Mission & Name
US Foreign Policy (Dr. El-Najjar's Articles)
Forget the Headlines:
Iraqi Freedom Deferred
By Ramzy Baroud
ccun.org, July 11, 2009
As US combat troops redeployed to the outskirts of Iraqi
cities on June 30, well-staged celebrations commenced. The pro-US Iraqi
government declared “independence day” as police vehicles roamed the
streets of war-weary Iraq in an unpersuasive show of national rejoicing.
US mainstream media joined the chorus, as if commemorating the end of an
Meanwhile, top US administration and army officials cautioned
Iraqis of their own recklessness. “Biden Warns Iraq About Reverting to
Sectarian Violence,” read a New York Times headline. “What will it take to
make a good exit from Iraq?” inquired a Kansas City Star analysis. But
missing from news headlines and commentary was any indication of direct US
responsibility for the genocide that has befallen Iraq.
one claim that US ambitions in Iraq have altered if the ongoing legacy in
Iraq is being perceived as a strategic mistake, rather than a moral one?
One thing remains the same, for sure: and that is the arrogance
that has long permeated US relations with Iraq. “The president and I
appreciate that Iraq has traveled a great distance over the past year, but
there is a hard road ahead if Iraq is going to find lasting peace and
stability,” said Vice President Biden during a visit to Baghdad on July
3rd. Biden’s remarks were saturated with the same hubris that defined the
former administration’s attitude towards Iraq for years: ‘we did our
share, that of liberating you, and now its your turn to take charge of
your own security’, type of rhetoric. “It’s not over yet,” Biden said.
Ironically, he is right, since that could only mean the complete
withdrawal of US troops from Iraq, the end of foreign meddling in the
country’s affairs, and the removal of corrupt politicians that have
destroyed the country’s national identity in favour of sectarian camps
endlessly fighting for dominance and privilege. Indeed, it’s anything
It’s true that the majority of Americans now accept the
once rebuked claim that the Iraq war was predicated on a lie, and readily
blame former President Bush for drawing the country into a costly war that
should have never happened. President Obama’s arrival has seemingly
ushered in a new discourse of honesty and national introspection.
Although one wants to believe that the new administration is sincere in
seeking an exit strategy from Iraq, one is hardly sure that the US is
ready to divorce itself from the war-scarred country. There is little
reason, aside from tactical redeployment, that should compel antiwar
sentiments to weaken, or self-respecting commentators to halt their
questioning of US intentions.
The terms “exit” and “exit
strategy” are now dominating media discourse regarding Iraq. Some
attribute this new language to the new administration. The odd fact is
that the recent US army redeployment is not the brainchild of the Obama
administration, but a provision of a November 2008 agreement signed
between the Iraqi government of Nouri Al Maliki and the Bush
administration. Talk of exiting Iraq indeed preceded the entrance of
Obama. The new US administration simply honoured previous commitments. As
per official statements, following the June 30 redeployment, the US is
expected to reduce its forces by 50,000 troops by August 2010, and then
many of those remaining by the end of 2011.
So, 2012 will witness
a fully independent Iraq, right? Wrong. “Many studying Iraq believe the US
will end up negotiating with Baghdad to establish a couple of permanent
military bases,” writes Matt Schofield. “Those could be essential to
leaving behind a stable government, a military loyal to the nation and
capable of defending it, and a country that has the backing of the
people.” Those who wish to decipher such deceptive language should
comprehend the permanent US military presence as permanent occupation.
Indeed, the US doesn’t have to be present on every Iraqi street corner to
officially occupy the country. The sectarian Iraqi army and police - US
armed and trained - should be enough to carry out US wishes in Iraq (under
the guise of fighting terrorists), while the US will “stand ready, if
asked and if helpful, to help in that process,” as explained by Biden.
Iraq headlines will eventually fade away, making space for the new
escalation in Afghanistan, also in the name of fighting terror, bringing
democracy and all the rest.
The faces of the victims will be
hidden so as not to harm our sensibilities, and causality figures will be
manipulated, contested and at times blamed on the coward terrorists who
hide among civilians. In other words, the US will take the spirit of its
Iraq war to Afghanistan, remain in Iraq - as inconspicuous as possible -
so as to hold onto its strategic military achievement, and, if necessary,
blame both nations for their growing misfortunes.
we take our eyes off Iraq, Americans must remember their own culpabilities
in what transpired there. Antiwar activists and people of conscience must
not forget that 130,000 US soldiers remain in the country; that the US has
complete control over Iraqi airspace and territorial water; that there is
not yet a reason to celebrate and move on. Even if one is trusting enough
to believe the administration and army’s own account of its future in
Iraq, one should recall comments made by Admiral Mike Mullen last
February: “Mr. Obama plans to leave behind a ‘residual force’ of tens of
thousands of troops to continue training Iraqi security forces, hunt down
terrorist cells and guard American institutions.”
One may be
truly eager to see a sovereign, democratic and stable Iraq, but such hopes
must not occur at the expense of truth and common sense.
Ramzy Baroud (www.ramzybaroud.net)
is an author and editor of PalestineChronicle.com. His work has been
published in many newspapers, journals and anthologies around the world.
His latest book is, "The Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a
People's Struggle" (Pluto Press, London), and his forthcoming book is, “My
Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story” (Pluto Press, London)