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      Prediction: The U.S. Stays in Iraq

      It is becoming almost certain that the U.S. succeed in forcing Iraq to “invite” thousands of American troops to stay indefinitely in the latest imperial outpost of the United States in the Arab world. (New York Times, May 12)

      To recap: the Bush administration signed a pact with the Iraqi government in the interlude between administrations, and President Obama concurred. Then in early 2009 Obama added an unexpected promise to withdraw all American troops by December 2011, instead of leaving a residual force as he had proposed during his campaign.

      The Pentagon relentlessly pressured the Iraqis to amend the agreement allowing for an American base and troops.

      The Pentagon is winning. If this was just another base among 800 scattered around the world, it might be accepted with a sigh of resignation. But this places American forces in the middle of sectarian tensions inside Iraq, near the oil fields if trouble should erupt, and serving as a counter-point to heavily-armed Iran. Not to mention propping up an authoritarian sectarian government with a long record of human rights abuses.

      In the political balance of forces, however, there are few if any voices in Congress or the peace movement speaking out, much less organizing against the bastion-to-be. Among the influentials, only Obama’s occasional advisers at the Center for American Progress are on record favoring a complete pullout.

      The Shi’a-dominated regime, which America has put in power, already tilts towards Iran in the geo-politics of the region. An American base will keep them from sliding further out of orbit, or so it is believed. In addition, the Baghdad government, being composed of many exiles who returned with American firepower, are afraid of the prospect of a renewed Sunni insurgency if the Americans leave. On the other side, the Sunni insurgent groups are afraid that they will be slaughtered by the Shi’a security forces if America leaves. And the Kurds want the U.S. to protect them from the Shi’a and Sunnis. This leads to the oldest of formulas of empires bent on domination: the claim that “if the Western civilizers withdraw, the natives will kill each other.” Divide-and-conquer masked as peacekeeping.

      Intellectually, this strategy has been promoted by Stephen Biddle at the Council on Foreign Relations for several years. In Mar.-April 2006, he wrote in Foreign Affairs:

      “Washington must stop shifting the responsibility for [Iraq’s] security to others and instead threaten to manipulate the military balance of power among Sunnis, Shiites, and Kurds in order to force them to come to a durable compromise.”

      Only a far-sighted president and his advisers might see the dangers in being entrapped forever in Iraq, what Chalmers Johnson laments as the “sorrows of empire.” There is no sign of such far-sightedness at the moment.

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      Reader Comments (4)

      As long as we fund militarism, homeland security & imprisonment of our citizens we won't have the funds for education, health care, and environmental issues. It's a waste of time to argue with frightened people who don't believe in the possibilities of human community - better is to focus our energies on urban farming as both a food source and an educational tool in our public schools, creating community that nourishes our environment and the people around us, and reforming our monetary system to value all people not just the ones who can manipulate the speculative system we're now prisoners of.

      The economy is our most fundamental social dialog - and as long as our monetary system is constructed as a 'winner-take-all' competition in which we all must participate to survive, this usury based system will continue to concentrate money into ever fewer hands. The monetary system needs to be reformed so that currency acts more as a medium of exchange and less as a speculative instrument. There is a reason that more than 98% of all dollar transactions are for speculation and < 2% are for the actual exchange of goods & services.

      Reforming the monetary system by placing a small holding fee on money (a demurrage currency) would provide a flat tax on money with no special exclusions for anyone. A local demurrage currency issued by regional government to fund the local bond issues is a useful way to think about 'democratizing the credit commons' (as Tom Greco would say). Worgl was a good example during the great depression:

      May 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJill Harrison

      Tom you have been reading the "play book" for controlling third world nations. As long as there is oil or some other valuable commodity in a weak region, empires will seek to dominate and occupy subjugated its countries and peoples. This pattern historically goes back to the times of the greek and the roman occupations and domination of the middle-east. If we want to stop this madness, I suggest we find a true peace candidate to run in the democrat presidential primaries and we strengthen our base by convincing the leadership in the peace, environmental, social justice, labor and religious communities that they must unite to support that candidate in order to bring both the troops home and to free up the funds to focus on their top priorities in the US.

      May 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPeter McNamee

      "Only a far-sighted president and his advisers might see the dangers in being entrapped forever in Iraq, what Chalmers Johnson laments as the “sorrows of empire.” There is no sign of such far-sightedness at the moment."

      So, we wait.
      In the meanwhile, thank you Mr. Hayden for your dedicated peace vigil.

      May 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterElizabeth Lerer

      Iraq is just as sick as Afghanistan. You can thank the Bush family for the prices you are paying at the pump for gasoline. Why ?

      In a 'Meet The Press' interview, Karl Rove said "We had to stop Saddam because he was manipulating the oil Market ". That's right he was selling oil cheaper than the Saudis, getting back at George Sr. for Desert Storm. Saddam was hitting them right in their pocketbook and they couldn't stand it. Why do you think the Saudis met with George Herbert Walker Bush at 'Walker Point' in Maine many months before the Iraq invasion ? It sure wasn't for tea ! When young George took over he carried out the Saudis wishes and got rid of the competition in the oil market.

      These SOB's disgust me. My heart goes out to all the poor mothers and fathers that lost their children in these wars.
      They were lied to and told that our Freedom depended on it. Biggest line of CRAP ever put against the American people.

      We have our FREEDOM. The plight of Iraq hangs in the balance. The competition has been eliminated, Saddam is dead and now the world will pay dearly for oil.

      May 14, 2011 | Unregistered Commenteranthony samsel
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