President Obama, at a speech at Fort Bragg, has declared the end of the war in Iraq. The nine year war started on the 20th of March 2003 and claimed the lives of 151,000 people, more than 100,000 of which were civilians. These are only deaths due to direct violence. Many more died in what is labelled “Excess Deaths”, depending on the source, this number can be up to one million people. US soldiers leave behind them a tattered and ruined country, with a government that holds no real power and a population that will resent them for generations to come. After knowing all of this, you must ask yourself, is it really mission accomplished in Iraq?
Although American troops are leaving Iraq, there will still be a US armed presence. It will take the form of between 3,500 and 5,500 mercenaries, or as they are more delicately called, private security contractors. This is in fact worse for the Iraqi population. It must be understood that private contractors have no allegiance to anyone, they fight for money and nothing else, by definition. While US troops were at least trying to serve American and Iraqi freedom (though the actual goal is very different) mercenaries only fight to fill their own pockets. Not only that, but they are assured by their commanders that they can operate with complete immunity and if anything might happen, they will be snuck across the Iraqi border and brought back to their homes.
This was epitomized on the 16th of September, 2007, when Blackwater operatives shot and killed 17 Iraqi civilians for no apparent reason at Nissour Square. A subsequent and almost immediate investigation of the crime scene by US forces found no enemy ammunition, meaning that they were not provoked. This event has made mercenaries infamous, but even after the massacre, Blackwater continues to be the most powerful mercenary army in the world and none of the people involved in the shooting have stood trial. Although they no longer have a contract in Iraq, there is no reason to believe that this kind of behaviour would be confined to one mercenary army and other security firms still operate with complete immunity.
The role of the private contractors will be similar to the role of US-run contras in Latin America; to keep the population submissive and quiet while they are exploited. If any resistance is encountered, they know that they have full immunity.
Apart from this, the United States will have their largest embassy in the world in Baghdad, employing about 18,000 people. The presence of this embassy is important for US interests as it ensures that they will be heavily considered in Iraqi politics. The Undersecretary for Management at the State Department in Washington, Pat Kennedy said “…this is a major oil producer, a friend of the United States, a potential market for American goods and now, I think, a very important symbol in the Middle East of what democracy in the Middle East could be.” What Kennedy really meant was should be. It is important for what is basically a vassal state to have a regime, whether symbolically democratic or full out dictatorial, that first serves American economic and hegemonic interests.
This leads us back to our initial question: Is it really mission accomplished in Iraq? Hundreds of thousands have been killed, the population has less freedom than it had before, an armed presence will remain in Iraq to ensure compliance and Iraq now has an inept and easily influenced government. This is economic imperialism exercised to near perfection. Yes, mission accomplished.