Meese of Arabia and the Baker Group's Grab for Black Gold

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The reaction from actual Iraqis on the just-released report by the "Iraq Study Group"? They don’t like it; it won’t work; it’s largely a tissue of fantasies and shows no grasp of the true situation in Iraq; it has nothing to do with solving Iraq’s problems but everything to do with the American Establishment’s desperate attempt to save face, no matter how many people must be slaughtered in the process.

But why should we listen to these wretched malcontents in Iraq? How the hell could they know more about the reality of their lives than Jim "Bagman" Baker and Lee "Whitewash for Hire" Hamilton and Harriet "Here’s the PB&J, George" Miers and Ed Meese? I mean, come on: who on God’s green earth knows more about the political, social, ethnic, historical, religious and military complexities of Iraq than Ed Meese? The Heritage Foundation’s Ronald Reagan Distinguished Fellow in Public Policy? Man, he’s the go-to guy for all things Iraqi! There’s no freaking, frigging way that any Hakim or Abdul or Nouri or Motqada or Mahmoud is gonna have any greater insight on Iraq than Ed Meese. Are you kidding me?

Listen, if you start listening to actual Iraqis, you might as well hang it up right now. Because poll after poll shows that actual Iraqis overwhelmingly favor a single option for the U.S. military forces in their country: cut and run, the sooner the better. That’s what they want; but of course, they’re just like children, aren’t they, the precious little primitive critters. And everybody knows you can’t give children everything they want. It’s not good for them. So we have to hold the Iraqis’ hands until they can toddle on their own — and we have to slap their hands if they don’t do what we know is best for them.

Or as the Baker boys themselves put it: "If the Iraqi government does not make substantial progress toward the achievement of milestones on national reconciliation, security, and governance, the United States should reduce its political, military, or economic support for the Iraqi government." Nice little country you got there, Hassan; too bad if something, like, happens to it, eh? I think you’d better play ball. See these here milestones we’ve concocted on the padded chairs in our paneled boardroom? You better meet ‘em, chop-chop — or we can make your life…difficult. You savvy?

The Iraq Study Group’s report simply confirms, yet again, the bedrock truth of the war: the American Establishment has no intention of leaving Iraq, ever, and no intention of having anything but a pliant, cowed, bullied puppet government in Baghdad to carry out whatever the Establishment decides is in its best interests on any given day. Iraq was invaded because large swathes of the American elite thought they could make hay of it one way or another (financially, politically, ideologically or even psychologically, for those pathetic souls who get their sense of manhood or personal validation from their identification with a big, swaggering, domineering empire). And U.S. troops will remain in Iraq, indefinitely, at some level, because the American elite think they can make hay of the situation one way or another. The war is all about — is only about — what the American elite feel is in their own best interest, how it aggrandizes their fortunes, flatters their prejudices, serves their needs. That’s it. The rest is just bullshit and murder.

Threats Wrapped in Misunderstandings (Washington Post)

The Iraq Study Group’s prescriptions hinge on a fragile Iraqi government’s ability to achieve national reconciliation and security at a time when the country is fractured along sectarian lines, its security forces are ineffective and competing visions threaten to collapse the state, Iraqi politicians and analysts said Wednesday.

They said the report is a recipe, backed by threats and disincentives, that neither addresses nor understands the complex forces that fuel Iraq’s woes. They described it as a strategy largely to help U.S. troops return home and resurrect America’s frayed influence in the Middle East.

Iraqis also expressed fear that the report’s recommendations, if implemented, could weaken an already besieged government in a country teetering on the edge of civil war.

"It is a report to solve American problems, and not to solve Iraq’s problems," said Ayad al-Sammarai, an influential Sunni Muslim politician.

UPDATE: You simply must read this report by the incomparable Antonia Juhasz, which underlines, in copious detail, precisely the kind of "hay" these elitist insiders hope to make in Iraq: the kind that’s thick, black, oozy and slick. That’s right: buried in the Iraq Study Group’s solemn report — and ignored by virtually every mainstream story on the subject — you will find the usual smoking gun of the Bush-Baker power faction…oil. Juhasz writes:

The report calls for the United States to assist in privatizing Iraq’s national oil industry, opening Iraq to private foreign oil and energy companies, providing direct technical assistance for the "drafting" of a new national oil law for Iraq, and assuring that all of Iraq’s oil revenues accrue to the central government. President Bush hired an employee from the U.S. consultancy firm Bearing Point Inc. over a year ago to advise the Iraq Oil Ministry on the drafting and passage of a new national oil law. As previously drafted, the law opens Iraq’s nationalized oil sector to private foreign corporate investment, but stops short of full privatization. The ISG report, however, goes further, stating that "the United States should assist Iraqi leaders to reorganize the national oil industry as a commercial enterprise." In addition, the current Constitution of Iraq is ambiguous as to whether control over Iraq’s oil should be shared among its regional provinces or held under the central government. The report specifically recommends the latter: "Oil revenues should accrue to the central government and be shared on the basis of population." If these proposals are followed, Iraq’s national oil industry will be privatized and opened to foreign firms, and in control of all of Iraq’s oil wealth.

Juhasz then takes us on a magical history tour of the long, intricate effort to suck Iraq’s oil wealth away from its people by two of the principals of the "blue-ribbon" ISG: Baker, of course, and Lawrence Eagleburger, his longtime partner in backroom grease. Both men played major roles in skewing US policy to favor their favorite Arab strongman, Saddam Hussein, for years — and both men then cashed in bigtime on the policies they had crafted.

As Juhasz notes, the need to force the "sovereign Iraqi government" to turn over its oil fields to American energy barons is surely one of the main reasons that the ISG — and that "breath of fresh air," Robert Gates — are adamant about the maintaining the presence of US troops in Iraq for the next two years, at the very least.

So it’s not just about "kicking the can down the road" until Bush can wash his hands of the mess and the warmongers can blame the defeat on someone else (although certainly that’s one of the report’s charms for the Bush Faction). As I have written over and over here and elsewhere for more than four years, even before the war began: these guys have a plan, they have an objective, and they keep their eyes on the prize. "Success" and "victory" in Iraq have nothing to do with democracy or security or freedom or fighting terrorism or any of that stuff: the "success" of the war will be measured solely in terms of how much wealth and privilege the warmongering elite can derive from it. If they fail to nail down the oil deal, the war will have been a defeat; if they get it, it will be a victory.

Again, you must read the whole report by Juhasz. Of course, all of these objective, irrefutable historical facts should have been standard background fare in the multitude of media stories about the Baker group and its report. But then, that would be journalism, wouldn’t it? And lord knows, we can’t have the sacred precincts of the corporate media sullied with such a lowbrow practice as journalism, now can we? Fortunately, we have stalwarts like Juhasz on the case. Read it and weep — with rage.

Chris Floyd [send him mail] is the author of Empire Burlesque: The Secret History of the Bush Regime.

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