June 10, 2011
Asia Times

Iraq Occupation: Having To Say Goodbye

by Peter Van Buren

[R]ecall the almost forgotten run-up to the American invasion, the now-ridiculous threats about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction, Secretary of State Colin Powell lying away his own and America's prestige at the United Nations, those "Mission-Accomplished" days when the marines tore down Saddam's statue and conquered Baghdad, the darker times as civil society imploded and Iraq devolved into civil war, the endless rounds of purple fingers for stage-managed elections that meant little, the "surge" and the ugly stalemate that followed, fading to gray as president George W Bush negotiated a complete withdrawal of US forces from Iraq by the end of 2011 and the seeming end of his dreams of a Pax Americana in the Greater Middle East.

Now, with less than seven months left until that withdrawal moment, Washington debates whether to honor the agreement, or - if only we can get the Iraqi government to ask us to stay - to leave a decent-sized contingent of soldiers occupying some of the massive bases the Pentagon built hoping for permanent occupancy. . . .

And the State Department hasn't exactly been thinking small when it comes to its future "footprint" on Iraqi soil. The US mission in Baghdad remains the world's largest embassy, built on a tract of land about the size of the Vatican and visible from space. It cost just $736 million to build - or was it $1 billion, depending on how you count the post-construction upgrades and fixes?

In its post-"withdrawal" plans, the State Department expects to have 17,000 personnel in Iraq at some 15 sites. If those plans go as expected, 5,500 of them will be mercenaries, hired to shoot-to-kill Iraqis as needed, to maintain security. Of the remaining 11,500, most will be in support roles of one sort or another, with only a couple of hundred in traditional diplomatic jobs. . . .


Enver Masud, "A Clash Between Justice and Greed, Not Islam and the West," The Wisdom Fund, September 2, 2002

"The Neocons, Israel, and the Iraq War," The Wisdom Fund, July 17, 2003

George Friedman, "America's Secret War," Strategic Forecasting, Inc, October 11, 2005

Enver Masud, "Assured by the U.S., Saddam Invaded Kuwait," The Wisdom Fund, April 17, 2006

Joe Conason, "Regime Change: 'Seven Countries in Five Years',", October 12, 2007

Linda J. Bilmes and Joseph E. Stiglitz, "The Three Trillion Dollar War: The True Cost of the Iraq Conflict," W. W. Norton & Company (February 17, 2008)

Patrick Cockburn, "Revealed: Secret Plan to Keep Iraq Under U.S. Control," Independent, June 5, 2008

Simon Tisdall, "Draft Agreement Promises Troop Withdrawal By 2011," Guardian, October 16, 2008

"Second Fake End to Iraq War: The US Is Rebranding The Occupation," The Wisdom Fund, July 22, 2010

"The Iraq War Review," Harper's Magazine, January 23, 2011 -- a distillation of Weekly Review events related to the Iraq War

[. . . the U.S. occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq were the biggest break Al-Qaeda had ever gotten. Muslim religious scholars had issued decrees for the defence of Muslim lands against the non-Muslim occupiers on many occasions before the U.S.-NATO war in Afghanistan--Gareth Porter, "Occupation and Blowback: How the US Wars Have Served Al-Qaeda,", June 8, 2011]

Enver Masud, "US Congressman Asks Iraqis to Pay for Iraq War," The Wisdom Fund, June 15, 2011

Tim Arango, "In Shadow of Death, Iraq and U.S. Tiptoe Around a Deadline,", July 14, 2011

["He has to placate two different constituencies," the official told IPS. That means taking a hard line on the US troop presence in Arabic language public statements meant for his Shi'ite constituency, but taking an accommodating line in private contacts with Maliki.--Gareth Porter, "Muqtada toys with US's Iraq intentions,", July 16, 2011]

Spencer Ackerman, "U.S. Blocks Oversight of Its Mercenary Army in Iraq,", July 22, 2011

[The State Department is expected to have up to 17,000 employees and contractors for this ongoing diplomatic presence, which has been described as necessary to provide "situational awareness around the country, manage political crises in potential hotspots such as Kirkuk, and provide a platform for delivering economic, development and security assistance." Cutting through the bureaucratese, this means essentially to maintain Iraq's client-state status.--John Glaser, "Iraq Drawdown Signals New Client State Status, Ongoing Occupation,", September 7, 2011]

[The number of personnel under the authority of the U.S. ambassador to Iraq will swell from 8,000 to about 16,000 as the troop presence is drawn down--Dan Froomkin, "Massive U.S. Embassy In Iraq Will Expand Further As Soldiers Leave,", September 17, 2011]

[$1 trillion spent. Burning hatred for America across the Muslim world. Animosity in Europe, which warned against Bush's modern crusade. Huge future expenses to sustain an obedient Iraqi regime while anti-U.S. nationalist sentiment there is boiling. A big boost for Iran's regional influence. The deaths and wounding of thousands of American servicemen.

The original plan to dominate Iraq's oil and set up bases there to rule the Mideast has so far failed, and at titanic cost. As we look back on this epic folly and again hear calls for war against Iran, we remember the famed words of King Pyrrhus of Epirus, "one more such victory and we are lost."--Eric S. Margolis, "Who Won the Iraq War?,", November 21, 2011]

"The Costs of War: Tens of Thousands Dead, Billions Spent, and a Country Torn Apart,", December 16, 2011

Chris Floyd, "War Without End, Amen: The Reality of America's Aggression Against Iraq,", December 17, 2011

Jim Lobe, "Intervention ends with scarcely a whimper,", December 17, 2011

Gareth Porter, "How Maliki and Iran Outsmarted the US on Troop Withdrawal,", December 17, 2011

[The Barack Obama administration and the United Nations are struggling to convince the leadership of the Mujahideen-e-Khalq (MEK), an Iranian opposition group with cult-like characteristics, to vacate a camp in Iraq and allow residents to move to another location in the country or risk the lives of as many as 3,200 people.--Barbara Slavin, "Tragedy feared over camp closure,", December 21, 2011]

[The centralizing of power in Iraq faces such great obstacles because all parties have foreign allies and, under pressure, will call on them. The Sunnis in Iraq will look to Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and the US if they are marginalized and turned into second-class citizens. Though not quite there yet, some Sunni politicians in Baghdad have been leaving with their families, on the grounds that it is too dangerous to stay.--Patrick Cockburn, "Mass Poverty and Sectarian Strife: Are We Witnessing the Final Disintegration of Iraq?,", January 2, 2012]

[I.B.C. has also said that supplementing its own original figure of 114,000 civilians by turning to the Wikileaks cables could add 15,000 more deaths. Another organization, Just Foreign Policy, has estimated that counting unreported deaths could bring the number of war fatalities to almost 1.5 million.--Margaret Griffis, "IBO: 162,000 Reported Deaths in Iraq War,", January 2, 2012]

Eric Schmitt and Michael S. Schmitt, "U.S. Drones Patrolling Its Skies Provoke Outrage in Iraq,", January 29, 2012

[U.S. officials said that the CIA's stations in Kabul and Baghdad will probably remain the agency's largest overseas outposts for years--Greg Miller, "CIA digs in as Americans withdraw from Iraq, Afghanistan,", February 7, 2012]

Luke McKenna and Robert Johnson, "A Look At The World's Most Powerful Mercenary Armies," Business Insider, February 26, 2012

[The war in Iraq will cost the United States as much as $5 trillion. It played a role in spurring the global financial crisis. Four thousand four hundred eighty-eight Americans were killed. More than 33,000 were injured.

As many as 1 million innocent Iraqi civilians were killed. The monetary cost of the war to Iraq is incalculable.--Dennis Kucinich, "Iraq: Ten Years, a Million Lives, and Trillions of Dollars Later,", October 4, 2012]

Spencer Ackerman, "The Cost of War Includes at Least 253,330 Brain Injuries and 1,700 Amputations,", February 8, 2013

[In fact, both the White House and the CIA had a hand in the distortion of intelligence and both contributed to making the phony case for war to the Congress and the American people.--Melvin A. Goodman, "How the Iraq War Was Sold," Consortium News, February 9, 2013]

[According to Iraqi Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, he reported, there is an estimated 4.5 million children who are now orphans, with a "shocking 70%" of them having lost their parents since the 2003 invasion.--Ramzy Baroud, "Iraq back at the brink,", February 14, 2013]

Patrick Cockburn, "Betrayal in Baghdad: How the World Forgot About Iraq,", March 4, 2013

Ernesto Londono, "A decade after Iraq invasion, America's voice in Baghdad has gone from a boom to a whimper,", March 23, 2013

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