US Imperialist Agenda and the Deepening Crisis in Iraq
By Alison Bodine
September 3rd was the last time US President George Bush set foot on Iraqi soil, bloodied and wrecked after over 4 years of US occupation. At this time he had a few words to share with the people of Iraq and the world:
"When we begin to draw down troops from Iraq, it will be from a position of strength and success, not from the position of fear and failure."
For the people of Iraq who have endured an estimated 1.2 million deaths (UK-based ORB polling agency), and countless humiliations since the March 2003 military invasion, the idea of ever seeing the US leave seems distant or impossible, let alone from a position of “success” and “strength.” The US has a long-term plan for their continued occupation of Iraq and it includes continued death and destruction for the people of Iraq and a rising massive humanitarian crisis.
How the US is turning Iraq into a permanent military base
In a declaration of principles signed by George Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki on November 26th 2007 the ground work was laid for a long-term agreement on future cooperation between the US and Iraq. In the political, economic and security (military) sphere the US and the installed Iraqi Prime Minister are starting to plan for an “enduring” relationship to last well into the future. The plan will include United States support for the "democratic regime in Iraq against domestic and external dangers,” according to Al-Maliki. It also includes plans to protect the US-drafted Iraqi constitution, give preferential treatment to US investments and continued support for a strategic partnership. This is the beginnings of their plans for “enduring” occupation.
Another part of continued US presence in Iraq are the 14 “enduring” (read: permanent) bases whose construction began as soon as the US invaded. These bases are long-term encampments for US forces in Iraq and outposts for military and government policy advisors that will remain in Iraq beyond any troop withdrawal or formal end to the occupation of Iraq.
To compliment US bases and the continued occupation, the US has also built a $740Million Embassy in Iraq, the largest in the world. It will eventually staff an estimated 4,000 regular employees, contractors, local Iraqi employees and visitors. It will also house 619 apartments and 27 separate buildings behind the well-secured walls of the “Green Zone” in Baghdad and serve as the main base for representing US interests in Iraq.
After 4 and a half years of occupation the US has not established anything close to stability or the assurance of a successful US proxy regime in Iraq. They know that after a troop withdrawal there will be an internal struggle in Iraq and that it is very possible that its’ outcome will not be in favour of the US. As an insurance plan for all the work they have done to fuel US interests in Iraq, they now have the military bases and US Embassy at their back.
Mercenaries and Continued Occupation
Continued US presence in Iraq would not be possible without the assistance of 120,000 mercenaries in Iraq, the contract employees of military corporations such as Blackwater USA, DynCorp International and Armor Group. According to US “Order 17”, issued in 2004, all mercenaries operating in Iraq are exempt from obeying Iraqi law. In this way mercenaries are allowed to operate without rule of law or accountability to anyone, except the corporations that employ them. This has meant numerous tragedies, with the lives and dignities of Iraqi people disappearing under the radar.
After a September 16th shooting in which 17 Iraqi civilians were needlessly killed by a Blackwater guard in a Baghdad square, this provision and the legal loop-hole allowing them to escape charges under US law came under fire from people internationally. As a way to avoid further embarrassment and scrutiny the US government signed a new agreement in December 2007. This agreement means that contract mercenaries are now accountable under US law. Unfortunately, this still does not mean that they will be charged and they are still not held accountable under Iraqi law.
Human Crisis: Daily Life in Iraq
Over the past four years of US-led occupation, the human crisis has deepened in Iraq. Iraqi woman and children have felt the greatest impact from the presence of hundreds of thousands of foreign military troops taking away their basic human rights to housing, food, water, education and a future with guns, bombs and tanks.
According to the Iraq Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, over 1.6 million children under the age of 12 have become homeless in Iraq. This is almost 70 percent of the 2.2 million homeless and internally displaced persons in Iraq. To make the situation even worse, internally displaced Iraqi’s are not finding the infrastructure and basic aid that they need anywhere in Iraq. As one example, the Basra province in Southern Iraq can no longer handle families and children seeking refuge. A senior Iraqi official in the Basra Governing Council, Hassan Abdul-Kareem, explained to IRIN News Service. “We cannot cope with any more families seeking refuge in our province, whatever their reasons. The governorate is seriously affected by the high number of displaced families, health services have deteriorated, schools are overcrowded and we aren’t even able to offer a good service to our locals. Things have become worse since the high influx of new arrivals,”
The situation has also deteriorated for girls hoping to attend school in Iraq. Families and mothers are worried about sending their girls to school for fear that they will be raped or killed. They are also needed to stay at home as one-million families are now headed by widows whose husbands have been killed by the occupation and the violence it has created (Aljazeera News: “Debating the US troop ‘surge’).
The Heavy Costs of the Occupation
Everyday the US spends $280Million towards death and destruction in Iraq. According to the American Friends Services Committee, a US based peace and justice organization, if you include not just the immediate costs of the war, but also ongoing factors such as long-term health care for veterans, interest on debt and replacement of military hardware, that number grows to $720Million a day. The American Friends Services Committee also broke down these numbers into what the money could have bought for social service in the US including: homes for almost 6,500 families or health care for 423,529 children, or could outfit 1.27 million homes with renewable electricity. The US-Congressional report entitled "The Hidden Costs of the Iraq War," stated the cast of the war from 2002 to present as being $1.3Trillion.
Not only does this money mean the destruction of civil society and human life in Iraq, it has also been another part of the deepening economic crisis in the US. This crisis has been marked most recently by the devaluation of the US dollar, the crisis in mortgage and the banking market and the continued growth of poverty in the US. The crisis that the US has created in Iraq is directly tied to the crisis in the US and the disgusting amount of money spent to fuel death and destruction.
Resistance to the occupation: in Iraq and World-wide
For over four years the US has been relying on its’ consolidation of the occupation to demoralize the Iraqi people, and the movement of resistance against their continued presence in Iraq. Contrary to their hopes, the number of demonstrations, strikes and attacks on occupying forces has increased drastically as the occupation has continued. The US is now confronted with a deep political, social and military crisis. This is why they need permanent presence in Iraq. This is also why the people of Iraq will keep fighting any way that they can for their land, lives and dignity.
The continued struggle of the Iraqi people against the occupation and the US crisis in Iraq has also meant that its own enlisted fighters, the US military forces, are demoralizing. US Army suicide rates are at a record high of 18.4 per 100,000 active duty soldiers, according to military reports. A CBS News investigation also showed that military veterans aged 20-24, meaning those whom have served during the so-called “War on Terror” in Iraq and Afghanistan, had the highest suicide rate among all veterans, estimated between two and four times higher than civilians the same age. The US cannot fight without a willing army, and suicides rates are only one of the signs that the US is loosing ground with the troops.
If the Iraqi’s kick the US out of Iraq it will mean a weakening of the position of the US and Israel that would accelerate the struggle of people all over the Middle East against Imperialism. In this new era of war and occupation which emerged as the “War on Terror” following Sept 11th 2001, we must come together as poor and working people against the occupation of Iraq. As peace and human loving people, we have no other choice but to work to build a united and effective antiwar movement to end this brutal war and echo the demands of the Iraqi people for life and self-determination!
US Out Now!
Bring the Troops Home Now!
Self-determination for all oppressed nations!
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