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Iraq Pullout: Mission Accomplished or Strategic Retreat?

By Stephen Lendman - Posted on 24 August 2010

Iraq Pullout: Mission Accomplished or Strategic Retreat? - by Stephen Lendman

In an August 2 speech to disabled veterans, Obama touted his planned withdrawal, saying:

"As a candidate for president, I pledged to bring the war in Iraq to a responsible end....Shortly after taking office, I announced our new strategy....for a transition to full Iraqi responsibility. And I made it clear that by August 31, 2010, America's combat mission in Iraq would end. And that is exactly what we are doing - as promised, on schedule."

At two or more recent fundraisers, he repeated the "pledge:"

"We are keeping the promise I made when I began my campaign for the presidency: by the end of this month, we will have removed 100,000 troops from Iraq, and our combat mission will be over."

Unmentioned was combat readiness remaining, paramilitary army additions replacing those leaving, shifting Iraq forces to Afghanistan, increasing hostilities against Pakistan, committing daily war crimes throughout the region, planning more conflicts ahead, continuing America's permanent war agenda, glorifying them in the name of peace, destroying generations of US youths by a never-ending cycle of imperial wars, not liberating ones.

No matter. US cable channels hailed the Iraq pullout like VJ day, none more cloyingly one-sided than MSNBC, devoting an entire evening for "embedded" coverage - "in bed with" for Studs Terkel (1912 - 2008), to report propaganda, not truths, regular media fare, round the clock on cable TV, MSNBC reporter Richard Engel exiting with troops in a specially equipped "Bloom-mobile" (named for NBC's late correspondent David Bloom), host Rachael Maddow in Baghdad, and Keith Olbermann anchoring coverage in New York, a trio doing what they do best - deceiving, not informing viewers, defending imperial wars, not condemning them.

According to MSNBC news executive Phil Griffin, the decision to go wall-to-wall was a "no-brainer," saying "We've got something unique and it's an important story. We said, 'Let's go for it,' " so they did in embarrassing overload, misrepresenting and suppressing the real Iraq story. More on it below.

On August 19, New York Times writer Steven Myers hailed the wind down "even though Baghdad remains without the permanent government" that Obama's strategy envisions, the "stalemate" casting a shadow over the 50,000 troops remaining in an "advise and assist" role.

A supposed "agreement" plans their withdrawal by end of 2011, the State Department then taking over in charge of an army of contractors, including thousands of paramilitaries for private security, hired assassins like Blackwater USA, rebranded as Xe Services LLC to hide the company's dark past, continuing unabated under its new name.

Doubling or tripling them won't matter. Daily violence rages, in July at the highest level in the past two years, media reports downplaying or suppressing the facts, pretending a liberated Iraq is now healing, enhanced by our presence and commitment to "democracy," what's not tolerated at home or anywhere abroad, especially in countries we attack, destroy, and occupy.

Saddam's Iraq no longer exists, the country divided into the Basra south, Kurdish north and Baghdad center, a puppet government serving US interests. In addition, two decades of war and sanctions killed, maimed or otherwise harmed or displaced millions, causing horrific depravation and an epidemic of cancers, typhoid, dysentery, cholera, hepatitis, other diseases, and newborn deformities from scores of pollutants, including depleted uranium (DU), chemicals, toxic metals, oil, bacteria, and other poisons, America's deadly legacy.

Twenty years of war, sanctions, and occupation demolished Iraq. The Gulf War was an economic and environmental disaster, destroying power and chemical plants; factories; dams; water purification facilities; sewage treatment and disposal systems; oil wells, pipelines, refineries, and storage tanks besides ravishing the entire country and its people, the result of gratuitous destruction and slaughter.

In 2003, it was repeated, a "shock and awe" blitzkrieg intermittently continued even with US forces withdrawing. Throughout the country, thousands remain on super-bases, equipped with sophisticated weapons to reign death and destruction from land, sea or air, leaving rubble and a deadly cocktail of oil, gasoline, heavy metals, DU, pesticides, benzene, and other chemicals and pollutants. Also, a GMO-contaminated food supply; water too unsafe to drink; sanitation, electricity, and decent housing in short supply; and most Iraqis deprived of adequate medical, education and other essential services.

Today's Iraq is nightmarish, portrayed as democratically liberated, Obama's bravado as stage-managed as Bush's declared victory on the US carrier Abraham Lincoln on May 1, 2003, a captive audience assembled to cheer failure and imperial war crimes.

Iraqis live them daily, devastated by one of history's greatest ever crimes, ongoing for two decades, what the major media won't touch, instead delivering "in bed with" "mission accomplished" reports, inventing their own version of reality.

Nightmarish human depravation and suffering prove otherwise. Most Iraqis are unemployed or underemployed, impoverished, and without basic services. Under permanent occupation, the country is being strip-mined for profit, its resources stolen, its people exploited and abused, compounded by a poisoned environment, daily violence, major media suppressed crimes, thousands detained, tortured and ill-treated without charge under horrific conditions.

Obama's promise to withdraw all US forces by December 2011 will also be broken. As long as the region's oil rich and strategically important, America's there to stay, Iraqis to be used, abused, and cheated until they succeed in driving us out.

The hated occupation motivates them to resist, cleric Moqtada al-Sadr vowing to "rise up and fight to the death," Abu Mohammed (in charge of the Sadrist cemetery) saying if US forces aren't out by end of 2011, "we will fight and give our blood. This will be our solution," one they expect will be needed knowing Washington came to stay, a status millions of Iraqis won't tolerate nor should they.

Some Final Thoughts

Echoed by shameless major media trumpeting, Obama's bravado is brazenly bogus, the staged-managed Iraq pullout more retreat than success.

The occupation's now rebranded, yet US combat readiness remains, accompanied by daily violence, atrocities, and depravation. They plague Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and US-financed proxy wars in Somalia, Yemen, Colombia, and elsewhere, realities the major media suppress, as well as the war at home on human need, not addressed or discussed.

Since 2001 alone, trillions of dollars have been wasted on militarism and war making, badly needed funds domestically at a time of deepening depression.

As a result, growing millions of Americans are hemorrhaging - suffering from unemployment, lost savings, homelessness, ill health, hunger, hopelessness and despair, another unreported story, media stooges hailing a "recovery" for Wall Street, not Main Street.

Unsurprisingly, US workers are experiencing the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, perhaps surpassing its severity before it ends because US leaders don't give a damn, mindless of human suffering, their audacity of power corrupted, brutal and uncaring, Obama as bad as the rest.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at Also visit his blog site at and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.


This post will help to illustrate that I don't perceive either a real pull-out or retreat happening. There's a draw-down on regular U.S. troops, but I don't really perceive the U.S. either withdrawing or retreating.

"Video: The Last US Combat Forces in Iraq?
Riz Khan Interviews John Pilger" (22:22)

by, Aug. 23, 2010

Among the things that John Pilger says is that while the U.S. has drawn down regular troops in Iraq to around 50,000, there are around 100,000 mercenary contractors, many of whom evidently are former British SAS soldiers, and more will be sent. And some other people have been saying this in recent articles; besides former SAS soldiers making up many of the contractors, that is.

He doesn't speak about special forces also being used secretly, but the following articles do.

"The Laureate and the Leaker: Swedish Warrant a Salvo in Team Obama's War on Wikileaks"

by Chris Floyd,, Aug. 21, 2010

I'll excerpt some of this article.

Here it comes: with the bizarre "rape-no rape" charges against Julian Assange, the War Machine's assault against Wikileaks has now begun in earnest.

... (snip)

And so on late Friday we had the announcement that Swedish authorities had issued an arrest warrant for Wikileaks founder Julian Assange on charges of rape and molestation. This was followed a few hours later -- after Wikileaks mounted a ferocious defense against the charges, and promised to carry on with its work regardless -- by a sudden decision to withdraw the warrant, with officials now saying the rape charge was unfounded -- although they said nothing about the lesser charge of molestation, leaving that vague but turpitudishly resonant charge hanging in the air for the moment.

This rigmarole is about as blatant a smear as can be imagined, coming as it does just after the Obama Administration has been caught out in an outright lie about Wikileaks attempts to redact its next release of classified war documents to ensure that no Afghans named in the papers will be put at risk. ... (snip)

... (snip)

But this initial blood libel -- ... (snip) -- did not really take hold. The revelations continued to pour forth from the 92,000 documents unveiled by Wikileaks last month -- such as this remarkable story by Pratap Chatterjee at TomDispatch, detailing the operations of the American death squad, Task Force 373, whose existence was revealed in the Wikileaks trove. These professional assassins are a key element of the Peace Laureate's strategy in Afghanistan -- and an example of a large-scale trend in the War Machine's ever-evolving "philosophy" of Terror War.

Indeed, many of the proponents of Obama's "surge" in assassination liken it -- favorably! -- to the murderous Phoenix Program in Vietnam directed by the CIA, which killed at least 20,000 people, by the Agency's own admission. (Other, more independent examinations put the the true death count of those slaughtered in these non-combat, "extrajudicial killings" at in the range of 40,000 to 70,000. For more on the Phoenix Program, and on Obama's grand "continuity" with imperial atrocities past, see here.) As Chatterjee notes:

... (snip)

... (snip) This same administration is now running "black ops," secret armies, proxy wars and other covert activities in more than 75 countries around the world. ... (snip)

And these are the moral paragons who have now turned their machinery of lies and smears against Wikileaks. For make no mistake; although the rape charges were manufactured in Sweden -- which, incidentally, is where some of Wikileaks' servers are located -- they emanate from the proud deathlords in Washington. ... (snip)

But although this first foray has been rebuffed, it is certain that what we are seeing is the beginning of a concerted effort to destroy Assange as a public figure and thereby discredit the work of Wikileaks -- and by extension, the truth of its revelations.

Articles he linked to regarding the "secret killers" of the U.S. are the next three.

"The Secret Killers
Assassination in Afghanistan and Task Force 373"

by Pratap Chatterjee, Aug. 19, 2010

I'll excerpt some of Tom Engelhardt's foreword or intro.

The 9/11 killers were mass assassins who gave up their own lives to murder thousands. It’s now clear that, in response, the U.S. went into the global assassination business. ... (snip)

It’s increasingly clear that the ground-war version of the Global War on Terror has featured its own growing assassination wing. Striking numbers of special operations forces have by now been assigned to what can only be termed assassination missions in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere. We don’t yet know the full scope of these activities, but it was no mistake that our last Afghan war commander, General Stanley McChrystal, emerged from a world of counterterrorism, not counterinsurgency. He made his reputation in the shadows as a “manhunter,” overseeing the Pentagon’s super-secret Joint Special Operations Command which, among other things, ran what journalist Seymour Hersh has described as an “executive assassination wing” out of Vice President Dick Cheney’s office.

It’s increasingly clear that the ground-war version of the Global War on Terror has featured its own growing assassination wing. Striking numbers of special operations forces have by now been assigned to what can only be termed assassination missions in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere. We don’t yet know the full scope of these activities, but it was no mistake that our last Afghan war commander, General Stanley McChrystal, emerged from a world of counterterrorism, not counterinsurgency. He made his reputation in the shadows as a “manhunter,” overseeing the Pentagon’s super-secret Joint Special Operations Command which, among other things, ran what journalist Seymour Hersh has described as an “executive assassination wing” out of Vice President Dick Cheney’s office.

McChrystal received kudos in the U.S. media for the counterinsurgency strategy he implemented in Afghanistan and for restricting U.S. troops from calling in air and artillery support when civilians might be in the vicinity. However, he surrounded himself with former special operations officers, surged in thousands of special operations troops, and cranked up the activities of special ops assassination teams. Now, new war commander General David Petraeus, who has a reputation as the guru of counterinsurgency, is overseeing a further escalation of counter-terror operations in that country.

... (snip) TomDispatch regular Pratap Chatterjee, author of Halliburton's Army, who has spent much time reporting on the American war in Afghanistan, digs deep into what can now be known about this secretive task force, the doctrine it swears by, and the missions it carries out. Tom

"U.S. 'secret war' expands globally as Special Operations forces take larger role"

by Karen DeYoung and Greg Jaffe, June 4, 2010

"The Phoenix Program, Revisited
ABCs of American Interrogation Methods"

by Douglas Valentine,, May 15/16, 2004

He's author of "The Hotel Tacloban", "The Phoenix Program", "TDY" and "The Strength of the Wolf: The Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 1930-1968".

*** Salvador Option in Iraq index ***

I believe that it's worth adding a link for the this index at the following website. The link for the index is a short ways down the home page. Their link for this topic category is actually entitled, "The Salvador Option and Death Squads", and it's in the "READ MORE ABOUT" box just above the list of names of the people making up "The Committee of the BRussells Tribunal".

I haven't read all of the articles available through that index, but read several and Max Fuller wrote a couple, or more, [mind-blowing] ones. They're all relevant to covert and black ops, but he wrote some that are very stunning, shocking.


Withdrawing regular troops while replacing them with more special ops soldiers and contracted mercenaries does [not] make for withdrawal. I forget who the article was by, but a recent one cited some U.S. military commander saying that 50,000 or so troops left in Iraq still leaves a powerful force there; and that clearly is true with over 100,000 mercenary contractors and the secret or once secret use of special ops soldiers.

The secret's exposed, but it was to strategically remain secret, if the U.S. or war elites could've maintained the secrecy. Yet there'll still be much that remains secret; surely. We can know they're being used, but it certainly won't be easy to know everything or a lot of things that they do; especially when western and especially U.S. corporate media are very much "an extension of the government", as John Pilger described them in the above interview with Riz Khan.

I believe it's one of the above articles on secret or once secret use of special ops forces that cites a U.S. military commander fond of such strategic warring saying that he'd prefer to have around 10,000 special ops forces in Afghanistan, rather than having 100,000 regular troops there. I also read in an article some months ago that it takes far fewer special ops soldiers to "get a job done" than it takes for regular troops do it; because the special ops ones are considerably or much more capable and experienced. And I think that we will learn that when learning about special ops forces; their training and experience.

The U.S. won't be really pulling out of Iraq for a very long time to come. I'm not sure if the number he specifies is right, but John Pilger, in the interview with Riz Khan, says that the U.S. has 94 bases in Iraq; unless he means Iraq and Afghanistan combined. And he adds what some other people say, which is about the U.S. having several massive and "fortress-like" bases in Iraq, plus the huge embassy, which John Pilger says is around 20 times larger than Vatican City. And he and others have said that the embassies of the U.S. in Afghanistan and Pakistan, new embassies, are also huge.

These are both "classical colonial wars", John Pilger said to Riz Khan. He's right.

The Obama administration can try to "spin" us until we drop, but the U.S. is not really pulling out of Iraq and won't be doing so for a very, very long time to come. There certainly are no short-term plans for withdrawing anyway. It'd take a major event for these wars and war occupations to be ended.

"Is the Iraq war over?
The truth about the 'end of combat operations'

by Michael Prysner,, Aug. 21, 2010


The author is an Iraq war veteran and co-founder of March Forward! an organization of veterans and active-duty service members against the war.

... (snip)

With that, we are told by Washington, we have seen the end of the war in Iraq. Combat operations are over, they say.

This declaration, essentially begging for applause, is reminiscent of George W. Bush’s "Mission Accomplished" performance aboard the USS Lincoln in May 2003, where he announced the "end of major combat operations" in Iraq.

Announcing the end of combat operations in a war still taking the lives of U.S. service members is the same type of doublespeak we have been getting since the lies started flowing in the buildup to the invasion.

Since the war is supposedly over, and the Obama administration is demanding a pat on the back for its "promise kept," let us see what "postwar" Iraq really looks like.

Mike Prysner is the Iraq war veteran who has clearly, firmly and loudly enough stated since becoming C.O. that the greatest enemy of the U.S., or perhaps he said this world, is the U.S. leadership. There are good video clips at Youtube of him speaking out against the war or both wars, Iraq and Afghanistan. He definitely strikes me as clearly seeing that these are definitely criminal, always have been, and that the worst of enemies is the U.S. "leadership".

The hated occupation motivates them to resist, cleric Moqtada al-Sadr vowing to "rise up and fight to the death," Abu Mohammed (in charge of the Sadrist cemetery) saying if US forces aren't out by end of 2011, "we will fight and give our blood. This will be our solution," one they expect will be needed knowing Washington came to stay, a status millions of Iraqis won't tolerate nor should they.

Since Stephen Lendman didn't provide a link or identify the source for the article he cited from, and I saw a reference to it yesterday in an article that was linked at, I just did a search for the piece and it's the following one.

"In Iraq, cemetery is symbol of militia's vow to fight if U.S. forces delay exit"

by Leila Fadel, Aug. 18, 2010


NAJAF, IRAQ -- The followers of cleric Moqtada al-Sadr call this plot of land on the edge of this holy Shiite city the Freedom Cemetery.

It is barren, nondescript desert ground, a two-acre section within the Sadrist Martyrs' cemetery. The graves have not been excavated. But it is reserved for a purpose: the possibility that U.S. forces might stay beyond the Dec. 31, 2011, departure deadline mandated by a security agreement between the United States and Iraq.

... (snip)

The cemetery is a reminder that even as the United States is about to declare the end of its combat mission in Iraq, armed groups still see U.S. troops as combatants. Shiite militias, including the Mahdi Army, remain armed and continue to attack U.S. troops. Assassinations are on the rise, and rocket attacks targeting the Green Zone and U.S. military facilities have spiked.

... (snip)

U.S. military officials say that Shiite militias will remain a threat to Iraq's security and U.S. troop security. They are working with the Iraqi government to arrest militia members.

"They are outside the security mechanism, and they have said they will continue to attack the U.S. forces," said Maj. Gen. Stephen Lanza, the top U.S. military spokesman in Iraq. The U.S. military is on track to end its mission at the end of next year, he said, calling the cemetery in Najaf "rhetoric" and "propaganda."

That's of course BS! They're not "outside the security mechanism", for there is no real "security mechanism" from any government there, puppet govt, or foreign govt. None provide any security for by far most Iraqis.

The only security the U.S. is interested in there is the colonialist, imperialist, conqueror, destroyer, and so on kind. The U.S. elites plan on dominating there for a very, very long time to come, the whole foreseeable future, and they don't want any resistance forces "screwing up" these plans.

And the only security the puppets of the U.S. there are interested in protecting is their own, for they surely realize that if the U.S. and its allies fully withdrew and left Iraq to Iraqis, then these puppets wouldn't stay in office for more than a day; and might not live much longer than that, unless they left with the U.S.

They all want to secure their imperialist and colonialist racket. That's all they care about.

Re. U.S. news media:

The video-taped interview John Pilger provided to Riz Khan on Al Jazeera and for which there's a link at the start of my first post in this page briefly refers to a new documentary by John Pilger. It'll be available very soon and the main focus in it is on U.S. or western, but especially U.S. news media reporting on the wars on Iraq and Afghanistan. Like John Pilger says in the interview, U.S. media is more extremely corrupt and an "extension of" government than the British media is.

He added that some organization, which he calls Fair And Accuracy in Media, but while I think he might actually mean to be referring to FAIR, reported that msm U.S. news media sources are around 80% government and government-related people, which he says is illustrative of not being "free media" or press. It's sufficiently clear that when that many of the sources used by media are govt and govt-related people, then we're bound to end up with more propaganda of deception, spin from the government.

Stephen Lendman provided some examples and we often see examples of such media-govt or govt-media spin.

There might be a little media or govt-media spin in the above Washington Post article, but I'm not sure. I don't know enough about the Mehdi or Mahdi Army's history, and it's the first article I've seen about what the Mehdi or Sadrist resistance plans to do if the U.S. doesn't fully pull out at the end of 2011. However, I do believe Iraqi Resistance will form and fight again, if the U.S. doesn't honor the end of 2011 schedule.


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