Monday, June 16, 2008

US has a one-track mind

June 16 2008

US has a one-track mind and it shows

by pv vivekanand

US President George W Bush is facing perhaps the most daunting challenge in Iraq as he is trying to secure a "security" agreement that would seal his de facto colonisation of the country and place it under absolute American tulelage.
As he prepares to bow out of the White House in a few months' time, Bush is hoping that the sought-for agreement could vindicate his invasion and occupation of Iraq and could be touted as one of his most impressive presidential achievements.
A UN authorisation of the US-led foreign military presence in Iraq runs out on Dec.31 and the US-Iraq deal under negotiation would replace it and legitmise the US occupation of the country.
The draft agreement prepared by the US calls for creation of some 50 military bases officially described as Iraqi but with open-ended, unfrettered and unquestioned access to the US military. It also proposes absolute US control of Iraqi airspace upto 29,000 feet and freedom to carry out any military operation in the country without referring to the Iraqi government as well as total immunity for US soldiers and contractors from Iraqi law (Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshiar Zebari said last week that the US had dropped the demand for immunity for US contractors).
Securing absolute and permanent control of Iraq was one of the key objectives of the 2003 US military action that saw Saddam Hussein being toppled and the US taking over and occupying the country.
The Bush administration had not taken into consideration many of the geopolitical realities of Iraq while it ordered the military into Iraq. Today, it finds itself caught in a worsening crisis involving political and armed resistance from Iraqis and unable to realise any of its strategic objectives of the invasion and occupation.
Therefore, it would be a major point of triumph for Bush if the Iraqi government signs the agreement, particularly before July 31 ahead of the Republican and Democratic national conventions. The Republicans are hoping that it would boost Senator John McCain's chances against Democrat Barack Obama in the November presidential elections.
However, Bush is finding the going tough as he tries to manoeuvre through Iraqi resistance to the agreement, which most Iraqis find as unacceptable because it compromises the country's sovereignty.
Most Iraqis also see the US military bases in Iraq raqi as proof that Bush invaded Iraq to gain control of its oil wealth and to establish a new permanent military presence in the Middle East.
Indeed, the draft accord has a clause which states that the US is not planning to have "permanent bases" in Iraq. It is a deliberately misleading declaration because, as senior US officials have admitted, there is no US government definition for the term "permanent bases."
Similarly, the draft also says that the US military would not use Iraqi territory to stage "offensive" operations against any other country. But that leaves the door open for "defensive" operations. Effectively, there is nothing that will stop the US to launch military strikes against any country neighbouring Iraq and label the action as defensive.
Indeed such deception fits into the US pattern of dealing with Iraq. One of the most laughable US declarations concerning Iraq came last week when Bush asserted: "Of course we are there upon their invitation." The world knows only too well that the US marched into Iraq uninvited, toppled the Saddam regime, installed own agents in key positions, organised elections under its absolute control and pulled the strings of the government that emerged from the polls.
It made the government go through the motions of legitimising its militay presence in the country by requesting the UN to approve a mandate for the US.
It could never be considered as an invitation by any stretch of imagination.
In essence, nothing that the post-Saddam Iraqi government did could be deemed legal under international conventions because the government itself was elected while the country remained under foreign military occupation.
But the Bush administration is not worried about such legalities. Its prime concern is to coerce the Iraqi government into signing the security agreement, which is formally called "status of forces agreement."
However, the Iraq prime minister, Nouri Al Maliki, who is supposedly Uncle Sam's man in Baghdad, says that negotiations on the draft agreement are at an impasse and even suggests that his government has the option of asking the US to pack up and leave the country.
Most Iraqi politicians, including many who have to depend on US support for survival, say they oppose the draft accord.
That posture is seen to be linked to the realisation that it is not "politically correct" to be seen in Iraq as supporting the US, particularly ahead of local elections scheduled to be held this year.
Iraqis familiar with the negotiations say that it will take many weeks and more likely months before the agreement is completed and the US deadline of end of July is unrealistic.
Effectively, some of the Iraqi politicians who says they oppose the draft in its present form would have no problems with accepting permanent US military presence but only after the local elections are held.
However, the rejection of the accord by Shiite leaders Ayatollah Ali Al Sistani and Moqtada Sadr as well as the minority Sunni community makes it a non-starter for the US.
But the US has not learnt its lessons in Iraq.It is determined to secure the status of forces agreement with the Iraqis no matter what. Its blatant deception and misleading statements and actions underline only that it is ready to crawl, walk, run and leap in whatever direction to get what it wants.