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Commentary: US Troop Strength in Iraq

By Paul Reitan

Buffalo, NY – Recent good news from Iraq is that the US troop strength will be reduced before the end of the year. How much the reduction will be is not said.

I wonder if the reduction will be to a level below what it was before the build-up to secure the January elections; how much below the troop strength of 150,000 that was required for the complete military lock-down of Iraq for the elections, the lock-down so vividly described in Mark Danner's first hand account in the New York Review of Books.

I also wonder if any US government official will commit the US to a complete pull-out of troops from Iraq any time in the next decade or two. I doubt it, because that, I think, would be contrary to our government's intentions and because it would be contrary to the real reason this government decided to invade Iraq.

In the mid nineties and again in the year 2000 publications by some of the brilliant thinkers who took over the US Department of Defense, the Vice Presidency, and the Presidency in 2001, made it clear that to fulfill what they saw as the US opportunity to emerge as a full-fledged global empire and to secure its role as the sole dominant superpower and decision maker of the world, it would be necessary to establish permanent US military bases in the Middle East, in particular, in Iraq.

This is no secret. In 2000, the Project for the New American Century published a report largely crafted by the people who, when the Bush administration came in, took over US Defense and foreign policy. Among the authors were Paul Wolfowitz, who became Undersecretary of Defense, I. Lewis Libby, who became the Vice President's Chief of Staff, and John Bolton, who became an Undersecretary of State. That report advocates policies that really look like a blueprint for US policy since 2001.

Of course, we all know now that the reasons put forward to invade Iraq, all the many flips and flops among the many imagined needs to go to war, all of those so-called reasons were just a bunch of -- well -- stuff to hoodwink the American people. All those different reasons that served as official or public policy never did make any sense. The real reason -- US empire -- was there in the public record, but somehow never was effectively brought to public attention.

So we went to war and the occupation has been a lot worse than our brainy planners ever expected. Did I say "brainy?" "Machiavellian" and at the same time "Na ve" would be better. And no government official will tell you that we will ever evacuate the military bases that we are establishing there. Why? Because they are needed if the US is to be able to enforce its role as the sole decision-maker of the world.

And the latest step in that plan? The nomination of John Bolton to be US Ambassador to the United Nations. This nomination makes no sense at all. But when I say that, I really mean it makes no sense to me. But this sort of thing, the nomination of the Ambassador to the United Nations, is too big a thing to have been made without careful thought. It must make sense to the Bush administration. But how? Well, it does make sense if the purpose is the destruction of the UN. Bolton is on record as favoring a UN Security Council having only one veto-wielding permanent member, the United States. The purpose behind Bolton's nomination: to make the US the sole decision-maker for the UN, or else, no UN at all. That's consolidating the Empire.

Did the people of the US vote for this? No. Of course not. Bush and company couldn't have been elected if they had been up-front and honest. But their actions, if we follow them and think about their purpose, are betraying their real intentions. I wonder, do we really have to wait until 2009 to save ourselves from this government? What recourse do we have?

Listener-Commentator Paul Reitan lives in Amherst.