George Orwell's Iraq
"Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) today challenged the notion that removing 'combat brigades' but leaving 50,000 U.S. troops in Iraq constitutes an end to combat operations, let alone an end to the war", a press release issued by Kucinich datelined Washington, Aug 19, 2010 and published on the Congressman's house website stated. The release continued with:
"Who is in charge of our operations in Iraq, now? George Orwell? A war based on lies continues to be a war based on lies. Today, we have a war that is not a war, with combat troops who are not combat troops. In 2003, President Bush said 'Mission Accomplished'. In 2010, the White House says combat operations are over in Iraq, but will leave 50,000 troops, many of whom will inevitably be involved in combat-related activities."
"Just seven days ago, General Babaker Shawkat Zebari, the commander of Iraq’s military, said that Iraq’s security forces will not be trained and ready to take over security for another 10 years. One story is being told to the military on the ground in Iraq and another story is being told to their families back home."
"You can’t be in and out at the same time."
"This is not the end of the war; this is simply a new stage in the campaign to lull the American people into accepting an open-ended presence in Iraq. This is not an honest accounting to the American people and it diminishes the role of the troops who will put their lives on the line. This is not fair to the troops, their families or the American people."
"The Administration and the Pentagon would be wise to level with the American people about our long-term commitment to Iraq."
"The cost of the wars has been estimated to be around $1 million per soldier per year. Each year the troop levels stay at 50,000 means another $50 billion is wasted. I object to spending billions of dollars to maintain a charade in Iraq while our own economy is failing and over 15 million Americans are out of work. I object to keeping any level troops in Iraq to maintain a war based on lies. It is time that Congress sees through the manipulation and finally acts to truly end the war by stopping its funding,” said Kucinich.
RawStory.com noted today that "Kucinich's statement doesn't mention President Obama's name once, but the president also didn't don a military jumpsuit and fly a plane onto a carrier with a gigantic 'Mission Accomplished' banner", and that as far as RawStory has noticed "Many of the top liberal blogs who have criticized Obama the past year went silent on the Iraq 'exit' coverage".
Apart from Kucinich's press release, RawStory also says that the only other "scathing editorial" they have seen was one posted on the the World Socialist Web Site that noted that:
The White House and the Pentagon, assisted by a servile media, have hyped Thursday’s exit of a single Stryker brigade from Iraq as the end of the “combat mission” in that country, echoing the ill-fated claim made by George W. Bush seven years ago.
Obama is more skillful in packaging false propaganda than Bush, and no doubt has learned something from the glaring mistakes of his predecessor. Bush landed on the deck of the US aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln on May 1, 2003 to proclaim—under a banner reading “Mission Accomplished”—that “major combat operations” in Iraq were over. A captive audience of naval enlisted personnel was assembled on deck as cheering extras.
Obama wisely did not fly to Kuwait to deliver a similar address from atop an armored vehicle. He merely issued a statement from the White House, while leaving the heavy lifting to the television networks and their “embedded” reporters, who accompanied the brigade across the border into Kuwait and repeated the propaganda line fashioned by the administration and the military brass.
At The New York Times Media Decoder blog,, Brian Stelter reported, "The combat mission in Iraq doesn’t officially end until Aug. 31 but viewers and readers could be forgiven for thinking it ended tonight."
In a broadcast that Brian Williams said constituted an “official Pentagon announcement,” NBC showed live pictures Wednesday night as members of the last combat brigade in Iraq drove toward the Kuwait border, symbolizing an end to fighting in the country.
"We are with the last combat troops" in Iraq, the NBC correspondent Richard Engel said at 6:30 p.m. Eastern, the same time that the military lifted an embargo that had been placed on the reporters traveling with the 440 troops, a part of the 4/2 Stryker Brigade.
The Associated Press, Fox News, The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, Al Jazeera and other news media outlets also reported Wednesday evening that the last combat troops were crossing into Kuwait. Only NBC broadcast it live, in asymmetrical image to the invasion that captured the nation’s attention on television seven years ago.
On May 19, 2009 the Christian Science Monitor reported in To meet June deadline, US and Iraqis redraw city borders that:
On a map of Baghdad the US Army's Forward Operating Base Falcon is clearly within city limits.
Except that Iraqi and American military officials have decided it's not. As the June 30 deadline for US soldiers to be out of Iraqi cities approaches, there are no plans to relocate the roughly 3,000 American troops who help maintain security in south Baghdad along what were the fault lines in the sectarian war.
"We and the Iraqis decided it wasn't in the city," says a US military official. The base on the southern outskirts of Baghdad's Rasheed district is an example of the fluidity of the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) agreed to late last year, which orders all US combat forces out of Iraqi cities, towns, and villages by June 30.
"We consider the security agreement a living document," says a senior US commander. With six weeks to go, US and Iraqi commanders are sitting down in joint security committees to determine how they can comply with the decree that all US combat forces withdraw from populated areas by the end of June and still maintain the requirement to assist Iraq in fighting the insurgency and maintaining security and stability.
In a more thorough and reality based analysis than most US media appears to have devoted to the story, in The US isn't leaving Iraq, it's rebranding the occupation, Seumas Milne wrote at the UK Guardian August 04, 2010:
...as Major General Stephen Lanza, the US military spokesman in Iraq, told the New York Times: "In practical terms, nothing will change". After this month's withdrawal, there will still be 50,000 US troops in 94 military bases, "advising" and training the Iraqi army, "providing security" and carrying out "counter-terrorism" missions. In US military speak, that covers pretty well everything they might want to do.
Granted, 50,000 is a major reduction on the numbers in Iraq a year ago. But what Obama once called "the dumb war" goes remorselessly on. In fact, violence has been increasing as the Iraqi political factions remain deadlocked for the fifth month in a row in the Green Zone. More civilians are being killed in Iraq than Afghanistan: 535 last month alone, according to the Iraqi government - the worst figure for two years.
And even though US troops are rarely seen on the streets, they are still dying at a rate of six a month, their bases regularly shelled by resistance groups, while Iraqi troops and US-backed militias are being killed in far greater numbers and al-Qaida - Bush's gift to Iraq - is back in business across swaths of the country. Although hardly noticed in Britain, there are still 150 British troops in Iraq supporting US forces.
Meanwhile, the US government isn't just rebranding the occupation, it's also privatising it. There are around 100,000 private contractors working for the occupying forces, of whom more than 11,000 are armed mercenaries, mostly "third country nationals", typically from the developing world. One Peruvian and two Ugandan security contractors were killed in a rocket attack on the Green Zone only a fortnight ago.
The US now wants to expand their numbers sharply in what Jeremy Scahill, who helped expose the role of the notorious US security firm Blackwater, calls the "coming surge" of contractors in Iraq. Hillary Clinton wants to increase the number of military contractors working for the state department alone from 2,700 to 7,000, to be based in five "enduring presence posts" across Iraq.
The advantage of an outsourced occupation is clearly that someone other than US soldiers can do the dying to maintain control of Iraq. It also helps get round the commitment, made just before Bush left office, to pull all American troops out by the end of 2011. The other getout, widely expected on all sides, is a new Iraqi request for US troops to stay on - just as soon as a suitable government can be stitched together to make it.
What is abundantly clear is that the US, whose embassy in Baghdad is now the size of Vatican City, has no intention of letting go of Iraq any time soon. One reason for that can be found in the dozen 20-year contracts to run Iraq's biggest oil fields that were handed out last year to foreign companies, including three of the Anglo-American oil majors that exploited Iraqi oil under British control before 1958.
Since the 2003 invasion the occupation of Iraq has been called Operation Iraqi Freedom by the Pentagon and the administration.
In February this year the Obama administration decided to give the war in Iraq a new name: "Operation New Dawn".
Ironically, since it appears to have slipped down the memory hole for so many, "Operation New Dawn" was the name given to the second 2004 attack on and massacre of Iraqis by US Troops, in Fallujah.
Barack Obama appears to have achieved a sort of "Mission Acomplished" of his own since his inauguration - that of quieting and coopting antiwar sentiment throughout US mainstream media and the majority of liberal blogs.