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Brian Drolet

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President Bush's Address, paragraph 2

Bush continues to speak of “our mission” in Iraq, and for the most part the commentators in the Democratic Party and the foreign policy think tank establishment echo the term without being much more truthful about its definition than Bush was about the rationale for the invasion in the first place. The uncontestable fact is that “the mission” is to establish a reliable, stable client government in Iraq that will be part of the larger strategy to secure American interests in the region. The next question: how do the war architects, their backers (and the former backers who have now become strategy critics) define “American Interests” in the region? Do American interests permit Chinese, Russian or EU equal access with the U.S. to the regions oil resources? Does it permit independent states of the region to determine their own oil policy? Would American interests allow euro-denomiated petroleum markets instead of petrodollars? Of course not. Shouldn’t the real debate here be about the “mission” and the “interests” rather than about the strategy and tactics for success?

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President Bush's Address, entire page

The big news about Bush’s New Plan is the debate it has unleashed in the U.S.

There is a mounting level of panic in the American government and foreign policy establishment as Iraq seems to spin out of control and perhaps out of the U.S. grasp.

The U.S. now faces a “defeat” that could have immense consequences for its global dominance, with serious ramifications on the American economy and political stature. “Failure in Iraq,” said Bush, “would be a disaster for the United States.” Sharp splits have emerged in previously unified and confident American elites as they scramble to find a workable strategy to salvage U.S.objectives in the region and avoid wounds that might prove fatal to its imperial primacy.

The spectre of a “radical Islamic empire” that Bush conjures is a totem for the real threat of the emergence of a rival Chinese or European or resurgent Russian empire. These are complex and long term political tectonics. But potential global rivals smirk from the sidelines as the U.S. sinks into the quagmire of its efforts to crush the reactionary fundamentalists networks it has spawned and defeat nationalist resistance to occupation.. America’s mighty military machine stumbles in the face of Lilliputian assaults that seem to proliferate and strengthen with every mention of “the war on terror.”

The spectre of “Vietnam” is also raised by pundits and politicians. Bush blames too few troops and too many restrictions for the current debacle and proposes a major increase of men with guns freed from pesky restraints. Iraq is not Vietnam. The stakes now are much higher and the risk of wider conflagration much greater. But Bush’s New Plan for dealing with resistance and sectarian slaughter stirs memories of “search and destroy” missions and the’ “snuff and snatch” (kidnap, torture, kill) counterinsurgency efforts of Operation Phoenix. In Iraq the light at the end of this tunnel seems blocked by the resistance and the patriot missiles and flotillas of warships Bush is waving at Iran and Syria.

Most alternative “deciders” see the Bush “escape forward” strategy as lunacy. Those neocons still hanging around the White House challenge critics to “put an alternative on the table.” They have. But none of the congressional or “elder statesmen” plans calls for abandoning the mission or relinquishing U.S. military control of the region.

The leading alternatives all include:

1. “Redeployment.” – Pull U.S. troops back to Kuwait and Kurdistan and let the Shias and Sunis fight it out. (The Murtha Plan) Or pull U.S.troops out of the cities and put them on the boarders to seal the country from supplies and fighters from Iran, Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, etc. (The Chuck Hagel suggestion).

2. “Reconfigure”, “Repurpose” and Redeploy: The Baker Hamilton Plan argues to reconfigure U.S. forces and scale back the number of combat troops. It argues for embedding U.S. troops with Iraqi batallions to train, provide intelligence and logistics support. Baker and Hamilton also assert that:

“Even after the United States has moved all combat brigades out of Iraq, we would maintain a considerable military presence in the region, with our still significant force in Iraq and with our powerful air, ground, and naval deployments in Kuwait, Bahrain, and Qatar, as well as an increased presence in Afghanistan. These forces would be sufficiently robust to permit the United States, working with the Iraqi government, to accomplish four missions:
*Provide political reassurance to the Iraqi government in order to avoid its collapse and the disintegration of the country.
*Fight al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations in Iraq using special operations teams.
*Train, equip, and support the Iraqi security forces.
*Deter even more destructive interference in Iraq by Syria and Iran.

These four missions are the visible face of the fundamental mission: to ensure the protection of American “interests” i.e control of the resources and people of the region. All global powers understand this to be the key to top dog status and the ability to exercise global hegemony. There is agreement among Bush planners and critics on the continued validity of the 1948 State Department assessment that the Middle East represents “the greatest strategic prize in history.” Neither Bush or his loyal opposition is willing to throw that prize away.

All the contending plans nod to another Vietnam era cliche: the necessity to win the hearts and minds of the people, this time supposedly by providing security, electricity, water, food, jobs, perhaps even a slot on American Idol: cruel opposites of the living hell 12 years of sanctions and 4 years of war have brought down on the people of Iraq.

There a continuing refusal by the administration and its congressional and think tank critics a to admit the unspeakable suffering that the U.S. invasion and occupation have caused. The carnage by murderous Shia and Sunni militias (set in motion by the invasion) is used to deflect attention from the murderous barbarity of the occupation itself. The invasion of Iraq was an illegal act of aggression, a war crime. The torture and murder of innocent civilians compounds that crime. The debate should not be about a better way to carry out the crime, to make the victims feel better about it. The crime should stop. Now. It’s purpatrators should be punished, not debated.

Bush, Baker & Hamilton, Murtha, Hagel, Clinton et. al seem like Dr. Frankenstein and his now disloyal Igors rushing into the village shouting “I’ll save you, I’ll save you,” from the monster they have created and unleashed. It would be quite foolish to put faith in people whose only real plan is to preserve their investment and safeguard the laboratory that churns out these monsters.

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President Bush's Address, paragraph 3

Reidar Visser raises a good point about blaming external forces. Her mention of the 1920 uprising of Sunni and Shia Arabs and Kurds also points to one of the most outrageous lies by omission of the U.S.-British invasion and occupation. The British pillage of Iraq from the end of WWI until they ere forced out in 1958.

A short annimated history of this occupation created by Deep Dish TV as part of its 12 part series on Iraq can be seen at

The League of Nations handed Britain “official” colonial rule over Palestine and Mesopotamia (now Iraq) after the conclusion of the war. By 1920 the peoples of the Tigris and Euphrates valley were in open revolt. Winston Churchill ordered the use of poison gas against the uprising. Then in 1921, at a conference in Cairo, Egypt at which several hundred Brits and 2 Iraqis were present, the British established the modern state of Iraq, after carefully detaching the oil rich area of Kuwait from the province of Basra. They appointed Faisal ibn Husayn, son of Sherif Hussein ibn Ali former Sharif of Mecca as Iraq’s first King. They made his brother the king of Jordan. The British military band played “God Save the King” at his coronation. The new king was then forced to sign a 75 year oil concession pact that gave the British all profits from Iraii oil. 82 years later the British returned once again as occupiers of Iraq, this time in the pocket of the Americans.

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President Bush's Address, paragraph 10

In reality, the Bush Escalation will bring the number of American forces in Iraq to over a quarter of a million. In addition to the 140,000 or so there now and the 20,000 plus he plans to add, the Washington Post today reminds us that there are over 100,000 private contractors bourght in by the U.S. to carry out functions from serving food to interrogating prisoners. Functions that in previous wars were handled by official military personnel.