Sunday, September 28, 2003

The Retreat From Baghdad: "Despite the optimism at the Pentagon about Iraqi operations, Tuesday's speeches at the United Nations General Assembly may actually prove to be a step toward an American retreat from Baghdad, possibly before the end of this year... The military in Baghdad is now planning how to get out of the present mess. What's being discussed is a military retreat into several well-defended bases well away from the capital and Iraq's other cities. These undoubtedly are mostly the same bases Washington had in mind before the war as permanent U.S. installations."

"The cynic might say that Washington has to control the Governing Council and the political process until a government emerges with sufficient international legitimacy to privatize Iraq's oil industry, to the benefit of U.S. investors... Washington now plans to put Iraqis in charge of security as fast as this can be done. They want Iraqi police and Iraqi military. The occupation authority has been recruiting police and militia, and hiring private security forces. It does not take much imagination to think what job Bremer has in mind for Iraq's former defense minister, Sultan Hashim Ahmad, former No. 27 in the famous "wanted" deck of cards. He accepted a courteous invitation last week to turn himself in. I would think him the leading candidate to rebuild Saddam's army under U.S. command."

This is the most realistic plan for continuing US control of the country. In effect it is a rebuff for the neo-classical idealogues and their policy of 'de-Baathification.' In imperialist terms, sacking the Iraqi army and banning Baath party members was a mistake. The proven way to establish imperial control of the country is to prop up an authoritarian Sunni regime to rule over the whole, ie the iron-fisted junta/Baath party without Saddam. It remains to be seen whether the US can now succeed in this, whether they can get sufficient cooperation from the 'Sunni triangle' now that they have alienated them so violently.

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