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Visiting Iraq’s “Don’s” from the Inside of an Armored BMW

5 March 2009

This is an important article for many reasons.  It gives a ground-level view of a city in Iraq, and illustrates important dynamics at work there.  Perhaps most important, it describes a key element of our success in Iraq (such as it is).  Not from force of arms, sophisticated tactics, or futuristic technology.  We fielded infantry — hordes of tightly-packed little green soldiers.  We bought peace.

Or rather, we leased it.  What happens when the payments stop?  That will be intersting to see, and none can foretell. 

This is a report from the always-insightful TomDispatch:  “Iraq’s ‘Teflon Don’ — The New Fallujah Up Close and Still in Ruins“, Dahr Jamail, 12 February 2009.  I recommend reading it in full.  While you do, remember our promises to rebuilt Fallujah.

Introduction by Tom Engelhardt

Already it’s begun — the endless non-departure from Iraq. The Obama plan, restated many times during the presidential campaign, involved a 16-month schedule for withdrawing not all U.S. forces, but only U.S. “combat troops.” Now, his (and, of course, George W. Bush’s) generals are showing visible evidence of dragging their combat boots in the sand on the subject. We were given fair warning. Over the last 2 years, numerous military figures have claimed that, as fast as they got into Iraq, it would be hell just getting all the U.S. stuff now embedded there out — and that’s without even taking into account the political situation in that country.

Recently, according to military leaks to the media, “U.S. military planners” have come up with two alternate scenariosto Obama’s 16-month plan. One is reportedly 19 months long, the other 23 months long, and — here’s a shock — the two top generals in charge, Centcom commander David Petraeus and U.S. commander in Iraq, General Ray Odierno, favor the 23-month approach.

“Odierno and Petraeus have said that we really need 23 months to do this without jeopardizing the security gains that we’ve secured,” was the way one typical anonymous official put it. President Obama has yet to show any sign of agreeing to this, but the pressure is evidently only beginning. Gareth Porter of Inter Press Service indicatesthat a “network of senior military officers is also reported to be preparing to support Petraeus and Odierno by mobilizing public opinion against Obama’s [16-month plan]… If Obama does not change the policy, according to the source, they hope to have planted the seeds of a future political narrative blaming his withdrawal policy for the ‘collapse’ they expect in an Iraq without U.S. troops.” Stab in the back, anyone?

Oh, and in the bargain, the generals are evidently also planning to re-labelsome of those withdrawable combat forces among the still staggering 144,000 troops in Iraq — the American invasion force of 2003 was only about 130,000 strong — as non-combat “support troops” or advisors. They would, Robert Burns of the Associated Press writes, be “redesigned and reconfigured as multipurpose units to provide training and advising for Iraqi security force” and so would “be considered noncombat outfits.” What’s in a name, after all?

In the end, according to the New York Times, the generals hope to leave one third of American troops, almost 50,000 of them, in Iraq for an undetermined period (and that number, of course, doesn’t including private security contractors) after the combat troops are withdrawn.

Dahr Jamail, author of Beyond the Green Zoneand TomDispatch regular, is now back in Iraq and, in his typical, incisive way, he offers another view of just what “success” has meant for Americans, at least in Iraq’s Sunni heartland. So slip into a well armored BMW with him and check out the scene for yourself. It’s the only way a “tourist” is likely to be welcomed in this part of Iraq.

Excerpt

Driving through Fallujah, once the most rebellious Sunni city in this country, I saw little evidence of any kind of reconstruction underway. At least 70% of that city’s structures were destroyed during massive U.S. military assaults in April, and again in November 2004, and more than four years later, in the “new Iraq,” the city continues to languish.

The shells of buildings pulverized by U.S. bombs, artillery, or mortar fire back then still line Fallujah’s main street, or rather, what’s left of it. As one of the few visible signs of reconstruction in the city, that street — largely destroyed during the November 2004 siege — is slowly being torn up in order to be repaved.

Unemployment is rampant here, the infrastructure remains largely in ruins, and tens of thousands of residents who fled in 2004 are still refugees. How could it be otherwise, given the amount of effort that went into its destruction and not, subsequently, into rebuilding it? It’s a place where a resident must still carry around a U.S.-issued personal biometric ID card, which must also be shown any time you enter or exit the city if you are local. Such a card can only be obtained after U.S. military personnel have scanned your retinas and taken your fingerprints.

The trauma from the 2004 attacks remains visible everywhere. Given the countless still-bullet-pocked walls of restaurants, stores, and homes, it is impossible to view the city from any vantage point, or look in any direction, without observing signs of those sieges.

Everything in Fallujah, and everyone there, has been touched to the core by the experience, but not everyone is experiencing the aftermath of the city’s devastation in the same way. In fact, for much of my “tour” of Fallajah, I was inside a heavily armored, custom-built, $420,000 BMW with all the accessories needed in twenty-first century Iraq, including a liquor compartment and bulletproof windows.

One of the last times I had been driven through Fallujah — in April 2004 — I was with a small group of journalists and activists. We had made our way into the city, then under siege, on a rickety bus carrying humanitarian aid supplies. After watching in horror as U.S. F-16’s dropped bombs inside Fallujah while we wound our way toward it through rural farmlands, we arrived to find its streets completely empty, save for mujahideen checkpoints.

To say that my newest mode of transportation was an upgrade that left me a bit disoriented would be (mildly put) an understatement. The BMW belonged to Sheik Aifan Sadun, head of the Awakening Council of Fallujah. Thanks to the Awakening movement that began forming in 2006 in al-Anbar Province, then the hotbed of the Sunni insurgency — into which American occupation forces quickly poured significant amounts of money, arms, and other kinds of support — violence across most of that province is now at an all-time low. This is strikingly evident in Fallujah, once known as the city of resistance, since the fiercest fighting of the American occupation years took place there.

Today, 34-year-old Sheik Aifan may be the richest man in town, thanks to his alliance of self-interest with the U.S. occupation forces. Aifan’s good fortune was this: He was the right sheik in the right place at the right time when the Americans, desperate over their failures in Iraq, decided to throw their support behind the reconstitution of a tribal elite in the province where the Sunni insurgency raged with particular fierceness from 2004-2006.

In the “Construction Business”

Don’t misunderstand. This wasn’t a careful, strategically laid, made-in-the-USA plan. It was a seat-of-the-pants, spur-of-the-moment quick fix. After all, by the time U.S. planners decided to throw their weight behind the Awakening Movement, it was already something of a done deal.

In late 2006, roughly speaking, months before George W. Bush’s “surge” strategy sent 30,000 more American troops into Baghdad and surrounding areas, the U.S. began making down-payments on the cooperation of local al-Anbar tribal sheiks and started funding and arming the Sunni militias they were then organizing. As a result, the number of insurgent attacks quickly began to drop, and so the Americans widened the program to other provinces. It grew to include nearly 100,000 Sunni fighters, most of whom were paid $300 a month — a sizeable income in a devastated city like Fallujah with sky-high unemployment rates.

The program was soon hailed as a success, and the groups were dubbed anything from The Awakening, to Sons of Iraq (al-Sahwa), or as the U.S. military preferred for a time, Concerned Local Citizens. Whatever the name, most of their members were former resistance fighters; many were also former members of Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party; and significant numbers were — and, of course, remain — both.

There was an even deeper history to the path the Americans finally chose in order to tame the insurgency and the home-grown al-Qaeda-in-Iraq (AQI) groups that had spun off from it. In an interview with David Enders and Richard Rowley, colleagues of mine, in the summer of 2007, Sheikh Aifan laid this out quite clearly: “Saddam Hussein supported some tribes and some sheiks. Some of those sheiks, he used their power in their areas. The first support came by money. He supported them by big projects, by money, and he made them very rich. So you see, they can deal with anyone in Iraq with money. The Americans, they made the same plan with all the sheiks.”

The main goal of the Americans was never the reconstruction of devastated al-Anbar Province. That was just the label given to a project whose objective — from the U.S. point of view — was to save American lives and to tamp down violence in Iraq before the U.S. presidential election of 2008.

Today, leading sheiks like Aifan will tell you that they are in “the construction business.” That’s a polite phrase for what they’re doing, and the rubric under which a lot of the payouts take place (however modest actual reconstruction work might be). Think of it this way: Every dealer needs a front man. The U.S. bought the sheiks off and it was to their immediate advantage to be bought off. They regained a kind of power that had been seeping away, while all the money and arms allowed them to put real muscle into recruiting people in the tribes they controlled and into building the Awakening Movement.

The reasons — and they are indeed plural — why the tribal leaders were so willing to collaborate with the occupiers of their country are, at least in retrospect, relatively clear. Those in al-Anbar who had once supported, and had been supported by, Saddam Hussein, and then had initially supported the resistance became far keener to work with occupation forces as they saw their power eroded by al-Qaeda-in-Iraq.

AQI proved a threat to the sheiks, many of whom had initially worked directly with it, when it began to try to embed its own fierce, extremist Sunni ideology in the region — and perhaps even more significantly, when it began to infringe on the cross-border smuggling trade that had kept many tribal sheiks rich. As AQI grew larger and threatened their financial and power bases, they had little choice but to throw in their lot with the Americans.

As a result, these men obtained backing for their private militias, renamed Awakening groups, and in addition, signed “construction” contracts with the Americans who put millions of dollars in their pockets, even if not always into actual construction sites. As early as April 2006, the Rand Corporation released a report, “The Anbar Awakening,” identifying America’s potential new allies as a group of sheiks who used to control smuggling rings and organized crime in the area.

One striking example was Sheik Abdul Sattar Abu Risha, who founded the first Awakening groups in al-Anbar and later led the entire movement until he was assassinated in 2007, shortly after he met with President Bush. It was well known in the region that Abu Risha was primarily a smuggler defending his business operations by joining the Americans.

Not surprisingly, given the lucrative nature of the cooperative relationship that developed, whenever an Awakening group sheik is assassinated, another is always there to take his place. Abu Risha was, in fact, promptly replaced as “president” of the Anbar Awakening by his brother Sheik Ahmad Abu Risha, also now in the “construction business.”

Dreaming of the New Dubai

… To fully understand why tribal leaders like Aifan began working so closely with American forces, you also have to take into account the waves of staggering sectarian violence that were sweeping across Iraq in 2006. As Sunni suicide and car bombings slaughtered Shiites, so, too, Shia militias and death squads were murdering Sunnis by the score on a daily basis.

Before the U.S. invasion in 2003, Sunnis had been nearly a majority in Baghdad, the Iraqi capital. By 2006, they were a rapidly shrinking minority, largely driven out of the many mixed Sunni-Shiite neighborhoods that dotted the city and some purely Sunni ones as well. Hundreds of thousands of them were displaced from homes in Baghdad alone.

At his Informed Comment blog, Juan Cole reports that Sunnis may now make up as little as 10%-15% of the population of the capital. No wonder their tribal leaders, outnumbered and outgunned on all sides, felt the need for some help and, with options limited, found it by reaching out to the most powerful military on the planet. With their finances, livelihoods, and even lives threatened, they resorted to a classic tactic of the beleaguered, summed up in the saying, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.”

The result today? Sheik Aifan is a millionaire many times over. And his dreams are fittingly no longer those of a local smuggler. He wants to “make Anbar the next Dubai,” he told two of my colleagues and me as we powered down the battered streets of Fallujah.

His house is a fittingly massive, heavily guarded mansion complete with its own checkpoint near the street, two guard towers, and even two heavy machine guns emplaced near the door to his office. A bevy of guards surround him at all times and live in the mansion full time for his protection.

… Outside the gates of Sheik Aifan’s well-guarded compound, generators hummed in the night providing electricity in a land where, if you can’t pay for a generator of your own or share one with your neighbor, you are in trouble. In Fallujah, like Baghdad, four hours of electricity delivered from the national grid is considered a good day. Generally, a self-imposed curfew kept the streets relatively traffic free after total darkness settled in.

The city in which Sheik Aifan lives, of course, still lies in rubble, its people largely in a state of existential endurance. The Awakening groups have earned the respect of many Iraqis by providing “security,” but at what price?

Reconstruction has yet to really begin in Sunni areas and the movement, sheiks and all, only works as long as the U.S. continues funneling “reconstruction funds” to tribal leaders. What happens when that stops, as it surely must with time? Will the people of Fallujah be better served? Or has this process merely laid the groundwork for future bloodshed?

[Note of thanks: Bhashwati Sengupta, Richard Rowley, Jacqueline Soohen, and David Enders contributed research to this article.]

About the author

Dahr Jamail, an independent journalist, has been covering the Middle East for more than 5 years and is the author of Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches from an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq. He reports for Inter Press Service and is a regular contributor to TomDispatch. He has also published in Le Monde Diplomatique, the Independent, the Guardian, the Sunday Herald of Scotland, the Nation, and Foreign Policy in Focus, among others. To visit his website, click here.

Afterword

Please share your comments by posting below.  Per the FM site’s Comment Policy, please make them brief (250 words max), civil, and relevant to this post.  Or email me at fabmaximus at hotmail dot com (note the spam-protected spelling).

For information about this site see the About page, at the top of the right-side menu bar.

For more information from the FM site

To read other articles about these things, see the FM reference page on the right side menu bar.  Of esp interest these days:

Posts about the war in Iraq:

  1. The Iraq insurgency has ended, which opens a path to peace, 13 March 2007
  2. Beyond Insurgency: An End to Our War in Iraq, 27 September 2007
  3. Iraq, after the war, 20 May 2008
  4. Slowly the new Iraq becomes visible, 18 July 2008
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14 Comments leave one →
  1. seneca permalink
    5 March 2009 1:59 am

    Dahr Jamail has been providing this kind of on the on-the-ground, honest coverage of Iraq for years; he’s often heard and interviewed on Pacific Radio, the well-respected listener-supported “left” radio station.

    The sad thing is that his reporting, and others’ like Juan Cole and Patrick Cockburn, were available from the start, but universally ignored by the MSM, and by Congress as well. I once asked Barbara Boxer, “liberal” California Senator, what news sources she read daily. She hesitated a minute and said, “well, the Wall Street Journal, the NYT, and, uh, the Marin Independent Journal” (local paper where she was speaking.) She was basically viewing the world from a bunker.

    Like

  2. Al L. permalink
    5 March 2009 4:11 am

    Here is the thing I always think about when I see discussions like this.
    My thought about Iraq when G.W.B decided to invade was; why if we invade don’t we just set up a half ass decent gov’t, pay it off, leave advisors and a security force, get the hell out of that snake pit and spend the next 10-20yrs using U.S. influence to gradually mold it into a reasonably responsible world citizen? After all Iraq’s GDP was only 60 billion a year and declining. And it had the potential to pay most of the cost itself.
    Nope, instead someone in the Bush administration decided we had to microengineer Iraq into a “modern” nation. In 4YEARS!
    Now that we’re back to what I considered Plan A (all be it with a lot of years of intervening disfuction which make the molding even harder) why is anyone surprise this is the way it is going?
    We are just going back to the best business plan. The original G.W.B. business plan: it’s gone along with all the treasure spent on it. That treasure is spilled milk. We are only still offered the opportunity to move forward by the cost in lives and parts of lives expended by individuals who had the guts to offer up themselves for our national endeavor.
    Here is the cold facts: Iraq’s GDP was about 60 billion and declining before we invaded. We could have sent EVERY Iraqi outside the ruling elite home with a full paycheck for 16 years for what we have spent on this war. All we are doing is going back to a sensible long term plan. Which by the way is the plan Tony Blair thought he was buying into from everything I’ve read.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: There is no realistic basis for the belief that we invaded Iraq in order to transfor it into a “modern nation.” Obtaining bases from which to project power throughout the Middle East was probably a (or perhaps the) key reason. Work on the massive “enduring bases” began immediately after the invasion; since then tens of billions have been spend on these. For reports about this see section 5 in Iraq & Sub-continent Wars – studies & reports

    Stratfor has been clear on this since the war’s start. See these posts for a summary of their work on this topic:
    * Stratfor’s analysis of US reasons for invading and occupying Iraq, 4 March 2008
    * Stratfor again attempts to explain why we invaded Iraq, 24 March 2008

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  3. 5 March 2009 6:55 am

    Saddam Hussein accumulated EUR in his forex reserves, replacing USD. Since he was no longer needed as a friend of the State Department to fight a cold war with Iran; he tried to emerge as a regional boss by invading Kuwait, etc. These types of actions caused a barbarian invasion of the country, killing more than 100,000 Iraqis, a large number of them ordinary unarmed citizens. The US military lost an estimated 4,000 soldiers in this war, and it led to the toppling of the George W. Bush regime.
    Now the largest bank in Iraq is something called the Trade Bank of Iraq, that is funded by a consortium led by you-know-who … JP Morgan.(All of Iraq’s banks were suprisingly found to be bankrupt by the US Occupation).
    Only soldiers who die defending a country own territory against a foreign invasion deserve public respect and tribute.Suppose some of the Indo Tibetan Border Police currently deployed in Afghanistan are killed by the Pashtuns. They should be buried in a separate Nordic barbarian enclave; and not along with the same people who died fighting Pakistani and Chinese invaders.

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  4. 5 March 2009 8:34 am

    Is anyone pondering what the collapse in oil will do to Iraq ? They have nothing else to export.

    Like

  5. houswife permalink
    5 March 2009 10:53 am

    We should start to reflect on the fact, that the whole Middle East suffers under the colonial “order”, the borders, etc. we, the West, imposed on them until say as recently as 1950. Iraq considers Kuwait a part of Iraq, Syria considers Lebanon, Israel a part of Syria, the Persians claim much more influence, etc., so they see the things completely differently as we see. We should at least see colonialism as what it is.

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  6. Duncan Kinder permalink
    5 March 2009 12:55 pm

    Is anyone pondering what the collapse in oil will do to Iraq ? They have nothing else to export.

    To the contrary, numerous Iraqi’s have developed skills useful to help service the burgeoning worldwide demand for insurgencies.

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  7. electrophoresis permalink
    5 March 2009 2:31 pm

    My expectation when the U.S. invaded Iraq was exactly the scenario AL L. describes. Set up an interim government, leave 1000 U.S. advisors, get the basic sewage and electricity plants working again, then tell them “It’s all yours, bye, see ya.” No one has been able to explain why this didn’t happen. I’ve heard various convoluted explanations from both right and left, but none of them ever made sense. The left claimed America invaded Iraq to steal all their oil — okay, so why didn’t any oil flow out of Iraq? The one thing that’s notable about this occupation is that Iraq oil production collapsed. The right claimed we invaded Iraq first to find WMDs (which means we should’ve left within 6 weeks since there weren’t any), then to promote democracy in the middle east (which means we should’ve left within 6 weeks when everyone in Iraq started killing each other), and now the right claims we invaded Iraq to stabilize the region, which means we should’ve left the next day, judging by the chaos our presence caused.

    Nobody has been able to explain why the U.S. felt compelled to stay in Iraq for 6 years. I still can’t explain it. No one I ask can explain it. As far as I can tell, this is one of the greatest eruptions of mass insanity in modern history, right up there with the Seattle windshield pitting panic in 1956 and the nonexistent “mad gasser of Mattoon” in the late 1940s.

    Duncan Kinder is exactly right. Iraq has served as a priceless laboratory for third world 4GW fighters to test and refine the most effective low-cost methods for taking out M1A1 Abrams tanks, up-armored humvees, U.S. marine corps snipers, et al. These refined techniques will now be exported worldwide…included back into the U.S., I fear, when the Mexican cartels start using them against U.S. law enforcement personnel in the American Southwest.
    .
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    Fabius Maximus replies: You are reading too narrow a range of analysis if you expected us to leave a few advisors and exit. Most reliable sources were clear about the bases from the beginning. It was in the NY Times; how much clearer can it be? See the sources cited in my reply to comment #2 above.

    I agree with you as to what we should have done after the invasion. I described this in What we did we wrong in Iraq – the simple, short version, 9 July 2008 – Excerpt:

    (1) Immediately place Iraq under martial law
    (2) Quickly appoint new leaders,
    (3) Gave them lots of money to get them started (in Iraq, the oil money sequestered by the UN), and
    (4) Announced we were leaving 90 days. Or 180 days (what matters is the firm date).
    Perhaps leave advisers, trainers — and, of course, the UN and NGO’s.

    Would a fast exit by Coalition forces have left Iraq and Afghanistan looking like Gardens of Eden — or even placid and adequately governed places (like Cleveland)? Probably not. But (see my previous chapter) these people can and must govern themselves. In the modern era we cannot do much for them. Money, advisers, fine advice, best wishes — that is about all. Beyond that we, in accord with the rules of our world, turn the task over to the UN and the many non-government agencies.

    These invasions would have been a clear lessons, encouraging sensible behavior by other minor league tyrants. Our forces would remain trim and intact, ready to apply additional lessons to slow learners.

    This is a grand strategy built on low but solid ground.

    Like

  8. seneca permalink
    5 March 2009 4:20 pm

    Aside from the lunacy of “building a modern nation in four years” (Al L), other less crazy motives have been alleged: creating a large military presence next to Iran (replacing former bases in Saudi Arabia); removing a supposed threat to Israel; gaining control of Iraq’s oil. Maybe these were unrealistic ambitions, but they seemed plausible to the foreign policy establishment and the MSM.

    Like

  9. Kaunaoa permalink
    5 March 2009 6:49 pm

    Strategic motive for the Iraq war. Please debunk this theory if you can: Iraq, based on several national intelligence agencies was, at the very least, on the trajectory of restarting its nuclear weapons program. Additionally, the sanctions regime was most certainly on the path to termination. Hussein’s strategy of using his own populace as hostages was going to work.

    Free of sanctions, Hussein was certain to rapidly develop nukes for two reasons. First, to assure that the US would never again be able to interfere with his ambitions as we did in the first Gulf War. Second, a counter to the Iranian nuclear weapons program (and Israeli).

    In all probability, this nuclear competition between Iran and Iraq would have stimulated Saudi Arabia and, possibly, Egypt to initiate their own programs — a daisy chain of nuclear proliferation.

    Result: The ability of US to influence events in the region goes down sharply and the risks involved in the region sharply up. Fast forward to future oil depletion states and we have an increasingly nasty picture, one in which the US has very limited options.

    On your post: Bribing ones enemies is a time honored strategy. Alfred became Alfred the Great by doing so. He bought time in order to alter the strategic environment to his advantage. It worked. Could work for us.
    .
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    Fabius Maximus replies: Perhaps Saddam was an agent of the evil tyrant of Neptune. It’s not our job to debunk your fantasies.

    Forget about bribery. We could have bought Iraq (or at least got a long-term lease) for the multi-trillion dollar cost of the Iraq war. That’s an exaggeration, but not much — and illustrates the crazy lack of planning to the war.

    Like

  10. Erasmus permalink
    5 March 2009 7:04 pm

    I’ll take a stab at why. The name of the game is control within the context of maintaining relatively hegemonic influence of the current world order, including mainly the financial system. Not only did Saddam latterly start switching to Euros, but earlier – perhaps his main crime – he nationalised oil and used the income to build the most successful, progressive ME state, even within a somewhat colonial context.

    There are two main ways to exert control, either by bringing people under your tent or disrupting their ability to function if they won’t bed down with you. In this regard, Israel, which enjoys significant influence in US foreign and financial polity, has much to gain from encouraging regional disturbances of all sorts since a wealthy, productive, fully integrated Middle East would undermine much of their clout with the US and all the income and influence accruing thereby.

    This drive to inject chaos as an (admittedly imperfect) means to exert control explains the main reasons for maintaining a hostile occupation for five years and counting despite no apparent other benefits – except enormous profits for various power blocs in the US of course.

    Like

  11. seneca permalink
    6 March 2009 2:28 am

    Erasmus: You might enjoy the writings of Jonathan Nitzan and Shimson Bichler (York Univ. Toronto) They’ve studied fifty years of the rising and falling capital wealth, relative to the rest of the US economy, of the oil majors, and observe that periods of declining oil profits are always followed by periods of Middle Eastern instability/conflict, which in turn raises oil prices, increasing profitability, while also stimulating arms sales.

    To the degree that these two dominant sectors of the economy — oil and arms manufacture — influence foreign policy, instability in itself, without any strategic purpose, is valuable.

    Like

  12. Kaunaoa permalink
    6 March 2009 5:10 am

    “Fabius Maximus replies: Perhaps Saddam was an agent of the evil tyrant of Neptune. It’s not our job to debunk your fantasies.”

    Ridicule? My, my. Why not try fact. You seem to be over flowing with them on most subjects, to include using STRATFOR’s weak analysis. Having just read George Friedman’s ” The Next Hundred Years” it’s pretty hard to understand why anyone would pay for their services. I say we just fought the first counter proliferation war and that there will be more of them, of course, not called that.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: I do not understand your comment “Please debunk this theory if you can.” That is your job — not ours — if you want it to be taken seriously here. Don’t expect gentle treatment if you don’t bother to do so.

    As for Stratfor, no doubt they tremble at your opinion. If you have reasoned objections to his material, feel free to comment on the appropriate thread here (i.e., one of those discussing Stratfor, or re-posting their material).

    Like

  13. Al L. permalink
    6 March 2009 4:16 pm

    In short FM I must disagree with you and stratfor. Let us assume GWB invaded Iraq under the illusion that a long list of things might be accomplished. Task turns very difficult. Only thing completely accomplished is the easiest thing: building large bases since it’s the only thing entirely under our control. Those looking back conclude: buiding large bases was the reason for the invasion. Its the type of arguement that screws up history. A kin to archeologists digging up an ancient city, finding only bones and concluding that the ancient civilization was populated by skeletons.
    It ignores the fact that one of the first permanent “bases” and one of the largest was the green zone, a clear indication of a hope of colonial rule of a backward place needing good old modernizing.
    .
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    Fabius Maximus replies: Let us assume that Bush was an agent from Neptune. Or better yet, let’s not assume anything, and instead look at the data. We immediatlely began constuction of a series of large and obviously permanent bases, of a size and type designed to project power throughout the Middle East. As described in “Pentagon Expects Long-Term Access to Four Key Bases in Iraq“, NY Times, 20 April 2003:

    “American military officials, in interviews this week, spoke of maintaining perhaps four bases in Iraq that could be used in the future: one at the international airport just outside Baghdad; another at Tallil, near Nasiriya in the south; the third at an isolated airstrip called H-1 in the western desert, along the old oil pipeline that runs to Jordan; and the last at the Bashur air field in the Kurdish north.”

    You can dance around that fact all you want. Unlike your speculation, these articles describe the reality of our policy.
    * If the U.S. is ultimately leaving Iraq, why is the military building ‘permanent’ bases?, Friends Committee on National Legislation
    * Iraq Facilities, Global Security.org
    * A Permanent Basis for Withdrawal?, Tom Engelhardt , 14 February 2006
    * How Permanent Are Those Bases?, Tom Engelhardt. 7 June 2007
    * Baseless Considerations, Tom Engelhardt, 4 November 2007
    * A Basis for Enduring Relationships in Iraq, Tom Engelhardt, 2 December 2007
    * Stratfor’s analysis of US reasons for invading and occupying Iraq, FM site, 4 March 2008
    * The Greatest Story Never Told, Tom Engelhardt, TomDispatch, 15 June 2008 — “Finally, the U.S. Mega-Bases in Iraq Make the News”

    Like

  14. Erasmus permalink
    8 March 2009 5:42 pm

    Seneca: belated thanks for recommendation above. Missed it earlier.

    Like

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