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Withdrawal Symptoms: Curtain Rises On Second Act Of An Endless War Crime

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Barack Obama has announced that all American troops will be withdrawn
from Iraq by the end of the year. This was presented as America
honorably adhering to the agreement signed years ago by the Bush
Administration. At the same time, White House and Pentagon spinners were
planting stories to make clear that the United States had fully
intended to continue its military presence in Iraq past the deadline,
but was thwarted by the Iraqis' unconscionable refusal to allow American
forces to commit crimes with impunity -- and immunity -- on Iraqi soil.

backroom "process" stories -- filled, as always, with unnamed insiders
providing savvy "nuance" -- were detailed, laying out a long series of
negotiations, ending in what was clearly the Americans' chief goal: a
military presence of 3,000-5,000 troops, placed strategically around the
country, with a main focus in Baghdad. These negotiations failed; hence
Obama's announcement that he was being forced to honor the existing
agreement on withdrawal.

At the same time, however, we are also told that the State Department will maintain
"at least" 5,000 armed "security personnel" -- mercenaries of various
stripes. These 5,000 militarized (if not officially military) troops
will be stationed in strategic locations around the country, where the
United States will establish mini-fortress "consulates" in Iraqi cities,
with a main focus in Baghdad.

So the Americans had a baseline
goal of 3,000 armed personnel remaining in Iraq; they will now have a
minimum of 5,000 armed personnel remaining in Iraq.

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It could be
argued that the original intent was to have the 3,000-5,000 uniformed
troops in addition to the 5,000 mercenaries, and thus the Americans have
taken a bit of a haircut in the occupation department: 5,000 instead of
combined total of 8,000 (or a top end of 10,000.) Maybe so. But the
fact remains that whatever else happens, the American government will
have a minimum of 5,000 men under arms, stationed all across the
conquered land. What's more, there is apparently no limit on the number
of such mercenaries the Americans can employ to provide "security" for
the thousands of other American government operatives who will remain.
Any number of pretexts could provide excuses for a "surge" in "security
contractors" -- 8,000, 10,000, 20,000 -- who's to say how many will
ultimately be "needed" to combat "terrorists"?

So we have a
baseline of 5,000 militarized forces remaining indefinitely in Iraq,
with no immediate limit on an expansion in their numbers. And of course,
all the stories make it abundantly clear that the Americans will
quickly negotiate a new "security agreement"
with Iraq, which will include -- or even be in addition to -- thousands
of military "advisers" to help "train" the Iraqi forces, especially
with the multitude of new weapons that Washington's war profiteers are
lining up to sell to the "sovereign" government in Baghdad. How many
troops will be involved in these "agreements"? Thousands? Tens of
thousands?  Again, we don't know.

And as Glenn Greenwald
and others have pointed out, none of these numbers include the "Special
Forces" and CIA paramilitaries that will inevitably be ranging across
Iraq, no doubt in large numbers. Iraq is hardly going to receive less
attention from the American black ops and death squads than Pakistan,
Afghanistan, Somalia and the dozens of other countries where Washington
is waging secret war.

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Thus it is almost a certainty that by the
end of 2012, there will be, at the barest minimum, at least 8,000 to
10,000 heavily armed personnel under the direct control of the United
States government stationed at strategic points throughout Iraq; the
actual figure will doubtless be higher, perhaps much higher. But this is
a bare minimum -- numbers which tally almost exactly with the final
goals of the American war machine in the "failed" negotiations on
extending the present form of the occupation.

announcement was yet another bitter sham. We are not ringing down the
curtain on the Iraq War; we are simply beginning the second act, with
new scenery in the backdrop, some new plotlines and characters -- but
the same old dirty, bloody business of aggression.


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Chris Floyd is the Editor and co-founder of Atlantic Free Press. He is an American journalist now based in Great Britain and the UK correspondent for For 10 years, he wrote the weekly Global Eye political column for The Moscow Times (more...)

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