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Commentary Last Updated: Jun 20th, 2008 - 00:58:11

No, imperialism isn�t dead!
By Linda S. Heard
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Jun 20, 2008, 00:14

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George W. Bush and his immaculately turned-out wife are saying their last goodbyes to Europeans who have served the Bush administration well and admonishing others to stay with the program even when its chief architects are relegated to Bush�s ominous sounding �Freedom Institute," designed to �promote the universal values that need to be defended."

Just like the Department of Homeland Security conceived during the president�s first term, �Freedom Institute� has that nice Orwellian ring to it and is, without doubt, destined to be a cosy club for unemployed neoconservatives -- a peaceful haven where they can hatch yet more plans for world domination between teeing-off.

It was warm hugs for the billionaire Italian prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, who assured Bush of his �inside knowledge� in dealing with Iran�s nuclear program, and a rare honor from the pope, who greeted Bush warmly with a stroll around the Vatican gardens -- a first, prompting speculation that Bush may convert to Catholicism.

Germany�s Chancellor Angela Merkel, perhaps still smarting from Bush�s impromptu G-8 shoulder massage, refused to be drawn on whether she will personally miss the self-appointed leader of the free world.

Following a pity party over Iran with right-wing French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Queen Elizabeth feted him with a traditional English afternoon tea at Windsor, billed as an informal reunion of old friends. He breakfasted with his buddy Tony Blair whom he insists was never a �poodle� but rather someone who shared the same ideological struggle against �the ideology of hate." And the media mogul to whom he owes so much, Rupert Murdoch, took his rightful place at a dinner in Bush�s honor, hosted by Gordon Brown.

However, according to the Associated Press, �Bush warns Brown over premature Iraq withdrawal," saying �Britain should not jeopardize coalition gains." And it appears that Brown, who isn�t a natural member of the clique, has succumbed and will not now announce his troop drawdown plans before Parliament enters its summer recess, as scheduled. Instead, a spokesperson for Number Ten issued this statement: �There is absolutely no disagreement between the UK and the US on troop withdrawal . . . The prime minister is very clear that troop withdrawals will be decided by conditions on the ground.�

It appears Brown was given his marching orders -- or more precisely his orders to keep 4,000 or so British troops languishing at Basra Airport as a fig leaf to �prove� the so-called coalition of the willing is still alive and well.

Their presence is more important than ever now that Australia�s Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has officially brought an end to his country�s combat role in Iraq and announced the Australian contingent will return home, saying his predecessor�s arguments for sending troops to war had all been proved wrong. Polish Prime Minister Bogdan Klich has also announced that the last Polish soldier will leave Iraq before mid-October.

Bush says he�s anxious for US troops to quit Iraq once the time is right. That�s all right then . . . But wait! This is the man who is putting heavy pressure on the Iraqi government to sign a Status of Forces agreement with his administration that will allow 51 permanent US bases in Iraq, protect American personnel from prosecution under Iraqi law, give Washington control over Iraqi airspace and allow US forces to execute military operations without Iraqi permission or cooperation. And this is the guy who thinks he�s qualified to open a Freedom Institute!!

Bush is eager to get this deal tied up as the UN mandate rubber-stamping America�s military role in Iraq is about to expire. He also wants it to be iron solid so that the future White House incumbent will be obliged to adhere to its terms, which means that Barack Obama�s troop withdrawal plans would be stymied should he be elected.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki has been thrust into a quandary. Like Britain�s Brown, he is in no position to take Bush�s commands lightly. But at the same time he does not want to tick off Iran and neither does he want to flout the wishes of the Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, who has reportedly told him to hold a nationwide referendum. Its outcome is, of course, a slam-dunk, which is why Moqtada Sadr readily agrees to hold one.

Negotiations are still ongoing after recently reaching an impasse when an exasperated Al-Maliki was driven to say: �The American version of the agreement infringes hugely on the sovereignty of Iraq and this is something that we cannot ever accept.� Skeptics say he is merely playing to the public gallery whereas the dark deal has been done. In the meantime, the leader of that other fine made-in-the-USA democracy, Hamid Karzai, is threatening to send Afghan troops across the border into Pakistan in search of Taleban militants who �attack Afghan and foreign forces." Afghan troops, eh! Whoever�s in charge of nuclear-armed Pakistan these days must be shaking in his shoes! Karzai would be well advised not to allow himself to become the fall guy for the Bush administration. Come January, they�ll have become a distant memory whereas Islamabad and Kabul will still be neighbors.

Last week, Britain was shocked when the shadow Home Secretary (Interior Minister) David Davis resigned on a matter of principle risking his future career. If only more politicians in Britain, Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere would take a leaf out of his book and refuse to allow the seeds of American-led imperialism to take root, thereby allowing the world to become a better and safer place for us all.

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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