...This [ISG report] is not, however, good news for those of us who want the U.S. to end its war of conquest in Iraq. Quite the contrary: The ISG report is not an "exit strategy;" it is a new plan for achieving the Bush administration's imperial goals in the Middle East.Link here. The articles are worth reading in their entirety.
Why was the Iraq Study Group so reluctant to advocate the withdrawal of American troops and the abandonment of the Bush administration's goal of pacifying Iraq? The likely explanation is: Its all-establishment membership (and the teams of experts that gave it advice) understood that withdrawing from Iraq would be an imperially momentous decision. It would, in fact, mean the abandonment of over two decades of American foreign policy in the Middle East. To grasp this, it's helpful to compare the way most Americans look at the war in Iraq to the way those in power view it.
Most Americans initially believed that the U.S. went into Iraq to shut down Saddam Hussein's WMD programs and/or simply to topple a dangerous dictator (or even a dictator somehow connected to the 9/11 attacks). Of course, had that really been the case, the Bush administration should have withdrawn almost immediately. Even today, it could, at least theoretically, withdraw and declare victory the day after Saddam Hussein is executed, since the WMDs and the 9/11 connection were evanescent. In this scenario, the dismal post-invasion military failure would represent nothing but the defeat of Bush's personal crusade -- articulated only after the Hussein regime was toppled -- to bring American-style democracy to a benighted land.
The invasion of 2003 reflected the Bush administration's ambition to establish Iraq as the hub of American imperial dominance in the oil heartlands of the planet. Unsurprisingly, then, the U.S. military entered Iraq with plans already in hand to construct and settle into at least four massive military bases that would become nerve centers for our military presence in the "arc of instability" extending from Central Asia all the way into Africa -- an "arc" that just happened to contain the bulk of the world's exportable oil.
The original plan included wresting control of Iraqi oil from Saddam's hostile Baathist government and delivering it into the hands of the large oil companies through the privatization of new oil fields and various other special agreements. [emphasis added] It was hoped that privatized Iraqi oil might then break OPEC's hold on the global oil spigot. In the Iraq of the Bush administration's dreams, the U.S. would be the key player in determining both the amount of oil pumped and the favored destinations for it. (This ambition was implicitly seconded by the Baker Commission when it recommended that the U.S. "should assist Iraqi leaders to reorganize the national oil industry as a commercial enterprise")
Most striking is the report's twenty-first (of seventy-nine) recommendations, aimed at describing what the United States should do if the Iraqis fail to satisfactorily fulfill the many tasks that the ISG has set for them."If the Iraqi government does not make substantial progress toward the achievement of milestones on national reconciliation, security, and governance, the United States should reduce its political, military, or economic support for the Iraqi government."This could be interpreted as a threat that the United States will withdraw -- and the mainstream media has chosen to interpret it just that way. But why then did Baker and his colleagues not word this statement differently? ("… the United States should reduce, and ultimately withdraw, its forces from Iraq.") The phrase "reduce its political, military, or economic support for the Iraqi government" is probably better interpreted literally: that if that government fails to satisfy ISG demands, the U.S. should transfer its "political, military, or economic support" to a new leadership within Iraq that it feels would be more capable of making "substantial progress toward" the milestones it has set. In other words, this passage is more likely a threat of a coup d'état than a withdrawal strategy -- a threat that the façade of democracy would be stripped away and a "strong man" (or a government of "national salvation") installed, one that the Bush administration or the ISG believes could bring the Sunni rebellion to heel.
It's a lot to swallow, but it portrays, accurately, the imperial interests of the Bush Administration and the Administration's Masters.