Tuesday, July 10, 2007

America's Iraqi regime in crisis: a bloody 'withdrawal'

While there is much talk about whether the Bush administration is moving toward 'withdrawal' from Iraq, not much space is being given to the crisis engulfing Maliki, who might be about to fall. Sadr is said to be sponsoring a 'no confidence' motion in the government, which would be supported by the Vice President. A united opposition, backed by the oil workers, is being developed over the neocolonial oil laws. The Green Zone is under attack, and Maliki's alibis are swearing to Voice of America that it would be a disaster if he fell, while his Foreign Minister is pleading with the Americans not to leave for fear that the increasingly isolated government should collapse.

If there is a 'withdrawal', it will be to the bases, and it will almost certainly be accompanied by an escalation in the barely reported air war. If you follow Global Security's military news section, they provide a daily collection of military press releases and publications, all of which detail large numbers of air operations every day. Now, of course, we don't get to hear much about the effects of this campaign, because the only people who are allowed anywhere near the frontline are credulous embedded reporters like the former Green Beret, Michael Yon. However, as Tom Engelhardt documents, and as the Lancet studies have shown, the unreported air war is responsible for huge numbers of civilian casualties in Iraq. 13% of all violent deaths in Iraq in the period covered by the second Lancet survey were put down to air strikes, which amounted to 78,000 deaths. But the troops are getting tired, their periods of service are running out, there are probably as many private mercenaries there now as there can be, the escalation is proving politically costly for the GOP, and a sizeable part of the US ruling elite, expressed through their tribune the New York Times, wants to wind down the direct involvement of the US military without ceding political control. Well, what other way to do it than pound the cities from 20,000 feet above as they usually do when they don't want feet on the ground?