I want to occupy you forever … Heeeeeee's back! Every time Iraqi nationalist Shi'ite cleric/politician Muqtada al-Sadr (left) resurfaces with a bang, the United States establishment shakes like a willow tree, while US corporate media duly dusts off the usual "radical, anti-American, Iran-friendly firebrand cleric" rhetoric. Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq was finished eight years ago this past Saturday; Shi'ite Sadrists and most Sunnis regard April 9 as the ignominious day Iraq was annexed by Washington. Iraq is that Arab nation that was under a no-fly zone for a decade – and then had almost all of its society and infrastructure smashed by the Pentagon (neo-conservative Washington dreamed of rebuilding it, for a profit). So this is what the Sadrists sent as a gift card to the "liberators"; you'd better leave our land by the end of 2011, for good, as agreed. Or else one of the Pentagon's ultimate nightmares will be back; a revived, revamped Mahdi Army unleashing guerrilla tactics. – Asia Times/Pepe Escobar
Dominant Social Theme: Nothing to see here. Move along. Iraqi democracy is firmly in place now. As US Vice President Joe Biden said, "politics has broken out."
Free-Market Analysis: Either the US gets out of Iraq or Iraq goes up in flames. That seems to be the message in this article. What is the larger import? The grim US military-industrial complex meme that the war in Iraq was worthwhile because of the tyrant it toppled may be toppling itself. If so, the US might actually end up in a national debate over the validity of these vicious depredations and their effects on national solvency (not good). In this article we want to examine the possibility of such a debate and the effectiveness generally of modern, Western warmongering.
Our view, in fact, is that the benefits of the "war racket" may not be as realizable in the 21st century as in the 20th. It is modern technology that is making things more difficult and less lucrative. Western elites, intent on building one-world government, have turned more and more to force as the Internet has stripped the veil of secrecy from their activities.
Which brings us back to Iraq. With all the other unrest in the Middle East, one could be forgiven for assuming that the seven-year war in Iraq had fully pacified that wretched nation. That's a power elite dominant social theme anyway. Democracy has taken hold: It is an important message to the powers-that-be struggling to justify their behavior. Pepe Escobar reminds us that appearances can be deceiving.
Escobar writes for a number of progressive outlets (decidedly unlibertarian ones like AlterNet) but this article in the Asia Times is fairly straightforward, and his political point of view shouldn't matter much if his facts are correct. They seem so. And Iraq's many bloody factions do seem ready to go their own way. Several years of "peace" have not miraculously melded different tribes and religious factions into one happy whole. The Iraqi central government remains shaky, with various ministerial posts still unfilled. Apparently, it would actually fall if al-Sadr withdrew support.
Indeed, it was a truce with al-Sadr's Shiite forces that led Iraq's current uneasy peace. The Western mainstream press has promoted the meme that it was a "surge" that did the trick. But from what we can tell, it was a combination of political enticements and monetary payoffs to various Iraqi factions that made the difference and stabilized the fragile truce that has held until now. One of the most important pacifications involved al-Sadr's Mahdi Army. A combination of funds (bribes), political outreach and military action apparently convinced al-Sadr to cease fighting.
Since the Mahdi Army has ceased operations it is difficult to get a sense of how cohesive it is and if it yet retains significant power. Wikipedia informs us that "Since August 2006, neither the coalition nor the Iraqi government has made any move to arrest al-Sadr. Nor have they challenged the Mahdi Army's de facto control over a number of areas in southern Iraq. The Mahdi Army has participated in battles against Sunni insurgents and operates its own justice system in the areas it controls."
On the other hand, we also read various reports that the Mahdi army has diminished from 60,000 or so to just several hundred. Escobar seems to believe that al-Sadr is anything but a spent force and that Shiite masses will respond to him. He writes that al-Sadr "… continues to study theology in the Iranian holy city of Qom, [and his message that the US should fully leave Iraq at the end of 2011] was delivered via his spokesman Salah al-Obaidi and backed up by a million-man-march across Baghdad."
The message, Escobar reports, came just one day after Pentagon head Robert Gates visited northern Iraq to convince the Nuri al- Maliki government to, "keep occupying the country to an indefinite future. By then, the US State Department had already announced it wanted to keep an army of mercenaries and what could amount to thousands of bureaucrats in the largest US Embassy in the world." But there is Al-Sadr. Escobar quotes him as follows: "The first thing we will do is escalate the military resistance activity and reactivate the Mahdi Army in a new statement which will be published later … Second is to escalate the peaceful and public resistance through sit-ins." Here's some more:
So if the US stays, Muqtada will turn Baghdad into a giant Tahrir Square – with the added bonus of commandos turning the Green Zone red and condemning contractors to road-kill status. The great 2011 Arab revolt keeps reinventing itself in myriad ways. Anyone who seriously bet years ago that Washington would pull no punches to edit the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) it signed with Iraq must have reached Wall Street investment banker status by now. The SOFA was signed by former president George W Bush in November 2008. According to the text, the whole of the US military, plus their civilian personnel, must exit Iraq by December 31, 2011, at midnight …
No wonder both the Obama administration and the Pentagon are on red alert. Vice President Joe Biden urgently called Maliki after Gates left Iraq to keep up the pressure. Iraqi parliamentarians, for their part, stress any extension would have to be approved by parliament. And Muhammad Salman, from the Sunni Iraqiya party (most Sunnis are Iraqi nationalists who also want the US out) has already talked about a popular referendum. The SOFA itself was supposed to be approved by referendum (it never happened). In a nutshell, the only players who want the US to stay are the military in Iraqi Kurdistan – who fear they may be overpowered by Iraqi Arabs.
Here is irony and tragedy. Tragedy because so much blood has been spilled and now the Pentagon stands, perhaps, to gain very little, neither strategic bases nor a trustworthy ally. Irony because the State Department and its CIA-inspired youth revolutions that have overthrown two regimes so far are now to be turned on their head. Al-Sadr is poised to lead a youth revolution of his own, using CIA-inspired weapons to undermine a CIA-supported government.
Usually the US makes itself at home in a given region once it has waged war. And with between 700 and 1,000 military-intelligence bases around the world, US forces have the experience to do so. Yet Escobar seems to believe that in Iraq anyway the pattern is about to be broken. The Maliki government is not suicidal, he suggests and SOFA will not be extended. The US must look elsewhere for various military ports and convenient bases.
What Escobar is really suggesting is that Iraq will not turn out to be a strategic asset for the United States. He is also suggesting quite clearly that the days when the Anglo-American elites could work their will on the rest of the world via divide and conquer politics is rapidly coming to an end. It is our humble opinion, too, that the time has come and gone. In the era of the Internet, these depredations are overly obvious; the mass of humanity in these miserable countries or at least its intelligentsia is awakening (as we have long predicted). The ‘Net has revealed the global extent of Anglo-American elite machinations and the information has been well dispersed.
In Egypt, the revolution continues; Tunisia is no more settled than in Egypt. In Libya, the apparent intention of the West to remove Gaddafi has proven far more complicated than initially expected. And in the Ivory Coast, the inconvenient Laurent Gbagbo has taken four months to pry lose, at a cost of a million people displaced and thousands murdered and raped. Now Christian Gbagbo is out and the West's man, the IMF-connected Muslim Alassane Ouattara, is in. A tragic Ivorian chapter has theoretically been closed. Or has it? Ghana Joy News reports the following just yesterday about the "the new era" that Ouatarra has announced as a result of the fall of Gbagbo:
Police in the Western Region Tuesday morning used tear gas to disperse irate Ivorian refugees at the Ampain camp in the Western Region … Some of the refugees, said to be angry at the arrest of Laurent Gbagbo, vented their anger on some journalists including a TV3 crew, which went there to take shots of the Ivorians who had been agitating for and against the arrest of Laurent Gbagbo … The unrest was apparently fairly powerful and sustained and as a result a "leader at the camp, said the people have been barred from doing politics in the camp. That, he said is to ensure there is harmony in there …
Related to this, a group calling itself the Coalition of Africans Against Foreign Intervention (CAAFI) has staged a street protest in Accra to express their displeasure against the presence of foreign troops in Libya and Ivory Coast … One of the leaders of the demonstration, Mr Kwesi Pratt said the group was vehemently opposed to foreign intervention in any country on the continent. "We are sending a signal to the world, that the African people will resist any attempt to re-colonise them again … "We will resist their economic interference; we will resist their attempt to impose their culture on us; we will resist their military intervention; the struggle is not ending today, this struggle will carry on until finally, we defeat the forces of neocolonialism," the outspoken critic of western values preached.
Was the agony of Iraq essential? Like Afghanistan the country is covered with a fine mist of depleted uranium. Birth defects are tragically common. Families have been shattered; orphans weep in radioactive dust. US forces are not immune. Brain damage and limb loss are a tragic legacy of a war that removed a tyrant and empowered such savage dysfunction.
What of the strategic choices faced by the Pentagon? No one in Washington probably expected to honor SOFA but now it appears that some in Iraq are serious about the treaty and mean to enforce it. The result is that the US military ends up with a ruined a country and little to show for it. These days there are courageous people almost everywhere and sometimes they have black or brown skin.
Gbagbo himself, however much his nationalistic and even xenophobic politics may be criticized, is said by some to have stayed hidden because as a historian he wanted to write the final chapter of his political legacy. He waited for the UN and French troops to storm his basement because his own undoing would provide a coda to yet another unjustified colonial excursion.
Gbagbo will go to the Hague now, presumably, where he will face imprisonment or perhaps even a death sentence. Western mainstream media for the most part continues to condemn him as a barbaric strongman who overstayed his brutal tenure. But this sort of promotion is for domestic consumption. In Africa, all over the world, other viewpoints are emerging. Gbagbo, the baker – who rolls his opponents in flour before shoving them into an oven – presumably knows this. Those who think he huddled in his basement merely to cling to power for another day may be making a misjudgment.
Presumably he will have his day in court. Presumably he intends to have it. "Don't shoot," he was supposed to have cried when he was finally captured. This has been interpreted as another sign of his brutal cowardice. But perhaps he wanted to live for another reason; perhaps he too understands the narrative is changing around the world and that his appearance in front of the latest global judicial body will add to chapters now being written in the developing world. They are not the chapters of the West. They are not the chapters of the Pentagon.
The French are said to be disengaging from the Ivory Coast as rapidly as possible now that they have assisted in the necessary regime change. The haste is almost desperate, according to some. Blowback is coming, they speculate and the French know it. In Iraq and elsewhere, the Anglo-American axis may find itself with reduced influence as well. Western elites controlled the world in the 20th century with military power. But perhaps in the 21st century, somehow, there shall be a resurgence of peaceful trade and the elevation of the free market itself.
Listen again to Mr Kwesi Pratt words. "We will resist their economic interference; we will resist their attempt to impose their culture on us; we will resist their military intervention; the struggle is not ending today, this struggle will carry on until finally, we defeat the forces of neocolonialism." You see? In Iraq, the Pentagon may have won a war and lost a country. In the Ivory Coast, the West may have deposed a president and created a martyr.
Is there a commonality of mind within the human species, a higher collective unconsciousness? If so, that larger mind may be changing course as a result of so much additional information from new electronic communication facilities. Anglosphere elites in their sociopathic desperation to shape the world to their collective wallet may be misjudging the fundamental nature of this change. Could Al Sadr, Kwesi Pratt and Gbagbo and at least some of their compatriots understand it better than the West?