LEAVING IRAQ: IT'S ALL SMOKE AND MIRRORS NOW
by Joyce Marcel
American Reporter Correspondent
DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- The words I most want to hear from both presidential candidates are these: "We're pulling out of Iraq, starting today."
But in reality, we will not hear these words for decades to come, no matter which stick figure wins the election. Neither side dares to tell the truth about Iraq.
In March of this year, the Chicago Tribune reported that the United States is constructing "14 enduring bases" in Iraq. The story gives no military definition of "enduring," but we know it does not mean "temporary." It means we're in this "wrong war, wrong place, wrong time, wrong everything" war for the long haul now.
We were so wounded by a handful of the few thousand demented al-Qaida operatives scattered throughout the world that in return, we invaded a foreign country with no connection to the terrorists. We' killed thousands of innocent people. We replaced one strongman murderous tyrant with another. We fanned the flames of hatred for America in the Middle East for centuries to come.
Even if it were possible, John Kerry's proposal to train more Iraqis to replace our soldiers would not stabilize Iraq. When they're not defecting to the opposing side with our own weapons, Iraqi policemen and soldiers are the main targets; their blown-up bodies litter the countryside.
Neither the president nor Kerry can tell the American people the truth. Instead, it's smoke-and-mirrors time. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has said on more than one occasion that the United States has no plans to remain permanently in Iraq. At an April 2003 press conference, he said: "I have never, that I can recall, heard the subject of a permanent base in Iraq discussed in any meeting... The likelihood of it seems to me to be so low that it does not surprise me that it's never been discussed in my presence, to my knowledge.... We've got all kinds of options and opportunities in that part of the world to locate forces, it's not like we need a new place. We have plenty of friends and plenty of ability to work with them and have locations for things that help to contribute to stability in the region."
A word about our "plenty of friends." If we look on this war as fight to the death with Islamic fundamentalism, then pulling our troops out of Saudi Arabia - because Osama bin Laden wanted us to, remember - doomed Iraq. Given its neighbors, its oil, its water, and the ease with which it fell, Iraq became the perfect place from which to dominate the Middle East.
Hence those enduring bases. According to John Pike of the military affairs Web site GlobalSecurity.com, they are: The Green Zone in Baghdad, Camp Anaconda in Balad, Camp Cooke in Taji, Camp Ferrin-Huggins in Baghdad, Post Freedom in Mosul, Camp Victory at the Baghdad airfield, Camp Marez at the Mosul airfield, Camp Renegade in Kirkuk, and Camp Speicher in the Tikrit area. There is also one in the Fallujah area, one in the Nasiriyah area, and two more with secret locations that Pike couldn't find.
Last month, a brilliant - if dark - analysis was posted on GlobalSecurity by a one-name conservative blogger named Vanderleun, whose own Website, DarkenWilde.org, boasts, "This is not your happy place."
"American forces will be in Iraq five years from now, more likely ten, probably 20, depending on how that part of the world shakes out," Vanderleun writes. "We will not remain in Iraq for 'democracy' (Although we will spend treasure and lives to try and create one.), nor will we be there for the 'benefit' of the Iraqi people (Although overall they will reap benefits in terms of treasure and improved lives.). We will remain in Iraq for one concrete reason alone: We need to have military bases there.
"In this increasing conflict between Islamic fundamentalism and the civilized world, it is an absolute military necessity that America have a robust network of bases located at the center of mass of the Islamic world. If you clear your mind of either wishing for a lasting peace or hoping for an early victory, and simply look at the map of the Middle East, you will know the road ahead is long, brutal and filled with hard choices."
One of those brutal choices will be a much larger military operation in Iraq after the campaign-trail sweet-talking ends.
"The only hope for victory by our enemies is through a political attrition within the United States," Vanderleun writes. "The real attrition on the ground runs against (them) as long as (they) send more forces to the fight."
In other words, as brutal as our war in Iraq is now, by using the country as a terrorist-trap, our military has plans to make it much, much more bloody.
What can we do? Our options are limited by reality. Although at least 80 percent of the Iraqi population wants us out of their country, it is certainly possible that if we leave, factions could fall into civil war. And civil war could drag in Iran, Turkey and Syria and even further destabilizing the Middle East.
No matter who wins the American presidential election, the bad news is that we will be dealing with this mess for decades to come. This, more than anything else, will be President George Bush's legacy to the world. Among all his crimes against the American people, this will stand as his greatest.
In 2002, George Monbiot wrote in the Guardian, "They (the American and British governments) have unlocked the spirit of war, and it could be unwilling to return to its casket until it has traversed the world."
Monboit's words proved prophetic. In June of this year, after the transfer of "sovereignty" to the Iraqi people, artist Qassim al-Sabti said, "Of course I feel I'm still occupied... America these days, is like death. Nobody can escape from it."<
Joyce Marcel is a free-lance journalist who writes about culture, politics, economics and travel.