April 24, 2006
|GET BUZZFLASH ALERTS||MAUREEN FARRELL ARCHIVES|
Shifting Footprints and Messianic Missions: Staying In Iraq 'Till Kingdom Come
by Maureen Farrell
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Remember the spring of 2003? Back when Americans were basking in promises of "cakewalks" and flowers strewn at U.S. soldiers' feet? Saddam's statue fell, the President dressed up in his flight suit, and all was well with the world. The national mood (i.e. arrogance) reverberated on television, magazines and in newspapers. What was not to love?
Then came summer, and doubts began to fester. "They kept telling [the troops] that as soon as you get to Baghdad you would be going home," one soldier's wife told the Guardian in July, 2003. "The way home is through Baghdad, they said."
At the time, Sen. Richard Lugar, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, scoffed at Mr. Bush's promise. "This idea that we will be in just as long as we need to and not a day more -- we've got to get over that rhetoric," he said. "It is rubbish. We're going to be there a long time. We must reorganize our military to be there a long time."
Sadly, military families who thought "Mission Accomplished" meant troops would come home paid the ultimate price. "What are we getting into here?" one sergeant asked in June, 2003. "The war is supposed to be over, but every day we hear of another soldier getting killed. Is it worth it? Saddam isn't in power anymore. The locals want us to leave. Why are we still here?"
Some answered that question before the war even began. Jay Bookman of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution flatly said "we won't be leaving," while Josh Marshall reported that the WMD excuse was just a rationale for "getting us into Iraq with the hope of setting off a sequence of events that will draw us inexorably towards the agenda they have in mind."
That agenda, as described by Bookman and Marshall, centered on creating a permanent military presence in Iraq. "Having conquered Iraq, the United States will create permanent military bases in that country from which to dominate the Middle East, including neighboring Iran," Bookman wrote in Sept. 2002, well before journalists uncovered possible plans for Tehran.
Others are now sounding similar alarms. "Anyone thinking we are entering the end-game better wake up," Sen. Gary Hart recently wrote. "Our neoconservative policy makers are still willing to risk the U.S. Army in a mad Middle East imperial scheme that composed the real reason for the Iraq war in the first place."
Former Pentagon insider Lt. Col. Karen Kwiatkowski also explained that the Pentagon has long been interested in "shifting and reshaping our global military footprint" into strategically advantageous Iraq. "We've built very massive mega-bases. . . These are permanent military bases in Iraq. We've done that in other places, as well, in the Middle East. . . I think that's a big part of it, shifting our footprint. . . we've built the bases, and we're not leaving Iraq," she said on C-SPAN's Q&A.
Some U.S. bases are so large, in fact, that they're being likened to small American towns. Camp Anaconda, near Balad, for example, encompasses 15 square miles, and features a miniature golf course, two swimming pools, and a first-run movie theater. The base at al-Asad also boasts a movie theater and swimming pool, as well as a Subway restaurant, a coffee shop, and a Hertz rent-a-car facility. Meanwhile, the U.S. Embassy in Iraq, which is currently under construction, reportedly boasts 21 buildings (including a food court, swimming poll and gym) and spans 104 acres, as opposed to the customary 10. "The fortress-like compound rising beside the Tigris River here will be the largest of its kind in the world, the size of Vatican City, with the population of a small town, its own defense force, self-contained power and water, and a precarious perch at the heart of Iraq's turbulent future," the Associated Press reported.
Though the press seems reluctant to ask whether or not the U.S. is constructing permanent military bases in Iraq ("American reporters adhere to a simple rule: The words 'permanent,' 'bases,' and 'Iraq' should never be placed in the same sentence," Tom Engelhardt explained), with hundreds of "enduring" bases worldwide, it seems only logical that the US military would be drafting similar plans for Iraq.
"After every US military intervention since 1990 the Pentagon has left behind clusters of new bases in areas where it never before had a foothold," Zoltan Grossman of Evergreen State College recently explained, adding that, "The only two obstacles to a geographically contiguous US sphere of influence are Iran and Syria." And with wars in Iran and Syria reportedly unofficially underway, promises of a withdrawal ring decidedly untrue.
Does this mean we're staying in Iraq longer than necessary? Consider the following:
Of course anyone paying attention, as far back as the first Gulf War, could have predicted that once we ventured into Baghdad, we'd be stuck there. Colin Powell and Dick Cheney said as much, as did Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, Brent Scowcroft and George H. W. Bush.
History also provided a powerful guide as to what we could expect. As Hugh Pope and Peter Waldman wrote in the Wall Street Journal on March 19, 2003, (one day before Operation Iraqi Freedom began):
"Again and again, Westerners have moved into the Mideast with confidence that they can impose freedom and modernity through military force. Along the way they have miscalculated support for their invasions, both internationally and in the lands they occupy. They have anointed cooperative minorities to help rule resentful majorities. They have been mired in occupations that last long after local support has vanished. They have met with bloody uprisings and put them down with brute force."
Which brings us back to the elephant in the war room -- the notion that getting bogged down in Iraq was actually part of the plan. "Today, however, the great majority of the American people have no concept of what kind of conflict the president is leading them into," Josh Marshall wrote in March, 2003, saying that "the White House really has in mind an enterprise of a scale, cost, and scope that would be almost impossible to sell to the American public."
Are America's new mega-bases part of "the underbelly of U.S. foreign policy" journalists wrote of before the war began? And, in light of the evidence, how can anyone dismiss reports regarding the Bush administration's agenda as the province of "full-mooners" and conspiracy theorists?
"They [the US military] appear to settling in for the long run, and that will only give fuel for the terrorists," a spokesman for the Sunni Iraqi Islamic party told the Guardian in 2005. But, as Chalmers Johnson pointed out, thanks to "government secrecy," many Americans simply don't know, or care to know, that the US maintains a "vast network of American bases on every continent except Antarctica."
In short, Americans bought this war without fully knowing what they were paying for, and most are still not certain why we're in Iraq or how long we're staying. And though the Bush administration denies plans for permanent bases, it's important to remember that during the 2000 campaign, even as candidate George Bush publicly promised to pursue a "humble" foreign policy, he and his handlers had other plans in mind.
While Americans have been left in the dark and lied to before, this time the stakes are higher than ever. "Something bad is going to happen," one "wise man" told Seymour Hersh regarding plans for the use of nuclear weapons in Iran, an option which could instantly kill a million or more.
To make matters more surreal, former GOP strategist Kevin Phillips has underscored the role End Times theology plays in all of this, as the White House caters to those "for whom the Holy Lands are a battleground of Christian destiny." This biblically charged powder keg is made even more explosive by rumors that President Bush sees himself as a crusader, of sorts. "The word I hear is messianic," Hersh told CNN. "[Blair] and Bush both have this sense, this messianic sense, I believe, about what they've done and what's needed to be done in the Middle East," Hersh told Democracy Now, adding, "I think [Blair] is every bit as committed into this world of rapture, as is the president."
While agnostics have also said the end is near (Bible Code author Michael Drosnin forecasts an "atomic holocaust" for 2006) biblical beliefs are beginning to align with reality. At the close of the 20th century for example, Professor James Tabor said that one of the signs for "the beginning [of] the end" was having "some military power controlling the Middle East. . . "
"The Book of Revelation is somewhat like a downhill slide," he told PBS' Frontline. "Once you have an identification of your main characters. . . .and some military power controlling the Middle East and finally the whole world, then it moves very rapidly."
"But," he added "presently on the world scene, none of those things exist."
That was before the 2000 election, however. Before George W. Bush.
Maureen Farrell is a writer and media consultant who specializes in helping other writers get television and radio exposure.
© Copyright 2004-2006, Maureen Farrell