‘U.S. Withdraws Troops From Iraq’ and Other Newspeak Illusions

August 20th, 2010 by Andy in War In Iraq, Afghanistan & The Mideast

Many of you have probably been seeing the headlines recently echoing the Obama administration’s triumphant declarations regarding the withdrawal of American combat forces from Iraq. This ranks as possibly the greatest line of PR spin since “Mission Accomplished” was declared 7 years ago. Actually, this is worse, since then at least Bush could claim the pretense of actually believing that to be the case. In this situation, Obama has no excuse for not understanding the depth of his own duplicity.

Seamus Milne of the Guardian U.K. does a good job here in succinctly dismantling the BS behind the recent Orwellian Newspeak headlines. And, oh yeah, it is all about the oil, and foreign corporate control of it. Back to the future. The 1950’s all over again.

The US isn’t withdrawing from Iraq at all; it’s rebranding the occupation. Just as George Bush’s war on terror was retitled “overseas contingency operations” when Obama became president, US “combat operations” will be rebadged from next month as “stability operations”.

But as Major General Stephen Lanza, the US military spokesman in Iraq, told the New York Times: “In practical terms, nothing will change”. After this month’s withdrawal, there will still be 50,000 US troops in 94 military bases, “advising” and training the Iraqi army, “providing security” and carrying out “counter-terrorism” missions. In US military speak, that covers pretty well everything they might want to do.


Meanwhile, the US government isn’t just rebranding the occupation, it’s also privatising it. There are around 100,000 private contractors working for the occupying forces, of whom more than 11,000 are armed mercenaries, mostly “third country nationals”, typically from the developing world. One Peruvian and two Ugandan security contractors were killed in a rocket attack on the Green Zone only a fortnight ago.

I thought we were attempting to rid Iraq of the presence of ‘foreign fighters,’ not hire them. But then, American troops are the most predominate source of ‘foreign fighters’ in Iraq, one of those obvious points which seemed to escape the previous administration when it used to lecture about its goal of eliminating such fighters from the country.

Hillary Clinton wants to increase the number of military contractors working for the state department alone from 2,700 to 7,000, to be based in five “enduring presence posts” across Iraq.


What is abundantly clear is that the US, whose embassy in Baghdad is now the size of Vatican City, has no intention of letting go of Iraq any time soon. One reason for that can be found in the dozen 20-year contracts to run Iraq’s biggest oil fields that were handed out last year to foreign companies, including three of the Anglo-American oil majors that exploited Iraqi oil under British control before 1958.

The dubious legality of these deals has held back some US companies, but as Greg Muttitt, author of a forthcoming book on the subject, argues, the prize for the US is bigger than the contracts themselves, which put 60% of Iraq’s reserves under long-term foreign corporate control.


The Iraq war has been a historic political and strategic failure for the US. It was unable to impose a military solution, let alone turn the country into a beacon of western values or regional policeman. But by playing the sectarian and ethnic cards, it also prevented the emergence of a national resistance movement and a humiliating Vietnam-style pullout. The signs are it wants to create a new form of outsourced semi-colonial regime to maintain its grip on the country and region. The struggle to regain Iraq’s independence has only just begun.

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