FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Iraq 3.0

by SHELDON RICHMAN

One gets the feeling that even the White House realizes the mess it’s made of Iraq. The other day the newspapers reported that the Bush administration has scaled back its objectives rather substantially. We might call it Iraq 3.0. First the plan was to create a democratic paradise which, domino-like, would spread freedom throughout the Middle East. When that didn’t work, the administration shifted to simply bringing some kind of order to Iraq, reconciling the three largest groups — Shi’a, Sunni, and Kurd.

That hasn’t gone too well either. The nearly two dozen political objectives that the military “surge” was intended to accomplish have largely gone unachieved. The violence level may have fallen (one never knows how temporary such things are), but there are many possible explanations for that. One horrifying explanation is that enough ethnic cleansing of neighborhoods and emigration have occurred that less violence is “necessary” in the eyes of the various militias. That presumably is not the sort of peace President Bush had in mind.

So now the strategists in Washington have retooled. The New York Times says, “The Bush administration has lowered its expectations of quickly achieving major steps toward unifying the country, including passage of a long-stymied plan to share oil revenue and holding regional elections. Instead, administration officials say they are focusing their immediate efforts on several more limited but achievable goals in the hope of convincing Iraqis, foreign governments and Americans that some progress is being made toward the political breakthroughs that the intensified military campaign of the past 10 months was supposed to promote.”

Stage magicians call this “misdirection.” If you can’t have the audience look here, you must do something to make them look over there. Voilà!

Apparently item No. 1 on the new and improved American agenda for Iraq is approval of that country’s $48 billion budget. You read that right. The U.S. government is maintaining an occupation of a foreign country to help its government pass the budget!

The Times says the Iraqis claim to be doing this already, but no matter. When that budget is passed, presumably the White House will be hanging “Mission Accomplished” signs again and declaring victory. I can see the ticker-tape parade down Wall Street already.

But that’s not all. Other goals include getting the UN to renew the mandate that countenances the occupation. Now this one takes some thought. An objective of the occupation is to reauthorize the occupation. The boys in the U.S. Department of Logic must have worked overtime on that one.

Finally, the 3.0 agenda aims to get a law passed to let Ba’ath Party members back into government jobs. “This last goal was described by a senior Bush administration official as largely symbolic, since rehirings have been quietly taking place already without a law,” the Times reports.

There you have it: an agenda that can be accomplished. Every American should be proud of this can-do attitude. Never mind that armed Americans are patrolling other people’s country, entering homes, stopping them at check points — and are ready to shoot to kill if they can’t divine the intentions of the persons approaching them. It’s for their own good.

The other shoe has already dropped. The White House itself admits it is not meeting its goals in Afghanistan. The U.S. military may be beating the resurgent Taliban in individual battles, but it is losing the larger war.

It’s amazing how little you can get for $10 billion (or more) a month.

And where is the allegedly anti-war party these days? Who knows? The Democratic leadership, which has the power to cut off money for this madness, refuses to do it. The likely Democratic presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, sees U.S. troops in Iraq far into the future. The American people want out, but the politicians don’t listen.

This is the system Bush wants to bring to Iraq and Afghanistan.

SHELDON RICHMAN is senior fellow at The Future of Freedom Foundation and editor of The Freeman magazine.

 

 

Sheldon Richman, author of the forthcoming America’s Counter-Revolution: The Constitution Revisited, keeps the blog Free Association and is a senior fellow and chair of the trustees of the Center for a Stateless Society, and a contributing editor at Antiwar.com.  He is also the Executive Editor of The Libertarian Institute.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
February 24, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Pierre M. Sprey - Franklin “Chuck” Spinney
Sleepwalking Into a Nuclear Arms Race with Russia
Ajamu Baraka
Malcolm X and Human Rights in the Time of Trumpism: Transcending the Master’s Tools
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Exxon’s End Game Theory
John Laforge
Did Obama Pave the Way for More Torture?
Mike Whitney
McMaster Takes Charge: Trump Relinquishes Control of Foreign Policy 
Paul Street
Liberal Hypocrisy, “Late-Shaming,” and Russia-Blaming in the Age of Trump
Patrick Cockburn
The Coming Decline of US and UK Power
Louisa Willcox
The Endangered Species Act: a Critical Safety Net Now Threatened by Congress and Trump
Vijay Prashad
A Foreign Policy of Cruel Populism
John Chuckman
Israel’s Terrible Problem: Two States or One?
Matthew Stevenson
The Parallax View of Donald Trump
Norman Pollack
Drumbeat of Fascism: Find, Arrest, Deport
Stan Cox
Can the Climate Survive Electoral Democracy? Maybe. Can It Survive Capitalism? No.
Ramzy Baroud
The Trump-Netanyahu Circus: Now, No One Can Save Israel from Itself
Edward Hunt
The United States of Permanent War
David Morgan
Trump and the Left: a Case of Mass Hysteria?
Pete Dolack
The Bait and Switch of Public-Private Partnerships
Mike Miller
What Kind of Movement Moment Are We In? 
Elliot Sperber
Why Resistance is Insufficient
Brian Cloughley
What are You Going to Do About Afghanistan, President Trump?
Binoy Kampmark
Warring in the Oncology Ward
Yves Engler
Remembering the Coup in Ghana
Jeremy Brecher
“Climate Kids” v. Trump: Trial of the Century Pits Trump Climate Denialism Against Right to a Climate System Capable of Sustaining Human Life”
Jonathan Taylor
Hate Trump? You Should Have Voted for Ron Paul
Franklin Lamb
Another Small Step for Syrian Refugee Children in Beirut’s “Aleppo Park”
Ron Jacobs
The Realist: Irreverence Was Their Only Sacred Cow
Andre Vltchek
Lock up England in Jail or an Insane Asylum!
Rev. William Alberts
Grandiose Marketing of Spirituality
Paul DeRienzo
Three Years Since the Kitty Litter Disaster at Waste Isolation Pilot Plant
Eric Sommer
Organize Workers Immigrant Defense Committees!
Steve Cooper
A Progressive Agenda
David Swanson
100 Years of Using War to Try to End All War
Andrew Stewart
The 4CHAN Presidency: A Media Critique of the Alt-Right
Edward Leer
Tripping USA: The Chair
Randy Shields
Tom Regan: The Life of the Animal Rights Party
Nyla Ali Khan
One Certain Effect of Instability in Kashmir is the Erosion of Freedom of Expression and Regional Integration
Rob Hager
The Only Fake News That Probably Threw the Election to Trump was not Russian 
Mike Garrity
Why Should We Pay Billionaires to Destroy Our Public Lands? 
Mark Dickman
The Prophet: Deutscher’s Trotsky
Christopher Brauchli
The Politics of the Toilet Police
Ezra Kronfeld
Joe Manchin: a Senate Republicrat to Dispute and Challenge
Clancy Sigal
The Nazis Called It a “Rafle”
Louis Proyect
Socialism Betrayed? Inside the Ukrainian Holodomor
Charles R. Larson
Review: Timothy B. Tyson’s “The Blood of Emmett Till”
David Yearsley
Founding Father of American Song
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail