Washington coupled its announcement of troop withdrawal from Iraq with a surge of forward-leaning military posturing in the region that completely negates the conciliatory impression given by the withdrawal announcement. The troop withdrawal was far less than it appeared in any case, given the thousands of mercenaries and many bases that Washington will leave behind, so why the rush to assure everyone that, regardless of what any other state actually does, Washington fully intends to maintain its aggressive stance toward the region?
The troop withdrawal from Iraq could have been used as “evidence” that the U.S. wants friendship with all, is an international voice of reason, and is willing to be a force for moderation. Washington could have proclaimed its troop withdrawal as part of the new Arab Spring move by the region toward moderation and democracy. That was, after all, what even the Neo-Con war party claimed they wanted. Washington could have made the withdrawal the basis for a new initiative to resolve differences with Iran, noting that, “We have taken the first move; now it’s your turn.” Either way, U.S. troops are leaving, so why not take advantage of this opportunity to test the Iranians? At worst, Tehran refuses to respond, giving Washington evidence of its uncooperative attitude to buttress its hard-line stance when calling for international opposition to Tehran.
But no, Washington rushed to make it clear that it had no intention of compromising, no interest in the opinions of those with whom it disagrees. Washington thus underscored its insistence on continuing the decade-long perspective that international relations in the Mideast is zero-sum: Washington insists that its opponents suffer clear and unambiguous defeat.
That is a curious attitude for a country in retreat.
All contractors are of course not mercenaries, i.e., hired guns, but here are the latest Washington plans for keeping military force in Iraq after military forces are withdrawn:
the State Department plans a persistent presence in Iraq of roughly 17,000 U.S.-paid workers, of which 14,000 may be contractors. On Friday, White House officials, speaking on background at a briefing for reporters, projected that 4,500 to 5,000 of these will be employed in guarding three U.S. diplomatic posts in Irbil, Basra, and Baghdad. [Center for Public Integrity's iWatchNews 10/22/11.]
Not soldiers under the control of U.S. law and Congress, mind you, but employees of companies in it for the money. And, with an explosion of non-competed military contracts--one of the worst legacies of the Bush-Cheney years, judging from the shocking graph of such irresponsible funding that accompanies the above article--that is only getting worse, the money is surely going to be very good indeed.
But don't take my word for it:
“After a decade of war, the government remains unable to ensure that taxpayers and warfighters are getting good value for contract dollars spent,” Dov S. Zakheim, a former Pentagon comptroller and a member of the congressionally-created Commission on Wartime Contracting, told the Senate Armed Services committee