Rebranding The U.S. Occupation of Iraq
By Ghali Hassan
07 September, 2010
If you believe U.S.-Western politicians and their dishonest propaganda agents, Iraq is a free country with a bustling democracy and that “all U.S. ‘combat troops’ have left Iraq”. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. Iraq remains under a murderous U.S. military Occupation, and had no legitimate sovereign government since the 2003 illegal invasion by the Anglo-American fascist forces.
Just before his speech from the White House Oval Office that was scheduled for Tuesday night (31 August 2010), U.S. President Barack declared the end of the U.S. war on Iraq: “On Tuesday, after more than seven years, the United States of America will end its combat mission in Iraq and take an important step forward in responsibly ending the Iraq war. As a candidate for this office, I pledged I would end this war. As president, that’s what I’m doing”. Obama knows what he is doing; he is creating “false realities” that filtered as mainstream news to manipulate the public.
In his speech on Tuesday, Obama declared that: “The American combat mission in Iraq has ended. Operation Iraqi Freedom is over and the Iraqi people now have lead responsibility for the security of their country“. Obama’s speech is a distortion of reality; a pack of lies to justify all the lies for a premeditated criminal destruction of Iraq. The speech is an imperialist propaganda by imperialism’s most seductive tool and designed to promote more war, divert public attention away from deliberate mass-atrocity crimes coupled with the complete wanton destruction of a nation. Obama is skilled in the art of Orwellian Doublespeak.
According to Maj. Gen. Stephen R. Lanza, the top American military spokesman in Iraq: “In practical terms, nothing will change”, (New York Times, 02 July 2010). What has changed is the name. Instead of U.S. “combat troops”, Iraq is now occupied by murderous “transitional force”. It is a new brand of U.S. Occupation designed to manipulate public opinion. Troops are rebranded to do “advise-train-assist”, and they will continue to conduct combat operations if it was required by the U.S.-installed puppet government. Indeed, the puppet government have already requested the U.S. to stay in Iraq. So, nothing is going to change because the U.S. changed the name of the troops in Iraq. The departing combat troops have already been replaced by 5,000 combat troops of the 3rd Armoured Calvary Regiment from Fort Hood in Texas.
Furthermore, the Army’s top commander in Iraq, Gen. Ray Odierno, admitted that U.S. troops may stay in Iraq beyond the 2011 withdrawal date. Odierno made the comment on CNN’s State of the Union. “If the government of Iraq requests some technical assistance in fielding, systems that allow them to continue to protect themselves from external threats, we could be here. I mean, you know, we have agreements like that in Saudi Arabia; we have agreements like that in Egypt that continues to help them to develop their infrastructure and security architecture. If that’s what we’re talking about, potentially we could be there [in Iraq] beyond 2011”.
We all know there is no Iraqi government; it doesn’t exist. The U.S.-installed and U.S.-protected collection of criminals, religious extremists and Kurdish warlords is not a “government” per se. It is a puppet government of self-serving stooges who are incapable of to have an agreement between themselves, let alone govern the country. Since March 2010, they have been squabbling, fighting and battling over their posts and privileges.
As always, the usefulness of the Kurdish warlords to the U.S. is on full display, and with a puppet government that has no authority, the U.S. will be in Iraq for decades. Furthermore, the U.S.-created “Iraqi army” and “security forces” – rightly called by Iraqis as ‘dogs of the Occupation’ – is nothing more than a U.S. proxy oppressive force designed to control the Iraqi population on behalf of the U.S.
The New brand of U.S. Occupation, means more than 56,000 U.S. troops will remain stationed in more than 100 fortified U.S. military bases across Iraq. They are there to defend the puppet government, intimidate the Iraqi population and carry-out armed attacks (terrorism) against Iraqis who opposed the Occupation. One must wonder why the U.S. needs so many troops to train an “army” that use imported Ukrainian and Polish assault rifles. At least 4,500 U.S. Special Forces will continue to conduct military operation in Iraq, killing anyone they find. In addition, some 100,000 foreign mercenaries or Foreign Legion – masquerading as “private military contractors” – are working for the Occupation with immunity from prosecution. Their roles are to deflect attention from a military Occupation, and continue to instil fear in the Iraqi population. As Seumas Milne of the London Guardian revealed, “the U.S. government is not only rebranding the Occupation, it is also privatising it”.
According to the Times, U.S. troops and private contractors will be deployed at five fortified military bases across Iraq, where they’ll perform duties including operating drones, deploying reaction forces and operating radars to detect militant attacks. In an interview on Democracy Now! Earlier this month, independent journalist and author Jeremy Scahill said the Obama administration’s withdrawal plan amounts to a “rebranded” Occupation. “What is essentially unfolding here is a downsized and rebranded occupation, Obama-style that is going to necessitate a surge in private forces. The State Department is asking for MRAP vehicles, armoured vehicles, for Black Hawk helicopters and for these paramilitary forces”. He added: “So, yes, you can say that officially combat has ended, but in reality you’re continuing it through the back door by bringing in these paramilitary forces and classifying them as diplomatic security, which was Bush’s game from the very beginning”. When Blackwater (the mercenary contractor) changed its name to ‘Xe Services’ last year, its criminal behaviour remains the same today.
In his speech, Obama said: “The United States has paid a huge price to put the future of Iraq in the hands of its people ... We have persevered because of a belief we share with the Iraqi people — a belief that out of the ashes of war, a new beginning could be born in this cradle of civilization”. What a flagrant contempt for human lives? The Iraqi people do not share a belief with president Obama and his “American People”.
As a matter of honesty, Obama should have said: “Iraq and the Iraqi people have paid a huge price for an illegal act of aggression that was followed by an illegal murderous Occupation that the overwhelming majority of the Iraqi people have opposed and continue to oppose the presence of U.S. troops in their country”. Obama wants to “end the war”, but not the murderous Occupation of Iraq, as he did not mention the Occupation in his speech.
As a direct consequence of the 2003 illegal invasion that followed by a Nazi-like reign of terror and more than seven years of murderous military Occupation, an estimated of 1.5 million innocent Iraqis have been murdered, the majority were women and children. Millions of Iraqis are maimed and disabled. Tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians are still in U.S.-controlled prisons, enduring torture and human rights abuses at the hands of Americans and their collaborators. The U.S. turned Iraq into a shattered nation of widows and orphans in serious humanitarian crisis. Five million Iraqis have been forced from their homes; either displaced in Iraq or exiled refugees languishing in neighbouring countries living in desperate conditions. The overwhelming majority of Iraqis despised the nefarious U.S. Occupation and wanted an immediate end to U.S. presence in their country.
The most shameful part of Obama’s speech was when Obama said: “Our troops are the steel in our ship of state. And though our nation may be travelling through rough waters, they give us confidence that our course is true”. To defenceless Iraqi and Afghan civilians, Obama’s troops of “steel” are nothing more than a collection of psychopath maniacs and outright cowards, mass murderers of women and children. Instead of ranting lies, President Obama should know that the war of aggression on Iraq is not an imperialist propaganda, but a criminal atrocity, and those fascists – George Bush, Tony Blair, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld – who planned and waged the war should be committed for war crimes trial for what the Nuremberg Tribunal called “the supreme international crime”. By definition, they are war criminals.
Not since the Fascist army of Adolf Hitler invaded and occupied parts of Europe has the world witnessed such barbaric violence and destruction as that being perpetrated by the Anglo-American fascist armies. For most Iraqis, living under U.S. military Occupation today is no less brutal than Poles or Russians were living under the brutal Nazi occupation that most Westerners considered barbaric. In fact, Nazi violence was nothing like U.S. violence. The U.S. has a complete monopoly on violence and it is perpetuated in daylight against the most defenceless people. The 13-year-long U.S.-enforced genocidal sanctions (an indiscriminate genocide) killed between 660,000 and 880,000 innocent Iraqi children under five was a fact known to every U.S. Congressman, U.S. politician and every member state of the United Nations. Some 2 million Iraqi civilians have been killed as direct consequences of the sanctions. Again, what a belief do the Iraqi people share with Obama and his American people? (For a fuller analysis of U.S. terror against the Iraqi people, see: Joy Gordon, Invisible War: The United States and the Iraq Sanctions, Harvard, 2010). Sadly, Americans do not care. Most Americans remain silent and have shown no remorse or contrition for the mass-atrocity crimes committed by their government. Manipulated by politicians and the mainstream media – deliberately associating Islam with terrorism –, most Europeans and North Americans have been infected by the bacteria of anti-Muslim hatred and Islamophobia. Seven decades ago, “the menace was supposedly the ‘Jewish danger’, now it’s the Muslims”, writes journalist and author, Victor Grossman.
Meanwhile, in the “new” Iraq, Iraqis are living in a climate of fear and terror today. The entire country is heavily militarised and Iraqis are no longer able to move around freely. Violence in Iraq is on the rise to coincide with U.S. imperialist agenda, and will continue to engulf Iraq’s major cities; just enough to justify the ongoing murderous Occupation. From the outset, the Occupation fomented violence and the colonial policy of ‘divide and rule’ – by handing out political positions to imported expatriates along strictly ethno-religious lines – in an exercise to destroy the Iraqi society. As I pointed out in earlier articles, in order to encourage anarchy and insecurity, U.S. occupying force disbanded the Iraqi Army, Iraqi police and security forces and replaced them with Kurdish warlords, imported death squads, and religious militias. The so-called “political process” was a U.S.-controlled sectarianism designed to achieve the division of Iraq and the Iraqi society. Iraq today is like Lebanon in the 1970s and 1980s when Israeli terrorists were able to invade and the country and terrorise the population. Before the Anglo-American invasion, Iraqis lived side-by-side in every city and town regardless of ethno-religious backgrounds. They intermarriage and live in a cultural and mosaic society.
According to Iraqis and Westerners who are familiar with Iraq before the invasion, life and living conditions for most Iraqis were far better under the government of Saddam Hussein. Even the Washington Post – one of America’s loyal propaganda agents – has acknowledged this very fact. Iraqi pharmacist Dr. Entisar Al-Arabi told Western media in Iraq: “I am not a political person, but I know that under Saddam Hussein, we had electricity, clean drinking water, a healthcare system that was the envy of the Arab world and free education through college. I have five children and every time I had a baby, I was entitled to a year of paid maternity leave. I owned a pharmacy and I could close up shop as late as I chose because the streets were safe. Today there is no security and Iraqis have terrible shortages of everything--electricity, food, water, medicines, even gasoline. Most of the educated people have fled the country and those who remain look back longingly to the days of Saddam Hussein”. Like millions of desperate Iraqi professionals, Al-Arabi is now living in forced exile.
Under Saddam, Iraq was considered an emerging major oil producer, an economic and military power in the region. It took the U.S. more than twenty years – including seven years of military Occupation – to completely destroy Iraq and take control of its oil resources and strategic position. In May 1991, U.S. Deputy National Security Adviser Robert Gates (the current U.S. Secretary of Defence) stated: ‘Iraqis [not Americans] will pay the price while [Saddam] remains in power. All possible sanctions will be maintained until he is gone ... Any easing of sanctions will be considered only when there is a new government”. (Los Angeles Times, 09 May 1991). As a coldblooded killer of innocent women and children, Gates has kept his promise; Iraqis have paid and continue to pay a huge price.
As a result of U.S. terror, the Iraqi people have lost everything they owned before the invasion. There are now more poor people in Iraq than at any other time in Iraq’s history, and this is not because of an act of God but because of U.S. criminal wars. Unemployment in Iraq is between 50 and 70 per cent. The Occupation is a murderous nefarious occupation that failed every test. Iraq’s health care services and education system, once the best in the region have collapsed. In terms of other services, most Iraqis still have no access to electricity and clean water. With temperatures as high as 50 degrees centigrade in summer, few lucky Iraqis get 1-3 hours per day of electricity.
As Seumas Milne, an exception among British journalists, writes: “After seven years of US (and British) occupation, tens of thousands are still tortured and imprisoned without trial, health and education has dramatically deteriorated, the position of women has gone horrifically backwards, trade unions are effectively banned, Baghdad is divided by 1,500 checkpoints and blast walls, electricity supplies have all but broken down and people pay with their lives for speaking out”. The destruction of Iraq isn’t a “failure” or “incompetence” on the part of the U.S. administrations, as suggested by those who pretend to oppose the war and the Occupation. It is premeditated and deliberate wanton destruction.
To prove the destruction of Iraq was premeditated and deliberately maintained, one needs to compare the sprawling military bases that the U.S. is building in Iraq, including the U.S. “Embassy” – the size of the Vatican City – in central Baghdad with Iraqi cities, towns and villages that remained ruined. The only plausible motive for the deliberate destruction of Iraq is the U.S. ruling elites' submission to Israel’s fascist regime and to Zionism ideology of expansion and domination of the region.
Furthermore, in order to control the lifeline of Iraqis, the U.S. has imposed the most criminal economic conditions on Iraq, including the 100 orders of Paul Bremer. For example, Order 81, the prohibition of Iraqi farmers from using their own seeds and have to buy their seeds from the U.S. agribusiness companies is a case in point. Since the invasion, Iraq has become a dumping ground for cheap foreign products, including U.S., Arabs and Iranian products. In addition, Iraq continues to pay “reparations” to the corrupted Kuwaiti rulers – who, second only after the Israeli fascist regime to have benefited from the destruction of Iraq. Moreover, after looting billions of Iraq’s treasury and siphoned off Iraq’s oil revenues, billions of dollars have disappeared from the account of the ‘Iraqi Oil for Food Fund’ and Iraq’s national treasury. The U.S. spent Billions of dollars, not to “build” Iraq – as many fascist Westerners love to rant about –, but to destroy Iraq and impoverish the Iraqi society, leaving Iraqis living in ruined cities, dirty streets and contaminated air, water and soil.
A recent independent epidemiological study concerning the population of Iraq found that, as a result of the use of weapons of mass destructions (WMD), such as “Depleted Uranium” (DU) by U.S. forces on the Iraqi civilian population in Fallujah, the rates of infant mortality, fatal deformities and cancer (mainly Leukaemia) are much higher than those reported by Japanese survivors (exposed to radiation) of the atomic bombs attacks on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. (Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health, 7, 2010, PDF). Like the criminal attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the attack on Fallujah is a criminal act of terrorism on an epic scale. Using Professor Rob Nixon’s concept of “slow violence”, DU dust is a “slow violence”. As Anne McClintock, a professor of English and Gender Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison writes: “We often think of violence as immediate and spectacular, bounded by space and time. Nixon recalls us to violence of a different kind: the ‘attritional devastation’ that takes place gradually over time and space. Slow violence may be less visible, less media-sensational but enacts a toll no less lethal and lasting for being slow and out of sight”. The U.S. terror in Iraq is leaving a legacy of slow violence that condemns many Iraqis to death.
Iraq will remain an example to remind people that the U.S. is the leading exporter of terrorism in the world that has a pattern of flagrant violations of international law and human rights law, political interference, manipulation, and utter disregard for innocent human lives. The U.S. is not, as most Americans think, a “moral guide, spreading “democracy” and protecting “human rights”.
Only a complete withdrawal of U.S. forces and mercenaries from Iraq and a complete end to U.S. violent interference in Iraq’s affairs will return to the Iraqi people their freedom and independence. Iraq will remain an occupied nation as long as there is one U.S. soldier left in Iraq. The struggle will continue until the Iraqi people are free.
Ghali Hassan is an independent political analyst living in Australia.