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Iraq: Permanent US Colony
Iraq: Permanent US Colony

By Dahr Jamail
t r u t h o u t | Perspective

Tuesday 14 March 2006

Why does the Bush Administration refuse to discuss withdrawing
occupation forces from Iraq? Why is Halliburton, who landed the no-bid
contracts to construct and maintain US military bases in Iraq, posting
higher profits than ever before in its 86-year history?

Why do these bases in Iraq resemble self-contained cities as much as
military outposts?

Why are we hearing such ludicrous and outrageous statements from the
highest ranking military general in the United States, Chairman of the
Joint Chiefs of Staff General Peter Pace, who when asked how things were
going in Iraq on March 9th in an
interview on "Meet the Press" said, "I'd say they're going well. I
wouldn't put a great big smiley face on it, but I would say they're
going very, very well from everything you look at."

I wonder if there is a training school, or at least talking point memos
for these Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, because Pace's
predecessor, Gen. Richard Myers, told Senator John McCain last September
that "In a sense, things are going well [in Iraq]."

General Pace also praised the Iraqi military, saying, "Now there are
over 100 [Iraqi] battalions in the field."

Wow! General Pace must have waved his magic wand and materialized all
these 99 new Iraqi battalions that are diligently keeping things safe
and secure in occupied Iraq. Because according to the top US general in
Iraq, General George Casey, not long ago there was only one Iraqi
battalion (about 500-600 soldiers) capable of fighting on its own in Iraq.

During a late-September 2005 Senate Armed Services Committee hearing
,
Casey acknowledged that the Pentagon estimate of three Iraqi battalions
last June had shrunk to one in September. That is less than six months ago.

I thought it would be a good idea to find someone who is qualified to
discuss how feasible it would be to train 99 Iraqi battalions in less
than six months, as Pace now claims has occurred.

I decided that someone who was in the US Army for 26 years and who
worked in eight conflict areas, starting in Vietnam and ending with
Haiti, would be qualified. If he had served in two parachute infantry
units, three Ranger units, two Special Forces Groups and in Delta Force
that would be helpful as well. And just to make sure, if he taught
tactics at the Jungle Operations Training Center in Panama and Military
Science at the United States Military Academy at West Point, thus
knowing a thing or two about training soldiers, that would be a bonus.

That person is Stan Goff.

"This is utter bullshit," was Goff's remark about the Pace claim of
having 100 Iraqi battalions when I asked him to comment, "He must be
counting the resistance among his forces."

Goff adds, "That dip-shit [Pace] is saying he has 60,000 trained and
disciplined people under arms ... 65,000 with all the staffs ... and
almost 100,000 with the support units they would require. To train and
oversee them would require thousands of American advisors. It must suck
for a career Marine to be used so blatantly as a PR flak."

Goff mentioned that Pace "and everyone else" knows that the Iraqi
forces, "however many there are," are heavily cross-infiltrated.

"He [Pace] is saying that the Bush administration is going to empower a
pro-Iranian government with 100 ready battalions, when this
administration was handed this particular government as the booby prize
in exchange for Sistani pulling their cookies out of the fire during the
joint rebellions in Najaf and Fallujah," added Goff.

Further discrediting the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Goff
said, "To train 99 [battalions] since last September is a claim only the
average American might swallow. The right question to ask is, where are
they? Where are they headquartered, and where are they in operation?
Claiming operations security doesn't count, unless they believe they can
hide 100 units of 600 people each in Iraq ... from other Iraqis ... who
are often related to them."

He concludes, "These guys have become accustomed to saying any damn
thing, then counting on ignorance and apathy at home - along with
hundreds of Democrats who need spine transplants - to get away with it.
You can quote me on any of that."

There's a good reason why Pace and others are busy spewing smoke - it's
to hide the fact that there are no plans to leave Iraq.

While we're addressing propaganda, we mustn't leave out our brilliant
military strategist and warrior for protecting human rights, the
illustrious Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

On March 8th, Rice delivered the opening remarks on the release of her
Department's "2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices
."

The introduction to the report says: "In Iraq, 2005 was a year of major
progress for democracy, democratic rights and freedom. There was a
steady growth of NGOs and other civil society associations that promote
human rights."

Uh, right
.

This report is submitted to Congress by the State Department. I've often
wondered if our politicians are just this ignorant, or simply
horrifically misinformed like so many Americans. This report, perhaps,
answers the latter.

My point is, if there is a concerted effort by high-ranking officials of
the Bush administration to portray things in Iraq as going well, then
why are there permanent bases being constructed in Iraq?

This media smokescreen from the likes of Pace, Rice and even
"sharp-shooter" Cheney, who recently said things in Iraq are "improving
steadily," conveniently leads the American people toward believing there
will eventually be a withdrawal of American soldiers.

But the problem with smokescreens is that pesky thing called "reality."

And in Iraq, the reality is that people like Pace, Rice, Cheney and
their ever-eloquent front man aren't telling the American public about
their true plans for Iraq.

One example that provides some insight into their agenda is the US
"Embassy" which is under construction in the infamous "Green Zone."

As you read this, a controversial Kuwait-based construction firm is
building a $592 million US embassy
in Baghdad. When the
dust settles, this compound will be the largest and most secure
diplomatic compound in the world.

The headquarters, I mean "Embassy," will be a self-sustaining cluster of
21 buildings reinforced 2.5 times the usual standards, with some walls
to be as thick as 15 feet.

Plans are for over 1,000 US "government officials" to staff and reside
there. Lucky for them, they will have access to the gym, swimming pool,
barber and beauty shops, food court and commissary. There will also be a
large-scale barracks for troops, a school, locker rooms, a warehouse, a
vehicle maintenance garage, and six apartment buildings with a total of
619 one-bedroom units. And luckily for the "government officials," their
water, electricity and sewage treatment plants will all be independent
from Baghdad's city utilities. The total site will be two-thirds the
area of the National Mall in Washington, DC."

I wonder if any liberated Iraqis will have access to their swimming pool?

And unlike the Iraqi infrastructure, which is in total shambles and
functioning below pre-invasion levels in nearly every area, the US
"Embassy" is being constructed right on time. The US Senate Foreign
Affairs Committee recently called this an "impressive" feat, considering
the construction is taking place in one of the most violent and volatile
spots on the planet.

Then there are the permanent military bases.

To give you an idea of what these look like in Iraq, let's start with
Camp Anaconda, near Balad. Occupying 15 square miles of Iraq, the base
boasts two swimming pools (not the plastic inflatable type), a gym,
mini-golf course and first-run movie theater.

The 20,000 soldiers who live at the Balad Air Base
,
less than 1,000 of whom ever leave the base, can inspect new iPod
accessories in one of the two base exchanges, which have piles of the
latest electronics and racks of CDs to choose from. One of the PX
managers recently boasted that every day he was selling 15 televisions
to soldiers.

At Camp Anaconda, located in al-Anbar province where resistance is
fierce, the occupation forces live in air-conditioned units where plans
are being drawn up to run internet, cable television and overseas
telephone access to them.

The thousands of civilian contractors live at the base in a section
called "KBR-land," and there is a hospital where doctors carry out 400
surgeries every month on wounded troops.

Air Force officials on the base claim the runway there is one of the
busiest in the world, where unmanned Predator drones take off carrying
their Hellfire missiles, along with F-16's, C-130's, helicopters, and
countless others, as the bases houses over 250 aircraft.

If troops aren't up for the rather lavish dinners served by "Third
Country Nationals" from India, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh who work
for slave wages, they can visit the Burger King, Pizza Hut, Popeye's or
Subway, then wash it down with a mocha from the Starbucks.

There are several other gigantic bases in Iraq besides camp Anaconda,
such as Camp Victory near Baghdad Airport, which - according to a
reporter for Mother Jones magazine - when complete will be twice the
size of Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo. The Kosovo base is currently one of
the largest overseas bases built since the war in Vietnam.

Camp Liberty is adjacent to Camp Victory - where soldiers even compete
in their own triathlons. "The course, longer than 140 total miles,
spanned several bases in the greater Camp Victory area in west Baghdad,"
says a news article on a DOD web site
.

Mr. Bush refuses to set a timetable for withdrawal
from Iraq because he
doesn't intend to withdraw. He doesn't intend to because he's following
a larger plan for the US in the Middle East.

Less than two weeks after the fall of Baghdad on April 9, 2003, US
military officials
announced the intention to maintain at least four large bases in Iraq
that could be used in the future.

These are located near Baghdad International Airport (where the
triathlon was), Tallil (near Nasiriyah, in the south), one in the
Kurdish north at either Irbil or Qayyarah (they are only 50 kilometers
apart) and one in western al-Anbar province at Al-Asad. Of course, let's
not forget the aforementioned Camp Anaconda in Balad.

More recently, on May 22 of last year, US military commanders

announced that they would consolidate troops into four large air bases.
It was announced at this time that while buildings were being made of
concrete instead of the usual metal trailers and tin-sheathed buildings,
military officers working on the plan "said the consolidation plan was
not meant to establish a permanent US military presence in Iraq."

Right.

The US has at least four of these massive bases in Iraq. Billions of
dollars have been spent in their construction, and they are in about the
same locations where they were mentioned they would be by military
planners back before Mr. Bush declared that major combat operations were
over
in Iraq.

It appears as though "mission accomplished
" in
Iraq was not necessarily referring to guarding the Ministry of Oil and
occupying the country indefinitely (or finding WMDs, disrupting
al-Qaeda, or liberating Iraqis, blah-blah-blah), but to having a
military beach-head in the heart of the Middle East.

Note that while US officials don't dare say the word "permanent" when
referring to military bases in Iraq, they will say "permanent access."
An article entitled "Pentagon Expects Long-Term Access to Four Key Bases
in Iraq," which was a front-page story in the New York Times on April
19, 2003, reads: "There will probably never be an announcement of
permanent stationing of troops. Not permanent basing, but permanent
access is all that is required, officials say."

Why all of this? Why these obviously permanent bases? Why the beach-head?

A quick glance at US government military strategy documents is even more
revealing.

"Our forces will be strong enough to dissuade potential adversaries from
pursuing a military build-up in hopes of surpassing, or equaling, the
power of the United States," reads the 2002 National Security Strategy
.

To accomplish this, the US will "require bases and stations within and
beyond Western Europe and Northeast Asia."

Another interesting document is "Joint Vision 2020" from the Chairman of
the Joint Chiefs of Staff, whose "vision" is "Dedicated individuals and
innovative organizations transforming the joint force of the 21st
Century to achieve full spectrum dominance [bold type theirs]:
persuasive in peace, decisive in war, preeminent in any form of conflict
[italics theirs]."

US policymakers have replaced the Cold War with the Long War for Global
Empire and Unchallenged Military Hegemony. This is the lens through
which we must view Iraq to better understand why there are permanent US
bases there.

In the Quadrennial Defense Review Report released on February 6, 2006,
there is a stated ambition to fight "multiple, overlapping wars" and to
"ensure that all major and emerging powers are integrated as
constructive actors and stakeholders into the international system." The
report goes on to say that the US will "also seek to ensure that no
foreign power can dictate terms of regional or global security. It will
attempt to dissuade any military competitor from developing disruptive
or other capabilities that could enable regional hegemony or hostile
action against the United States or other friendly countries, and it
will seek to deter aggression or coercion. Should deterrence fail, the
United States would deny a hostile power its strategic and operational
objectives."

In sum, what is the purpose of permanent US military garrisons in Iraq
and the implicit goals of these government documents?

Empire.


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