Tom Hayden : Will Iraq ‘Invite’ Us to Stay?

Image from Progressive America Rising.

U.S. combat ends in Iraq
But will Iraq ‘invite’ us to stay?

By Tom Hayden / The Rag Blog / August 21, 2010

See ‘The myth that the combat troops are leaving Iraq’ by Col. Andrew Berdy, Below.

While the Obama administration struggles to keep its pledge to end the Iraq war, a behind-the-scenes plan is developing in which the Baghdad regime “invites” the American military to stay.

Managing the withdrawal of combat troops was a significant achievement for Obama. But while media attention focused this week on the last American combat brigade rolling out of Iraq, US diplomat Ryan Crocker was predicting that if the Iraqis “come to us later on this year requesting that we jointly relook at the post-2011 period, it is going to be in our strategic interest to be responsive.” [NYT, Aug. 19]

That means troops and bases, keeping a U.S. strategic outpost in the Middle East. Otherwise, according to some Pentagon sources, the Iraq war will have been in vain.

To prevent backsliding on the agreement to withdraw all troops and bases by the end of 2011, peace advocates and Congress will have to revisit and reinforce those agreements using hearings and budgetary powers.

To review the history: in late 2008, a secret negotiation resulted in what the Iraqis called “the withdrawal agreement” and the Americans the “status of forces agreement.” The bilateral pact was never debated or approved by the U.S. Congress. By its adoption, the Iraqis could claim a victory for sovereignty while the U.S. could declare a diplomatic end to an unpopular war.

In reality, the Iraq war never ended. U.S. casualties plummeted because fewer Iraqis wanted to shoot Americans who were leaving. Iraqi casualties declined from the feverish high of 2006-7, but continue to be several hundred per month.

Al Qaeda of Mesopotamia, which did not exist when the war began, has survived. The forces of Moktada al-Sadr, who waged two uprisings against the U.S., are a powerful factor in Iraqi politics and on the ground. The Kurdish crisis is unsolved. Overall, Iran has prevailed strategically and politically.

And the Baghdad regime originally installed by the Americans seems hopeless deadlocked, inefficient, and on the edge of imploding. The only Western winners are the oil companies headed by British Petroleum, now contracting for the Basra oil fields.

The State Department is expanding a militarized “civilian” intervention to fill the gap as Pentagon troops depart. Thousands of military contractors will conduct Iraqi police training, protect Iraq’s airspace, and possibly conduct continued counterterrorism operations. State Department operatives will be protected in mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles [MRAPS], armored vehicles, helicopters and its own planes.

The immediate future is uncertain. U.S. soldiers currently being sent to Iraq are told their mission is “to shut it down.” But the real story is being hidden by the Obama administration’s insistence that its promise to end the war is being kept. The notion of a continued military presence, according to the Times, “has been all but banished from public discussion.” According to one official, “the administration does not want to touch this question right now.”

A war that started with dreams of bringing democracy to the Middle East is ending by keeping plans for more troops hidden from American voters during an election year. Sound familiar?

[Tom Hayden is a former California state senator and leader of Sixties peace, justice, and environmental movements. He currently teaches at Pitzer College in Los Angeles. His books include The Port Huron Statement, Street Wars and The Zapatista Reader. He is a contributor to Progressive America Rising, where this article also appears.]

The myth that the combat
Troops are leaving Iraq

By Col. Andrew Berdy, U.S. Army (ret.)

Can you explain to me how, or why, the myth of “all combat troops out of Iraq” is allowed to be perpetuated by the press, much less our senior military leadership? Yes, the mission has changed. But units like my son’s Stryker Brigade (not the one that just left!) are, and always will be, combat infantry units.

This is fiction pure and simple. I just don’t get how the nation has swallowed this and why members of the media are not reporting facts the way they are rather than the political PR message the Administration wants portrayed. Does anyone not think that the likelihood of continued combat operations is a reality? When casualties are taken by these “non-combat forces” will those casualties be characterized as “non-combat” as well?

Does the public not understand that the secondary mission of our remaining forces is to be prepared to conduct combat operations either to defend themselves or to support Iraqi forces if requested? And when these train and assist “non-combat” units have to engage in, dare I say, combat operations, what will the Administration say then?

I can tell you, as a former brigade commander responsible for securing and helping to rebuild Port-au-Prince, Haiti, while we went in prepared for battle, and quickly transitioned to peacekeeping/nation building, there was never a moment that my infantry brigade was not prepared to conduct combat operations (which did occur late in the deployment) and there was never a moment when we were anything but a combat force.

I suspect if you ask those troopers on the ground now they would agree with me and take incredible umbrage with what is being trumpeted on TV and in the press.

Source / The Best Defense / Foreign Policy

Thanks to Carl Davidson and Steve Russell / The Rag Blog

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9 Responses to Tom Hayden : Will Iraq ‘Invite’ Us to Stay?

  1. That also leaves open the wounds about what is or is not considered “combatant”.
    When I was in Tech School they informed me in no uncertain terms that Medics were in fact Combatants, So are Chaplains. In fact EVERY job in the military is a Combatant for purposes of enforcing the Geneva and Hague conventions.

    With the “Unlawful Combatant” designations the Bushwack crew pushed off on us, that got extended to clergy and teachers and sons, daughters, wives, brothers and grandfathers of “insurgents” which is a fancy way of saying “people defending their own countries from foreign occupation”.

    Legal designations that would reverse the Nazi War Crimes tribunals for the WaffenSchutzStaffel and Gestapo killing civilians in the occupied countries.

    And then, to top that, they flip the picture one more time, and designate Blackwater, Wackenhut and so forth, as “civilians”. WTF? You’re carrying a gun AND allegedly under the command of an established government entity, in a combat zone, with protected status and actual free-fire orders, and your designation is “Civilian”? Since the Hell WHEN?

  2. masterspork says:

    Just a few quick things.

    1. Knowing the difference between a dedicated combat unit like Infantry to a non-combat unit like a transportation unit. Both have weapons but are used in a completely different way. It is like saying a Mall Guard can do the exact same thing as a member of a SWAT team. Just because someone can carry a gun does not mean that they are a infantry combat solider.

    2. Chaplain are not combatants but have a Chaplains assistant that carry a weapon in his defense.

    3. Medics are considered defensive soldiers in that they are not going to be the ones leading the charge. Also their weapons are for defense of themselves and those that they treat.

    4. Actively picking up a weapon and taking part in the fight removes your protective status regardless of who you are or how old. It is the reason why medics of today no longer wear the Red Cross in favor of having a weapon unlike back in the 1940s.

    5. They are contractors and not part of the military. They are controlled by a different part of DOD.Also the DOD does not use them to go on raids. They were used for base security in some places were US soldiers could have some downtime from their normal duties. (Also BlackWater/IX has been gone from Iraq since 2009 give or take when they did not get renewed for their contract.)

  3. Brother Jonah says:

    The difference is not between “Combatant” or “Non-Combatant” but Combat and Combat Support.

    The lines are now completely blurred out with regards to whatever Civilians who take up arms or support the taking up of arms as resistance fighters. Including Clergy.

    The “civilian” contractors have done chores which, when applying the same support roles to “enemy” support groups, such as firearms training, torture errr “interrogation” of Prisoners, and transporting or supplying Arms or other war material (that would include medical supplies or food too) would earn them a place, once captured, in Gitmo being Tortured Errr… Interrogated. Or Bagram or Abu Ghraib or whatever “contract” torture chambers the Pentagon-CIA-State Department-Blurred Lines Agencies uses at the time.

    Marking medical materiel and personnel with the Red Cross got a bit riskier once the Chinese and North Koreans found out that the U.S. Army was using a brand of Military Explosives marked with a Red Cross as the TRADEMARK and then, in English, “Red Cross Brand Military Grade Extra Dynamite”

    Which of course your average Chinese or Korean soldier could not read, just had the international symbol of the Red Cross on the crates.

    I had 4 of the crates, retrieved from a military dump on Ft Bliss Texas. Date of manufacture/shipping was 1949.

    They had told me in Tech School that it was a Communist Propaganda myth.

    So, where should I begin trusting the official account again?

    Where, in fact, should ANYBODY trust the official accounts? The “official” accounts are that Saddam Hussein “refused” to prove that he did not possess a million pounds of Nerve Gas, Bio-weapons or yellow-cake uranium.

    That’s still the official lie errr “line”. Why would I be obligated to trust Liars?

  4. Brother Jonah. says:

    Now, the claims made to me in Tech School about the Red Cross were what you could call “spurious”. The Communist “Unlawful combatants” in South VietNam did in fact fire on the Red Cross emblems. The part about it being “propaganda” that munitions had been shipped marked with the Red Cross was a claim invented by U.S. Military forces.

    The “cong” VietMinh fighters weren’t treated as POWs when captured, but somehow U.S. forces captured by the DRVN and Laotian and Cambodian forces when they Invaded THEIR countries illegally and did Illegal Aerial Bombardment of those nations, against none of which had ever been an actual declaration of War made by the U.S. Congress, WERE accorded the status of POW, like McCain.

    Had they been treated in the same way the “cong” and Pathet Lao and Khmer Rouge fighters were, there wouldn’t be any of those ridiculous black and white flags being flown on the vehicles of Pseudo-Patriots all over America today.

    They would have been first tortured then executed.

    What was told to me in training as to the roles of Medical and Chaplain and other “support” services, I had made the mistake of using the same definitions you did, Spork. And was Corrected. By two Tech Sergeants, both of them Combat SUPPORT veterans of the VietNam non-war.

    The dynamite boxes were rectangular, just under a yard long and just under a half yard high by half yard deep. To stack them on pallets for shipping they would fit two side by side, on one layer, two side by side on the top layer, staggered with the ends pointed North-South on one layer East-West on the second. and two layers would form a cube. Very easy to stack into the bed of a Deuce-and-a-half. Or a Jeep.

    Nice, Neat, Squared up. Easy.

    I used the wood from the boxes to build a cage for my wifes guinea pig, that the dogs couldn’t break into. But I am Absolutely certain that is what was written on the top panel of the boxes.

    But 4 years earlier I had been told that the story of the markings was made up by Communist forces to justify firing on medical personnel and supplies. The same sergeants who told me that my job was not Humanitarian in any way but more like a Monkey Mechanic, performing the same kind of maintenance that Motor Pool did for the trucks and the Base Armorer did for the guns and munitions on the aircraft… for the Airmen and pilots and other staff. We were property, nothing more or less.

    The Chaplains Corps is there to enhance the morale of the soldiers, the Pentagon doesn’t give a rats ass about anybody’s immortal soul, they just want the “troops” to believe that God ordains the killing they do. To ease their natural human conscientious revulsion at what would otherwise be considered Murdered. The same way War Correspondents like Tokyo Rose and Lord Haw-Haw were called Propagandists simply by them being on “The Other Side” in World War Two and actually prosecuted.

    Like Clergy in Iraq and Afghanistan who tell the infamous story about the 74 virgins and being lifted up to Paradise to be praised forever by God and His Angels if they fell in battle,

    How Would THAT Story Differ, substantially or substantively, from what the U.S. and U.K. Chaplains tell the “troops” about THEIR soul-journey if killed in battle? I can answer that

    Not a literally God-damned bit.

  5. masterspork says:

    I wrote about that because it was yourself that started that topic.

    That also leaves open the wounds about what is or is not considered “combatant”.

    The topic as I see it is that there is a disagreement on what is considered a combat unit and what is not.

    As far as contractors go they are not and will never be used as substitution for combat units. They are their for support. Also considering that there are honest contractors against bads ones it does not do any good to try to make a blanket statement about them ether way. But to say that some how that they will be the “new” combat troops for active missions is baseless.

    So going back to the original question of what is a combat unit like Infantry and what is not like Transportation. What in your mind is the difference?

    The rest of what you posted if off topic and nothing I said really relates to that or not. For example, I am pointing out how the Chaplin is viewed as a non-combatant, not what do I think of Chaplin in general. Also I think your information on the military is dated if your using Vietnam area info.

  6. Brother Jonah says:

    One could hope that the contractors won’t be used in combat. Also the combatant designation has now been shifted by the Bush doctrine, with the emphasis on the term “unlawful”.

    Also any form of violence, armed of course, would be combat, directly. That would include “Armed with restraints” as in, handcuffing a prisoner. Wackenhut has contracts both in America and Iraq to run prisons.

    As for Chaplains, I’m a Christian. I think it’s blasphemous for somebody to sell his priesthood to anybody’s army.

    And, they sell it every bit as much as a, from MY perspective, civilian preacher of any faith, muslim, jewish, christian, buddhist, none of the above… telling the soldiers that it’s right and moral to obey orders to kill other human beings. AND, that it’s amoral and wrong to refuse those orders.

    One thing a Chaplain has that a Medic doesn’t. A Commission from the Military.
    He can actually quit the military, and there are exemptions in the Draft Act that apply directly to Clergy.

    A Chaplain, as opposed to Civilian clergy, is under command. He can’t tell the soldiers not to obey unlawful orders. That would be incitement to mutiny and a court martial offense.

  7. Brother Jonah says:

    The official story will of course be different. I’ve learned to distrust the official story.

    The definitions of Unlawful Combatant are so vague the word “definition” shouldn’t even fit. They become arbitrary. A family member who doesn’t snitch off his father or brother or sister to the occupation forces for instance, Since “Unlawful Combatant” is a criminal charge rather than anything that applies in Hague or Geneva conventions. The VietMinh were defined as Criminals by the RVN government and by the U.S.

    It’s a dangerous precedent to set, and we’re only beginning to feel the backlash from that policy as applied in Iraq.

    IF the backdoor is left open, which it was, and IF the Pentagon decides to re-enter through that loophole “backdoor”, which they’ve indicated a willingness to do, the quagmire can be extended, indefinitely. By weaseling around with arbitrary “definitions”.

    The language used is that vague. So is the vague definition of what is actual combat. “Vague Definition” is an oxymoron, by the way.

    The powers “given” to the Puppet Dictatorship in Iraq, and the one in Afghanistan, are like the land grants “given” to American Indians.

    “Given” substantially less of the rights, land, entitlement, sovereignty, legal authority, than you had before the negotiations started, AT GUNPOINT, is also called “armed robbery” in RealSpeak.

    The powers the Iraqi Puppet Government were given have a Veto Clause, they can deny any contractor a license or limit the activities of those contractors, but those limitations can be and have been vetoed.

    But officially, the U.S. government doesn’t run Iraq. Officially, telling the Iraqi people who they’re forbidden to elect isn’t the same as telling them who they can or must elect.

    Again, back to trusting the Official Story.
    It’s the Official Story that there’s a pullout. The Official Story that the contractors won’t engage in combat operations, even though there are incidents like the one where Blackwater opened fire on Civilians in Baghdad, killing Officially 17 people But that’s not combat.

    In a way, it’s NOT combat. It’s murder.
    Just, you know, not officially.

    Incidentally, if I were threatened with arrest, and instead took away an officers handcuffs, and placed HIM in those handcuffs and simply walked away, in the State of Texas that would be Aggravated Assault on a Peace Officer, Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon, (the handcuffs) and Aggravated Kidnapping.

    The “non-combatant” prison guards and Torturers who work for those “contractor” agencies, they do that a lot. Can’t help it that it’s true and I really can’t help it if they or their defenders are offended by the truth being told. They can spout the “official story” all they want.

    If they want to exempt themselves from the same definitions they place on those they kill, imprison and torture, that’s their lies and not anything I can do will make their lies into truth.

    And I really resented being classified as Combat anything for practicing medicine. Or for the dehumanized role of both myself and anybody who I was supposed to maintain in Combat Readiness. So I like definitions of Human better than what the Military offers. Sue me.

  8. Brother Jonah says:

    And, the topics are really complex and can’t be simplified. If they take some explaining to put them into context, then at least I’m capable of putting them into that context.

    The same lies are being told to us now as they were told to us 40 and 50 and 60 years ago. Nothing has really changed but the individual faces from whence the lies spew forth.

  9. masterspork says:

    Ok I think you mixing two concepts together. That is what is considering a member of a Combat Unit and what is considered as a Combatant. I believe that can be seen when you made this statement.

    The “non-combatant” prison guards and Torturers who work for those “contractor” agencies, they do that a lot.

    Is that the Military does the handling of those that have been arrested and hands them over to local police departments for detainment/trial. So I am not sure were your getting this one. Also I promise you again that contractors will not be used as replacement for units.

    The role of BlackWater/Ix was to be a VIP/security escort. Now about what happened with them in Iraq with that shooting I think is one of the reasons that they lost the right to work in Iraq. But BlackWater does not represent all contractors. This is a big group to include, food/cooking, cleaning cloths, maiaintace for the generators, construction and security. To say that these people are bad because of the actions of BackWater is a unjust to the hard work that these contractors did for us. Yes we saw corruption at times when the entire staff of a concrete mixing company was fired for stealing money. But there was more good then bad.

    Also as far as the Chaplains go, I am an atheist and really do not care about how Christianity and the military intermix. All I care about is that he is viewed as a non-combatant and has a protected status under the laws of war. Also just because that is a Officer position does not mean that if that person was to quit that he can quit being in the Army. They are required to finish out their time in an enlisted rank that is equal to what their officer rank was.

    Now for the medics’ goes a lot has changed. Medics are required to have weapons when going to a conflict zone and are viewed as combatants with protected status. If I was working on someone and not shooting back, in theory I could not be targeted. But this has not been the case considering that when I was in Iraq that there was a 10,000 dollars US reward for anyone that killed medical personal. That is why we are given weapons for defence and for those that we treat. We are no longer viewed as medics but combat medics. A lot has changed with combat medical care. Like putting the tourniquet on first rathern then the last thing to stop bleeding. CPR is not done on the battlefield. A lot has changed since you got out.

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