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The Splendid Failure of Occupation Last Updated: Jan 4th, 2007 - 01:08:31

Part 29: Iraq Occupation, anatomy of pretext
By B. J. Sabri
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Mar 11, 2005, 21:05

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�If George W. Bush considers "liberty" as invading a sovereign nation based upon lies, committing an act of mass murder, slaughtering tens of thousands of civilians in the name of "freedom and democracy", winning "hearts and minds" through "shock and awe" tactics, it is evident that he is intellectually constrained to the table upon which he threw a record number of Texans. He is intellectually, diplomatically and legally moribund, he is limited to uttering Cold War Slogans and he has a retentive understanding of the dossiers.��Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey, Director and Chief Editor of Pravda website, Portuguese edition, commenting on the exchange between George Bush and Vladimir Putin, February 2005

Etymological research is an exacting method for finding appropriate meanings. When I was deciding on a title for this article, I wanted to name it, �anatomy of a ruse.� But, �ruse� (from the French, �ruser: to deceive,�) I thought to myself, is mild. It is equivalent to a trick; therefore, it is inadequate to describe an intricate purpose. For instance, to execute its project for war on Iraq, the U.S. of Cheney and Wolfowitz did not trick the world�trick implies that people subjected to it should be unaware of what the trickster is plotting. But the world was fully aware of the schemes and hoaxes of the Bush administration, so how did the U.S. do it?

To achieve its goals, the administration followed an elaborate master plan which explicitly relied upon deception as a means for persuasion, coercion, and action, but implicitly used a different parameter�practical reasoning. The Bush administration knew that no power would risk war with the United States on behalf of Iraq. In spite of that, the administration needed to reinforce its decision with misleading arguments and bogus findings, mainly as an insurance policy against anti-war opposition, to intimidate other nations seeking nuclear deterrence against U.S. threats, and to rally the American people behind its �clash of civilizations.�

The strategy to mislead on the Iraqi issue had a specific rationale: to add drama and urgency for a decision already taken, thus obtaining a �legitimizing� popular acceptance. Sen. John McCain recently confirmed the preceding assertion by commenting on the anti-occupation uprising in Iraq. Said McCain, �The American people need to know the size and shape of the enemy we are facing, because their sons and daughters are the ones who are fighting this war.� Two observations are in order:

  1. The reversal of fortune in the occupation and escalation of American fatalities and casualties appeared to have forced McCain to pass the responsibility for that war from the administration to the American people as exemplified by the phrase, �because their sons and daughters are the ones who are fighting this war.� This implied that the war on Iraq is no longer his war but of the American people, whose sons and daughters are facing death. This is a convenient ruse: McCain launched his war based on lies, but he sent young Americans to die for it�they call this leadership . . . and, a war �from the people to the people by the people.�
  2. If the American people could know the size and shape of the �enemy� that McCain was talking about, would that knowledge change anything in the calculations of McCain, Joseph Lieberman, Bill Frist, Hillary Clinton, Joseph Biden, Richard Lugar, Charles Shumer, Arlen Specter, or John Kerry? The answer is no. McCain�s suggestion that the �people must know,� is only propaganda. I can cite Kerry to prove my contention. As a senator, John Kerry voted for the war; as a candidate for the presidency, he denounced Bush�s lies but vowed to continue the war despite his knowledge of its atrocious reality.

Regardless of crafty presentations and imperialist coaxing, U.S. deception fooled no one. All nations and respective governments knew that the U.S. was employing deception so it could go to war based on legalese procedures implying that the U.S. of Bush is a country based on the rule of law. But despite massive worldwide demonstrations against the impending imperialist aggression against an already broken country, most governments that could be the next or third in line remained silent to avoid antagonizing a mad giant.

How did the administration manage to prepare the ground for its ambitious colonialist project? With patience and tenacity, Cheney, McCain, Rove, Rice, Perle, Bush, Libby, Powell, Fleischer, and associated media developed operational tactics to deal with international and domestic opposition to war. As a result, every lie that failed more lies emerged to replace it instantly, and every deception that did not survive scrutiny, more deceptions followed immediately.

Because Iraq did not contemplate to attack, threaten to attack, or physically attack the United States, what then dictated the administration�s race to invade and occupy it?

There can be but one answer: opportunity rather than military necessity dictated that urgency. After the fall of Afghanistan, it became imperative in the thinking of the administration to accelerate the process of taking Iraq and tying it to Central Asia via the Iranian bridge, should Iran collapse or fall under American pressure. Seen from this perspective, an administration dominated by diehard imperialists and Zionist ideologues of empire had to act swiftly before the world could discover the extent of deception and grasp the full meaning and implications of what was about to happen.

Once the invasion became a reality and the U.N. legalized the occupation, pre-war deception became a liability, since the U.S. found no WMD�the official rationale for war. How did the administration confront and resolved the liability issue? No problem: it attributed the war to �error in judgment,� �faulty intelligence,� and to Ahmad Chalabi (a CIA Iraqi agent) who �deceived� the gullible neocons!

Generally, however, the Bush administration did not conceive its complex strategy for resuscitating colonialism as a pack of ruses synthesizing its new imperialist scope of work (i.e., the dismantlement of pre-9/11 international order as personified by the United Nations and replacing it with the American order.) Such a scope required conceptual mechanisms that were more powerful and more intricate than ruses. One such mechanism is Pretext. Pretext, comes from the Latin, �praetextus,� which is the past participle of the verb, �prae-texere�; where the prefix �prae� means, in front, and the word �texere: means, weave. How does pretext work?

The strength of a pretext does not reside in its validity, rather in its dubious premises. That is, a person who using a pretext to implement a plan, would like you to believe that his premise is right and verifiable by facts (his own facts,) thus �empowering� you to confer your own sense of legitimacy to it.

Pretext, however, is a negotiable commodity when political expediency or overwhelming international contingency dictates the decision to accept or reject it. In fact, while most countries endorsed U.S. rationale (to get rid of al-Qaeda accused of attacking the United States) for invading Afghanistan, they categorically rejected its rationale to invade Iraq. The fact that the U.S. failed to coerce the United Nations into endorsing its plans for Iraq, also meant that the administration�s tactical reasoning on the issue had failed too.

To compensate for the impasse and create domestic support for its belligerent Iraq policy, the Bush administration concocted a new scheme: It wove in front of the world a �case for war� that was not substantiated by facts or by meticulous U.N. inspections. Yet, by proclaiming that Iraq is a �gathering danger,� George W. Bush invaded it based on the �premises of that case.� In this scheme, every time U.N. inspectors reported they could not find any weapons of mass destruction, Bush, Powell, and Rice rebutted by complaining that Saddam was refusing to disarm!

Pretext, Bush-style, has thus evolved from a ploy into a conceptual instrument for active intervention. But despite the fact that the U.S. launched its war on Iraq based upon pretexts and killed over 100,000 of its people, nothing appears to have changed in the blas� attitude of the world toward Britain or the United States. In fact, a majority of world leaders and journalists still listen unperturbed to the flatulent orifice of Britain, Tony Blaire, lecturing them on the �miracle� of Iraqi �democracy,� and to a dangerous U.S. president praising the Iraqis for their courage in defying the �terrorists.�

Incidentally, what was the pretext of Genghis Khan to invade all of West Asia during the 13th century? Certainly, �Mr.� Khan did not have any form of �democracy� to export, so why did he invade and decimate all those who stood in his path? Answer: Khan invaded to pillage and take spoils. Likewise, what was the pretext of the inventor of fascist colonialism, Britain, to occupy 12 million square miles of the planet, which it kept until the end of WWII, and now is trying to reconstitute it while hanging on the tail of the American Empire? Did Britain capture all those Asian, African, Australian, Polynesian, and Caribbean nations to �educate,� �civilize,� �industrialize,� or �democratize�?

Of course, none of the above�history, praxis, and ideology of colonialism has always been antithetical to humanism and to altruism. Any colonialist experience, regardless of time and space is about pillage and expropriation. In fact, for over four centuries and up to India�s independence, Britain did nothing but suck the blood and wealth out of it. And, if Indians chose political democracy after independence, it is because it was their choice and not the decision by the grandmaster of British fascism, Winston Churchill.

Tricks, ruses, pretexts, ploys, frauds, and hoaxes have dominated human behavior since time immemorial. But in no other place on earth as in the United States has the �science� of deception reached such a grade of institutionalized political behavior. In the era of Rumsfeld, Cheney, and Bush, deception has finally become the operative philosophy of the American state, where the system creates special offices to fabricate and spread deception.

Emphatically, through out its history, the United States could not have subsisted or expanded without pretexts. U.S. imperialism and its apologists, domestic or international, thrived on pretexts to invade, intervene, encroach, or seize the land or wealth of other nations to place them under its tutelage.

The progression of time did not change the language and idioms of American colonialism. For example, since Congregational minister Josiah Strong set the tone and ideology for how successive American generations should expand on the North American continent and the world, all presidents and ideologues of empire had followed his vision to the letter.

It seems to me that God, with infinite wisdom and skill, is training the Anglo-Saxon race for an hour sure to come in the world's future. Heretofore there has always been in the history of the world a comparatively unoccupied land westward, into which the crowded countries of the East have poured their surplus populations. But the widening waves of migration, which millenniums ago rolled east and west from the valley of the Euphrates, meet to-day on our Pacific coast . . . Then will the world enter upon a new stage of its history�the final competition of races, for which the Anglo-Saxon is being schooled. Long before the thousand millions are here, the mighty centrifugal tendency, inherent in this stock and strengthened in the United States, will assert itself. Then this race of unequaled energy, with all the majesty of numbers and the might of wealth behind it�the representative, let us hope, of the largest liberty, the purest Christianity, the highest civilization�having developed peculiarly aggressive traits calculated to impress its institutions upon mankind, will spread itself over the earth. If I read not amiss, this powerful race will move down upon Mexico, down upon Central and South America, out upon the islands of the sea, over upon Africa and beyond. And can any one doubt that the result of this competition of races will be the "survival of the fittest�? [Emphasis added]�From Strong�s book, Our Country, published in 1885.

A careful reading of Strong�s confabulation of empire reveals two things:

  1. A pretext for expansion: �the mighty centrifugal tendency, inherent in this stock and strengthened in the United States, will assert itself.
  2. An actual territorial projection identified by name: �this powerful race will move down upon Mexico, down upon Central and South America, out upon the islands of the sea, over upon Africa and beyond. And can any one doubt that the result of this competition of races will be the �survival of the fittest?.�

Strong�s confabulation was not in vain. From 1885 until present, the U.S. has expanded in every corner of the world, including its outer space. Iraq is the latest post to fall in the hand of Strong�s heirs. But before Iraq, there was Afghanistan. After the U.S. invasion in 2001 under the pretext of eradicating al-Qaeda, the Bush administration is maneuvering to make its presence permanent. What is the pretext to stay in Afghanistan? Answer: U.S. forces would remain to fight al-Qaeda and the Taliban, and to �provide security.�

But if after three years of occupation and massive bombardment of Afghanistan, the hyper-empire, as it claims to be, is yet to defeat al-Qaeda and the Taliban, then a supposition is in order: the U.S. may never defeat them because guerrilla warfare never ends. Consequently, a bogus U.S. �war on terror� in Afghanistan is an open-ended war and its objective is colonialist presence and imperialism.

Sen. John McCain, known for his imperialist positions and unconditional support for Israeli designs in the Middle East, has recently confirmed U.S. colonialist intent in Afghanistan. McCain made a statement on his website to clarify another statement he made in Afghanistan while visiting with its American-imposed ruler, Hamid Kharzai. But before we discuss McCain�s statement, we have to know first who Kharzai is.

We cannot talk about Kharzai without mentioning Unocal, a California energy resources company. From the early 1990s, until 9/11, Unocal tried to negotiate a deal with the Taliban to allow construction of an oil pipeline through Afghanistan to carry oil from future prospected oilfields in the Caspian Sea region to Indian ports. Unocal retained Kharzai as a liaison with the Taliban regime. Why did Unocal choose Kharzai? Kharzai, reportedly a naturalized U.S. citizen, is a native Afghani Pashtun, and the Taliban are Pashtun. The implication is simple: he can make a deal. After the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, Unocal recommended that the Bush administration install Kharzai as a leader of the occupied country. [Source]

How did Kharzai do it? Kharzai was the prot�g� of an Afghani Pashtun: Zalmay Khalilzad, a former advisor to Unocal, a former member of the National Security Council, a signatory for the neoconservative Project for the New American Century, and a man with extensive liaisons with oil concerns and the Bush family. Khalilzad had multiple relations with the Taliban during the 1990s and paved the way for better relations between them and the United States.] [Source]

Khalilzad has played other important imperialist roles in Afghanistan and in Iraq. He was the U.S. envoy to Afghanistan after the U.S.-U.K.-NATO invasion where he began promoting Kharzai as a leader, who in the meantime switched from wearing western suits to Afghani robes. Khalilzad was also the U.S. envoy to the so-called Iraqi opposition to Saddam that included the Shiite religious leader Abdul-Aziz Al-Hakim, the Kurdish leaders, Talabani and Barazani; Ahmad Chalabi of the CIA funded �Iraqi National Congress,� and Ayad Allawi, another CIA agent and current Iraqi interim prime minister.

As for McCain, according to Middle Eastern sources, he informed Kharzai that the U.S. decided to build permanent military bases in Afghanistan�the U.S. mechanism for implementing the physical reality of both, colonialism and imperialism. McCain realizing the impact of the word �permanent� opted to make tautological change to the wording:

�In a press conference today, Senator John McCain discussed the United States� commitment to Afghanistan. His purpose was to assure the Afghan people and government that the U.S. understands its responsibilities to the development and security of their country, and will continue to provide Afghanistan with economic, political and military assistance. The U.S. will need to remain in Afghanistan to help the country rid itself of the last vestiges of Taliban and al Qaeda. While that is a long-term commitment, he did not mean to imply that would necessarily require permanent U.S. military bases in Afghanistan. Afghanistan and the American people look forward to the day when the remnants of Taliban and al Qaeda terrorists are completely defeated in Afghanistan and the Afghanis are able to protect their security themselves.� [Italics added] [Source]

Notice that, while the bulk of the clarification is standard propaganda as in �looking forward to the day,� and as in, �completely defeated,� the fundamental subject appearing in the statement was the U.S. decision to establish permanent military presence as in, �a long-term presence.� Since no one can predict the meaning or duration of the phrase, �long-term,� McCain, therefore, meant, permanent military presence.

Practically, 160 years after Strong gave his pretext for expansion and announced his version of Manifest Destiny as in, �will spread itself over the earth . . . ,� hyper-imperialist John McCain is implementing Strong�s vision by using the ageless instruments of colonialism: pretexts.

Since pretexts are omnipresent milestones in the U.S. strategy of imperialist expansions, then how did the U.S. engineer its pretexts to occupy and to remain in Iraq thereafter?

Next, Part 30: Iraq Occupation, pretext, encroachment, and colonialism

B. J. Sabri is an Iraqi-American anti-war activist. Email:

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The Splendid Failure of Occupation
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Part 30: Iraq Occupation, pretext, encroachment, and colonialism
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