Friday, June 13, 2008

Condoleezza Rice's Neo-colonial Manifesto

In today's Agenceglobal; A striking example of the Bush administration’s divorce from reality may be seen in Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s 9,000 word article in the current issue of the U.S. journal Foreign Affairs.

“The democratization of Iraq and the democratization of the Middle East [are] linked,” she writes. “As Iraq emerges from its difficulties, the impact of this transformation is being felt in the rest of the region… Our long-term partnership with Afghanistan and Iraq, to which we must remain deeply committed, our new relationships in Central Asia, and our long-standing partnerships in the Persian Gulf provide a solid geostrategic foundation for the generational work ahead in helping to bring about a better, more democratic, and more prosperous Middle East.”
It is hard to know whether to laugh or cry when one reads this manifesto. The Iraqis don’t want to be ‘democratized’ by American military power; the Afghans don’t want a Western model of society forced upon them; the impact of Iraq’s ‘transformation’ -- that is to say its destruction -- has been highly destabilizing for the whole region; some Gulf rulers may misguidedly feel the need for U.S. military protection, but most of their subjects emphatically do not. Arab prosperity, such as it is, owes nothing to the American military presence and everything to oil and to Arab trading skills.[...]

As had long been suspected, it looks as if the Bush administration is seeking to tie its successor to its own failed policies, and make it difficult, if not impossible, for a candidate like Barack Obama, if he is elected President, to withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq, as he has pledged.

The United States wants Iraq to sign a so-called Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) by 31 July, to replace the United Nations mandate, which expires on 31 December, and which has so far provided the legal cover for the presence of coalition forces in Iraq.

The obvious and far better alternative would be for the United States to seek a new and brief UN mandate -- say of six months -- to allow the next American President to assess the situation next year and make his own decisions.

Although U.S.-Iraqi negotiations are being held in secret, the terms of the proposed SOFA have been widely leaked to the British newspaper, The Independent. They include the long-term U.S. use of 50 bases in Iraq; U.S. freedom to conduct military operations and arrest anyone it wants in pursuit of the ‘war on terror’, without consulting the Baghdad government; immunity from Iraqi law for U.S. troops and contractors; and control of Iraqi airspace below 29,000 feet. This is nothing less than a neo-colonial strait-jacket, which has already mobilized strong political and religious opposition in Iraq.