Last week saw the release of a long awaited report by the Iraq Survey Group (ISG) – a panel of senior US ruling class politicians – into the future of US imperialism in Iraq.
The ISG report recommends sidelining the neocons in the “war on terror”. It acknowledges that “the ability of the US to influence events within Iraq is diminishing”.
This admission of defeat means that a country with the “world’s second largest known oil reserves is now a base of operations for international terrorism, including Al Qaida”.
The report makes clear that US imperialism is in deep crisis. “Because of the gravity of Iraq’s condition and the country’s vital importance, the US is facing one of its most difficult and significant international challenges in decades,” it says.
Yet despite the fanfare, the report’s 79 recommendations are a rehash of old strategy, empty promises and new threats. And the crisis facing US imperialism is so deep that it looks more than likely that George Bush will ignore the report anyway.
The centrepiece of the new strategy is a “diplomatic offensive” aimed at Iran to help stabilise the occupation.
One of the recommendations is to win the support of Turkey by abandoning any notion of autonomy for the Kurds – breaking all promises the US made to the Kurds during the invasion of Iraq.
The US should “engage Syria and Iran without preconditions”, with offers of membership of the World Trade Organisation, peace with Israel and an end to the threat of regime change.
Both countries would receive incentives to cooperate – and “military disincentives” if they don’t. Syria would be drawn into cooperating by emphasising mutual strategic aims. According to the report, “this approach worked effectively in the early 1990s”.
During that period Syria joined the US-led coalition during the first Gulf War – in return for getting a green light to crush a rebellion against the Syrian occupation of Lebanon led by Michel Aoun, then head of the Lebanese army.
In return Syria would recover the Golan Heights – seized by Israel during the 1967 war – though it would be kept under the control of US troops.
There are conditions, however. Syria must abandon its support for Hizbollah and Hamas, disarm the Lebanese resistance, accept responsibility for the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri and right wing politician Pierre Gemayel – and support the US backed government in Lebanon.
The survey also calls for a push for an Arab-Israeli peace that excludes the Palestinian’s elected Hamas government. The “land for peace” process would be resuscitated with promises to the refugees, broken in the 1990s, of an independent state and economic aid.
The most damning section of the report is aimed at the US backed government in Iraq. According to the report’s recommendations, the US should abandon their Iraqi allies if they do not reach a set of “milestones”.
These milestones include transferring control of Iraqi oil to “commercial companies” and abandon subsidies to Iraqi citizens.
The Iraqi government would have to launch an all-out offensive against the anti-occupation Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr – who leads the biggest party in the Iraqi parliament. The US would flood Baghdad with troops to help accomplish this task.
After the Shia have been silenced, ministries that were originally handed over to them as part of a divide and rule strategy would be taken over by the ministry of defence and staffed by US advisors.
Other proposals include opening dialogue with the Iraqi resistance, with withdrawal of US troops “on the table for discussion”.
Once Iraq has been “stabilised”, US troops would be redeployed to Afghanistan to shore up the failing occupation there.
The only recommendation that could provide a lasting solution for Iraq – an end to the occupation – was not considered by the panel.