When is a withdrawal not a withdrawal?

( – promoted by buhdydharma )

When the Democratic Presidential candidate, Barack Obama, declares:

A Responsible, Phased Withdrawal

Barack Obama believes we must be as careful getting out of Iraq as we were careless getting in. Immediately upon taking office, Obama will give his Secretary of Defense and military commanders a new mission in Iraq: ending the war. The removal of our troops will be responsible and phased, directed by military commanders on the ground and done in consultation with the Iraqi government. Military experts believe we can safely redeploy combat brigades from Iraq at a pace of 1 to 2 brigades a month that would remove them in 16 months. That would be the summer of 2010, more than 7 years after the war began.

Oh, you don’t see a problem here?  

Well… onward, through the fog…

You see, the quoted paragraph above proceeds this next paragraph:

Under the Obama plan, a residual force will remain in Iraq and in the region to conduct targeted counter-terrorism missions against al Qaeda in Iraq and to protect American diplomatic and civilian personnel. He will not build permanent bases in Iraq, but will continue efforts to train and support the Iraqi security forces as long as Iraqi leaders move toward political reconciliation and away from sectarianism.

You know, there are times I really get tired of the spinning, which is really nothing more than lying.  Let me dissect the above paragraph to show you what I mean.

a residual force will remain in Iraq and in the region

How much of a “residual force”?  And, where will this “force” be quartered, train, maintain their equipment?  You see, any U.S. forces left in Iraq will, by default, require American military bases to house them — especially if they are conducting missions.

He will not build permanent bases in Iraq

This is laughably obvious; he doesn’t have to build them — they are already built!  This site, which was reviewed just this year (Feb 2008), states:  “In May 2005, United States military forces in Iraq occupied 106 bases, according to a report in the Washington Post.”  No, Obama doesn’t have to build permanent bases; there are as many as 106 bases already in Iraq that our troops occupy already!

What will be the “continuing mission” of our forces that are left in Iraq?

conduct targeted counter-terrorism missions against al Qaeda in Iraq and to protect American diplomatic and civilian personnel.

I count three actual missions outlined by Obama;

1) To conduct counter-terrorism missions against Al Qaeda in Iraq.

2) To protect American diplomatic personnel.

3) To protect American civilian personnel.

The first mission isn’t necessary.  As we saw in the Anbar province, the Iraqi’s hold no love for Al Qaeda;

The tribal chiefs in the Iraqi province of Anbar joined forces in September in an attempt to defeat al-Qaeda.

They set up the Salvation Council for Anbar and claim to have reduced the numbers of weapons and foreign fighters coming into the area.

“We are fighting the terrorists because they have caused the violent chaos in the country, the instability. They are killing innocent Iraqis and killing anyone who wants freedom and peace in Iraq,” he explained.

So, if Iraqi’s are willing to fight Al Qaeda, why are American forces required to stay in Iraq to fight Al Qaeda?  

The second mission, the protection of diplomatic personnel, doesn’t require American military bases, nor, large numbers of Marines.  Given the size of the American embassy being constructed in Iraq, any diplomatic protection teams can be housed at the embassy:

The 104-acre complex – the size of about 80 football fields – will include two office buildings, one of them designed for future use as a school, six apartment buildings, a gym, a pool, a food court and its own power generation and water-treatment plants. The average Baghdad home has electricity only four hours a day, according to Bowen’s office.

The current U.S. Embassy in Iraq has nearly 1,000 Americans working there, more than at any other U.S. embassy.

So, we are left with the third mission, the protection of American civilian personnel, to justify leaving American forces in the region.  The question then must be asked, “what personnel?”

American contractors that work outside of the already established bases are currently provided security by private firms such as Blackwater.  The American personnel, such as KBR, that provide support to the troops and live inside the compound are protected by the troops themselves.  Now, if we had a large-scale withdrawal of troops until the only troops left in Iraq were at the American embassy, the number of American civilian personnel that needed protection would be minimal, and, would be protected by the embassy protection force itself.  This means, by default of logic, that there are “other” American civilian personnel that a President Obama is considering having to “protect”.  Who could those be?  The answer can only be — oil personnel:

(AP) The State Department’s inspector general is investigating Iraqi oil contracts after four Democratic senators complained that department employees may have encouraged lucrative oil deals between Iraq and several Western companies.

Any backstage meddling would have violated Bush administration policy, which has been to discourage such deals until Baghdad passes a law that will fairly divide the nation’s oil resources among the various provinces.

The oil grab is already underway by western oil companies in Iraq, and rest assured, this will not sit well with the local Iraqi populace.  But, by Condi Rice’s own words, this is a private matter:

“The United States government has stayed absolutely out of the matter of the awarding of Iraqi oil contracts,” Rice said in June. “It’s a private sector matter.”

So, why should our troops be required to protect personnel who are there doing “private sector” work?  The answer to that question, of course, comes from the way the Iraqi oil is being divided:

The U.S. advisers tasked to Iraq’s Oil Ministry were involved to some extent in the negotiated contracts between Iraq and the major international oil companies. U.S. advisers have been assigned to every ministry since 2003, but the oil sector was particularly shadowy and quiet.

When you overthrow a government, abolish the countries ability to provide its own security, stock the “new government” with your oil cronies, and force the newly formed government to accept western oil company contracts, well, you need to have overwhelming security.

Keep in mind, we aren’t talking about McCain and the GOP here, but, Obama we are talking about.  We’ve already seen this same spin coming from his camp:

In a new ad, Obama says, “I don’t take money from oil companies.”

Technically, that’s true, since a law that has been on the books for more than a century prohibits corporations from giving money directly to any federal candidate. But that doesn’t distinguish Obama from his rivals in the race.

We find the statement misleading:

   * Obama has accepted more than $213,000 from individuals who work for companies in the oil and gas industry and their spouses.

   * Two of Obama’s bundlers are top executives at oil companies and are listed on his Web site as raising between $50,000 and $100,000 for the presidential hopeful.

The above was from March 2008.  By August, we see:

Through June, Exxon employees have given Obama $42,100 to McCain’s $35,166. Chevron favors Obama $35,157 to $28,500, and Obama edges out McCain with BP $16,046 vs. $11,500. McCain leads the money race with nearly every other top giver in the oil and gas industry, though — Koch Industries, Valero, Marathon Oil, Occidental Petroleum, ConocoPhillips, the list goes on. (You can see detail on all these companies in the spreadsheet linked below.) McCain also has a big edge with Hess Corp. — $91,000 to Obama’s $8,000 — which has gotten some attention. And, overall, McCain’s campaign has gotten three times more money from the industry than Obama’s has — $1.3 million compared to about $394,000.

Comparing Obama’s and McCain’s financial ties to the oil industry, there’s no question that McCain has benefited more from the industry’s contributions, just as his Republican Party has for years and years. But Obama’s edge with the oil producers Americans know best — and might be cursing most these days — makes it harder for him to continue to tar McCain as the industry’s darling. Still, this chart shows vividly how the industry’s support for McCain’s candidacy has surged in the last few months. It’s been pointed out that giving shot up after the presumptive Republican nominee announced his support for offshore drilling, but you’ll see that the trend started months before that.

Now, if you were a big oil company who were looking at, literally, tens or hundreds of billions of dollars from Iraqi oil contracts and you saw that the Democratic Presidential nominee was likely to win the White House — what would you do?  Maybe, grease the skids a bit?

While the GOP pulls stunts over offshore drilling and the Democrats in Congress cave to them once again, we cannot forget that the real oil prize is, and has been, in Iraq.  Consider the difference between McCain and Obama concerning the future of Iraq:

BUFFALO, New York, July 21 (Reuters) – Republican presidential candidate John McCain appeared to leave a door open on Monday to a large-scale drawdown of U.S. troops from Iraq in the next two years.

But the discussion on troop levels has shifted in recent days after Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki seemed to endorse Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama’s call for troops to be gone within 16 months of his taking office.

Many have seen this shift by McCain as a political move — as McCain trying to keep up with Obama on the war — especially since the Iraqi’s want us gone and cut McCain’s position off at the knees.  Yet, the message we can take away from this is that it isn’t a matter of security, or fighting Al Qaeda in Iraq, or keeping Democracy in the region, but, merely how long can we keep our troops and bases in the region when the host country wants us gone.  

So, how long can we expect to be in Iraq under a President Obama?

will continue efforts to train and support the Iraqi security forces as long as Iraqi leaders move toward political reconciliation and away from sectarianism.

As long as Iraqi leaders move towards reconciliation and we can train the countries security forces that we disbanded.  That will take how long?  10 years?  100 years?  Or, simply until the western oil companies are back in Iraq with iron-clad contracts under their belt?

There are many differences between McCain with his GOP supporters and Obama with his Democratic supporters.  There are many arguments to be made for a President Obama versus a President McCain, and, they are very good arguments; economy, Supreme Court nominations, etc.  

When it comes to Iraq, our troops, and why we need to stay — there is only one real reason — both candidates know it and both candidates are following the same route set for them by Big Oil.


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    • Edger on August 17, 2008 at 18:47

    And the non-combat brigades? And the contractors and private mercenaries that equal the number of US military in Iraq?

    Obama is very careful to always say “combat brigades”. To ONLY say “combat brigades”.

    Iraq is ‘unwinnable’, a ‘quagmire’, a ‘fiasco’: so goes the received opinion. But there is good reason to think that, from the Bush-Cheney perspective, it is none of these things. Indeed, the US may be ‘stuck’ precisely where Bush et al want it to be, which is why there is no ‘exit strategy’.

    Iraq has 115 billion barrels of known oil reserves. That is more than five times the total in the United States. And, because of its long isolation, it is the least explored of the world’s oil-rich nations. A mere two thousand wells have been drilled across the entire country; in Texas alone there are a million. It has been estimated, by the Council on Foreign Relations, that Iraq may have a further 220 billion barrels of undiscovered oil; another study puts the figure at 300 billion. If these estimates are anywhere close to the mark, US forces are now sitting on one quarter of the world’s oil resources. The value of Iraqi oil, largely light crude with low production costs, would be of the order of $30 trillion at today’s prices. For purposes of comparison, the projected total cost of the US invasion/occupation is around $1 trillion.


    How will the US maintain hegemony over Iraqi oil? By establishing permanent military bases in Iraq. Five self-sufficient ‘super-bases’ are in various stages of completion. All are well away from the urban areas where most casualties have occurred. There has been precious little reporting on these bases in the American press, whose dwindling corps of correspondents in Iraq cannot move around freely because of the dangerous conditions. (It takes a brave reporter to leave the Green Zone without a military escort.) In February last year, the Washington Post reporter Thomas Ricks described one such facility, the Balad Air Base, forty miles north of Baghdad. A piece of (well-fortified) American suburbia in the middle of the Iraqi desert, Balad has fast-food joints, a miniature golf course, a football field, a cinema and distinct neighbourhoods – among them, ‘KBR-land’, named after the Halliburton subsidiary that has done most of the construction work at the base. Although few of the 20,000 American troops stationed there have ever had any contact with an Iraqi, the runway at the base is one of the world’s busiest. ‘We are behind only Heathrow right now,’ an air force commander told Ricks.


    As for the number of US troops permanently stationed in Iraq, the defence secretary, Robert Gates, told Congress at the end of September that ‘in his head’ he saw the long-term force as consisting of five combat brigades, a quarter of the current number, which, with support personnel, would mean 35,000 troops at the very minimum, probably accompanied by an equal number of mercenary contractors. (He may have been erring on the side of modesty, since the five super-bases can accommodate between ten and twenty thousand troops each.)

    –Jim Holt writes for the New York Times Magazine and the New Yorker.

  1. … he had the same “withdrawal but not really” policy in the middle of last year, and all the Obama talking point regurgitators on Agent Orange were working so hard spinning it you’d think they were running a taffy machine by hand.

  2. approval of this.  It’s once again one of the dirty little secrets which the ‘more and better Democrats’ crew either ignores or actually believes.  ‘Hope’ and ‘change’ are just catch phrases.  Keep that in mind in November.

  3. I attended in 1993 the final parade of “the allied forces” upon their withdrawal from Berlin Germany.  Nuf said?

  4. To be clear: in Washington speak saying no “permanent bases” means nothing. The military call those bases “hardened bases.” Thus, Obama can keep as many as he likes under double-speak rules.

    Yes, both Hillary and Obama always referred to combat troops. Troops for “force protection,” training Iraqi troops, and strike forces can add up to however many Obama likes for as long as he likes. Balad airforce base can hold 30,000 troops.

    Balad Airbase is located in Northern Iraq approximately 68 kilometers North of Baghdad. Balad Airbase is one of the largest Airbases in Iraq. The airfield is served by two runways 11,300 and 11,200 feet long respectively. Balad occupies a 25 square kilometer site and is protected by a 20 kilometers security perimeter. According to the “Gulf War Air Power Survey, there were 39 hardened aircraft shelters. At the each end of the main runway are hardened aircraft shelters knowns as “trapezoids” or “Yugos” which were build by Yugoslavian contractors some time prior to 1985….

    The base is so large it has its own ‘neighborhoods’. These include: ‘KBR-land’ (a Halliburton subsidiary company); ‘CJSOTF’ which is home to a special operations unit,’ the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force and is surrounded by especially high walls that is, according to The Washington Post, so secretive that even the base Army public affairs chief has never been inside. There is a Subway sandwich shop, a Pizza Hut, a Popeye’s, a 24-hour Burger King, two post exchanges which sell an impressive array of goods, four mess halls, a minature golf course and a hospital. The base has a strictly enforced on-base speed limit of 10 MPH.

    So now that the Forth Amendment is negotiable, and it is clear that we are not leaving Iraq, what’s next?

  5. Vladimir Putin believes we must be as careful getting out of Georgia as we were careless getting in. Putin will give his Minister of Defense and military commanders a new mission in Georgia: ending the war. The removal of our troops will be responsible and phased, directed by military commanders on the ground and done in consultation with the South Ossetian government. Military experts believe we can safely redeploy combat brigades from Georgia at a pace of 1 to 2 brigades a month that would remove them in 16 months. That would be the summer of 2015, more than 7 years after the war began.

    • Edger on August 18, 2008 at 16:04

    we must be as careful getting out of Iraq as we were careless getting in

    So we can be out in less than 2 or 3 months?

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