Monday, April 26, 2004

Bush plan for hegemony in the Middle East (otherwise known as 'return of sovereignty', 'democratization' or 'getting the job done'): "The guerrilla resistance, combined with Washington's bungling of the occupation, have compelled President George W Bush and his neo-conservative advisors to reconfigure or shelve several of their more grandiose post-war plans. But the US government has no intention to simply relinquish its expensively obtained hegemony over a Baghdad government possessing the world's second largest proven petroleum reserves and strategically located to influence the entire Middle East.

"The US must execute three complex maneuvers to accomplish its goal:

"1. Inducing the United Nations to become an active partner in Iraq, providing the White House with respectable support and camouflage for its endeavors in exchange for the appearance of shared authority.

"2. Taking measures to ensure that a huge American occupation force remains in the country, and that Washington will exercise great influence over the new permanent government and Iraq's economy by establishing a virtual parallel regime of its own in Baghdad.

"3. Containing the resistance by any means necessary - from massive retaliation against the Sunni fighters and their new allies led by Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, to making deals with Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the principal leader of the majority Shi'ite population. The entire plan may fail unless the resistance is destroyed or reduced to occasional attacks against Pentagon-controlled Iraqi security forces.

"An important consequence of this plan, if successful in its opening stages, is that it may help reelect Bush of Baghdad to a second term in November. Even if he is defeated by the Democrats, a John Kerry administration does not appear politically indisposed to implementing a similar design."

"Almost everything went wrong for the US after toppling Saddam Hussein - from underestimating the opposition of Iraqi people, to the loss of credibility when it proved unable to locate Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction; from the development of an effective national liberation struggle, to the increasing number of GIs who have been killed and wounded (over 10,000 Iraqi civilian casualties don't seem to count); from the problems of occupying a nation in ruins, to popular rejection of the puppet government selected by the Pentagon; from the disinclination of allies to support a clearly unjust and illegal war, to the worldwide condemnation of the invasion and occupation.

"The UN is acceding to Washington's wishes so far, despite grave reservations about Bush's actions. This is not unexpected. The global body never criticized the US for violating its charter and illegally invading in the first place, and it has subsequently approved measures recognizing Washington's administration of the occupation."

"Bush and L Paul Bremer, who heads the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), have been taking steps for many months to assure that the US will continue to wield decisive influence after the "transfer of power" to the Iraqis. Here is how it will work:

"Some 110,000 US troops are scheduled to remain in Iraq for several years. They will be ensconced in 14 permanent military camps, designed as highly fortified enclaves outside big cities to minimize the number of American casualties. The GIs will fight only if US-controlled Iraqi security forces cannot handle a particular crisis, or if it becomes necessary for Washington to protect its own economic and political interests against an insurrection, or as a show of force to keep Baghdad in line.

"The Bush administration expects that the new government will "invite" US troops to remain in the country under the usual "status of forces" agreement with various foreign countries hosting some 750 other US bases. If the Iraqis balk at an occupation agreement, Washington will interpret UN Security Council resolution 1551 as providing the needed authority. The resolution was passed last fall to "legalize" the US-led occupation. As now, the commanding general of the occupation force will report directly to the Pentagon, bypassing Iraqi and US civilian authorities in the country.

"The White House is creating a parallel political regime in Baghdad. It has ordered construction of the largest American embassy in the world to accommodate an extraordinary 3,000 employees, far larger than any other US diplomatic mission. Many of these "diplomats" will be assigned to the various Iraqi government departments as "advisers," or co-equal authorities, effectively sharing in the operations of the Iraqi government. According to the progressive British journalist and film-maker John Pilger, writing in the New Statesman on April 17: "There will be no handover [of power]. The new regime will be stooges, with each ministry controlled by American officials and with its stooge army and stooge police force run by the Americans."

"Evidence that the US plans to impose itself on future Iraqi governments is embedded in the interim constitution passed by the IGC: all laws and regulations emanating from the CPA must be recognized as valid in the future. Whether this clause is to be retained in the permanent constitution is not known. Many CPA regulations are designed to control the economy. For example, they include rules to speed the privatization of Iraq's state enterprises and property, and for the disposition of the country's petroleum resources. The CPA has also established a number of "independent" regulators to share power in various government ministries."

"The Bush administration's intention to create a neo-colonial dependency under the guise of building democracy and restoring sovereignty may well degenerate into a fragile house of cards destined to collapse sooner than later. The two most important internal factors in making this determination will be the resistance of national liberation forces and the relationship of the Shi'ite majority to the new government and the US occupation authority... One of the lessons US generals learned from the events of April is that the colonial army and police force it is organizing to fight the insurrection in place of American troops cannot be counted on - a factor that has the potential of scuttling plans for a long-term occupation."

"Most of the Shi'ite community remained quiescent during the April confrontations under instructions from Sistani, who is playing a complicated game. He despises the Americans, but recognizes events may maneuver them into granting the Shi'ite principal control of the new Iraqi government. In the extreme, a US deal with Shi'ite Iran's ruling ayatollahs cannot be ruled out: an exchange of Shi'ite predominance in Iraq, plus less hostility from Washington toward "rogue" Tehran, for Iran's guarantee to keep a Shi'ite government in Baghdad within America's bounds."

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