The “enduring” occupation of Iraq
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
ZAA NKWETA, PRESENTER/PRODUCER: The Petraeus report on Iraq. Does it reflect reality? Senior Editor Paul Jay talks with the Real News Network Political Analyst Aijaz Ahmad.
PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR: The Petraeus report does not discuss the refugee crisis.
AIJAZ AHMAD, SENIOR NEWS ANALYST, VIA BROADBAND FROM NEW DELHI: Yes. The refugee crisis is so extreme that the very United Nations which you are talking about, 2 million internal refugees, is now talking about 2.2 million internal refugees in just three months, because every month it is increasing by 60,000. A quarter of the population now, almost, has been rendered refugees. If that is your recipe for controlling violence, I don’t think it’s a durable recipe.
JAY: The general that led the independent investigation that came out a few days before the Petraeus report, he talked about the very defeat itself is a strategic defeat.
Meet the Press – September 9, 2007
GENERAL JAMES JONES (RET.): The strategic interests of the United States in the region are very, very high. And I’m not talking about just oil, I’m talking about being perceived to have been successful.
How significant is this to the American plans?
AHMAD: I think it is very much at the heart of it. Mr. Bush’s most recent constant references to Vietnam, and we are not going to repeat the mistakes of Vietnam. And by that he means that the United States is not going to withdraw from it. The lessons that they have been drawing, and they are saying it constantly, that what we are looking at in Iraq is a Korean model of long-term presence. Now, there have been U.S. troops there for sixty years. What makes the situation, I think, much worse is that in Vietnam the strategic defeat came at a time when the United States economy was at the height of its prosperity, and it was towards the end of that war that some degree of stagnation began to set in. Now you have a situation in which the U.S. economy is in such bad shape that it cannot sustain that kind of commitment. On the other hand, they feel that the only resolution for this economy is if they can capture the oil resources of the Middle East, which makes the situation so dangerous that you may very well see them going into Iran at some point not in the very near future, but in the foreseeable future.
JAY: You had a similar situation in Afghanistan. Before the Russian invasion in Afghanistan, there was no such thing as civil war on the scale of what followed after the Russian withdrawal. I mean, it could be that once the Pandora’s Box has opened, now there are armed militias as we talked about earlier, they’re not going to go away just because the Americans withdraw.
AHMAD: The situation that exists on the ground today could not be worse. Now no one is saying that Americans should leave and just hand it over to the al-Malikis and the al-Chalabis and all of these clients of the United States which have the largest militias. Of course not. You have to bring in the major regional players and neighboring countries, such as Russia and China, in a different kind of mechanism which is designed precisely to supervise that transition from the Americans to a free and fair election, disarming of the militias, and so on, which can all be done.
Please note that TRNN transcripts are typed from a recording of the program; The Real News Network cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.