Sunday, June 15, 2008

Iraq and Neocolonialism: American Troops Need to Stay

I was disappointed to read the lead editorial in The Hindu titled 'Iraq and neocolonialism' today. The Bush administration's demand may certainly sound outrageous but is that not the reason why the Iraqi government has gone public with its frustration and continues to negotiate? I would have expected The Hindu to support (and perhaps call upon the Indian government to do likewise) the Malliki government's tough posture not to concede unlimited military bases to the US but it has instead gone further and criticized it for talking to the US at all.

On the other track, the dependant regime in Baghdad is negotiating with the U.S. administration the terms of a bilateral pact that any self-respecting government would have rejected out of hand. Washington wants Iraq to agree that it will continue to host a large number of foreign forces for an unspecified period; provide nearly 50 bases for them; grant immunity to soldiers for any illegalities they might commit when deployed; and, hand over complete control of its airspace. Mr.Maliki’s willingness to discuss these terms has stirred a rebellion even within the Shia community that is the mainstay of his government.

The reason for this is simply that despite all the progress that has taken place over the last year since the troop surge began - and it has no doubt been considerable (read this article that appeared this week in The Economist) - Iraq still needs those thousands of American troops to keep the violence down, maintain order and push through the compromises between various groups on everything from power sharing to oil revenues that have stalled for several years now as violence increased. If they leave prematurely as the paper wants them to, the Iraqi army, though much stronger than before, is still in no position to manage the situation if it goes out of hand. The Mahdi army remains armed and popular and other parties such as Al-Badr are equally capable of rearming should the situation so demand. The Sunni demands have not been resolved and their parties continue to remain outside the government. The Kurdish demand for independence (which remains a serious possibility particularly as the status of Kirkuk and the question of sharing the revenues from its oil refineries has still not been resolved) may be raised to a shriller pitch further complicating the fragile situation particularly if the American departure is taken as a sign of its weakness. In short, the situation is far from settled and the Iraqi government is still not sufficiently stable or in control of the situation to warrant an early departure of American troops. Hence the need for further dialogue to make them stay but only long enough for outstanding issues to be resolved. What better alternative does the newspaper have in mind were American troops to be asked to leave right away as it demands? Who does it expect to step in and assume responsibility were things to degenerate once more? The stand taken is utterly irresponsible.


Dirt Digger said...

Of course once the imperialistic forces leave, all the factions would sit around the fire smoke peace pipes and sing Kumbaya... inside the mad mind of LiC!!
Chindu would advocate some sort of regional council comprising of Saudi, Iran, Egypt, Turkey and perhaps Syria to come together and work with Iraw to resolve the issues.
But frankly beyond their security issues the other countries have no reason to see this issue solved in the near future.
Saudi and Iran sponsor the two sides in Iraq covertly and hence they are ruled out. The other parties do not have the necessary presence politically or militarily to step in and stop the bloodshed.
I remember a statement from a US General who was on the ground in Iraq. He mentioned that the first goal of the troops was preventing large scale genocide, all other issues could be handled in a year or two. I'm sure LiC would be able to talk to his commie compadres to send over a million of the Red Army down into Baghdad for peace operations. Surely they'll heed his plea, stop working on the earthquake recovery and head to Iraq immediately.

Pilid said...


You are right that all the other countries in the region have their own Iraqi favorites and may not be willing to look at the bigger picture - this point was made by James Baker III sometime ago when he chaired the bipartisan commission on Iraq.

The fact is that whatever the problem one may have had about the original invasion of Iraq, there is really little alternative to the current policy in Iraq. The Hindu seems less concerned about the practical imperatives of stabilizing the country and more worried about the continuing American presence in the region.