Thursday, October 26, 2006
A GREAT PIECE
By Pepe Escobar
"Iraq is not simply a US electoral issue. It's a human tragedy of biblical proportions. Hence the urge at this point to situate the tragedy in a historical context.
Baghdad had been under siege by the Assyrians and later by Cyrus the Great from Persia. But it was only in 1258 that Baghdad was sacked for the first time by what was then the equivalent of Desert Storm - the Mongols riding their lightning-quick horses under the command of Hulagu, Genghis Khan's grandson. Legend has it that he erected a pyramid of 700,000 skulls out of his victims.
In 1401, another foreign invader, the Turco-Mongol Tamerlan ("Timur the Lame"), devastated Baghdad yet again. In 2003, after the devastation of "shock and awe", came the Christian armies of President George W Bush. From the beginning the comparisons with Hulagu and Tamerlan were vivid in the popular imagination. Over time, Baghdadis - Sunni or Shi'ite - were saying, we will dictate our rhythm and impose ourselves over the occupiers. This is already happening.
This logic of extermination of a society and culture was inbuilt in the process since March 2003. In fact, the systematic annihilation of 2-3% of the entire Iraqi population, according to a study by The Lancet, not to mention the 1 million people displaced since March 2003, follow the more than 500,000 children who died during the 1990s as victims of United Nations sanctions. Iraq has been systematically destroyed for more than 15 years, non-stop. And it gets worse, because for the Bush administration all this death and destruction is just a minor detail in the "big picture".
World public opinion must switch to red alert. The real, not virtual, future of Iraq will be decided in December. The whole point is a new oil law - which is in fact a debt-for-oil program concocted and imposed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). This is the point of the US invasion - a return on investment on the hundreds of billions of dollars of US taxpayers' money spent. It's not war as politics by other means; it's war as free-market opening by other means - full US access to the epicenter of the energy wars and the perfect geostrategic location for "taming", in the near future, both Russia and China.
No wonder: the Green Zone US Embassy colossus has always made sure that the US controls - via well-paid Iraqi servants - the Petroleum Ministry, as well as all key management posts in key Iraqi ministries. The draft hydrocarbon law was reviewed by the IMF, reviewed by Bodman and reviewed by Big Oil executives. It was not and it will not be reviewed by Iraqi civil society: that was left to the fractious Iraqi parliament - which can be largely bought for a fistful of dinars.
No matter what happens in the US mid-term elections next month, this is the post-December scenario: Iraq enslaved by the IMF; Big Oil signing mega-lucrative production sharing agreements (PSAs); "partial" troop withdrawal; relentless guerrilla warfare; further disintegration; open road to partition.Surrealism in international relations would reach new highs (or lows) with the US ordering by decree that a sovereign nation must dismember itself.
Another reading is more ominous. It spells the Bush administration and its attached elites losing control - of everything. And that's how they can become even more dangerous. On October 19, Vice President Dick Cheney once again stated that the only way out in Iraq was "total victory". A recent historical parallel is nothing but gloomy. When the US was confronted with defeat in Vietnam, it did not "Redeploy and Contain": on the contrary, death and destruction were extended to Laos and Cambodia. Baker's "Stability First" might contain undisclosed subtexts.
In sum: a "Coalition of the Drilling" secured by the Pentagon's Long War apparatus. It's up to ancient and proud Baghdad to spoil the party. Baghdad survived and buried Hulagu. Baghdad survived and buried Tamerlan. Baghdad may as well survive and bury George W Bush. "