August 2010, Week 4


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Thu, 26 Aug 2010 22:38:43 -0400
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US Combat Ends in Iraq, But Covert Operations Begin

By Tom Hayden

L.A. Progressive
August 26, 2010


While the Obama administration struggles to keep its
pledge to end  the Iraq war, a behind-the-scenes plan is
developing in which the Baghdad regime "invites" the
American military to stay.

While media attention focused this week on the last
combat brigade rolling out of Iraq, US diplomat  Ryan
Crocker was saying that if the Iraqis "come to us later
on this year requesting that we jointly relook at the
post-2011 period, it is going to be in our strategic
interest to be responsive." [NYT, Aug. 19]

That means troops and bases, keeping a US strategic
outpost in the Middle East.  Otherwise, according to
some Pentagon sources, the Iraq war will have been in

To prevent backsliding on the agreement to withdraw all
troops and bases by the end of 2011, peace advocates and
Congress will have to revisit and reinforce those
agreements using hearings and budgetary powers.

To review the history: in late 2008, a secret
negotiation resulted in what the Iraqis called "the
withdrawal agreement" and the Americans the "status of
forces agreement." The bilateral pact was never debated
or approved by the US Congress. By its adoption, the
Iraqis could claim a victory for sovereignty while the
US could declare a diplomatic end to an unpopular war.

In reality, the Iraq war never ended. US casualties
plummeted because fewer Iraqis wanted to shoot Americans
who were leaving. Iraqi casualties declined from the
feverish high of 2006-7, but continue to be several
hundred per month. Al Qaeda of Mesopotamia, which did
not exist when the war began, has survived. The forces
of  Moktada al-Sadr, who waged two uprisings against the
US, are a powerful factor in Iraqi politics and on the
ground. The Kurdish crisis is unsolved. Overall, Iran
has prevailed strategically and politically. And the
Baghdad regime originally installed by the Americans
seems hopeless deadlocked, inefficient, and on the edge
of imploding.

The State Department is expanding a militarized
"civilian" intervention to fill the gap as Pentagon
troops depart. Thousands of military contractors will
conduct Iraqi police training, protect Iraq's airspace,
and possibly conduct continued counterterrorism
operations. State Department operatives will be
protected in mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles
[MRAPS], armored vehicles, helicopters and its own

The immediate future is uncertain. US soldiers currently
being sent to Iraq are told their mission is "to shut it
down." But the real story is being hidden by the Obama
administration's insistence that its promise to end the
war is being kept. The notion of a continued military
presence, according to the Times, "has been all but
banished from public discussion." According to one
official, "the administration does not want to touch
this question right now."

A war that started with dreams of bringing democracy to
the Middle East is ending by keeping plans for more
troops hidden from American voters.

[Tom Hayden is the author of 17 books, a former
California state senator and a longtime peace activist.]

Republished with the author's permission.


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