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US withdrawal from Iraq: mission accomplished?

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Originally published in The Pryer and re-published for

“Everything the State says is a lie, and everything it has it has stolen” ―Friedrich Nietzsche

In the run up to the invasion of Iraq, The Sun ran the headline: ‘Brits 45 mins from doom”. Other newspapers echoed the sentiments. Saddam Hussein, it was claimed, did have weapons of mass destruction and was prepared to use them.

Did the public buy into this notion? Millions of people around the world protested against the war, but many Americans believed Saddam had WMD’s and had links to Osama bin Laden.

After nearly nine years of war, tens of thousands of casualties—including 4,500 US soldiers dead — and more than $800bn spent, the US military on Thursday formally ended its mission in Iraq. On Friday, Iraq took control of the last American military base in the country.

The hardships and losses endured by the military, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said, have given Iraqis the opportunity to make their own future. President Barack Obama honoured America’s “bleeding and building” in Iraq on Wednesday, hailing the “extraordinary achievement” of a war he once branded “dumb.”

Aside from the fact that Obama is campaigning for re-election, and will say/do anything for that to happen, just what are the achievements of this war a war — let us not forget, was illegal under international law?

In an appallingly written article in today’s Sun newspaper, Colonel Richard Kemp claims that the war prevented “an alliance between Saddam and al-Qaeda”. The article is coupled with a photo of the men with an equally appalling and inaccurate caption: “Evil alliance … Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden”.

We did not find the WMD’s that Saddam supposedly had, nor was there a proven link between Saddam and bin Laden, so then the narrative had to change. We were going in there to ‘liberate’ Iraq from a brutal dictator who had killed many of his own people. A sound reason, perhaps, if it was not shrouded with hypocrisy.

On Monday, the king of Bahrain, Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, met with British Prime Minister David Cameron in London to discuss the ‘ongoing reform process in Bahrain’, (aka killing and suppressing one’s own people), regional developments in the Middle East, and ways to strengthen the relationship between Bahrain and Great Britain. There are no sanctions or resolutions being passed against Bahrain of course.

Now, even the people who were anti-war in 2003 insisted that foreign troops must stay now that they are there. The country will fall prey to sectarian conflicts, they say. Wednesday’s Guardian editorial suggests that, unfortunately, Iraq will not be a strategic ally for the US, and Salafists are taking over. Run, run, the Salafists are coming!

I am reminded of a quote by Ernest Hemingway: “Never think that war, no matter how necessary, nor how justified, is not a crime”. A lot of damage was done by Saddam Hussein, but much of it was also the result of American efforts to rule the country directly. Divide and rule remains a popular method as ever.

So what happens now? Military troops may have left the country, but mercenaries will remain, along with the US embassy in Baghdad, he largest and most expensive of any embassy in the world. A US-funded paramilitary force will operate in Iraq for the foreseeable future.

Investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill, author of Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army, wrote in 2010:

“Using private forces is a backdoor way of continuing a substantial US presence under the cover of “diplomatic security”. The kind of paramilitary force that Obama and [Hilary] Clinton are trying to build in Iraq is, in large part, a byproduct of the monstrous colonial fortress the United States calls its embassy in Baghdad and other facilities the US will maintain throughout Iraq after the “withdrawal”… the United States is going to have armed forces in the country for the foreseeable future. The only question is, How many will be there as uniformed soldiers and how many will be private paramilitaries?”

Effectively, there is no withdrawal. There is a ‘re branding’ as John Pilger once said. This is not the end — it is just beginning.


Written by Iram Ramzan

January 12, 2012 at 8:47 pm

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