Monday, August 13, 2007

No light, just tunnel 

That's the title of an excellent piece by Chris Floyd, which I will quote in a moment.

But first, look at this quotation from the New Yorker, from 1972:

"There are all kinds of factories, and the American machine in Vietnam is a death factory. We are its workers and its consumers, our ships and planes its moving parts, and the Vietnamese its raw materials. In this new guise the war has become so much a part of our lives that we scarcely notice it any longer. In a way, those who claim that the United States is no longer active in Vietnam are right. The war cannot now be seen merely as something we are doing; it is what we are."

If that was true of America in 1972, what is true of it now?

Here are some bits of the Floyd article. I added a few comments:

...The nation is nearing a state of collapse as a direct result of the war that was launched by Bush, approved by Congress, countenanced by the American people and set to continue under every "serious" Democratic candidate running for president. Oxfam's recent study of the humanitarian catastrophe put in plainly:

[There follows an account of the plight of the 2 million refugees in Syria and Jordan, the 2 million internally displaced persons, the lack of nutrition of the majority of Iraqis, the nearly total absence of basic sanitation.]

What's more, the national power grid is breaking down -- in the midst of summer temperatures that make the US heat wave look like a wintry chill, as the BBC reports:

"Iraq's national power grid is on the brink of collapse, the country's electricity ministry has warned. Water supplies to Baghdad have also been cut off for days at a time, with summertime pressures on key systems said to be more intense than ever..."

And what is the answer of the occupying power to this crisis? Not surprisingly, it is an echo of Vice President Cheney's famous remarks to Senator Pat Leahy on the floor of the Senate: GFY.

"The US Army told the BBC that Iraq must now take charge of fixing the problems. The general in charge of helping Iraq rebuild its infrastructure, Michael Walsh, said that although Iraqi authorities only have one-quarter of the money needed for reconstruction, solving the problem was now up to them."

So the Iraqis don't have the money to rebuild the infrastructure destroyed by the war launched by the Americans -- doubtless because billions upon billions of reconstruction dollars have been looted by the crony conquistadors and their local bagmen.

[This raises the criminality of the occupation exponentially. The war has allowed Bush to simply dump the U.S. treasury into the coffers of about 15 companies. Also, there are 200,000 "independent contractors" in Iraq right now--more mercenaries than troops. They are their solely to enrich the stockholders in the American companies that sent them. And also to do some killing.]

The Pentagon knows the Iraqis don't have the money to rebuild the infrastructure destroyed by the war launched by the Americans; but they don't care. Bush doesn't care. The Democratic leaders in Congress don't care. The "serious" Democratic candidates don't care. Thousands of innocent Iraqis -- the young, the sick, the injured, the poor, the abandoned -- will be added to the death count this summer from this collapse of basic services. But none of this is an American responsibility. Not the collapse of the state, not the collapse of the society, not the plunge into wholesale sectarian violence by forces being armed on all sides by the Americans. No, it's all the Iraqis' responsibility now.

This unspeakably hideous attitude is not just the stance of the Pentagon, of course; it's also the credo the most serious Democratic candidate of all, the breakaway leader for the nomination, Hillary Clinton. As the Times tells us:

"In February, [Clinton] said her message to the Iraqi government would be simple: 'I would say 'I'm sorry, it's over. We are not going to baby-sit a civil war.'"

We invaded your country. We occupied your country. We wrote your constitution, in which the arbitrary decrees of our colonial viceroy were imposed as fundamental law. We looted your money. We armed your sectarians. And we are going to keep a large number of troops in your country, come what may. But we aren't going to baby-sit you anymore. No, if you don't get your act together -- and sign the goddamned Oil Law already -- we are just going to withdraw to our permanent bases and watch you kill each other. -- That is the sum total of the leading Democratic candidate's position on Iraq.

It is of course an incoherent mish-mash, because it is just a smokescreen to obscure Clinton's true policy: to continue the war, largely as it is being fought now. Such a course is absolutely inevitable if you leave American forces in Iraq, to "fight terrorism," to "keep the civil war from spilling across the border," to "protect American personnel" (including, er, the troops you have left in the country), and so on. How will you "fight terrorism" in Iraq without raiding residential areas where "terrorist units" are located and launching airstrikes on "terrorist targets" and rounding up "suspected terrorists" and subjecting them to "strenuous interrogation" without charges in mass prisons and mounting checkpoints to check for terrorists and wreaking the usual "collateral damage" from "force protection" incidents? In other words, how you will operate any differently than the Bush-led operation in Iraq right now? The only difference under Clinton and her "serious" rivals is that there will be fewer troops -- which will actually mean an increased reliance on airstrikes, and hair-trigger "force protection," and even more mercenaries to fill the gaps.

And if the mission of your "residual force" is to "prevent genocide" (that is, a different genocide from the one going on now)--

[Whatever you want to say about America, it is true that our nation has always has managed to not commit genocide. Right?]

--how will you do that without intervening -- with airstrikes, troops, checkpoints, arrests, interrogations, "force protection," the whole schmeer -- on behalf of one side or the other? Or both sides? And again, how will this be different from what's going on now?

...The Iraqis will never hammer out any kind of political accommodation as long as American troops are in the country, dividing the nation into "collaborators" and "insurgents" just by their very presence (much less by their alliance with one faction or another). The Iraqis will never come to any kind of fair agreement on the distribution of the nation's oil wealth as long as American troop are in the country, emblems of the nearly universal (and certainly correct) belief among Iraqis that the West is out to steal their oil.

[They're also actually building a pipeline to Haifa.]

...The sainted General Petraeus -- who has been one of the most egregiously mendacious blowhards touting the war's "success" for years -- is now telling U.S. lawmakers that his "surge" strategy will take 9-10 years to work, as The Hill reports...

In order to "preserve America's sacred way of life," the United States must have privileged access to the world's oil heartlands. The latter will not only allow America to continue using a vastly disproportionate share of the world's energy resources but also be a vital asset in containing the growth of any potential rivals and putting the squeeze on recalcitrant client states (or allies) who get out of line. No president dedicated to maintaining America's global dominance -- via a worldwide empire of military bases and a gargantuan war machine far surpassing that of any other nation -- can afford to willingly give up control of Iraq to a Shiite majority closely allied with Iran. (Unless of course there is a favorable "regime change" in Tehran.) This is part of the evil genius behind the Bush Regime's invasion of Iraq: it essentially commits any Establishment candidate -- one pledged to the aforesaid military-based global dominance (as all of the "serious" candidates of both parties are) -- to continuing the Bushists' policies. Now that the Rubicon of invading Iraq has been crossed, there is no going back... A sectarian-based Iraqi government allied with Iran -- or some other unknown quantity seizing power in the vacuum created by the invasion -- could very well curtail or cut off the flow to America for ideological reasons. If you are committed to American hegemony, American empire, then you will have to stay militarily involved in Iraq, now that Bush has led America into it...The logic of imperial geopolitics will lead inexorably to an attack on Iran as well, to secure the now-necessary dominion over Iraq...

Thus turning over ostensible authority to a "sovereign" Iraqi government was another masterstroke by the Bushists, a truly audacious scam. While still occupying the country and controlling its affairs, the United States has divested itself of the legal responsibilities of an occupying power.

[Here the model followed was the one set up Israel in the other Occupied Territories, where corrupt and incompetent Palestinian Authority stooges were alternately blamed for every problem and propped up against the resistance of the people they were supposed to represent.]

The leaders of both parties in Washington are now busy washing their hands of the blood they have shed, putting the onus on the occupied, co-opted and controlled nation to "put its own house in order." But of course, the Iraqis don't own their house anymore; the largest and most powerful armed force in the world is squatting there, and will keep squatting there for years to come, if the "serious" leaders of both parties have their way. And they will.


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