the purchase of a five-star hotel that would house a new U.S. consulate.

[…]

In Pakistan, however, large parts of the population are hostile to the U.S. presence in the region — despite receiving billions of dollars in aid from Washington since 2001 — and anti-American groups and politicians are likely to seize on the expanded diplomatic presence in Islamabad as evidence of American “imperial designs.”

“This is a replay of Baghdad,” said Khurshid Ahmad, a member of Pakistan’s upper house of parliament for Jamaat-e-Islami, one of the country’s two main religious political parties. “This (Islamabad embassy) is more (space) than they should need. It’s for the micro and macro management of Pakistan, and using Pakistan for pushing the American agenda in Central Asia.”

Will Obama Vacate Iraq?

April 8, 2009

Nasir Khan, April 8, 2009

On February 27, 2009 President Barack Obama delivered his much-anticipated policy speech on Iraq. The important point in his announcement was the withdrawal of some U.S. troops from Iraq by August 31, 2010. However, it did not mean an end to the American occupation of Iraq, or an end to an illegal genocidal war that the Bush-Cheney administration had started. Despite his high-blown rhetoric about withdrawing from Iraq, Obama did not deal with many important questions. Thus what was not said cannot be regarded as an oversight but rather as an indication of how the new administration intends to pursue its policy objectives. Those who had wished to see a break by the new administration with the Bush-Cheney administration’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are concerned because they detect the continuation of the goal of the U.S. domination, which the American rulers usually refer to as the ‘U.S. interests’ in the region.

At present the U.S. has 142,000 combat troops in Iraq. But what is often glossed over is the fact that there is almost a parallel army of American mercenaries and private military contractors whose numbers range from 100,000 to 150,000. Thus both the regular fighting force and these mercenaries are virtual foreign occupiers. However, the planned withdrawal of U.S. troops will not amount to ending the U.S. occupation of Iraq. Obama wants to keep more than 50,000 occupying troops in Iraq. His innovation, if we can call it so, lies in classifying them as ‘non-combat’ troops or a ‘transitional force’. And what will they be doing? It is worth noticing how Obama formulates the policy objective that shows the real intentions of the occupiers: ‘we will retain a transitional force to carry out the three distinct functions: training, equipping , and advising Iraqi Security Forces as long as they remain non-sectarian; conducting targeted counterterrorism missions; and protecting our ongoing civilian and military efforts within Iraq.’

So, instead of ‘combat brigades’, the re-labelled ‘transitional force’ will carry on the ‘targeted counterterrorism missions’! This cannot fool anyone. What this in effect means is that that the 50,000 soldiers will continue to accomplish the ‘mission’ that the former U.S. president George W. Bush had laid out for them.

President Obama has plans to remove all such remaining U.S. troops from Iraq by the end of 2011. But things are far from certain. What will happens if the resistance against the occupier and its puppet regime in Baghdad continues and the U.S. policy-makers and military planners conclude that the challenge to American hegemony and its geopolitical interests in Iraq persists? In that case, this plan can be replaced with a new one neatly drafted by the Pentagon. Such concern was aired by the NBC’s Pentagon’s correspondent Jim Miklaszeswki on February 27, 2009 that ‘military commanders, despite their Status of Forces agreement with the Iraqi government that all U.S. forces would be out by the end of 2011, are already making plans for a significant number of troops to remain in Iraq beyond that 2011 deadline, assuming that the Status of Forces Agreement would be renegotiated. And one senior military commander told us that he expects large number of American troops to be in Iraq for the next 15 to 20 years.’ In case of such need to keep the American forces in Iraq, the puppet regime in Baghdad will hardly be in a position to resist the American diktat and pressure. That means the colonial occupation of Iraq according to U.S. designs and interests will continue.

There are a number of important issues that President Obama did not touch in his speech. What will happen to more than 100,000 mercenaries and private military contractors operating in Iraq? Dyncorp, Bechtel, Blackwater have been used by American military and they have been immune to any accountability for killing Iraqis. The recent change of name from Blackwater to ‘Xe’ does not change the mission of the mercenaries and their crimes in Iraq. Again, the ultimate responsibility for the actions of such people lies with the American government. The peace movement should demand the Obama administration to redress the issue.

In Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone, the Bush administration built the largest embassy of any nation anywhere on Earth, a sprawling complex of buildings to accommodate up to 5,000 American diplomats and officials. That shows what long-term objectives the Bush administration had for Iraq and the Middle East. Besides, it was again the illegal action of the occupying military power in which the people of Iraq had no say. An embassy is meant for diplomatic relations between two states. But the gigantic building to accommodate thousands of officials in the capital of an occupied oil-rich country shows the true intentions of the American rulers. These buildings should be closed down or handed over to the Iraqis.

The United States has 58 permanent military bases in Iraq, as a part of the larger network of American military bases around the world. President Obama should give a clear indication that when the American troops are withdrawn, the illegal use of Iraqi military bases will also come to an end.

Let us hope that President Obama’s words match his actions; actions that will signify a change in the direction of American imperial policy. It was encouraging to see that when he turned to the Iraqi people and said: ‘The United States pursues no claim on your territory or your resources. We respect your sovereignty and the tremendous sacrifices you have made for your country. We seek a full transition to Iraqi responsibility for the security of your country.’

The American rulers have inflicted immeasurable death and destruction on the Iraqi people and the infrastructure of their country. They have caused untold humanitarian disaster and suffering in Iraq. The people of Iraq have seen only death, destruction and barbarity at the hands of the occupiers since the U.S. invasion of their country. The Belgian philosopher, Lieven De Cauter, the initiator of the BRussells Tribunal, writes: ‘During six years of occupation, 1.2 million citizens were killed, 2,000 doctors killed, and 5,500 academics and intellectuals assassinated or imprisoned. There are 4.7 million refugees: 207 million inside the country and two million have fled to neighbouring countries, among which are 20,000 doctors. According to the Red Cross, Iraq is a country of widows and orphans: two million widows as a consequence of war, embargo, and war again and occupation, and five million orphans, many of whom are homeless (estimated at 500,000).’

For us the ordinary human beings, such a degree of inhumanity shown by the rulers of the United States towards the people of a great country and callous imperviousness to the suffering of so many people is hard to understand. In addition, Iraq, the cradle of human civilisation eventually fell in the hands of the American occupiers and they vandalized the ancient treasures and artifacts, which were the common heritage of all humanity.

In sum, the peace movement should demand the complete withdrawal of all U.S. troops, the withdrawal of all mercenaries and military contractors hired by the Pentagon. All American military bases in Iraq should be closed and the full sovereignty of Iraq over its land and air be respected. All lucrative oil contracts the occupiers made with the puppet regime in Baghdad should be held null and void. Above all, the United States should be held accountable to pay reparations for the damage it caused and pay compensation to the victims of aggression. We should demand that the International Criminal Court takes steps to indict the alleged war criminals. The governments of the United States and Britain have a special responsibility to hand over the principal war criminals to The Hague and to facilitate the task of such trials.

Endless War

March 5, 2009

by Margaret Kimberley | Black Agenda Report, March 4, 2009

Why are more Republicans happy with Obama’s policies on government secrecy, wiretapping, non-withdrawal from Iraq, unqualified support for Israel and a host of other policies than most of the Democratic party’s own base?

What do they know that many of us don’t, or perhaps do not wish to know?
“There will still be American troops in Iraq, up to 50,000 of them.”

If John McCain and other Republicans are happy about an Obama administration initiative and Democrats are not, it is safe to say that something very bad is taking place. That something is Obama’s announcement that he will continue the occupation of Iraq indefinitely.

Of course, the president didn’t actually use any of those words. In a speech delivered at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, President Obama announced, “…by August 31, 2010 our combat mission in Iraq will end.”

As always, the president chose his words very carefully. The parsing was so clever that it fooled many people into celebrating when there is no reason for joy. There will still be American troops in Iraq, up to 50,000 of them. “As I have long said, we will retain a transitional force to carry out three distinct functions: training, equipping, and advising Iraqi Security Forces as long as they remain non-sectarian; conducting targeted counter-terrorism missions; and protecting our ongoing civilian and military efforts within Iraq. Initially, this force will likely be made up of 35-50,000 U.S. troops.”

It isn’t clear how “conducting targeted counter-terrorism missions” will not be considered combat. Congressman Dennis Kucinich pointed out the obvious problem with the president’s words. “You cannot leave combat troops in a foreign country to conduct combat operations and call it the end of the war. You can’t be in and out at the same time.”

“Obama never expressed any intention of fully withdrawing from Iraq.”

Obama’s one time political rival, Republican senator John McCain, was extremely pleased with the president’s timetable and with the level of troop commitment. “I believe that the administration should aim to keep the full complement – 50,000, as briefed by Secretary Gates and Admiral Mullen – and not succumb to pressures, political or otherwise, to make deeper or faster cuts in our force levels.” While McCain and other Republicans waxed enthusiastically, Congressional Democrats such as Nancy Pelosi and Charles Schumer, who are not known for progressive politics, expressed concern about the number of troops scheduled to remain in Iraq.

While Democrats openly questioned the president’s policy, Republicans were enthusiastic supporters. During the presidential campaign John McCain was excoriated by Democrats when he said the United States should continue its presence in Iraq for 100 years. It was easy to sneer at the hapless McCain, but the Obama plan could lead to an American presence that may not last 100 years, but for a very long time nonetheless. The snickering directed at McCain should also have been directed at Obama, who never expressed any intention of fully withdrawing from Iraq.

His statement at Camp Lejeune was a repetition of his words on the stump as a presidential candidate. He reminded his foolishly smitten yet now disappointed supporters that he was an anti-war candidate only in their dreams. “Well, what I would say that is that they maybe weren’t paying attention to what I said during the campaign.”

The damage done by the complete capitulation of many progressives to Obama is now bearing fruit. He is able to dismiss them and his own party without suffering any political damage. He said as much in a PBS interview with Jim Lehrer.

JIM LEHRER: You’re not the least bit uneasy over the fact as John McCain and John Boehner, the Republican leader of the House, have praised your plan while the Democrats are criticizing it?

BARACK OBAMA: You know, I don’t – I don’t make these decisions based on polls or popularity. I make the decisions based on what I think is best.

In other words, the Democrats can go to hell. He doesn’t care what they think. He doesn’t have to care what they think because they gave him carte blanche to say and do anything he wanted during the campaign. McCain and Boehner are now his cheerleaders and Democrats have to be happy with whatever their leader deems to be acceptable.
“Many more will die in the name of fighting terror.”

Dennis Kucinich, among those who can be ignored, made another important point about the Obama plan. “We must bring a conclusion to this sorry chapter in American history where war was waged under false pretense against an innocent people. Taking troops out of Iraq should not mean more troops available for deployment in other operations.”

The other operation is of course in Afghanistan, where an additional 17,000 troops are headed. Afghanistan is also under occupation, its civilian population is the target of U.S. military action that has killed thousands of human beings. Many more will die in the name of fighting terror, and to benefit the same corporations that will turn their country into another cash cow for war profiteers.

Barack Obama proves that there is only one political party in this country when foreign policy decisions are being made. George W. Bush may no longer be in the White House, but because of capitulation to the Obama administration, his grand plan for endless war will be a reality for a very long time to come.

Margaret Kimberley’s Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR. Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)BlackAgandaReport.Com.


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