The Iraq Project

Paul Rogers on the Iraq Project:
In an echo of the Baghdad embassy, Balad has grown to become the largest US air-base anywhere in the world: a fifteen-square-mile mini-city with its own bus routes, fast-food outlets, two supermarkets and accommodation for 40,000 military personnel and contractors. The base - from which up to 550 air operations each day are conducted - is a permanent construction site; the latest addition is a $30-million command-and-control system that will integrate air-traffic management across the country as a whole.In sum, the United States plan for Iraq is to establish a series of tight political mechanisms of control deriving from the original CPA-era agreements; a huge embassy-based structure in Baghdad to oversee and maintain these; immunity for over 300,000 foreign personnel; and continuing, direct authority over and access to Iraqi detainees. The entire operation is to be secured by the US military and its private contractors, increasingly protected by the use of air power.This ambitious project is hardly consistent with the idea - still the official line propagated by Washington, and uncritically recycled by much of the establishment media - that the US's political objective is to bolster the independent governance of Iraq by the Iraqis themselves. Indeed, it goes further than the considerable power exerted by the United States in several central American countries in the early 20th century; its sheer grandeur might better be compared to some of the French or British colonial-era protectorates. In contemporary terms, it comes close to the establishment of a fully-fledged American colony in the heart of the Arab and Islamic world. Whether or not the George W Bush administration and its supporters realise it, the implications of that - for Iraq itself and for the whole region - are set to match even what has happened over the last five years.