Belaboring the Obvious

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Who Will Be the New CEO of Iraq?

Billmon points out a budding trend among those of the power elite that at least realize that the situation in Iraq is steadily deteriorating.

He might well be right that even Saddam wouldn't want to start from scratch with the general ambience there as bloody as it is.

The great mistake in this thinking is that it's our Plan B, not Iraq's. The so-called "realists" are still looking for a way to control the country's leaders--that was the intent from the beginning, and it still is. This musing about a fallback position abandoning democracy in favor of a (hopefully) benevolent dictator is little more than an extension of the original policy. There never was any comprehensive plan to build a democracy there (it was the Ayatollah Sistani's demand for representative democracy that upset the U.S. Chalabi/Allawi applecart to begin with).

It's all about keeping control, however tenuous, until a stable government emerges that is compliant with U.S. wishes. While this may not be the only reason for Bush's insistence that U.S. troops won't leave Iraq while he's president, it's one of them. A U.S.-compliant Iraqi government is essential to the neo-cons' plans, if only because one hostile to the U.S. isn't going to sign status of forces agreements allowing U.S. bases and troops to remain on Iraqi soil.

Thanks to George H.W. Bush's subterfuge, there has been an American military presence on the ground, in the air and in the Persian Gulf ever since 1990, and ever since 1990, the Saudi clerics have been asking, "when are they leaving?"* One of the side benefits of starting a war with Iraq was that those ground and air troops in Saudi Arabia could be moved to Iraq and Qatar, respectively, finally pulling a long-embedded thorn out of the Saudi clerics' paw (and, whether or not George Bush has figured it out yet, taking away bin Laden's primary complaint regarding the United States). But, without a status of forces agreement, a crucial part of the neo-cons' plans turns to dust. Without the U.S. military there, that $700 million concrete-monstrosity-walled-fortress-of-an-embassy becomes a Great Satan theme park for the Shiite fundamentalists, and goodbye to those Republican corporate wet dreams of fatcat oil PSAs and a string of malls up and down the Tigris full of Footlockers, McDonalds, WalMarts, Old Navy stores, Levis, Blockbusters and Pizza Huts and multiplexes.

We only export the worst of our culture, because that's what makes money for corporations. Nobody in the Green Zone gives a fuck about Whitman or Melville or Jefferson or Rachel Carson or Thomas Wolfe, Martin Luther King or George Washington Carver, for that matter. The America that the average Iraqi knows is composed of blind military force ruining their lives and destroying their families, and crass commercialism and cronyism trying to pickpocket them and their country at every opportunity. No wonder they're suspicious of us. If we determine, to protect our investment, that it's better for Iraq to have another dictator--as opposed to true self-determination that, first and foremost, doesn't involve our commercial interests, even after a bloody interregnum of their own making--by god, that's what we'll delegate our military to fight for. We keep telling ourselves, while patting ourselves on the back, that that's not the American way, but, in point of fact, it is, and it has been for a long, long time.

* A quote from a Saudi cleric from 1990 in Robert Fisk's The Great War for Civilisation, evoking the complaints of many others.


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