Iraq a Failed Imperialist Venture

American troops were not welcomed with flowers in Iraq but their departure from cities and towns has been.

celebrated National Sovereignty Day Tuesday as U.S. troops were yanked
out of populated centres and put into remote bases.

In time,
even that hidden presence will begin to grate on the Iraqis, just as a
U.S. military base in Saudi Arabia had spurred Osama bin Laden and

Yet this limited troop pullout is being hailed as a
triumph. One is reminded of Richard Nixon's 1973 boast of "peace with
honour" in Vietnam. The 1973 Paris treaty that led to the U.S. troop
withdrawal was a face-saving formula.

In Iraq, too, the U.S. has little choice but to get out.

only did the Iraqi invasion and occupation prove the limits of military
power, it also exposed how incapable America has become at
nation-building. Its postwar incompetence was stunning.

plunged Iraq into chaos, shattered the infrastructure and destroyed the
society, reducing human beings to their basest instincts. They turned
on each other and found safety only in family, tribe, clan and sect.
Shiites and Sunnis, who had lived together for ages, ethnically
cleansed each other's neighbourhoods, which to this day remain
separated by barricades, walls and checkpoints.

Having unleashed
the forces that put Iraq's three main communities at war with each
other, the U.S. toyed with the idea of dividing the country into the
Kurdish north, a Sunni centre and a Shiite south, much like the British
had divided India in two in 1947.

Having created the chaos,
violence and jihadism, the U.S. said, in colonial fashion, it had to
stay to curb the chaos, violence and jihadism. Having crippled the
state, it had no choice but to prolong the occupation until the natives
were ready to govern themselves.

Iraq exhausted America more
than the 1917-32 British invasion and occupation sapped the British. It
also created killing fields on a vast scale.

Yet Iraqis have been
brushed out of the American narrative - Iraq is free of Saddam Hussein,
it is democratic, it is stabilized, it is this and it is that.

nary a mention of how many Iraqis are dead (between 100,000 and 1.2
million, depending on who's counting), how many maimed (not known), how
many displaced (4 million), and how many tortured with Saddam-like
methods in Abu Ghraib and elsewhere (not known).

Besides the
damage to U.S. credibility, and not just in the Muslim world, the Iraq
adventure empowered Iran far more than the U.S. would ever acknowledge.

Finally, the quest for oil may also turn out to be a mirage.

week, Iraq's oil minister, Hussain al-Shahristani, a U of T graduate,
put development rights up for international bidding. No more no-bid
contracts for U.S. firms, unlike under the Bush-Cheney domain.

did George W. and Dick get what they wanted out of the Status of Forces
Agreement. Passed by the Iraqi parliament last fall, it stipulates that
all U.S. troops must be out by Dec. 31, 2011. No U.S. military
operation can be carried out without Iraqi consent (a provision Hamid
Karzai can only dream of). Iraqi soil cannot be used by the U.S. to
launch a war on any neighbour (Iran).

Iraq is the imperial
adventure that both Stephen Harper and Michael Ignatieff, one a neo-con
hawk and the other a liberal hawk, fully backed. A monumental failure
in judgment, their common stance was, and remains, an affront to the
collective will of Canadians.

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