While avoiding a general answer to "Are we better off?" Cheney did not hesitate to proclaim Iraqis better off because of the regime change initiated by the American invasion.I'm sure the Iraqis would like to thank you in person, Dick. Because just today:
"I think Iraq is much better off than it was before we went in in '03 and got rid of Saddam Hussein," he said. "I think we are close to achieving most of our objectives. We've seen a significant reduction in the overall level of violence; it's lower now than virtually anytime since we've been there in the spring of '03. We've seen the elimination of one of the world's worst regimes. We've seen the Iraqis write a constitution and hold three national elections. We've now entered into a strategic framework agreement with the Iraqis that calls for ultimately the U.S. completion of the assignment and withdrawal of our forces from Iraq.
"All of those things I think by anybody's standard would be evidence of significant success. And I think we're very close to achieving what it is we set out to do five years ago when we first went into Iraq.
At least 38 civilians have been killed and 65 wounded in a suicide attack at a shrine in northwestern Baghdad, Iraqi government officials said.(Update: Mark Adams of American Street lists the deaths in Iraq since the New Year began. Better off, my ass.)
An interior ministry official put the death toll at 40, including 17 Iranian pilgrims.
And just what was it that you were trying to achieve in Iraq, Dick? Because your excuses and reasons keep changing...
What does this looming concentration of Iraqi power at the top portend for U.S. oil interests? The omens are mixed at best. A tilt away from the United States may have come late in August, in the thick of negotiations over the U.S. withdrawal, when Iraq signed a 22-year contract in Beijing for development of an oil field southeast of Baghdad.Because the war was about oil all along, wasn't it?
Without parliamentary approval, the al-Maliki government seems capable of making or unmaking whatever oil development arrangements it chooses to make. Thus, in September, it canceled six no-bid contracts it had awarded to big-name Western oil corporations. China provides the now cordially partnering Shiite governments in Baghdad and Tehran a clear alternative to Western companies.
Where America's politically unmentionable oil interests in Iraq are headed as the Bush administration leaves office remains anyone's guess, but out in the cold seems as good a guess as any. Back in 2002, the better class of commentator sniffed at the naiveté of "No Blood for Oil" - the chant of anti-war demonstrations around the country. But blood for oil may not be the worst of it. The worst, in the war's subdued and sorry denouement, may prove to be blood for no oil.
Several of the architects of the Iraq war no longer even bother to deny that oil was a major motivator for the invasion. On US National Public Radio's To the Point, Fadhil Chalabi, one of the primary Iraqi advisers to the Bush administration in the lead-up to the invasion, recently described the war as "a strategic move on the part of the United States of America and the UK to have a military presence in the Gulf in order to secure [oil] supplies in the future". Chalabi, who served as Iraq's oil undersecretary of state and met with the oil majors before the invasion, described this as "a primary objective".
Invading countries to seize their natural resources is illegal under the Geneva conventions. That means the huge task of rebuilding Iraq's infrastructure - including its oil infrastructure - is the financial responsibility of Iraq's invaders. They should be forced to pay reparations, just as Saddam Hussein's regime paid $9bn to Kuwait in reparations for its 1990 invasion. Instead, Iraq is being forced to sell 75% of its national patrimony to pay the bills for its own illegal invasion and occupation.
crossposted at Rants from the Rookery