Sunday, February 11, 2007
They are not building a palatial embassy with the intention of going
By Noam Chomsky
".....On the US motives for staying in Iraq, I can only repeat what I've been saying for years. A sovereign Iraq, partially democratic, could well be a disaster for US planners. With a Shia majority, it is likely to continue improving relations with Iran. There is a Shia population right across the border in Saudi Arabia, bitterly oppressed by the US-backed tyranny. Any step towards sovereignty in Iraq encourages activism there for human rights and a degree of autonomy - and that happens to be where most of Saudi oil is.
Sovereignty in Iraq might well lead to a loose Shia alliance controlling most of the world's petroleum resources and independent of the US, undermining a primary goal of US foreign policy since it became the world-dominant power after the Second World War. Worse yet, though the US can intimidate Europe, it cannot intimidate China, which blithely goes its own way, even in Saudi Arabia, the jewel in the crown - the primary reason why China is considered a leading threat. An independent energy bloc in the Gulf area is likely to link up with the China-based Asian Energy Security Grid and Shanghai Cooperation Council, with Russia (which has its own huge resources) as an integral part, and with the Central Asian states (already members), possibly India. Iran is already associated with them, and a Shia-dominated bloc in the Arab states might well go along. All of that would be a nightmare for US planners and their Western allies......
There is another issue: even the most dedicated scholar/advocates of "democracy promotion" recognise that there is a "strong line of continuity" in US efforts to promote democracy going back as far as you like and reaching the present: democracy is supported if and only if it conforms to strategic and economic objectives. For example, supporting the brutal punishment of people who committed the crime of voting "the wrong way" in a free election, as in Palestine right now, with pretexts that would inspire ridicule in a free society. As for democracy in the US, élite opinion has generally considered it a dangerous threat which must be resisted. But some Iraqis agreed with Bush's mission to bring democracy to the world: 1 per cent in a poll in Baghdad just as the noble vision was declared in Washington.
On withdrawal proposals from élite circles, however, I think one should be cautious. Some may be so deeply indoctrinated that they cannot allow themselves to think about the reasons for the invasion or the insistence on maintaining the occupation, in one or another form. Others may have in mind more effective techniques of control by redeploying US military forces in bases in Iraq and in the region, making sure to control logistics and support for client forces in Iraq, air power in the style of the destruction of much of Indochina after the business community turned against the war, and so on......."