[R-G] The Progressive Response, Volume 9, Number 22, October 21, 2005
james m nordlund
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Sun Oct 23 01:26:32 MDT 2005
The Progressive Response, Volume 9, Number 22, October 21, 2005
Editor: John Gershman, IRC
Available online at: http://www.fpif.org/fpifzines/pr/2898
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Table of Contents
I. Updates and Out-Takes
Bush Again Resorts to Fear-Mongering to Justify Iraq Policy | Stephen
The New Iraq: Discovery or Invention | Col. Daniel Smith, U.S. Army (Ret.)
A Constitution of Trouble | Andrew Arato
How Basra Slipped Out of Control: Portent in the Shiite South? | Gareth
Sleight of Hand: India Iran & the United States | Conn Hallinan
I. Updates and Out-Takes
Bush Again Resorts to Fear-Mongering to Justify Iraq Policy. By Stephen
President George W. Bush's October 6 address at the National Endowment for
Democracy illustrated his administration's increasingly desperate effort
to justify the increasingly unpopular U.S. war in Iraq. Much of his speech
contained the same misleading rhetoric regarding U.S. policy toward Iraq
and the nature of the radical Islamists that has led the United States
into its disastrous confrontation in Iraq and has served to weaken
America's defenses against the real threat al-Qaida poses.
Stephen Zunes, Middle East editor for Foreign Policy In Focus (online at
www.fpif.org ), is a professor of Politics at the University of San
Francisco and the author of Tinderbox: U.S. Middle East Policy and the
Roots of Terrorism (Common Courage Press, 2003).
See full FPIF Policy Report online at:
The New Iraq: Discovery or Invention. By Col. Daniel Smith, U.S. Army
The moment the Iraqis figured out that the U.S. administration really was
going to try to re-invent, not re-discover, Iraq is the moment that U.S.
forces went from liberators to occupiers.
No country, least of all Iraq with its long history, is a tabula rasa. Its
people fall into 27 traditional ethnic or sectarian divisions, each with
its own leadership. In its re-invention, the U.S.-dominated Coalition
Provisional Authority promptly collapsed these into 3, thereby effectively
undercutting traditional Iraqi identity without presenting a viable
alternative or web of alternatives. Such wrenching of the traditional
basis of identity inevitably spilled into the myriad activities associated
with rebuilding the country. This has been glaringly apparent in Iraqi
politics where the central power officesprime minister, president,
speaker of the Assemblyhave been effectively Lebanized by being
assigned to each of the main blocs.
Ironically, even as the United States insists on dealing with its
tripartite invention, at least two of them, Shi'ite Arabs and Kurdish
Sunnis, are fracturing back into their more traditional competing power
centers. At the same time, the closer-knit Sunni Arabs have been forced
for survival reasons to engage politically in the October constitutional
referendum. Yet if they vote overwhelming against the constitution and it
still passes, they may well abandon political dialogue feeling that their
views and interests will always be ignored by the other factions.
What transpires between now and October 15 is less important than what
both U.S. and Iraqi leaders do and say on October 16. Restraint from the
winners will be as vital as from the losersand from U.S. politicians
of both parties. In fact, what the U.S. Congress can do in the
post-referendum period that would really boost Iraqi nationalism is to
publicly declare that the United States will withdraw all troops from and
will retain no bases in Iraq.
This policy statement, followed by Pentagon action to provide emerging
Iraqi security forces with the same type of equipment U.S. forces have,
would serve as the first and second moves in the orderly disengagement of
U.S. forces from the Iraq that Washington invented.
And should Washington get this far, it just might discover that, left to
itself, the old Iraq will underpin the new to the advantage of the
Iraqi people as a whole.
Dan Smith is a military affairs analyst for Foreign Policy In Focus
(online at www.fpif.org ), a retired U.S. Army colonel, and a senior
fellow on military affairs at the Friends Committee on National
See full FPIF Commentary online at:
A Constitution of Trouble By Andrew Arato
Iraqi negotiators reached a compromise on the constitution on Tuesday
bringing the support of at least one major Sunni group before Saturday's
vote. But the supposed compromise merely kicks the can down the road,
leaving the real questions at hand untouched.
In the new parliament, the Sunnis will not have either the two-thirds
majority behind them to amend the constitution, nor even the simple
majority needed to control the mechanism of region formation or the
membership of the proposed commission to recommend amendments to the
constitution. Thus the new commission is a meaningless concession, as they
will soon find out. More importantly, the last minute changes reflect the
general lack of respect for the constitutional process and content that
has been evident all along.
Both the procedure that produced the Iraqi constitutional draft that will
be voted on October 15, and its constitutional substance were and are
disastrous. As to the procedure, the rules of the pathetic Transitional
Administrative Law (TAL) were violated in a routine manner. From the
beginning, the United States has played an unseemly, illegitimate, and
probably illegal under the Hague Convention, role in the
constitution-making process of an occupied country.
Andrew Arato is an expert for Foreign Policy In Focus (online at
www.fpif.org ) and is the Dorothy Hart Hirshon Professor of Political and
Social Theory at the New School University.
See full FPIF Policy Report online at:
How Basra Slipped Out of Control: Portent in the Shiite South? By Gareth
To understand just how tenuous the U.S. position in Iraq is at the moment,
we have only to look at the way Basra, Iraq's second largest city, in the
solidly Shiite South slipped out of the control of occupation forces last
What happened in Basra may be a preview of a strategy aimed at causing the
collapse of the U.S. political position in one city after another.
Gareth Porter is a historian and an analyst for Foreign Policy In Focus
(online at www.fpif.org ). His latest book is Perils of Dominance:
Imbalance of Power and the Road to War in Vietnam (University of
California Press, 2005).
See full FPIF commentary online at:
Sleight of Hand: India Iran & the United States. By Conn Hallinan
This is a tale about a vote, a strike, and a sleight of hand.
For the past six months the United States and the European Union (EU) have
led a full court press to haul Iran before the UN Security Council for
violating the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NNPT) by supposedly
concealing a nuclear weapons program. Last month, the International Atomic
Energy Agency (IAEA) voted to declare Iran in non-compliance with the
Treaty, but deferred a decision on referral to the Security Council until
Why was India lining up with the United States and the EU against Iran,
especially since it risked alienating essential domestic allies? Why would
India jeopardize its relations with Iran while it is engaged in high
stakes negotiations with Teheran over a $22 billion natural gas deal, and
a $5 billion oil pipeline from Iran to India via Pakistan?
To sort this out one has to go back to early this year when CIA Director
Porter Goss and U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld testified before
Congress that China posed a strategic threat to U.S. interests. Both men
lobbied for a containment policy aimed at surrounding and isolating
One key piece on this new Cold War chessboard is India, which under the
previous right-wing government saw itself as a political and economic
rival to Beijing. But there was an obstacle to bringing India into the
ring of U.S. allies stretching from Japan in the East, to Kyrgyzstan and
Tajikistan in Central Asia.
Conn Hallinan is a foreign policy analyst for Foreign Policy In Focus
(online at www.fpif.org) and a lecturer in journalism at the University of
California, Santa Cruz.
See full FPIF Commentary online at:
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