The US isn’t leaving Iraq, it’s rebranding the occupation

Obama says withdrawal is on schedule, but renaming or outsourcing combat troops won’t give Iraqis back their country

by Seumas Milne
Published: Aug. 04, 2010 – Guardian

For most people in Britain and the US, Iraq is already history. Afghanistan has long since taken the lion’s share of media attention, as the death toll of Nato troops rises inexorably. Controversy about Iraq is now almost entirely focused on the original decision to invade: what’s happening there in 2010 barely registers.

That will have been reinforced by Barack Obama’s declaration this week that US combat troops are to be withdrawn from Iraq at the end of the month “as promised and on schedule”. For much of the British and American press, this was the real thing: headlines hailed the “end” of the war and reported “US troops to leave Iraq”.

Nothing could be further from the truth. The US isn’t withdrawing from Iraq at all – it’s rebranding the occupation. Just as George Bush’s war on terror was retitled “overseas contingency operations” when Obama became president, US “combat operations” will be rebadged from next month as “stability operations”.

But as Major General Stephen Lanza, the US military spokesman in Iraq, told the New York Times: “In practical terms, nothing will change”. After this month’s withdrawal, there will still be 50,000 US troops in 94 military bases, “advising” and training the Iraqi army, “providing security” and carrying out “counter-terrorism” missions. In US military speak, that covers pretty well everything they might want to do.

Granted, 50,000 is a major reduction on the numbers in Iraq a year ago. But what Obama once called “the dumb war” goes remorselessly on. In fact, violence has been increasing as the Iraqi political factions remain deadlocked for the fifth month in a row in the Green Zone. More civilians are being killed in Iraq than Afghanistan: 535 last month alone, according to the Iraqi government – the worst figure for two years.

And even though US troops are rarely seen on the streets, they are still dying at a rate of six a month, their bases regularly shelled by resistance groups, while Iraqi troops and US-backed militias are being killed in far greater numbers and al-Qaida – Bush’s gift to Iraq – is back in business across swaths of the country. Although hardly noticed in Britain, there are still 150 British troops in Iraq supporting US forces.

Meanwhile, the US government isn’t just rebranding the occupation, it’s also privatising it. There are around 100,000 private contractors working for the occupying forces, of whom more than 11,000 are armed mercenaries, mostly “third country nationals”, typically from the developing world. One Peruvian and two Ugandan security contractors were killed in a rocket attack on the Green Zone only a fortnight ago.

The US now wants to expand their numbers sharply in what Jeremy Scahill, who helped expose the role of the notorious US security firm Blackwater, calls the “coming surge” of contractors in Iraq. Hillary Clinton wants to increase the number of military contractors working for the state department alone from 2,700 to 7,000, to be based in five “enduring presence posts” across Iraq.

The advantage of an outsourced occupation is clearly that someone other than US soldiers can do the dying to maintain control of Iraq. It also helps get round the commitment, made just before Bush left office, to pull all American troops out by the end of 2011. The other getout, widely expected on all sides, is a new Iraqi request for US troops to stay on – just as soon as a suitable government can be stitched together to make it.

What is abundantly clear is that the US, whose embassy in Baghdad is now the size of Vatican City, has no intention of letting go of Iraq any time soon. One reason for that can be found in the dozen 20-year contracts to run Iraq’s biggest oil fields that were handed out last year to foreign companies, including three of the Anglo-American oil majors that exploited Iraqi oil under British control before 1958.

The dubious legality of these deals has held back some US companies, but as Greg Muttitt, author of a forthcoming book on the subject, argues, the prize for the US is bigger than the contracts themselves, which put 60% of Iraq’s reserves under long-term foreign corporate control. If output can be boosted as sharply as planned, the global oil price could be slashed and the grip of recalcitrant Opec states broken.

The horrific cost of the war to the Iraqi people, on the other hand, and the continuing fear and misery of daily life make a mockery of claims that the US surge of 2007 “worked” and that Iraq has come good after all.

It’s not only the hundreds of thousands of dead and 4 million refugees. After seven years of US (and British) occupation, tens of thousands are still tortured and imprisoned without trial, health and education has dramatically deteriorated, the position of women has gone horrifically backwards, trade unions are effectively banned, Baghdad is divided by 1,500 checkpoints and blast walls, electricity supplies have all but broken down and people pay with their lives for speaking out.

Even without the farce of the March elections, the banning and killing of candidates and activists and subsequent political breakdown, to claim – as the Times did today – that “Iraq is a democracy” is grotesque. The Green Zone administration would collapse in short order without the protection of US troops and security contractors. No wonder the speculation among Iraqis and some US officials is of an eventual military takeover.

The Iraq war has been a historic political and strategic failure for the US. It was unable to impose a military solution, let alone turn the country into a beacon of western values or regional policeman. But by playing the sectarian and ethnic cards, it also prevented the emergence of a national resistance movement and a humiliating Vietnam-style pullout. The signs are it wants to create a new form of outsourced semi-colonial regime to maintain its grip on the country and region. The struggle to regain Iraq’s independence has only just begun.




The New “Forgotten” War: Iraq Occupation Falls Into Media Shadows

Iraq Invasion: Responsibility and Accountability

Carnage and corruption in Iraq

The Iraq war has been a monstrous crime

Legal Case Filed Against 4 U.S. Presidents and 4 UK Prime Ministers

DOCUMENTARY – Fallujah: The Hidden Massacre

Iraq’s ‘barrels of honey’

Toxic munitions cause of baby deaths and deformities in Fallujah

The Truth Behind The Iraq “Sovereignty” Propaganda

DOCUMENTARY – “Paying the Price: Killing the Children of Iraq” by John Pilger

Uranium in Iraq: the Poisonous Legacy of the Iraq Wars

The Responsibility of the US in Contaminating Iraq with Depleted Uranium

Democracy in the New Iraq Equals Death and Repression

DOCUMENTARY – Iraq The Hidden Story

Iraq littered with high levels of nuclear and dioxin contamination, study finds

Wanted: Tony Blair for war crimes. Arrest him and claim your reward

The Truth About Iraq: The Country is Out of Control

Depleted Uranium: The Dead Babies in Iraq and Afghanistan Are No Joke

America’s Most Wanted: The Top 50 US War Criminals

VIDEO – Iraq orphanages offer haven for homeless

Iraq: the forgotten war

Who will do justice to victims of U.S. invasion of Iraq?

DOCUMENTARY – Iraq: The Continuous War

Baghdad meets the Wild West

Iraqi babies for sale: people trafficking crisis grows as gangs exploit poor families and corrupt system 

5 Comments on “The US isn’t leaving Iraq, it’s rebranding the occupation”

  1. Dwight Baker says:

    Let us look at the American Warring Empire!
    By Dwight Baker
    August 4, 2010

    Why Afghanistan many cry out, what is in the end for our nation, is there an upside to be seen some day? When staying in the mode of thinking “all wrong thoughts” will displace one another so that any kind or sort of common sense and reason will fly out the front door.

    Because of the clear facts that the American Warring Empire needs to use up bombs bullets tear up equipment build un-needed and un-warranted things to bring about large profits for our Warring Driven Economy. Yet is that a moral way for us to conduct ourselves in 2010? I think not.

    Those that we elect and send to the Beltway of DC to look after our communed held treasury give out money to our Warring Empire folks whenever asked. It has been that way for a long time and I doubt that it will change radically unless we the few in the many.

    Now Why Afghanistan, the truth is that those that run that government love war. They could care less about the people they rule over or the loss of land that might become scarred up a bit. They like war. When Russia was in there those in power in Afghanistan made big illicit war bucks, and some of the same ones are still in power today and they are doing the same thing. Now how many nations around the world today would invite us over into their nation to indiscriminately kill, and pillage their land so that they personally could make big illicit bucks? Maybe some around with less land to get lost in but that is a good thing to play war games in.

    Thus is there and upside for We the People if we did see some victory, NO WAY that is not in the cards that are at play. They and maybe us too are all in on it. They and us can make the center stage look bad or good it just depends on what is needed to keep the big buck coming in.

    The bars and whorehouse owners in Kabul had to go out and recruit or make slaves out of more women from other nations to take care of our men’s needs.

    Kabul is seldom pictured in our media for the persona that must be kept of the place is that all are backward un-educated poppy growers. However that is just a bold face lie. More of keeping the American people dumb down.

    Now the last thing, our military leaders are trained to wage war. Bottom line. That is in them and their consciences have been scared so that to send men and women to their death for no clear reason with victory in mind of a needed war to protect and serve we the people, most of them can do that at the drop of a hat.

    Why that is their profession. As those that work in the Pentagon war is needed to drive their careers along. Therefore we live in a sin sick society that has conned us all along.

  2. Annie Ladysmith says:

    Al Quaeda, the Taliban, and all the Arabic terrais’s groups are a figment of Mossad-CIA imaginings and lies. If you believe this crap, go to the nearest VA hospital and ask for your chip now. Afghanland is the central station for heroine and that is why the US forces are there forever after. Are you a propagandist disinformation agent? Shame on you, you crypto-yid, stop spewing Ratschilds lies!

  3. […] The US isn’t leaving Iraq, it’s rebranding the occupation […]

  4. […] The US isn’t leaving Iraq, it’s rebranding the occupation […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s