"We nonviolently oppose the reliance on unilateral military actions rather than cooperative diplomacy."


July 2, 2009

"Under an agreement with the Baghdad government, American combat troops are to leave Iraq’s cities by Tuesday," the New York Times said at the beginning of a long editorial marking the historic day—June 30, 2009.  "President Obama has pledged that by Aug. 31, 2010—14 months from now—all combat troops will be out of Iraq and by the end of 2011 all American troops will be gone."

The picture looks different if you bother to inspect the details.  Even the Times's editorial acknowledged that the "departure" is mostly imaginary.  "For now American troops—there are 130,000 in Iraq—are not going far," the Times admitted, noting that "[a]ll of Iraq’s army is dependent on the American military for intelligence, logistics, and air support."

This analysis, like most of the others we've seen in the mainstream media, relies on misrepresentations, euphemisms, omissions, and wishful thinking.  This could be seen in the New York Times the next day, when the paper published four maps covering a thirty-month period and labeled them "The Shifting American Footprint in Iraq."  The little red dots representing American battalions do shift around a bit, but the number of them doesn't change all that much.  Comparing the change from the first map from January 2007 to the last map from June 2009, there are fewer battalions near Basra, but more near Mosul.  There are fewer in western Iraq but more east of Baghdad.  There appear to be just as many around the capital as ever.  "The Shifting American Footprint in Iraq" suggests an American foot is grinding something into the sand, not moving on.

In its June 30 editorial, the prime euphemism employed by the New York Times is that the Iraq war was "an unnecessary war."  The proper expression, we believe, is "war of aggression," which is a crime under customary international law.  According to the 1945-1946 International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg, waging a war of aggression is "not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime, differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole."

Among the omissions of the editors of the Times is their failure to acknowledge that a horde of mercenaries (employees of private military firms mostly paid by the U.S. government or large corporations) will be swarming over Iraq for as far into the future as the eye can see, making a mockery of the idea of an American "withdrawal."  They also urge that "all" the "estimated four million Iraqis" who have been driven from their homes must have "the chance to return safely," a wish that is oblivious to the realities of the ethnic cleansing on the ground that ripped Iraq's social fabric to shreds while U.S. forces looked the other way.  Because these tears will never re-knit, many of these refugees will never see home again.

In April 2009, Nir Rosen wrote an article entitled "The Gathering Storm."  In it, he said:  "Throughout the American occupation, metrics to determine 'progress' in Iraq have been endlessly contested. One very senior United Nations official in Iraq told me that the best standard available was the resettlement of refugees.  'The refugees,' he said, 'are the best ones to determine the temperature on the ground.  If they return, the situation is normalizing.  But if they don't, there is a reason.  They have returned, but not in substantial numbers.'  The numbers are not precise, but about 25,000 refugees from Iraq have now returned to the country (though not necessarily to their original homes).  The U.N. estimates that 195,000 internally displaced persons have returned to their homes."

What matters most to the New York Times and to the rest of the corporate-owned mainstream media is that a doctrine of "moral responsibility" justify a continued U.S. military presence there.  This, along with Iraq's immense oil reserves, was the point of the Iraq war.  The U.S. is not withdrawing from Iraq, or beginning to withdraw, in anything but name.  The U.S. did not built the world's biggest embassy in Baghdad at a cost of $736 million and open it on January 5, 2009, for nothing.

Our leaders won't admit it openly, but one way or another they intend to stay in Iraq for a hundred years—until the oil runs out.  That's how deep America's sense of "moral responsibility" runs.



"We nonviolently oppose the reliance on unilateral military actions rather than cooperative diplomacy."