A mockery is being made of the Iraqi government and the freedom of the Iraqi people. While the media has unwittingly labeled Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki as a nationalist maverick of sorts, the reality on the ground paints a different picture.
A graffiti drawing in Baghdad says “Iraq for Sale: See Maliki”. The symbolism is stark. Recently declassified documents show that the US military has long sought an agreement with Iraq that gives American forces practically unlimited freedom of action, something very contradictory to the Bush administration’s current claims that their demands are far more limited in scope. Documents obtained by the National Archive provisioned by the Freedom of Information Act indicate the US started drafting the agreement in November 2003. As recently as last week, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani was quoted by several media outlets as saying, “Washington threatened to use any means to seize Iraqi assets if we do not support the security pact.”
A mockery is being made of the Iraqi government and the freedom of the Iraqi people. While the media has unwittingly labeled Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki as a nationalist maverick of sorts, the reality on the ground paints a different picture. Speaking to tribal leaders in the Green Zone back in August, Maliki stated: “There is an agreement between both sides that no foreign soldiers will be in Iraq after 2011.” He added that the accord “must be based on a specific deadline for the withdrawal of foreign forces” and that it should not be open. Actually, both American and Iraqi officials had stated in the past that the 2011 withdrawal date is only a guideline, “depending on prevailing conditions.” The tough stance by Maliki is mere political showmanship, designed to sell the Status of Forces Agreement to a skeptical nation.
Maliki wishes for the Iraqis to believe any deal will demand the withdrawal of foreign troops, an improbable idea. The Bush administration is neither ready nor willing to pull out completely, and Maliki himself depends on American troops and other sources of sustenance to keep his government in power. The best label for the still tentative and highly unlikely withdrawal is a mere downsized occupation billed as a withdrawal.
In its stark similarities to Vietnam, the conflict in Iraq is also snarled down by realities on the ground that can trump America’s overwhelming military force. The media, along with John McCain and George Bush, would like us to believe the surge has worked. From a military stance, they are correct – if we define the term success to involve ethnic cleansing and a US military coalition with Sunni tribal leaders, a tactic that went into play before any escalation of troops.
The media has been selling half-baked stories about the reduction of violence in Iraq. Take for example several bombings in Baghdad the media neglected to report several days ago. Instead, the media outlets decided almost uniformly to report that the world’s largest Ferris wheel is to be built in Baghdad, a city where there is usually two hours of electricity a day. Such headlines are the result of nothing more than a collaborative effort by US and Iraqi officials to convince the rest of the world that things are better in Iraq, with very little detail as to how they are measuring “better”.