[Marxism] Why Bush won't leave Iraq

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Fri Nov 30 07:42:23 MST 2007

Catch 22 in Iraq
Why American Troops Can't Go Home
By Michael Schwartz

Every week or so, the Department of Defense conducts a video-conference 
press briefing for reporters in Washington, featuring an on-the-ground 
officer in Iraq. On November 15th, that briefing was with Col. Jeffrey 
Bannister, commander of the Second Brigade of the Second Infantry 
Division. He was chosen because of his unit's successful application of 
surge tactics in three mainly Shia districts in eastern Baghdad. He had, 
among other things, set up several outposts in these districts offering 
a 24-hour American military presence; he had also made generous use of 
transportable concrete walls meant to separate and partition 
neighborhoods, and had established numerous checkpoints to prevent 
unauthorized entry or exit from these communities.

As Col. Bannister summed up the situation:

     "We have been effective, and we've seen violence significantly 
reduced as our Iraqi security forces have taken a larger role in all 
aspects of operations, and we are starting to see harmony between Sunni 
and Shi'a alike."

The briefing seemed uneventful -- very much a reflection of the ongoing 
mood of the moment among American commanders in Iraq -- and received no 
significant media coverage. However, there was news lurking in an answer 
Col. Bannister gave to a question from AP reporter Pauline Jelinek 
(about arming volunteer local citizens to patrol their neighborhoods), 
even if it passed unnoticed. The colonel made a remarkable reference to 
an unexplained "five-year plan" that, he indicated, was guiding his 
actions. Here was his answer in full:

     "I mean, right now we're focused just on security augmentation [by 
the volunteers] and growing them to be Iraqi police because that is 
where the gap is that we're trying to help fill capacity for in the 
Iraqi security forces. The army and the national police, I mean, they're 
fine. The Iraqi police is -- you know, the five-year plan has -- you 
know, it's doubling in size. … [We expect to have] 4,000 Iraqi police on 
our side over the five-year plan.

     "So that's kind of what we're doing. We're helping on security now, 
growing them into IP [Iraqi police]…. They'll have 650 slots that I fill 
in March, and over the five-year period we'll grow up to another 2,500 
or 3,500.

Most astonishing in his comments is the least astonishing word in our 
language: "the." Colonel Bannister refers repeatedly to "the five-year 
plan," assuming his audience understands that there is indeed a master 
plan for his unit -- and for the American occupation -- mandating a 
slow, many-year buildup of neighborhood-protection forces into full 
fledged police units. This, in turn, is all part of an even larger plan 
for the conduct of the occupation.

Included in this implicit understanding is the further assumption that 
Col. Bannister's unit, or some future replacement unit, will be 
occupying these areas of eastern Baghdad for that five-year period until 
that 4,000 man police force is finally fully developed.


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