Thursday, June 05, 2008

The Subjugation of Iraq

George w. Bush may have just handed victory to Barack Obama and a crushing defeat to John McCain.

The British newspaper The Independent reports it has obtained leaked details of the impending security agreement soon to be inked by the Maliki government in Baghdad:

"A secret deal being negotiated in Baghdad would perpetuate the American military occupation of Iraq indefinitely, regardless of the outcome of the US presidential election in November.

Iraqi officials fear that the accord, under which US troops would occupy permanent bases, conduct military operations, arrest Iraqis and enjoy immunity from Iraqi law, will destabilise Iraq's position in the Middle East and lay the basis for unending conflict in their country.

But the accord also threatens to provoke a political crisis in the US. President Bush wants to push it through by the end of next month so he can declare a military victory and claim his 2003 invasion has been vindicated. But by perpetuating the US presence in Iraq, the long-term settlement would undercut pledges by the Democratic presidential nominee, Barack Obama, to withdraw US troops if he is elected president in November.

America currently has 151,000 troops in Iraq and, even after projected withdrawals next month, troop levels will stand at more than 142,000 – 10 000 more than when the military "surge" began in January 2007. Under the terms of the new treaty, the Americans would retain the long-term use of more than 50 bases in Iraq. American negotiators are also demanding immunity from Iraqi law for US troops and contractors, and a free hand to carry out arrests and conduct military activities in Iraq without consulting the Baghdad government.

The precise nature of the American demands has been kept secret until now. The leaks are certain to generate an angry backlash in Iraq. "It is a terrible breach of our sovereignty," said one Iraqi politician, adding that if the security deal was signed it would delegitimise the government in Baghdad which will be seen as an American pawn.

The US has repeatedly denied it wants permanent bases in Iraq but one Iraqi source said: "This is just a tactical subterfuge." Washington also wants control of Iraqi airspace below 29,000ft and the right to pursue its "war on terror" in Iraq, giving it the authority to arrest anybody it wants and to launch military campaigns without consultation.

Mr Bush is determined to force the Iraqi government to sign the so-called "strategic alliance" without modifications, by the end of next month. But it is already being condemned by the Iranians and many Arabs as a continuing American attempt to dominate the region. Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the powerful and usually moderate Iranian leader, said yesterday that such a deal would create "a permanent occupation". He added: "The essence of this agreement is to turn the Iraqis into slaves of the Americans."

The newspaper reports that al-Maliki also doesn't like the agreement but feels he must sign it because his government cannot survive without American support.

John McCain's position that the war in Iraq needs to continue is based on his claim that the surge is working, that violence is waning in Iraq and al-Qaeda is on the run. This "status of forces" treaty, due to be inked next month, is bound to spark unrest - the sort of violence McCain claims is dying out. It will vindicate al Sadr's claim that Iraq is facing permanent occupation and it will cast Maliki's government as eerily similar to Petain's Vichy rule under Nazi occupation.

What Bush doesn't appear to have considered is how his successor is to come up with the forces necessary to keep this farce going. With some poor saps already on their fourth and fifth combat tours in the War Without End on Terror, a ground force that's nearly broken, a recruiting machine that is so desperate it's scraping the barrel and still coming up short, and a population at home simply fed up with Iraq - the only way they're going to be able to staff those 50-permanent bases is with fresh blood and that, in turn, means bringing back the draft.

Another little point. Who's going to pick up the tab for this infinite adventure? I don't think American voters, when presented with the cost they've already incurred in the form of government borrowing and the additional fortune it would cost to maintain the American legions in Mesopotamia, will accept that when they go to the polls in November.

Once this comes out in the open it can only reinforce al Sadr's demand for a referendum to let the Iraqi people decide whether American troops should go or stay.

I think this plan is an enormous blunder, even by the standards of the man whose entire administration has been a succession of blunders.

1 comment:

LeDaro said...

Scary stuff. What Bush is going to do next? Declare emergency, suspend elections and perpetuate his claim to throne.