The US Air Force’s senior officer, Gen. John Jumper, stated US warplanes would remain in Iraq to fight resistance forces and protect the American-installed regime “more or less indefinitely.”
Gen. Jumper let the cat out of the bag. While President George Bush hints at eventual troop withdrawals, the Pentagon is busy building four major, permanent air bases in Iraq that will require heavy infantry protection.
Jumper’s revelation confirms what this column has long said: the Pentagon plans to copy Imperial Britain’s method of ruling oil-rich Iraq. In the 1920’s, the British cobbled together Iraq from three disparate Ottoman provinces to control newly-found oil fields in Kurdistan and along the Iranian border. The Sunni heartland in the middle was included to link these two oil regions.
London installed a puppet king and built an army of sepoy (native) troops to keep order and put down minor uprisings. A powerful British RAF contingent, based at Habbibanyah, was tasked with bombing serious revolts and rebellious tribes. In the 1920’s, government minister Winston Churchill authorized use of poisonous mustard gas against Kurdish tribesmen in Iraq and Pushtuns in Afghanistan (today’s Taliban). The RAF crushed all revolts against British colonial rule.
This is exactly what Jumper has in mind. Mobile US ground intervention forces will remain at the four major “Ft. Apache” bases guarding Iraq’s major oil fields. These bases will be “ceded” to the US by a compliant Iraqi regime.
The supreme weapon of modern warfare, the US Air Force, will police the Pax American with its precision-guided munitions and armed drones.
The USAF has developed an extremely effective new technique of wide area control. Small numbers of strike aircraft are kept in the air around the clock. When US ground forces come under attack or foes are sighted, these aircraft are vectored to the site in minutes and deliver precision-guided bombs on enemy forces. The effectiveness of this tactic has led Iraqi resistance fighters to favor roadside bombs over ambushes against US convoys.
The USAF uses the same combat air patrol tactic in Afghanistan, with even more success. In fact, this technique works well anywhere with fairly open terrain. The US is developing three major air bases in Pakistan, and others across Central Asia, to support its plans to dominate the strategic region’s vast oil and gas reserves.
While the USAF is settling into West Asia, the mess in Iraq continues to worsen. Last week’s so-called “constitutional deal” was the long-predicted, US-crafted pact between Shia and Kurd giving them Iraq’s oil and virtual independence. The proposed constitution actually assures American big business access to Iraq’s oil riches and markets.
The furious but powerless Sunni were left in the lurch. Sunnis will at least have the chance to vote on it in a 15 September referendum, but many fear it will be rigged.
The US reportedly offered the 15 Sunni convention delegates $5 million each to vote for the constitution – but was turned down. No mention was made that a US “guided” constitution for Iraq clearly violates the Geneva Conventions.
Chinese Taoists say you become what you hate. In a zesty irony, the US now finds itself in a similar position as demonized Saddam Hussein. Saddam had to use his Sunni-dominated army to hold Iraq together by fighting Kurdish and Shia rebels. His brutal police jailed tens of thousands and routinely used torture.
Today, Iraq’s new ruler, the US, is battling Sunni insurgents, (“al-Qaida terrorists,” in the latest Pentagon double-speak), rebuilding Saddam’s dreaded secret police, holding 15,000 prisoners and torturing captives, as the Abu Ghraib outrage showed. Much of the Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama National Guard were in Iraq this week instead of at home.
Meanwhile, the Kurds are de facto independent, the Shia are playing footsie with Iran, and large parts of Iraq resembles the storm-ravaged US Gulf Coast – or vice versa.
Eric Margolis [send him mail firstname.lastname@example.org], contributing foreign editor for Sun National Media Canada, is the author of War at the Top of the World. See his website.
Copyright © 2005 Eric Margolis