US Forces in Iraq Shift to Long-term Occupation

By Debra Sweet 
 
Sunday, the Associated Press reported "BAGHDAD - An American solider was killed in a rocket attack in southern Iraq on Sunday, the U.S. military said, marking the first American fatality since the last combat unit in Iraq pulled out of the country."

As the "last" combat brigade left Iraq, President Obama prepares to give a major speech next week.  He probably won't claim victory; that would be laughable.  He will claim that the U.S. is taking responsible action, now that the Iraqis are ready to "step up" and run "their own" country.  This is the same plan the Bush regime had, but framed and re-branded, Obama-style, to cover a thoroughly illegitimate occupation.
Jeremy Scahill said on Democracy Now earlier this month that the combat role is shifting to the State Department, which "has plans to remake some US bases into what they call 'enduring presence posts,' EPPs. And so, you'll have these outposts around the country that are essentially-what is essentially unfolding here is a downsized and rebranded occupation, Obama-style, that is going to necessitate a surge in private forces.
 
The State Department is asking for MRAP vehicles, armored vehicles, for Black Hawk helicopters and for these paramilitary forces. So, yes, you can say that officially combat has ended, but in reality you're continuing it through the back door by bringing in these paramilitary forces and classifying them as diplomatic security, which was Bush's game from the very beginning."

But don't think the military is really leaving.  General Ray Odierno, who's in charge in Iraq, says they'll stay or come back at the discretion of the administration.  More troops left Ft. Hood this morning for Iraq, though not without protest. 
 
There are still 50,000 troops "advising" the Iraqi government propped up by US backing.  U.S. accomplishments include the biggest embassy in the world ever; civil society in shambles, and no stability for the people. 
 
Adil E. Shamoo, a professor of ethics, writes in What You Will Not Hear About Iraq, "Iraq has between 25 and 50 percent unemployment, a dysfunctional parliament, rampant disease, an epidemic of mental illness, and sprawling slums. The killing of innocent people has become part of daily life. What a havoc the United States has wreaked in Iraq...For the past few decades, prior to the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, the percentage of the urban population living in slums in Iraq hovered just below 20."

Stephanie Tang from World Can't Wait joined anti-war veterans Josh Stieber and Ethan McCord on the Lettieri & Poole show, KGO Newstalk Radio (San Francisco) Saturday August 21, for a talk about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and WikiLeaks.

Josh and Ethan were in Iraq with Bravo Company 2-16, the unit whose Apache helicopter attack on civilians is now known to the world thanks to the Wikileaks "Collateral Murder" video. Ethan is seen in that video, carrying a wounded Iraqi child to find a medic. After returning from Iraq, Josh and Ethan wrote An Open Letter of Reconciliation and Responsibility to the Iraqi People: From Current and Former Members of the US Military.


Grief is No Excuse for Bigotry & War
 
About 300 people came out yesterday in downtown Manhattan under the slogan, "We oppose attacks now, and in the future, on Muslims and mosques.  Welcome Cordoba House!"  The signs were wide-ranging, from "I support religious freedom" to "We welcome Muslims" to "Isn't the Constitution hallowed?" (um, no) to World Can't Wait's message that "Grief is No Excuse for Bigotry & War!"   There were some American flags, and a lot of questions about how people can be so mean and racist.

Around the corner, the "Stop the Islamization of America" crowd, which numbered up to 1,000, had a full stage and sound, and its own variety of messages.  "We learned all we ever need to know about Islam on 9-11;" "No rewards 4 terrorism!" and "Remember 9-11!"  There were bikers, American flags, an effigy of a man in a keffiyeh, as if this was the last stand of "real" Americans.

The Islamic community center planned is completely in sync with the slick, mainstream, commercial re-building plan Bloomberg and the financiers of Wall Street put together for downtown New York.  Its imam travels the world, as he did during the Bush regime, trying to get Muslims not to hate the U.S. as part of the Obama administration's re-branding of the so-called "war on terror" to the "overseas contingency operation, while Muslims are being pounded and killed in the US occupations. As Joel Bittar said in this video featuring the reactionary protest yesterday, "In all fairness, the United States has been building 'ground zeroes' near mosques since 2003."

That's what this movement against Muslims and mosques and the "Islamization of America" is at its core: a base of support a "white, Christian America" and for a US empire dominating the world.  With their ideological brethren waving guns at immigrants in Arizona, and Beck/Palin staging a  "Restoring Honor" rally on the site and 47th anniversary of MLK's I Have a Dream speech, this right-wing movement is neither "spontaneously" coming up from the people, nor is it going away.

"We're At War With These People" said a protester against a new mosque in TN, quoted in the Washington Post, Far from Ground Zero, other plans for mosques run into vehement opposition.  I challenge almost every word of that claim, from who the "we" is to who "these people" are.  And this is what we, as people who want an end to the wars, and who care about humanity, should do.
 
Support UXO Concert September 10, Washington, East Mall, The Capitol
September 10 in Washington DC: a free anti-war concert supporting GI resistance!  The performers include
 
Anti-Flag, State Radio, Flobots, Tim Barry, Outernational, Rebel Inc., and High Risk. 

Save the date and click here for details.  The bands are not being paid to perform, but organizers urgently need funds for the production.  Please donate towards this event. 

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World Can't Wait mobilizes people living in the United States to stand up and stop war on the world, repression and torture carried out by the US government. We take action, regardless of which political party holds power, to expose the crimes of our government, from war crimes to systematic mass incarceration, and to put humanity and the planet first.