The Independent says it's a secret, but we know that it's not. We've been talking about the planned United States bases in Iraq for years (here and here and here)
and our governments have been negotiating them for decades. After all, basing rights, like those we have in Japan and South Korea and Kosovo and Germany and Great Britain and Kuwait and Qatar and Yemen, is what we were trying to get Saddam Hussein to agree to when we helped him with Iran and provided chemical weapons to control the fractious Kurds. As an alternative, Saudi Arabia obviously didn't work out because of its religious orientation. The secular Iraq would have been ideal if Saddam Hussein had been more co-operative and used his powers of eminent domain to provide a home for U.S. Air Force missile, radar and monitoring installations.
Oh, the Bush/Cheney Administration has been trying hard to keep what the Air Force is up to in Iraq a secret by hiding much of what the money is actually being spent for in Iraq under the national security blanket. But, the people who approve the budgets know and so do the Iraqis whose land, where their sheep used to be grazing, has been requisitioned for the planting of U.S. military assets.
In part because the country of Iraq has been kept too dangerous (I predicted that mayhem would have to be created back in May of 2004) for reporters to go wandering around on their own, their coverage of what goes on on the bases is limited to what the Air Force wants them to know. Which, for some reason, includes the fact that the Air Force is now committing assassination by remote control with unmanned drones on a regular basis.
Patrick Cockburn has long been braver than most and, despite the hyperbole in the headline, his report is right on point.
Bush wants 50 military bases, control of Iraqi airspace and legal immunity for all American soldiers and contractors
By Patrick Cockburn
Thursday, 5 June 2008
A secret deal being negotiated in Baghdad would perpetuate the American military occupation of Iraq indefinitely, regardless of the outcome of the US presidential election in November.
The terms of the impending deal, details of which have been leaked to The Independent, are likely to have an explosive political effect in Iraq. Iraqi officials fear that the accord, under which US troops would occupy permanent bases, conduct military operations, arrest Iraqis and enjoy immunity from Iraqi law, will destabilise Iraq's position in the Middle East and lay the basis for unending conflict in their country.
Talk about a mafioso's wet dream! Commit all the crimes you want and be pardoned aforehand!
But, there are a number of inaccuracies in just these two paragraphs, on the basis of which the report can be denied. First, it's not a secret, as I said. That the United Nations fig leaf is about to wilt in November has been periodically reported. And, that the United States presence in Iraq is "indefinite" goes without saying since there's nothing definite about the future anywhere at all (other than the fact that everyone dies).
It might be worth noting that conservatives are always trying to tie the hands of future generations, but, as long as they try to use the law, it never works.
The second significant error in this report is to refer to "permanent bases." Although the Congress has passed several laws and resolutions specifically prohibiting the establishment of permanent bases in Iraq, the Pentagon hasn't been bothered for the simple reason that, in addition to not doing occupations, the Pentagon maintains NO permanent bases anywhere on earth--not at home and not in the 750 locations it occupies on foreign soil. So, telling the Air Force not to have permanent bases (with golf courses or without) is like telling them not to suck on a log.
When the plans for the invasion were first laid (during Clinton/Gore), it was fourteen enduring bases we were looking at. Which, presumably, is why it was considered necessary to bomb various infra-structure facilities so it would be easy to justify their rebuilding to supply the bases with modern amenities (potable water, hot showers and, of course, AC). Although Donald Rumsfeld made a point of predicting that those manning the monitoring and missile facilities would not be bringing their families to the desert, as they do to Germany, their creature comforts would have to be met to keep those who sign up for voluntary servitude relatively content. (That some have been electrocuted in the showers has been a real bummer).
American negotiators are also demanding immunity from Iraqi law for US troops and contractors, and a free hand to carry out arrests and conduct military activities in Iraq without consulting the Baghdad government.
Presumably, this provision covers the assassinations being committed by drone-dispatched bombs and hellfire missiles. However, one wonders about the legality of having the "drivers" of these drones sitting at consoles in Kuwait and Colorado. Would not each such killing be considered another act of foreign aggression? How can a killing perpetrated from thousands of miles away be considered a defensive act?
Rafsanjani's interpretation contains another in error.
Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the powerful and usually moderate Iranian leader, said yesterday that such a deal would create "a permanent occupation". He added: "The essence of this agreement is to turn the Iraqis into slaves of the Americans."
Slaves have traditionally been defined as victims of "involuntary servitude." If the Iraqis agree to these conditions, they will be considered to have volunteered, just as surely as do our troops. "Voluntary servitude" is entirely legal. Indeed, once one understands that obedience and subservience are the same thing, their situation will be entirely consistent with the definition of freedom as "obedience to the law," In other words, once the Iraqi nation has become subservient to the rule of law (which the Americans dictate), it will have achieved freedom and the American enterprise will be a success.
At yesterday's House subcommittee on Foreign Relations hearing two members of the Iraqi parliament shared their perspective on the occupation. Congressman Ron Paul got an admission that 70% of Iraqi citizens want the Americans to go home. Presumably, they also want the "continuous bombardment" of their country to end.
If you doubt that's occurring, just check the daily Airpower summary, which almost always explains:
In Iraq, coalition aircraft flew 74 close-air-support missions for Operation Iraqi Freedom. These missions integrated and synchronized coalition ground forces, protected key infrastructure, provided overwatch for reconstruction activities and helped to deter and disrupt terrorist activities.
P.S. Yes, I know others have diaried this topic but we're talking about the country where over a million people have been killed by our warfighters/warriors who are so distressed that when they come home 18 of them kill themselves every day because they can't live with the memories of their servitude. And now the deciders want to do the same in Iran.