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U.S. the New Saddam
by Eric Margolis

The most important news from Iraq last week was not the much ballyhooed
constitutional pact by Shias and Kurds, nor the tragic stampede deaths of
nearly 1,000 pilgrims in Baghdad .

The U.S. Air Force's senior officer, Gen. John Jumper, stated U.S. warplanes
would remain in Iraq to fight resistance forces and protect the
American-installed regime "more or less indefinitely." Jumper's bombshell
went largely unnoticed due to Hurricane Katrina.

Gen. Jumper let the cat out of the bag. While President George Bush hints at
eventual troop withdrawals, the Pentagon is busy building four major,
permanent air bases in Iraq that will require heavy infantry protection.

Jumper's revelation confirms what this column has long said: The Pentagon
plans to copy Imperial Britain's method of ruling oil-rich Iraq . In the
1920s, the British cobbled together Iraq from three disparate Ottoman
provinces to control newly-found oil fields in Kurdistan and along the
Iranian border.

London installed a puppet king and built an army of sepoy (native) troops to
keep order and put down minor uprisings. Government minister Winston
Churchill authorized use of poisonous mustard gas against Kurdish tribesmen
in Iraq and Pushtuns in Afghanistan (today's Taliban). The RAF crushed all

It seems this is what Jumper has in mind. Mobile U.S. ground intervention
forces will remain at the four major " Fort Apache " bases guarding Iraq 's
major oil fields. These bases will be "ceded" to the U.S. by a compliant
Iraqi regime. The U.S. Air Force will police the Pax Americana with its
precision-guided munitions and armed drones.

The USAF has developed an extremely effective new technique of wide area
control. Small numbers of strike aircraft are kept in the air around the
clock. When U.S. ground forces come under attack or foes are sighted, these
aircraft deliver precision-guided bombs. This tactic has led Iraqi
resistance fighters to favour roadside bombs over ambushes against U.S.

The USAF uses the same combat air patrol tactic in Afghanistan , with even
more success. The U.S. is also developing three major air bases in Pakistan ,
and others across Central Asia , to support its plans to dominate the
region's oil and gas reserves.

While the USAF is settling into West Asia, the mess in Iraq continues to
worsen. Last week's so-called "constitutional deal" was the long-predicted,
U.S.-crafted pact between Shias and Kurds, essentially giving them Iraq 's
oil and virtual independence. The proposed constitution assures American big
business access to Iraq 's oil riches and markets.

The furious but powerless Sunnis were left in the lurch. Sunnis will at
least have the chance to vote on it in a Oct. 15 referendum, but many fear
it will be rigged.

The U.S. reportedly offered the 15 Sunni delegates $5 million each to vote
for the constitution -- but was turned down. No mention was made that a
U.S.-guided constitution for Iraq would violate the Geneva Conventions.

Chinese Taoists say you become what you hate. In a zesty irony, the U.S. now
finds itself in a similar position as demonized Saddam Hussein. Saddam had
to use his Sunni-dominated army to hold Iraq together by fighting Kurdish
and Shia rebels. His brutal police jailed tens of thousands and routinely
used torture.

Today, Iraq's new ruler, the U.S., is battling Sunni insurgents, ("al-Qaida
terrorists," in the latest Pentagon doublespeak), rebuilding Saddam's
dreaded secret police, holding 15,000 prisoners and torturing captives, as
the Abu Ghraib outrage showed.

Much of the Louisiana , Mississippi and Alabama National Guard were in Iraq
last week week instead of at home. Meanwhile, the Kurds are de facto
independent, the Shia are playing footsie with Iran, and large parts of Iraq
resemble the storm-ravaged U.S. Gulf Coast -- or vice versa.