Michael Schwartz, Twenty-First-Century Colonialism in Iraq

July 12, 2009 at 10:15 am | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment
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Tom Dispatch

posted 2009-07-09 11:11:17

Tomgram: Michael Schwartz, Twenty-First-Century Colonialism in Iraq

One of the earliest metaphors President George W. Bush and some of his top officials wielded in their post-invasion salad days in Iraq involved bicycles. The question was: Should we take the “training wheels” off the Iraqi bike (of democracy)? Then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, for example, commented smugly on the way getting Iraq “straightened out” was like teaching your kid to ride a bike:

 

“They’re learning, and you’re running down the street holding on to the back of the seat. You know that if you take your hand off they could fall, so you take a finger off and then two fingers, and pretty soon you’re just barely touching it. You can’t know when you’re running down the street how many steps you’re going to have to take. We can’t know that, but we’re off to a good start.”

 

That image (about as patronizingly colonial as they come) of the little pedaling Iraqi child with an American parent running close behind, was abandoned when around the first corner, as it turned out, was an insurgent with an rocket-propelled grenade. Many years and many disasters later, though, Americans, whether in the Obama administration, the Washington punditocracy, or the media are still almost incapable of not being patronizing when it comes to Iraq. Take a typical recent piece of “news analysis” in the New York Times by a perfectly sharp journalist, Alissa J. Rubin. It was headlined in print “America’s New Role in Iraq Prompts a Search for Means of Influence” and focused, in part, on Vice President Joe Biden’s recent trip there supposedly to “assuage” Iraqi feelings that they are being “moved to the bottom shelf.”

Rubin writes (and this sort of thing has been written countless times before) that the Americans are now in search of a “new tone” for their dealings in that country. (In the Bush years, this was often called — in another strange imperial metaphor — “putting an Iraqi face” on things.) “They have,” she comments, “a reputation for being heavy-handed, for telling Iraqis what to do rather than asking what they want.” But of course, as the piece makes clear, whatever his tone, Biden arrived in Iraq to tell Iraqis what they should do — or as she puts it, to try to “solve” the “troubles… that stymied three previous ambassadors and President George W. Bush”: continuing sectarian animosities, the passage of an Iraqi oil law, and the Kurdish problem.

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Conquest Non-Interruptus: Keeping the Boot on Iraq’s Neck

July 9, 2009 at 5:00 pm | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment
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Conquest Non-Interruptus: Keeping the Boot on Iraq’s Neck

Chris Floyd

July 7, 2009To paraphrase our question from the other day, when is a withdrawal not a withdrawal? When it is a continued occupation. The indispensible Dahr Jamail reports on the reality behind the media hoopla over the putative pullout of American troops from Iraq’s cities [see original for links]:

We have passed the June 30 deadline that, according to a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) signed between US Ambassador Ryan Crocker and Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari on November 17, 2008, was the date all US forces were to have been withdrawn from all of Iraq’s cities. Today, however, there are at least 134,000 US soldiers in Iraq – a number barely lower than the number that were there in 2003. In addition, US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates testified on June 9 that the United States would maintain an average of at least 100,000 troops in Iraq through fiscal year 2010.

The SOFA is a sieve, and the number of US military personnel in Iraq is remaining largely intact for now. Add to the 134,000 US soldiers almost the exact number of military contractors (132,610 and increasing), 36,061 of which, according to a recent Department of Defense report, are US citizens.

While the military and most corporate media would like you to believe that from now on no US soldiers will step foot in Iraqi cities, US military patrols in them are ongoing and will continue.  In addition, there has been an assumption that all US military bases within Iraqi city limits would be moved. For example, US Army Forward Operating Base Falcon, home to 3,000 US troops, is clearly within the city limits of Baghdad. But US military officials, working with Iraqis in the US-supported Iraqi government, have other ideas. “We and the Iraqis decided it wasn’t in the city,” a military official told the Christian Science Monitor. Thus, city lines are redrawn, to the convenience of the US military, to render certain bases and forward operating bases “outside” of Iraqi cities.

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The Logistical Nightmare in Iraq

March 30, 2009 at 10:49 pm | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment
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March 30, 2009

283 Bases, 170,000 Pieces of Equipment, 140,000 Troops and an Army of Mercenaries

The Logistical Nightmare in Iraq

By JEREMY SCAHILL

With last week’s announced escalation of the war in Afghanistan, including an Iraq-like “surge” replete with 4,000 more U.S. troops and a sizable increase in private contractors, President Barack Obama blew the lid off of any lingering perceptions that he somehow represents a significant change in how the U.S. conducts its foreign policy.

In the meantime, more reports have emerged that bolster suspicions that Obama’s Iraq policy is but a downsized version of Bush’s and that a total withdrawal of U.S. forces is not on the horizon.

In the latest episode of Occupation Rebranded, it was revealed that the administration intends to reclassify some combat forces as “advisory and assistance brigades.” While Obama’s administration is officially shunning the use of the term “global war on terror,” the labels du jour, unfortunately, seem to be the biggest changes we will see for some time.

Underscoring this point is a report just released by the War Resisters League, which for decades has closely monitored the military budget, revealing how many tax dollars are actually going to the war machine. The WRL puts out its famous pie chart annually just before tax time as a reminder of what we are doing exactly when we file our returns. Noting that 51 percent of the federal budget goes to military spending, the WRL said it does “not expect the military percentage to change much” under Obama.

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Out of Iraq? Not if Bush and Maliki can help it

October 28, 2008 at 6:10 pm | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment
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October 28, 2008

 

by Phyllis Bennis

Despite the recent surge of attention to the U.S.-Iraqi negotiations over an agreement to keep U.S. troops in Iraq for years into the future, the resulting agreement or lack of agreement is likely to have little actual impact on the occupation. The negotiations are being conducted by representatives of President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki – neither of whom actually wants the U.S. troops to leave (Maliki’s government would not likely survive the withdrawal of U.S. troops, and Bush remains committed to permanent U.S. control of Iraq, its oil, and its strategic location for U.S. military bases).

But both Bush and Maliki face political and electoral pressures to posture as if they do want a timetable for troop withdrawal. As a result, most of the negotiations seem to have focused less on substantive disagreements between the two sides, and more on finding language that disguises the reality of continued occupation and U.S. domination, with politically acceptable language extolling Iraqi sovereignty.

Continue Reading Out of Iraq? Not if Bush and Maliki can help it…

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