Plan Iraq - Permanent Occupation
by Stephen Lendman
Congress is back from its July 4 break
and with it more bluster and political posturing on changing course
to keep things the same, including everything not working in place.
It's the same old scheme, back again, to fool enough of the people
all the time and most all of them long enough to move on to the
next change of course mission shift starting the whole cycle over
again. Even the blind can see the hopelessness of staying the
course in Iraq. Aside from its lawlessness and immorality, pushing
on with a failed effort qualifies as a classic definition of insanity
- continuing the same failed policies, expecting different results.
The only sensible, honorable option is
a full, speedy withdrawal along with providing multi-billions
for Iraqis to rebuild what we destroyed and have no intention
restoring now or ever beyond what's needed for permanent occupation.
The only other honorable option is owning up to what no one in
Washington or the major media will do - that the Iraq and Afghan
conflicts are illegal wars of aggression making those responsible
for them in the administration and Congress war criminals warranting
prosecution for their crimes.
That won't happen nor will the administration
and Congress do anything more substantive than say one thing and
do another. It's been an unbroken pattern since 9/11, and especially
on Afghanistan and throughout the run-up to the Iraq invasion.
Both wars were sold through lies and deceit. They're based on
a fictitious "outside enemy" threat without which no
"war on terrorism" could exist, and no imperial foreign
wars could be waged.
They're possible only by scaring the public
enough to believe the threat is still real, and "Enemy Number
One" Osama bin Laden (recruited through Pakistan's ISI as
a CIA asset in the 1980s) and Al-Queda represent it. So with
Saddam gone and no WMDs found, staying the course is vital to
the nation's security even when, in fact, the truth is the opposite,
crying wolf's wearing thin, and selling snake oil solutions get
harder to do. But schemers keep trying with complicit Democrats
as much part of the scam as Republicans and Bush loyalists, dwindling
down to a precious hard line few but still around in key positions
With "the walls of Jericho"
crumbling around him as the world's most hated man and the ship
of state listing badly, a pathetic caricature of a president keeps
pleading for more time. He claims it's needed to head off the
threat of "mass killing on a horrific scale" in Iraq
and plenty at home as well. He then continues using the same
timeworn line that the war can be won, the "surge" is
working, give it a chance, and withdrawing will be disastrous.
Be more patient, and we'll know more in September we're told.
The Iraqi puppet government gets blamed
for what's gone wrong with no one in Washington pointing the finger
where it belongs. George Bush can do no better than keep asking
Congress and the public "to give (generalissimo) David Petraeus
a chance to come back (September 15) and tell us whether his (unworkable)
strategy is working, and then we can work together on a way forward
(further over the cliff)."
At his July 12 news conference, he never
mentioned and attending shameless journalists never pressed him
on CIA Director Michael Hayden's earlier bleak assessment of things
on the ground. He called the Iraqi puppet government "unable
to govern" and its inability to do it "irreversible."
Also not discussed was the July UN refugee agency's plea for
doubling its Iraq funding to $123 million for the growing humanitarian
needs of an estimated 2000 people fleeing uncontrollable violence
in the country daily (60,000 a month) and an estimated four million
or more displaced refugees within and outside the country.
No comment or questions were raised either
on what journalists Chris Hedges and Laila Al-Arian (daughter
of US political prisoner Sami Al-Arian) reported in the July 30
issue of The Nation. Based on interviews with 50 returning Iraq
combat veterans (ranking from privates to captains), they wrote
about "disturbing patterns of behavior by American troops"
and an indiscriminate use of force (with pictures to prove it)
amounting to a "depraved enterprise." Mentioned were
accounts of American troops gratuitously killing Iraqi civilians,
including children, that these actions are common, go unreported,
are rarely investigated, and almost always go unpunished.
George Bush's comments (and most others)
ignore as well that over 7 in 10 Americans favor a force withdrawal,
over 60% say the war was a mistake, only one in five believe the
"surge" improved things, and new polls keep showing
the numbers getting worse the longer the conflict continues.
It's got the president's approval rating barely above the lowest
ever registered since polling began with Richard Nixon, Harry
Truman, during the unpopular Korean war, Jimmy Carter, briefly
in 1980, and his own father sharing bottom honors.
Maybe George Bush is kept above rock bottom
through some creative manipulation of the data or the result of
what questions were asked, to whom, the phrasing used, and the
order in which they were presented. It seems likely for the most
despised, distrusted and disgraced US president ever. Even clever
pollsters, however, can't salvage Dick Cheney's rating. At a
bottom-scraping 12% reported, it's the lowest number scored for
a president or vice-president ever, by far and then some.
The reason is simple. A decisive majority
in the country think the war's unwinnable, was a mistake, want
it ended, and know it was based on lies. People resent being
had. Even through heavily filtered mainstream news reports, they
know the situation on the ground is out of control and an appalling
US-inflicted crime against humanity atrocity of enormous proportions.
No one in Iraq is safe anywhere, even
in the heavily secured, fortress-like Green Zone becoming more
like a embattled one daily with regular attacks on it causing
damage, injuries and deaths. Few are reported, but one on July
10 was with two to three dozen katyusha rockets and mortar rounds
striking inside the world's "ultimate gated community"
killing at least three persons and wounding 25 or more. Throughout
the country, violence long ago spiraled out of control, and since
the "surge" began in February, even the Pentagon admits
things are worse, not better, in its quarterly April - June report
It contradicts generalissimo Petraeus'
claim of "astonishing signs of normalcy" in Baghdad
overall and "breathtaking" progress even though he (and
others high up) earlier said repeatedly there's no military solution
to the conflict. The only thing "breathtaking" about
Petraeus is his inconsistency and that he's either more incompetent
than Custer at the "Little Bighorn" or a man who'll
say anything to please George Bush. On the ground, in fact, civilian
deaths are higher than ever. They number well over 5000 a month
known about and countless others never reported, the claimed June
numbers notwithstanding that are too low to be believed and should
be discounted and ignored as meaningless. In addition, US forces
are sustaining more attacks and suffered the highest level of
listed fatalities and injuries in the latest three month April
- June period since the war began.
Nearly everyone outside the administration
and Congress knows the war is lost, but no one's brave enough
to admit it or do anything about it. So shifting mission means
"damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead" with the dominant
media always in tow to shape the facts on the ground to fit the
policy. Admiral Farragut would be proud.
Now it's back to the political drawing
board with a repackaged new scheme certain to end up little different
from the last one. Ideas floating promise a substantial drawdown
of troops leaving behind what's claimed is needed to maintain
security for the Iraqi people that's killing thousands of them
every month. All NATO combined can't contain the hate and growing
opposition in both war zones matched against any size occupying
force put in place to contain them. Iraq and Afghanistan have
a long history of resisting occupiers and a successful record
of ousting them in the end. It will be the same this time as
earlier after many more lives are lost in a futile effort to prove
In Iraq and Afghanistan, the struggle
for liberation is on the ground. At home, shifting mission is
being concocted by scared politicians up for reelection in 2008.
They'll face millions of angry voters fed up with wars they want
ended and ready to throw out the bums who won't do it. So it's
back to political posturing (again) with Democrats and Republicans
trying to convince voters this time they mean it, and what they
say is what they'll follow through on. It's the same old repackaged
scam in the nation's capitol where nothing can be taken on its
face. It's high time the public realized the criminal class there
is bipartisan, and nothing short of a new breed of uncorrupted
officials will change things. And that won't happen until enough
fed up voters elect them.
For now it's business as usual, and summer
battle lines have the "intrepid" Democrat-led Congress
and a few nervous Republican defectors facing off with the Bush
administration on the FY 2008 DOD budget. It calls for an astonishing
$648.8 billion plus an additional $142 billion war supplemental
likely to end up topping $800 billion when the dust settles and
usual pork is added in. Debate will play out the same as last
year with Democrats in the end failing to use the one constitutional
power Congress alone has - the appropriation authority to cut
off funding and end the Bush administration's imperial adventurism
once and for all. No money, no wars, that simple.
It's apparently too simple, and all that's
likely ahead is more disingenuous posturing over restricting troop
deployments and setting an open-ended timetable for an unspecified
partial withdrawal at the discretion of the administration taking
full advantage to do as it pleases. And if that doesn't work,
George Bush promises to veto any legislation setting timelines
for withdrawal he'll ignore even if overridden. On July 10, he
repeated his earlier statements that Iraq troop levels "will
be decided by our commanders on the ground (obeying White House
orders), not by political figures in Washington, DC" (except
him, Dick Cheney and their hard line cronies.
The president has no more to fear from
"opposition" Democrats and "defecting" Republicans
than he had before, but he's quivering anyway. Their posturing
(and his) is as phony now as immediately post-9/11 in selling
the Afghan war and enacting police state laws. It's as bad as
in pre-March, 2003, last year's budget debate, and this spring's
agreement to continue funding through September with George Bush
certifying (on his word alone) progress is being made and Iraqis
are carrying their share of the burden that's impossible because
the world's only superpower can't handle its own.
But note Senate Majority Leader Harry
Reid's compromising language with a September 15 administration/Pentagon
accountability report upcoming: "The war is headed in a dangerous
direction, and Americans are united in the belief that we cannot
wait until the administration's September report before we change
course in Iraq." His next statement shows he's not preaching
pullout but only says "We cannot ask our military to continue
to fight without a strategy for success (never mind there is none
short of full, unconditional withdrawal), and we certainly cannot
ask them to fight before they are ready to do so."
He's referring to deployment lengths (unchanged
after July 11 Senate amendments were blocked) and concern for
a broken military the Pentagon already admits to. The likely
outcome of current debate will be the same quick fix as before,
save for a few dubious amendments achieving nothing. In the end,
the compromise solution will be to kick the can down the road
and throw lots more money at the problem hoping it will go away.
It'll only get worse. No amount can salvage a lost war, lawmakers
and the Pentagon know it, but solutions like last year and this
spring are coming with bloated budgets getting more bloated.
Ignore meaningless party line votes like
the one the House passed July 12 for withdrawing most combat troops
by April 1, 2008. Not while this administration's in power, and
so far, the Senate's going nowhere. It can't get the 60 votes
needed to prevent a Republican promised filibuster, and votes
cast in both Houses are to deceive voters, not get action. They're
made knowing they're safe with George Bush promising to veto any
change of course and can make it stick.
The wars will thus continue to progress
in an endless cycle of more spending with no results beyond growing
deficits, intensifying public anger, greater violence on the ground,
and defeats getting worse as the conflicts drag on. George Bush
calls it "progress. I know we can succeed in Iraq, and I
know we must" he said on July 12. Incredibly, he claimed
it on eight trivial military benchmarks under US control, blaming
eight more important political failures on the Iraqi puppet government
in charge of little more than cleaning daily rubble and dead bodies
off streets. He added results to date are a mixed bag and overall
it's too early to pass judgment - after over four disastrous years
of failure and a conflict longer in duration than WW II when war
raged on three continents against formidable enemies, and it was
no simple task beating them.
It again proves this man is unchallenged
as a world champion serial liar. By now, he may believe some
of his own lies the way writer Alex Cockburn said Ronald Reagan
believed his. "Truth (for the great fabricator) was what
he happened to be saying at the time. He (and Bush) went one better
than George Washington in that he couldn't tell a lie and he couldn't
tell the truth, since he couldn't tell the difference between
There is a difference, however, between
the two deceivers. During his first term at least, Reagan (as
a former actor, albeit a B-rated one) did a reasonable job impersonating
a president. He could find his "mark" and read his lines.
George Bush never rose to that level even as Texas governor or
any other time in his life, and when it comes to lying, he can't
stop doing it even when he knows the difference. He proved it
July 12 in his ludicrous portrayal of the true state of things
in Iraq. It's part of his desperate effort for new congressional
funding in even greater amounts. To get it, he ignores growing
public disenchantment and deep revulsion about a criminal lost
cause enterprise launched and continued on the basis of lies.
That notwithstanding, Reid and other Democrats
have their grandiose notions of mission shift. It's to avoid
"a precipitous withdrawal from Iraq" with legislation
he'll propose calling for permanent occupation forces on the ground
for the spurious notion of "conduct(ing) counterterrorism
operations, protect(ing) our assets (meaning oil) and train(ing)
Iraqi forces." Senate Armed Services Committee chairman,
Carl Levin is on board with him. He'll support a limited troop
withdrawal by late year, an end to combat operations on the ground
by April 30, 2008 with Iraqi forces taking over, and a large remaining
permanent occupation force hunkered down inside fortified super-bases.
Never mind what Iraqis want that excludes our presence in their
country. And the same is true for the Afghans.
Voices from the administration, Pentagon,
Congress and the dominant media assure they'll be disappointed
as the top goal is salvaging America's imperial adventurism and
mission shifting current operations into a workable permanent
occupation. Here's why. The Afghan and Iraq wars are for resources,
primarily oil, and in the parts of the world where more than four-fifths
of proved reserves are located. Canadian journalist and author
Linda McQuaig explains the grandest of grand prizes is "hidden
in plain sight" in Iraq. It's the country's oil treasure
- the planet's last remaining bonanza of easily harvested "low-hanging
fruit" with more potential reserves than Saudi Arabia, the
great majority of them untapped.
It makes the country "the most sought
after real estate on the face of the earth" according to
one Wall Street oil analyst she quoted. Even with dated information
on its potential, it's known Iraq has at least 10% of dwindling
world reserves. But it's potential was "frozen in time"
with no new development in over two decades because of intervening
wars in the 1980s, economic sanctions following the Gulf war in
1991, and the current war ongoing since March, 2003. If the country's
potential doubles or triples, as Saudi Arabia's did in the last
20 years, it would, in fact, have the world's largest (mostly
untapped) proved reserves making Iraq too rich a prize for America
and its Big Oil allies to pass up. It's worth trillions of dollars
and immense geopolitical power at a time of peak oil in the face
of future dwindling supplies, except in this resource-rich country
the US won't ever leave as long as there's enough of them in the
ground and region to justify staying.
It's why the country is being turned into
a giant permanent military base protecting the ocean of oil beneath
it Washington intends to control for its Big Oil friends and to
have veto power over who gets it, who doesn't, and at what price.
To understand what's happening, consider Korea. The US arrived
in the country in 1950 following Harry Truman's committing American
forces to help the South after Washington's instigated civil war
began there on June 25 that year. Fifty-seven years later, around
37,000 troops still remain with no intention to leave. Washington
has the same thing in mind for Iraq. The Pentagon set up shop
there and intends to stay.
Below is shown, as best we know, how far
advanced we've come toward militarizing the country for permanent
occupation no matter how debate plays out in Congress. It's all
bluster providing cover for administration policy both parties
Plan Iraq - Permanent Occupation
Drawdowns, withdrawal, timelines, mission
shifting, building democracy and all the other current and long-standing
phony rhetoric aside, America is in Iraq to stay as a conqueror
and occupier - that is, until Iraqis finally kick us out as they
will in time in a part of the world long a graveyard for foreign
invaders. But it won't happen quickly or before countless more
thousands die, are injured, suffer immeasurably, are displaced,
and lose everything. This is the ugly dark side of imperialism,
nurtured on conquest, unchallengeable control, and keenly focused
on destroying and permanently occupying the cradle of civilization
now smashed and planned for dismemberment.
In the meantime, a new "peace candidate"
will become president in January, 2009 on the strength of distant
echos of Richard Nixon's "peace with honor" 1968 campaign
and hopes history would call him a "peacemaker." Instead,
there were five and one-half more years of intense war, thousands
more American deaths, and one to two million more Southeast Asian
victims in Vietnam and the secret wars in Cambodia and Laos.
Whatever little, if anything, a new president
does at home, the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan will remain
with plans for Iraqi forces eventually to do most of our killing
and dying for us. If or when they're up to it, the scheme involves
US troops staying hunkered down inside their super-bases, used
as needed outside them, with massive air power deployed freely
to slaughter innocent victims on the ground whenever they resist
what no one should ever have to endure. For now, Iraqis have
no choice but to bear up and fight back because it's their misfortune
to have an ocean of "our" oil beneath their sand we
laid claim to.
Already discussed is Iraq's importance
as the planet's last remaining "low-hanging fruit" bonanza
of mostly untapped oil riches worth trillions of dollars as the
key reason America came to stay. The US military arrived in March,
2003 and dug in for the long haul with fixed military installations
around the country. Dick Cheney's former employer, Halliburton,
got most of the huge no-bid contracts, worth many billions, to
war-profiteer and build them, irrespective of its outlandish record
of waste, fraud and abuse.
As of May, 2005, US forces were operating
out of 106 bases around the country from an original estimated
120 sites. They range in size from the huge Main Operating Base
(MOB) Camp Victory complex near Baghdad airport where thousands
of American troops are stationed to smaller ones known as Forward
Operation Sites (FOS) that are still major installations. In
addition, there are many Cooperative Security Locations (CSL)
that are small outposts for as few as 500 personnel, a number
of prisons and detention facilities, and an original dozen sites
given to Iraqi military or police units that now likely number
Reports vary, and much remains secret,
about the administration and Pentagon's current and future construction
plans for Iraq. What is known is $18 billion earlier was allocated
for in-country work that includes base installations, the US Embassy
and whatever other occupation facilities are intended. The current
figure is likely much higher. It's also known US engineers are
focusing on building 14 large "enduring bases" for extended
encampments for the tens of thousands of US forces there now and
Professor Emeritus Jules Dufour of the
University of Quebec, Canada discussed "The Worldwide Network
of US Military Bases" in his July 1, 2007 article posted
on Global Research.ca. It included detailed information plus
maps and much more on what he called "the Worldwide development
of US military power (in place) to view the (entire) Earth surface
as a vast territory to conquer, occupy and exploit (for giant
US corporate behemoths it's in league with)." He characterizes
the scheme as a process of "Humanity....being controlled
and enslaved by this Network of US military bases." He and
Chalmers Johnson believe they number 1000 or more that, according
to Johnson, were in 153 countries as of September, 2001 and now
likely in 160 or more. There are also many other secret, espionage,
and other bases jointly used in many countries with their hosts.
Dufour says post-9/11, the US built 14
new bases in the Persian Gulf region. It's also involved "in
construction and/or reinforcement of 20 bases (106 structured
units as a whole) in Iraq" plus others in Afghanistan and
other Central Asian former Soviet bloc countries and elsewhere
to encircle and control both regions' strategic resources, mainly
oil, and the pipeline routes needed to transport it.
Iraq bases are located or are being built
around Baghdad, Mosul, Taji, Balad, Kirkuk, Nasiriyah, Tikrit,
Fallujah and Irbil. There are also plans to rebuild and improve
Baghdad, Mosul and other airfields as well as rebuild roads and
other essential infrastructure strategically needed for occupation.
There are no plans to help the Iraqi people left on their own.
They have the barest of essential services, and infrastructure
to provide them, like functioning hospitals, medications, electricity,
clean water, safe food to eat, fuel, schools, and most everything
Most important for the planned long haul
will be four to six or more super-sized bases on the order of
small towns with their own neighborhoods and kinds of amenities
found in typical US ones. Inside them, it's hard distinguishing
between Iraq and America unless more sophisticated and better
aimed rocket and mortar rounds strike nearby that's becoming more
The biggest of these bases so far is the
huge Balad one. It houses the major Air Force operation in the
country, including its new spacious, state of the art, "Kingpin"
air traffic control center dividing the country's airspace into
"kill boxes," called the Common Grid Reference System.
The largest Army logistical support center is here as well, and
it's also where thousands of civilian contractors, in neighborhoods
known as "KBR-land," are based with all the comforts
of home for them and military personnel when it's quiet inside.
The so-called secret Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force
(CJSOTF) is also at Balad. It's kept behind "especially
high walls" for privacy and seclusive separation from other
operations based there.
The al-Asad airbase is the largest marine
encampment in the country located in western Anbar province where
resistance to US occupying forces has been stiffest. It, too,
has a hometown feel with similar amenities to the country's other
major bases intended to be permanent. While the Pentagon won't
admit it, four super-bases were operating last year with plans
likely for at least two more. In addition, it was planned, but
now not certain, that British forces would maintain a permanent
military presence in the south around Basra where it's now based.
If Britain pulls out, as its public demands, the Pentagon will
move in and likely expand the facilities with at least another
super-sized one for that strategically oil-rich part of the country.
They'll need it as the Brits are no more in control there than
US forces anywhere else. Their 2006 Operation Sinbad flopped
with militias on the ground in full control.
Nonetheless, America came to Iraq to stay
as long as the Middle East is resource-rich and the greatest untapped
portion by far is in Iraq. But history shows the best-laid plans
don't always work out as intended. Occupiers aren't welcome anywhere
with Iraq and Afghanistan particularly adept at expelling earlier
ones that tried and failed, including the British from both countries
who should know better. Journalist Felicity Arbuthnot notes on
Global Research.ca July 14 that on this day in 1958, "the
Iraqi army toppled the British (post WW I-imposed) royal regime,
which had opened the door wide for Western monopolies to plunder
the country's oil wealth under unjust concession." Her message
to modern-day plunderers: "Listen to history."
Permanency may only be in the eyes of
the beholder and may end much sooner than planned. Our super-bases,
with all their size, security and comforts of home, may become
no more permanent than their mega-predecessors in Danang, Cam
Rahn Bay and the Saigon embassy (a miniature compared to the Vatican-sized
behemoth in Baghdad's Green Zone) where the last remnants of US
presence in Vietnam were helicoptered from its rooftop in defeat
and humiliation. It forced us to give up what we intending keeping
unchallenged with visions as conquerors no different than today.
In the end, we abandoned them because
we were beaten and had no other choice. What a determined third-world
Asian country did 30 years ago to the world's strongest superpower,
Middle East and Central Asian ones are doing today to the only
remaining one slipping fast and running out of excuses why.
It's just a matter of time before history
repeats with the same result. Iraqis and Afghans believe it and
intend to prove it again. Too bad Washington hard-liners know
little history and haven't figured it out. One day they will.
They're just slow to catch on. Ruling empires never see the
tide turning and that they're swimming against it. George Bush's
America is no different. It bit off more than it can swallow and
will end the same as others wrecked on the shoals of their own
The scene is playing out in the graveyard
of other imperial powers in the Middle East and Central Asia.
It just remains for the final chapter to be written ending rest
in peace unless Americans locate their cajones and write their
own version first. It has to reject corrupted power politics;
remove the criminal class; restore the rule of law; place the
rights of humanity and democratic values above wealth and privilege;
and end forever the hellish wars fought for them.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can
be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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