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Commentary Last Updated: Jun 25th, 2008 - 00:50:56

Two caliphates in Baghdad, simultaneously . . . are we crazy?
By Ben Tanosborn
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Jun 25, 2008, 00:19

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The Brits made an imperial mess of Iraq back in 1930; now it is America�s turn!

We followed the fate of the French in Vietnam; are trying hard to imitate the Russians in Afghanistan; and now, our emulation-in-progress is of our beloved European cousins. Who would ever think that it was an American philosopher (by way of Spain), George Santayana, who stated just a century ago, �Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." And American government leaders always seem to be the forgetful ones, although as it happens in all these cases, it is the American people who are condemned to pay the consequences in both blood and dollars.

We are not even speaking of millennia ago, or even centuries; only the recent past. How can we be so forgetful as to how the British bamboozled a timid Iraqi Parliament, where the true nationalists lacked a voiced, into signing an agreement in 1930 that would have Iraq in turmoil with coup after coup until Saddam Hussein came to power in 1979? And we all know what has happened since then. Seventy-eight years later here we are, cramming down their throats an illegal �strategic alliance� that is similar in both content and tone to that Great Britain �imposed� on Iraq almost eight decades ago.

And I say illegal for both Iraq and the United States. For Iraq, it�s a nonvalid agreement since it will be contracted under duress from an occupier�s demands, whatever excuses are brought forward to obtain legitimacy. For the US, it�s also an invalid pact unless it is subsequently ratified by the US Senate. We are told that the wording in this strategic alliance has been crafted so as to �avoid such ratification.� Nonsense, if the provisions in such agreement or alliance have the underlying intent of a treaty, it is a treaty; and as a treaty, constitutionally, it must be ratified.

True that the American Executive Branch has been operating for decades outside of the Constitution in taking the nation to war (undeclared war) and entering into treaties (or agreements) thanks to a spineless Senate and the de-facto consent of Americans, who really care little, or are brainwashed by the White House, unless the conflict turns sour.

It is remarkable that the two senators who will be contending for the highest office in the land next November, McCain and Obama, aren�t exercising their duty as senators, making this issue one of national concern, one to be handled with both transparency and care. Malfeasance in office by members of the Senate made Bush�s invasion of Iraq fait accompli; once again, it will be malfeasance if the Senate remains blind, deaf and mute to this travesty.

It is interesting that Barack Obama claims that �had he been a member of the Senate back in 2002, he would have voted against granting Bush permission to invade Iraq.� Well, he is a member of the Senate now . . . but one hears little noise from him on this important issue, one that could keep the United States involved in the Middle East until the area runs out of oil or Israelis, whichever comes last. Time for deeds, Sen. Obama!

Iraq does not appear to be willing to have the U.N. mandate extended beyond its current expiration date, at the end of this year; and the US really doesn�t care whether its effective control is through a mandate granted by the U.N. or an agreement with a government which may not be of unity or consensus. The US must have a tacit control of Iraq�s oil while maintaining a solid military presence in that part of the world to counter not just Iran and its nuclear aspirations, but any �problems� that may emerge anywhere in Southwest Asia.

Although the hush-hush negotiations on the Strategic Framework Agreement and the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) had reached an impasse by the second week in June -- Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki referring the deadlock on what his government felt were critical sovereignty issues -- both Iraqi Foreign Minister Zebari and Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad (US) appear confident that an agreement will soon be reached since both countries are committed to a joint security pact. Yes, we will have two caliphates out of Baghdad; one run locally by Iraqis, the other run by Americans as part of the Empire.

What remains to be seen, even if an agreement is reached, is whether the US Senate will once again capitulate to the White House, allowing its duties and responsibilities to be usurped by Imperator George W. Bush. And whether the American people really give a damn now that they are paying over $4 per gallon of gasoline, soon projected to be $5, which. when added to the other economic miseries the country is enduring, calls for either a revolution or surrender. My bet is on the latter.

� 2008 Ben Tanosborn

Ben Tanosborn, columnist, poet and writer, resides in Vancouver, Washington (USA), where he is principal of a business consulting firm. Contact him at

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