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Ed Kinane's "critical analysis" of the Iraq Study Group Report

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Ed Kinane's "critical analysis" of the Iraq Study Group Report

friends, opinion makers,
fyi, i attach and append a critical analysis of the _iraq study group
report_.
feedback welcome.
ed

   _ _

   KILLING THE GOOSE THAT LAYS THE GOLDEN EGGS:

   A Look at _The Iraq Study Group Report_*

   Ed Kinane

   / /

   /The situation in Iraq is grave and deteriorating. /With these terse
   yet understated words the Iraq Study Group begins its Report. The
   Group is a ten-person consensus committee headed by former
   Congressman Lee H. Hamilton and former Secretary of State James A.
   Baker III. Its Report was released to the world on December 6.

   The Report is a quick read -- its 79 recommendations are introduced
   and presented in about 100 pages. If Mr. Bush were to read it, he'd
   find little new information about Iraq. Rather he would find a
   counter-assessment of the war -- one he wouldn't hear from the yes
   men and chickenhawks and ideologues with whom he surrounds himself.
   The Report would reveal the thinking and anxieties of the U.S.
   foreign policy establishment. It would reflect their disenchantment
   with the President's Iraq "strategy."

   Although convened in June 2006 under the auspices of the United
   States Institute of Peace, the Iraq Study Group is no gaggle of
   pacifists or humanitarians; check out the 18 pages -- about one
   sixth of the entire text -- devoted to their respective curricula
   vitae. The Group, while on a different page than Mr. Bush, is in the
   same chapter: it perpetuates the denial and the imperial mindset
   behind the U.S. invasion and protracted occupation of Iraq.

   If Mr. Bush were winning in Iraq -- that is, if he somehow were
   imposing his will on that unruly region and handing over control of
   its vast oil reserves to U.S. corporations -- this Group would feel
   no need to speak out.

   The Group does acknowledge certain needs and realities. It notes the
   plight of Iraq's millions of internal and external refugees.
   Departing from the Bush blackball, it calls for diplomatic relations
   with Syria and Iran. It emphasizes that the Iraq issue is
   "inextricably linked" to a range of other Middle East crises --
   including Israel/Palestine.

   The Group recommends -- though perfunctorily -- that the President
   declare that the U.S. doesn't covet Iraq's oil and that the
   President also declare that the U.S. doesn't seek permanent bases in
   Iraq. [p.61] While the Report's maps do pinpoint oil fields, they
   neglect to show the many U.S. bases established in Iraq and
   throughout the region's oil lands. Nor do its maps give us any idea
   of what Iraq territory the U.S. military, after nearly four years of
   squandering hundreds of billions of dollars and thousands of U.S.
   lives, can claim to control.

   The Group says, "U.S. forces seem to be caught in a mission that has
   no foreseeable end." [p.12] While it provides no timetable for the
   withdrawal of U.S. forces, the Group does provide a table of timed
   "Milestones for Iraq" permitting, as they are achieved, some
   downsizing. [pp.62-63]

   Although the Group looks into possible, if not likely, near futures,
   it has scant historical perspective. It notes Britain's longtime
   involvement with Iraq in the days before Saddam Hussein, but the
   Group says nothing about British colonialism, its exploiting Iraqi
   oil, its role in cobbling together that artificial entity called
   Iraq, or its inability to quell nationalist resistance.

   The Group says nothing about U.S. financial and military support for
   Saddam in the eighties, especially during his years-long war with
   Iran. It says nothing of the 13 years of U.S./UN sanctions preceding
   the 2003 invasion -- sanctions that led to the premature death of,
   among others, hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children. These aren't
   "merely" matters of justice and reparation; they bear directly on
   how Iraqis might view the U.S. and hence might help explain the
   Iraqis' fierce resistance to having U.S. forces in their land.

   The Group never cites international law, much less acknowledges that
   the invasion violated that law. It fails to acknowledge that the
   invasion and occupation have made a shambles of Iraq's sovereignty.
   The Group barely mentions the false premises and false intelligence
   (9/11, al Qaeda, WMD) on which the invasion was sold. It treats Mr.
   Bush with kid gloves: it avoids recalling that Bush Inc. repeatedly
   and systematically lied to us all.

   The Group's grasp of the present is no more based in reality than
   its wishful forays into the future. /The Group fails to acknowledge
   that the U.S. is occupying Iraq/. The Group is so allergic to the
   "O" word that in those few places where it's used, it's in quotation
   marks. By glossing over that overriding reality, the Group can't see
   that in resisting the invaders, Iraqis, whether Sunni or Shia, may
   see themselves as patriots defending their homeland. And, imagining
   how we might react if the U.S. were invaded, how can we say they
   aren 't patriots?

   If there is no occupation, then the U.S. has no obligation --
   required of occupiers by the Geneva Conventions -- to provide law
   and order and to provide for the welfare of the people. Not only
   does the Group not mention the Geneva Conventions and this
   obligation, it repeatedly faults the current and "sovereign" Iraqi
   government for not providing law and order.

   As for welfare of the people, the Group could care less. Devotees of
   tough love, they describe the essential government food subsidies as
   a "burden." [p.22] The health issues -- products of the sanctions
   and the war -- now plaguing the Iraqi people are ignored. There's no
   mention of the carcinogenic and radioactive depleted uranium, used
   in U.S. weaponry, that now contaminates Iraq's soil and water.

   When listing (on p. 3) the multiple sources of violence in Iraq, the
   Group specifies the "Sunni Arab insurgency, al Qaeda and affiliated
   jihadist groups, Shiite militias and death squads, and organized
   criminality." Unaccountably excluded from this list is the U.S.
   Similarly, neighboring nations are cited for undercutting Iraq's
   stability, but not the U.S. It is as if the U.S. had never invaded
   Iraq. It is as if the U.S. had never killed tens or hundreds of
   thousands of Iraqis.

   The Group never mentions the role of the thousands of armed U.S.
   mercenaries -- the so-called "civilian contractors"; these rogue
   operators are accountable to no official chain of command. The
   phrase "war crime" is never mentioned. The Group -- like most U.S.
   media -- gives no hint of the untold numbers of Iraqis civilians who
   have been killed by the U.S. Air Force. In fact while "air support"
   is mentioned once, there is only a single oblique reference to the
   massive U.S. Air Force in the Middle East.

   The Group keeps calling for the recently installed Iraq government
   to step up to the plate and do what the U.S. -- with all its
   staggering might -- has been unable to do: quell the Sunni
   insurgents and the Shia militias. In the unlikely event the Iraq
   government is able to impose order, the Group suggests U.S. /ground
   /forces could then withdraw. But here's the rub: many of our
   soldiers wouldn't come home. They'd be /re-deployed/ nearby
   (especially to Afghanistan). Nor would the Air Force vacate Iraqi
   skies.

   The Group proposes, as the way out for a U.S. military bogged down
   in an admittedly unwinnable guerilla war in Iraq, a strategy similar
   to the "Vietnamization" of another era. With its lack of historical
   perspective, the Report ignores the painful and costly lessons of
   "Vietnamization" -- that spectacularly failed U.S. policy of the
   invaders recruiting and training locals as proxy cannon fodder.

   The Group calls for U.S. trainers being "embedded" in Iraqi units on
   an ongoing basis. The Group refuses to face the implications of such
   units being heavily infiltrated by men hostile to their alien
   trainers. It forgets about the fragging -- the killing of officers
   by soldiers under their charge -- that flourished in Viet Nam.

   The Group frequently invokes "terrorism" and "democracy." Yet it
   never defines these spongy terms. (As the bumper sticker puts it,
   /war is terrorism with a bigger budget./)

    From its very first paragraph and often thereafter the Group
   invokes "our interests and values." But it /never/ spells these out.
   It assumes that of course its readers all understand the code…and
   share the imperialist dream.

   Thanks to their Iraq war-related contracts, the industrial/military
   complex is laughing all the way to the bank. But the Study Group
   ignores the profiteering that helps perpetuate the occupation.

   Its key message -- its dominating anxiety -- is that, with the U.S.
   bogged down in Iraq, the U.S. lacks the wherewithal to impose its
   will elsewhere: "The American military has little reserve force to
   call on if it needs ground forces to respond to other crises around
   the world." [p.7] Or again, "/First, and most importantly/, the
   United States faces other security dangers in the world, and a
   continuing Iraqi commitment of /ground forces /at present levels
   will leave no reserve available to meet other contingencies." [p.73,
   italics added]

   The Study Group, unlike Mr. Bush, grasps that the Iraq war is
   killing the goose that lays the golden eggs -- the imperial scheme.
   With the U.S. now stretched so thin, it can no longer intimidate
   rivals, other nationalists or anti-imperialists. It's having a
   harder time extorting its customary highly profitable trade terms.
   This is true whether in Afghanistan, elsewhere in the Middle East…or
   in Latin America.

   Hugo Chavez and the resurgent populists south of the Rio Grande are
   surely well aware they owe an enormous debt to the tireless
   resisters and the bloodied people of Iraq.

   * Vintage, 2006, $10.95, paperback [or download free at

   _ _

   _http://www.usip.org/isg/iraq
_study_group_report/report/1206/index.html_.]

   / /

   /In 2003 Kinane spent five months in Iraq with Voices in the
   Wilderness. In late February he will visit Iran with a Fellowship
   for Reconciliation delegation. Reach him at edkinane@verizon.net./