While George Bush was announcing an end to US efforts to “rebuild” Iraq’s oil industry and basic services this week, contracts were being awarded to build a $1 billion US embassy complex in Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone.
Alongside surface to air missile defences it will include 300 homes for embassy and military staff. It is in effect an imperial seat of power, which will stand alongside four massive superbases the US is building.
Despite talk of the US occupation being wound down, the commander of the 30,000-strong US garrison in Baghdad, stated, “This is probably one of the last places that we would pull out of altogether.”
The US has no intention of leaving Iraq. It hopes to maintain permanent bases and a shadow colonial government in exactly the same way that Britain ran Egypt and controlled the Suez Canal.
As Socialist Worker went to press, the results of Iraq’s latest elections were delayed as observers investigated “irregularities”.
The US is far from happy with elections which gave an overall majority to Shia parties it sees as pro-Iranian and anti-occupation. Casting round for friends, the US has revived the roller coaster political career of Ahmed Chalabi.
Once groomed as the CIA’s favourite to run Iraq, he was later seen as soft on Iran and his villa was raided by US troops. Now, despite a humiliating showing in December’s elections, Chalabi has resurfaced as Iraq’s oil minister.
Meanwhile petrol prices have trebled inside the country and electricity and other basic necessities are in short supply. US air strikes continue to add to the toll of civilian fatalities. All of this gives urgency to the 18 March international day of action against occupation.
Russia and Ukraine
Deadly conflict lurks behind the gas row
The gas row between Russia and Ukraine provides yet more evidence against the two great myths of the “new world order”, proclaimed by George Bush senior at the end of the Cold War.
The first was that the world would enjoy greater stability under the leadership of the US. The current conflict reflects Russia’s drive to reassert itself over a region it once dominated, as the EU and Nato expand into its backyard.
The second myth was that the free market would be the cement binding together the new world order. In the wake of Ukraine’s “Orange Revolution”, which brought the pro-Western Victor Yushchenko to power a year ago, Tony Blair travelled to the capital Kiev.
He declared that “market economy status has now been granted” and signed a memorandum of understanding to promote the integration of the Ukrainian and EU energy markets.
Vladimir Putin’s response was to start charging the “free market price” for Ukraine’s gas imports, quadrupling the bill and then cutting off the supply when Ukraine refused to pay.
The row shows that conflict between the nuclear armed thugs in Washington, Kiev, London and Moscow is still very much part of the world today.
It also highlights the hypocrisy of the Bush regime. The US government rushed to condemn the “use of energy to exert political pressure”.
But Bush’s drive to dominate Iraqi oil in order to exert political pressure over every other government is a key factor leading to war, spiralling energy prices and growing instability.