November 05, 2006

My conversation with Terje:
# gandhi Says:
October 31st, 2006 at 10:34 am

... There is a stark air of unreality surrounding talk of a withdrawal from Iraq, because our leaders have yet to acknowledge anything more vague than “mistakes were made”. Iraqis deserve not only financial reparations but also whole-hearted apologies from Bush, Blair and Howard, not to mention all those who supported and enabled them.

I do not see how we can have anything like a viable exit strategy when we still have no accountability for the reasons why we went to war in the first place.

The best thing, it seems to me, would be a quick exit followed by a Royal Commission (in Australia) which would include the role of the media, intelligence agencies, government, business and the military.

This is the single greatest disgrace in modern Australian history, on a par with the slaughter of our original indigenous inhabitants. Shame on all of us who have lived to see it.

# Terje Says:
October 31st, 2006 at 2:25 pm

To suggest that we leave and then compensate them seems a little odd. Surely if one of the things they want from us (as expressed by their democratically elected government) is assistance in re-establishing internal security then this is surely the most obvious first form of charity (or compensation) we should extend. If after that they expect further forms of charity (or compensation) then that is a separate matter.

# gandhi Says:
October 31st, 2006 at 3:40 pm


Are you being serious, or quite deliberately obtuse? The Devil has many advocates, bro’ - he don’t need no more!

# Terje Says:
October 31st, 2006 at 4:05 pm


If they ask for help in this regard then why should it be refused? I would think that in terms of moral obligations this ranks pretty high.


# gandhi Says:
November 1st, 2006 at 11:15 am


When you invade and occupy another country, you have a moral obligation to its citizens to provide security. That is not charity, it’s responsibility under international law.

Sadly, the US-led coalition has never been able to provide this security. Perhaps if (in the very beginning) they had given clear indications that they were going to leave one day (instead of securing oil pipelines and building massive military bases), things might have been different. But now over 90% or Iraqis now want us out of their country.

It’s time to go.

This nonsense about providing security is a lie, and the talk of withdrawal is just designed to placate the voters short-term, while Big Oil completes its oil-grabbing plans.

Terje (say tay-a) Says:
November 1st, 2006 at 4:02 pm


Bush was clear early on (at least in his public statements) that they did not intend occupying the place long term. That may have been a lie but who can be sure. At least the rhetoric was correct.
Don’t forget that Bremer cooked up a democratisation strategy that spanned 3-4 years and first Rumsfield and then the president said no because they wanted to exit more quickly (ie some time in 2004). Bremer may have been right but it is hard to argue that Bush was keen for a long stay. It is more realistic to observe that they had to stay longer because circumstances on the ground made their timetable for withdrawing less tennable.

I agree that if 90% of Iraqis want the coalition to get out then we should leave. However I have not seen any poll that says they want us to leave this week. Most seem to refer to a six month timeframe. And I do still think it is the Iraqi government that should make the decision given that it will be the one to assume responsibility for security.

As far as international law goes I accept your point however I think you perhaps missed that I was using the word “charity” in a deliberately loose manner.

Broadly speaking I don’t think we disagree on the Iraq war or on how to proceed. And if we do disagree I would say it is only on minor tactical issues and timing.


# gandhi Says:
November 2nd, 2006 at 6:27 am


Bush has never - NEVER - made an unambiguous commitment to a full withdrawal, and neither has anyone else in his administration, nor the US military, nor even the US Democrats. Even today, the talk of withdrawal remains ominously lacking in specifics.

It is quite clear to Iraqis and neighbouring countries that the huge military bases around Iraq, and the massive Green Zone “embassy”, are here to stay. Nobody has ever even discussed handing them over to Iraqis. Likewise, the Iraqi army still lacks heavy armoured weaponry and there is no sign of them getting anything soon. In such circumstances, the Iraqi government will always remain puppets.

I also think your reading of Bremer’s intentions may be clouded by your own perceptions at the time. The fact that his CPA was so incoherent and inept may also have contributed to any misunderstanding. Their plan was always simple: install puppets, secure the oil for the USA, build a military foothold in the ME, and then declare victory and move on to the next war. It just didn’t pan out right for them.

# Terje (say TAY-A) Says:
November 2nd, 2006 at 4:43 pm

This is what Bush said in May 2004:-
Iraqis are proud people who resent foreign control of their affairs, just as we would. After decades under the tyrant, they are also reluctant to trust authority. By keeping our promise on June 30th, the coalition will demonstrate that we have no interest in occupation.
I saw a recent interview with Bremer and he said he was very frustrated with the different view of things that Rumsfield and the President had at the time. He said they were pushing him hard for a quick hand over of government and he thought it should be done over a longer timeframe. I agree with your assertion that there was a lot of ineptitude at the time. And I can’t find anything to contradict your claim that Bush has never made an unambiguous commitment to a full troop withdrawal, so you are probably correct on that point.
Their plan was always simple: install puppets, secure the oil for the USA, build a military foothold in the ME, and then declare victory and move on to the next war.
I would agree that they wanted a sympathetic government but I am not sure when you would call that a puppet. Does the USA have a puppet government in Australia? As for building a military foothold in the ME they already had that in Saudi Arabia.

In terms of “secure the oil for the USA” what does this statement really mean? Do you mean that the USA was going to then be able to buy Iraqi oil below the world price?

# gandhi Says:
November 5th, 2006 at 5:39 am


It's a symantic minefield, isn't it, discussing these issues? When I said "secure the oil for the USA" I should have said "secure the oil for Dick Cheney's US-based Big Oil friends" but even that is a gross over-simplification.

It's a global game of oil control. Obviously, a main aim is to keep oil trading in US dollars. Another is to be able to control global oil prices, as well as the voracious US market on which they feed. If China and India are also forced to buy oil in US dollars, so much the better for Cheney's friends. It's not a question of selling below the market in the USA, but feeding the US economic beast - perhaps ultimately at the expense of others who do play ball with the White House & friends.

I think some in the US government believe they are pursuing the noble goal of securing US economic intests for generations to come, but those who really control things are just chasing money and power however they can get them. Bush told Rush Limbaugh the other day that terrorists could "blackmail" the USA (eg into abandoning Israel) if they controlled Iraq's oil. Bush & Co want to be doing the blackmailing, and the profiteering. It's the ugly side of economic globalization at its worst.

As for Saudi Arabia, it's seldom mentioned that one of Osama's main demands after 9/11 was removal of US forces from that country. This demand was quickly and quietly met, largely because Bush & Co thought Iraq would be a slam dunk (certainly easier than fighting off angry mobs in Saudi, which would further destabilize their House of Saud oil partners).


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