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Bases in Iraq create occupier role for US

Fri, Mar 18th, 2005
Posted in Commentary

James Baker, in early February, warned that any appearance of a permanent occupation in Iraq by the US will both undermine domestic support here in the US and play directly into the hands of those in the Middle East who...suspect us of imperial designs.A clause in the US-influenced interim Iraqi constitution allows the US to set up permanent bases. An article in the Chicago Tribune describing US plans for camps and bases in Iraq used the headings 14 Enduring Bases and Long-term Military Presence Planned. The article declares As the US scales back its military presence in Saudi Arabia, Iraq provides an option for an administration eager to maintain a robust military presence in the Middle East. Recall that it was US bases in Saudi Arabia partly that caused Osama bin Laden to set murderous sights on the US.This past autumn the Pentagons Defense Science Board sent this report to Rumsfeld: the eyes of Muslims...US actions be motivated by ulterior motives, and deliberately controlled in order to best serve American national interests at the expense of truly Muslim self-determination.A CIA National Intelligence Council report early in 2005 says Iraq (War) has deepened solidarity among Muslims world-wide and increased anti-American feeling across the globe.The International Institute for Strategic Studies has concluded the Iraq invasion has provided al-Qaeda with a recruiting bonanza across the Muslim world.The US media has not served the long-term interest of the US by sanitizing the Iraq War such that US citizens do not feel the horror and devastation in which researchers at John Hopkins and Columbia Universities, through scientific surveys inside Iraq, estimate more than 100,000 civilians have been killed60% from aerial bombing! Also the torture scandals, scarcely reported in the US compared to coverage in Europe, the Middle East and Asia, have been devastating to US international reputation, credibility and support.We should not be surprised that in May 2004 a poll taken by the Coalition Provisional Authority found 92% of Iraqis saw the US forces as occupiers and only 2% as liberators.The Jan. 30 election was the condition set by Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani for securing Shiite cooperation with the US, a concession by the US that prevented the insurgency from attracting nearly the entire country into a nationalist war against the US.Before the Jan. 30 voting, the Shiite leadership position was that the US forces should withdraw after the elections. US and world public opinion seems to reflect the Iraqi desire that US troops leave sooner rather than later. Rep. Doug Bereuter (R-NE) and Rep. Howard Coble (R-NC) have broached in public the subject of withdrawal. Rep. Gutknecht in a letter 3-4-05 said ...we must give a clear time table for our exit to the Iraqi people to demonstrate that we are liberators not conquerors. Brent Scoucroft says its time to ask whether we get out now.In Nov. 2003 there were 864 attacks on US and allied troops--in Nov. 2004 they had more than doubled to 1,950. Iraqs intelligence director says The resistance is more than 200,000 people. Some at the CIA predict that by staying in Iraq the US may precipitate an all-out civil war.Retired Army General William Odom, former director of the National Security Agency under Pres Reagan, says Iraqi anger at US troop presence and the systemic murder and torture of innocent Iraqis has spun irretrievably out of control. The only way out is immediate withdrawal.It seems the only way we can prevent Iraq from degenerating into an endless guerrilla war against US troops is to negotiate with the newly elected Iraqi leadership either the replacement of US forces with an international force of Iraqis choice or a timetable for withdrawal of US forces.I believe real democracy will take hold in Iraq only if the US respects Iraqis right to self-determination. I think maintaining a US military presence to stabilize Iraq will produce the best possible recruitment atmosphere for the insurgents. As did the Vietnamese, the Iraqis will forever fight to gain complete sovereignty.Saddam is gone and Iraq has had successful elections; we should now allow Iraqis the freedom and pride of building a democracy that suits their culture, ethnic and religious groups and bring our girls and boys home and end the budget-busting expense of keeping troops in Iraq.We also need to generate enough political pressure to defeat the powerful interests who would like the US to stay in Iraq and privatize Iraqs publicly owned companies and give them a chance to buy valuable oil -producing and other Iraqi assets at bargain basement prices. Write your congresspeople and request they demand a clear exit plan from the president before voting for another $75 billion for Iraq. Either, or both. The president and the Congress should at least make a statement like It is the policy of the US to withdraw all military troops and bases from Iraq.

Bob Johnson lives in Harmony.

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