Five and a half years after violating international law and invading Iraq, George Bush’s regime shows no sign of handing Iraq back to anything resembling an independent, sovereign government.
It is clear that the US has no intention of allowing Iraq to decide its own destiny – at least not until the country has served its purpose for the US.
Recently US presidential candidate Barack Obama claimed that, if elected, he will begin to end the military occupation, but he is evasive about the details. A mere reduction in troops does not mean an end to the occupation.
Iraq is firmly in the grip of overlapping corporate and military interests that will lay down the law should Obama even think about interfering with their plans.
If Obama believes he can simply order a total pull-out, he is being naive about presidential power. No one is leaving Iraq except for impoverished Iraqi refugees.
Far more significant is what Obama and John McCain, his Republican rival, do not say. Neither utters a word about a future Iraqi government’s power over its trade and investment policies, its control of the massive oil reserves or the ongoing privatisation of Iraq’s essential services.
Likewise, there is silence over the future of lucrative billion dollar construction and security contracts handed out to mostly US corporations like spoils of war.
It is the dozens of permanent military bases being built all over Iraq that reveal the US’s real intentions.
Even if most of the US army pull out, will its remaining forces still be immune from Iraqi law, still control Iraqi air space, carry out military operations and have the power to arrest and hold Iraqis? No nation littered with foreign military bases is free in any sense.
The violence in Iraq is almost always portrayed as ethnic and religious strife, as if the invasion and occupation are mere sideshows.
However, the confusion and insecurity created by the violence provide the necessary cover under which the occupation continues.
Peace and a stable, non-sectarian Iraqi government committed to the welfare of its people is the last thing the US wants.
Contrary to the distorted, liberal view that Iraq is an expensive mistake, Iraq is in fact a great victory for corporate globalisation and the neocons.
These are the men whose role it is to make the entire planet safe for corporate dominance and they know exactly what they are doing. Iraq is not an accident. Iraq is what it is because it is intended to be so.
Considering the mindnumbing human and financial cost, it may appear that empire is counter-productive. However, events in Iraq have unfolded exactly in accordance with the nature and methods of imperialism.
Only the weapons and sophistication of the propaganda have changed since the US forces’ conquests of Cuba and the Philippines just over a century ago. Iraq is simply updated business as usual.
Empires, by their nature, feed off both the home nation and the conquered peoples. The home country is manipulated by its political elites to pay the cost in money and blood. The conquered nation is then forced to provide resources, future markets and possibly real estate for permanent use.
It is nothing more than a vicious, violent fraud, but one that is perfectly rational for the corporate pursuit of profits.
Therefore, to believe that as Iraq lays prostrate, US corporations and the military will simply walk out is delusional. Such thinking misjudges the nature and logic of imperialism and the predatory capitalism that drives it.
As the journalist Thomas Friedman, a major cheerleader for the invasion and corporate globalisation, so honestly stated, ‘The hidden hand of the market will never work without a hidden fist… and the hidden fist is called the US Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps.’
Sometimes the system’s propagandists really do tell the truth. Perhaps they think no one will pay attention.
Imperialism is of course far more than the pursuit of temporary profits. The continued US military presence also serves to intimidate Iran, Syria and any others who may resist the US’s dominance in the Middle East. Iraq is also likely to be a base for future corporate wars in the region.
The 50 or so new military bases are not intended to control only Iraq. Since no country is left that is both capable and willing to aid Iraq directly, Iraqis are essentially alone. Iraq’s ethnic and religious divisions have also played directly into the US’s hands.
The only foreseeable hope for Iraqis is a mass, non-sectarian and non-cooperation movement, which makes the country unmanageable for the occupiers. It has worked before and if history teaches us anything, it is that empires do end.
Paolo Bassi is an attorney and freelance writer based in Sacramento, California
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