If anyone still believes that Iraq is a free and sovereign state, a couple recent moves in Washington should put a rest to that thought forever. The first is the response to the most recent slaughter by the Blackwater mercenaries. The second is the vote on September 26, 2007 in the US Senate that calls for the division of Iraq into semi-autonomous regions that would be decided by the US client government inside Baghdad’s Green Zone.
The response to the Blackwater killings from the Green Zone government was strong at first. The Minister of the Interior demanded the exit of the mercenaries from Iraq and possible prosecution of the murderers. Then the pressure from Washington began and the forceful language from the Green Zone Iraqis became considerably more conciliatory. As it stands at this writing, the Iraqi legislature is considering passing a law that would make the private mercenaries fighting Washington’s war in Iraq the responsibility of the Pentagon. This would mean that they would answer to the men in uniform wearing lots of medals. It doesn’t mean that their murderous actions would be punished, but it would mean that they would have to be sanctioned by the Pentagon. Given that there seems to be very few US military officers of high rank whose careers are not tied to Washington’s version of success in Iraq, this change in the command chain seems like it will make very little difference in how the Blackwaters of the war operate.
Furthermore, the fact that Washington’s goal in Iraq is complete control of that territory either directly or via some kind of pliable government seems to indicate that the mercenaries will be there awhile. That is the case even if Joe Biden’s resolution calling for partition of Iraq becomes the strategy on the ground.
What’s most disturbing about this resolution is its hubris. No matter what the origins of the Iraqi nation are (and they include colonial maneuvering by Britain and others after World War I) the fact is that it is a nation and the only people who should have any say in its division are the Iraqis.
But Washington believes it rules the world. This belief is held by members of both the ruling parties and is essential to understanding how and why the US acts the way it does in the world. In a manner similar to the way Bill Clinton and company divided Yugoslavia at Dayton back in the 1990s, the Biden resolution is another effort at making a part of the world unwilling to bend to US control more controllable. Despite the repeated references to Yugoslavia and its partition by outside powers, the policy of partition did not begin there. Indeed, it’s quite reasonable to argue that the US (via the United Nations Security Council) utilized the same device after World War Two in Korea and Vietnam with mixed results at best. Korea remains divided and Vietnam has been a singular nation since the US military defeat in 1975. Both nations suffered horrific wars that killed millions of their citizens.
While Iraq has not yet come close to the slaughters of Korea and Vietnam, it has certainly suffered appalling destruction because of Washington’s attempts to decide its future in a way beneficial to Washington. Once again, if we refer to earlier attempts by Washington to partition nations unwilling to accede to its demands, there appear to be two potential outcomes should partition occur. The first would be the Korean option–an option that demands a fully-armed concentration of US military in country for the foreseeable future. Furthermore, this scenario seems to carry with it the potential for open war at almost any time. The Vietnam scenario would seem to tell us that if a nationalist resistance can maintain itself it can ultimately reunite a nation and throw the occupiers out. The Yugoslavia scenario is considerably murkier. Bosnia and Kosovo are still UN protectorates–which means that they are occupied by outside powers masquerading as UN peacekeepers. Economically, both continue to experience extremely high unemployment rates and minimal economic growth.
Partitioning Iraq is not a solution that is Washington’s to make. The recent vote by the US Senate is misguided. In addition, it will do little to further the desire of the US public to bring the troops home. Instead, it will put US forces in the position of maintaining the newly created divisions along new lines in the sand. Senator Biden’s bill is not a solution. It is another false approach that has as much chance at success as anything tried by the Bush administration. In other words, it is destined to fail.
RON JACOBS is author of The Way the Wind Blew: a history of the Weather Underground, which is just republished by Verso. Jacobs’ essay on Big Bill Broonzy is featured in CounterPunch’s collection on music, art and sex, Serpents in the Garden. His first novel, Short Order Frame Up, is published by Mainstay Press. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org