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Commentary Last Updated: Jun 11th, 2008 - 00:43:48

Resist American bases or resign
By Linda S. Heard
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Jun 11, 2008, 00:16

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As if we needed any more proof that the Iraq war was waged on false premises a recently published, long overdue Senate report confirms the Bush administration lied about numerous issues, including Saddam Hussain's links to terrorism.

The report further suggests that President George W. Bush and others knowingly manipulated intelligence to bolster the case for invasion. This may be old news but what's new is the Senate's official stamp confirming the so-called leader of the free world is duplicitous.

In any other democracy this officially sanctioned snippet would come as a bombshell and there would be an awful lot of ministers deciding they wanted to resign to spend more time with their families.

Forgive me if I'm wrong but it seems to me that Americans are generally shrugging their shoulders as though the fact that their president lied is inconsequential even though the war has thrust their nation into the red while over 4,000 of its finest ended up in flag-draped boxes.

It may be that such collective apathy stems from a sense of impotence. After all, what's done is done. Bush and his neoconservative crew are on their way out anyway and can't do much more damage.

If Americans are willing to forgive and forget as Bush prepares to open his presidential library and hit the golf course, as is the wont of most former presidents, then the rest of the world shouldn't be.

Indeed, Bush's former helpmate in the "coalition of the willing," the ex prime minister of Australia, John Howard, hasn't been as lucky.

His outspoken successor Kevin Rudd recently told his parliament that he was withdrawing his country's troops from Iraq and accused Howard of being complicit in abusing intelligence information as well as fabricating Saddam's links to Osama Bin Laden.

No leader should be allowed to launch a war of choice and bring another country to its knees mourning the deaths of up to 1.2 million innocents to meet selfish strategic goals. Although, admittedly, Bush's goals haven't quite panned out in the way they were planned.

Firstly, post-war Iraq is far from being the envy of all and so the neoconservative "New Middle East" project has died an ignominious death.

Secondly, although former Fed chief Alan Greenspan admitted in his memoir, The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World, that the Iraq War is largely about oil, Americans are now paying an unprecedented $4 a gallon or more at the pump with prices still heading higher.

Moreover, the Iraqi government still hasn't passed the controversial hydrocarbons law that would give foreign companies rights over Iraq's rich natural deposits for decades to come.

But if the Bush brigade gets its way there is still one bonanza payoff to be had in the form of 50 permanent US military bases throughout Iraq from which the US will be able to launch strikes on neighbouring nations and hunt down both foreign and Iraqi "terrorists" within the country without needing the Iraqi government's permission.

And all the while, US troops, American citizens and contractors (mercenaries) will remain excluded from the Iraqi justice system's remit.

Defence pact

Iraq's government is said to be considering this defence pact even though most Iraqis, including high profile religious leaders, believe it infringes Iraq's sovereignty and threatens its security.

Iraq's vice president, Tarik Al Hashemi, admitted "there is an Iraqi national consensus to reject the draft agreement," while the reclusive but highly influential Shiite cleric, the Grand Ayatollah Ali Al Sistani, says as long as he is alive he will not allow Iraq to accept such a deal.

Put simply, if the government signs up to this chicanery it means it accepts Iraq's occupation by a foreign power in perpetuity and is willing to face the wrath of its own people.

Why are Prime Minister Nuori Al Maliki and his government even considering such a demand? It's bad enough that the US has grabbed 104 acres of prime land in Baghdad --transferred to the US by an interim Iraqi government in 2004 -- on which it has constructed a fortified small town it calls its embassy.

By what right did a temporary unelected Iraqi government hand over part of its country's capital to the invader? And by which code will the Al Maliki government relinquish control over Iraq's oil and allow the invader to wage wars from its soil and bomb its citizens with impunity? Why doesn't it just tell the Americans an Iraqi version of "On your bike?"

The answer is it can't. Iraq's sovereignty is nothing but a sham. People who faced danger to queue up during elections might as well have stayed home. The Iraqi government is no more in charge of its country's destiny than its own.

But it can and should make a principled stand to prove to the nation that its members are Iraqi patriots and not quislings. It should tell the occupier "no" loud and clear with one voice, backed up by all sects and tribes.

Its members should refuse to sign and if they lose the support of the US government, so be it. Rather than put their names to the handing over of their country's freedom to those who lied their way in, they should do the decent thing and resign when, hopefully, by the time a new election can be called there'll be honest tenants in the White House.

Linda S. Heard is a British specialist writer on Middle East affairs. She welcomes feedback and can be contacted by email at

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