Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Neocons and the Iranian connection

Neocons and the Iranian connection
By PV Vivekanand

WHAT DOES the US — more precisely the Bush administration — want in Iraq? From a perspective based on conventional wisdom, the US should have had enough of Iraq to have decided to call it quits. But not so for the Bush administration, which is obviously determined not to heed expert calls for withdrawing from the country despite unquestionable signs that the US military is bogged down in a war that it cannot win; Washington is under bitter criticism for having invaded and occupied Iraq on false pretenses and justifications; and, if anything, the threat, perceived and otherwise, of terrorism against the US has only grown and will continue to grow as long as it maintains its occupation of Iraq.
US President George W Bush seems to be living in a world of delusion. He refuses to believe that the US has dug a hole for itself in Iraq and insists he could still "accomplish the job" there. The question then is: What is the US "job" in Iraq?
There could be many theories. Most prominent among them is:
The prime goal of the invasion of Iraq and ouster of the Saddam Hussein regime was to turn that country into a US colony in all but name where the US military could set up an advance base in the Gulf, with a puppet regime in place in Baghdad that would establish relations with Israel — and thus remove itself as an Arab military threat to the Jewish state —  would grant US companies massive oil contracts and would allow itself to be used a springboard for action against other "rogue" countries such as Iran and Syria.
The US determination to invade Iraq was clear from the word go after the Sept.11, 2001 attacks. Bush and his strategists brushed aside all advice against invading Iraq, fabricated intelligence to justify the invasion and went ahead as if they owned the country and its people after invading it. Look at the way the US dismantled the Iraqi armed forces and the Baathist party, drew up a constitution for the country, named an interim regime of its choice, hunted down Saddam regime figures as if with a vengeance, orchestrated the trial of Saddam and others, organised elections and dictated terms to the parliament and government that were elected. This pattern of actions clearly shows that the Bush administration's agenda was to secure absolute control of a strategically located Middle Eastern Arab country with rich natural resources and then use it to serve American/Israel interests. Among the varying justifications for implementing the agenda were such lies as Saddam's weapons of mass destruction and alleged connections with the Sept.11 attacks. Then came the argument that Saddam was an autocratic and oppressive ruler and that the poor people of Iraq deserved a "regime change" towards democracy.
And now it is argued that if the US quits Iraq, it would mean leaving the country to "terrorists" to breed themselves and threaten the US.
What a preprosterous series of arguments and contentions!
Indeed, the Bush administration's "job" in Iraq has not been done, and it definitely looks like it would or could never be done.
The only part of the "job" that is done is the removal of Iraq as a potential military threat to Israel. However, the perceived threat potential is all the more growing, given the mounting Iranian influence in Iraq.
Iraq, with its overwhelming Arab and Muslim nature structure despite the spiralling ethnic conflict there, could never be turned into a US colony; a truly representative Iraqi government would not allow itself to be a US stooge or sign away the oil wealth of the country to foreign companies; and it would not permit Iraqi territory to be used as a springboard for action against neighbouring Iran or Syria or any other country in the region.
The US has spent nearly $340 billion for the war in Iraq. More than 2,800 of its soldiers have been killed and some 22,000 others have been wounded, most of them no longer in a position to return to service. The Bush administration is under heavy fire from the American public for having gone to war on false pretenses, and the anti-war camp is gathering steady strength. The war was one of the key reasons that Bush's Republican camp suffered a defeat in the recent congressional elections. And, the party might not stand a fighting chance against the Democrats in the 2007 presidential elections if it does not make amends now and satisfy the calls for an end to the US occupation of Iraq.
However, Washington is still clinging on and refusing even to set a date for eventual departure from Iraq.
The answer to that key question could possibly be found in the "Iranian connection."
The pro-Israeli neoconservatives who planned and orchestrated the war have realised that while they succeeded removing the Saddam regime which was a hurdle against Israel's expansionist and strategic designs involving mainly Syria, they also handed over Iraq in a platter to Iran. It is not inconceivable for them now to visualise Iranian missiles targeting Israel positioned on Iraq's borders if and when the US military leaves Iraq. Given the established range of missiles in Iran's possession, the perceived threat against Israel would become all the more real. Throw in Iran's controversial nuclear programme, and the question is clearly answered why the US refuses to quit Iraq.
Indeed, there is no indication at this point in time that the dominant Shiites of Iraq would or would not allow Iran to hold sway and use Iraqi territory to threaten Israel. At the same time, an induced course of events could lead to that situation and that is alarming the neoconservatives, who have belatedly realised that instead of removing a threat they would have created a bigger threat to Israel if they went along with a US departure from Iraq and thus leave the room for the Iranians to play at will.
That explains why the neocon camp is ridiculing calls on the Bush administration to leave Iraq. They have even rounded up on the expected recommendations by the Iraq Study Group to force the pace on troop withdrawals and negotiations with Iran and Syria.
The Iraqi Study Group, led by former secretary of state James Baker and former Democrat congressman Lee Hamilton, is expected to issue the recommendations this week.
The Weekly Standard, the neocon magazine, has already staked a position by deriding the Baker group’s work as “a fancy way of justifying surrender.”
Of course in the neocon jargon in this context, "surrender" means not only giving up on the "sacred and uncompromisable" goal of protecting Israel but actually allowing the setting of ground for a greater military threat against the Jewish state that was perceived to have been posed by the Saddam regime.
No doubt, one of the key items on the US agenda for this week's meeting between Bush and Abdul Aziz Al Hakim, the powerful head of the Iran-backed Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, would be to explore a middle ground with pro-Iran Iraqi Shiites in order to avert the potential threat to Israel. Most definitely, Bush would want an explicit Hakim pledge that his group would not permit Iran to use Iraq to step up its threats against Israel.
In return, the US might even be ready to abandon all pretenses of fairness and justice for all the people of Iraq and throw in its lot with the Iraqi Shiites (It is a different question whether Hakim would be amenable to the expected US proposal, which could be couched in different terms but meaning all the same).
Whatever else is expected to be discussed at the Bush-Hakim meeting could even be described as peripheral when seen against the seriousness and commitment with which the neocons — who pull the main political strings in Washington — consider their mission not only to safeguard Israel but also to perpetuate the Jewish state's aggressive designs in the Middle East.