The War That Never Ends

by Fr. Shay Cullen

The much heralded withdrawal of US combat troops from Iraq “as promised and on schedule”, as President Barack Obama said last August is a step in right direction towards disengagement of the United States of America from that war torn and ravaged country.

While it’s a small political victory for President Obama in achieving a draw-down of troops while leaving 50,000 to hold together the shaky disunited ruling fractions. Iraq is far from the free, peaceful, democratic fantasy that Former President George William Bush promised the world when he foolishly declared “mission accomplished’, a few weeks after the US troops took Baghdad. His decision to invade Iraq was made under pressure from the US oil and military-industrial complex was based on the pretext that there were weapons of mass destruction threatening Europe. That war has brought intolerable suffering to the people of Iraq.

Half a million innocent Iraqis died, maimed and thousands more in exile the basic infrastructure sill in a shambles, the nation can be said to be worse off now than before Bushes and Blare’s war. Elections have been held in Iraq but now six months later, the contentious tribal and religious fractions cannot agree to form a government. It has given al-Qaida cause to further destabilize Iraqi with a new rash of horrific bombings.

One has to admire President Obama for his persistent pursuit of peace through diplomacy as he said last June, in a speech where he outlined his national security strategy to the American people: “Our long-term security will not come from our ability to instill fear in other people, but through our capacity to speak to their hopes”. He pointed to the present threats that had to dealt with: nuclear proliferation, climate change, home grown terrorism, economic meltdown and domestic poverty in the United States.

He inherited two wars and an economic disaster. He is up against the most vitriolic republican party that resents his very existence and is hell bent to prevent him, the first black president, and an highly intelligent and educated one at that, from achieving anything positive. He will indeed, in time, prove them wrong and his administration has made enormous strides in his first 18 months in office. The passing of health care and financial regulation laws that eluded every president before him in recent history is a major achievement.

His policy of engaging with enemies instead of threatening invasion and war has won him friends in Asia and the Middle-East. His initiative to get the Palestinians and the Israelis talking is also a political positive despite the hard lien positions of both sides. While he may not achieve much with Iran or North Korea, he is succeeding in developing positive relationships with India, China and Russia. Afghanistan is now the next focus and the withdrawal date has been set.

In the Philippines, a traditional positive relationship still continues as American troops continue to train Philippine troops and even perhaps engage al-Qaida linked extremists in Southern Mindanao.

In Iraqi, the United States presence, power and control is far from ended. In fact, the US is determined to continue to control it and protect the controversial 20 year oil extraction and distribution contract signed by the Iraqi government last year with Anglo-American oil companies. As forecast in a previous column, this was the long term goal of Bush’s war. This has huge strategic value. Oil is power and British, American control of 60% of the Iraqi oil fields is a challenge to the price fixing tactics of the OPEC cartel. If they can get it flowing and lower the price of oil, the world economy might quickly recover.

There are still 94 US Military bases to protect key installations and especially the oil fields. These troops are supported by 11,000 foreign mercenaries and thousands of contractors operating in a supporting role. The occupation has succeeded and continues under another name. Everything else has failed, security, civilized life, the rights of women and children are denied and murder, torture and illegal detention goes on as before. The Iraqi people have to get together and retake their own country.

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