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    Middle East
     Aug 24, 2007
THE ROVING EYE
Welcome to Hillary's wars
By Pepe Escobar

I would say, "I'm sorry, it's over. We are not going to babysit a civil war." - Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, February 2007.

PARIS - It's 2015, President Hillary Clinton is way into her second term, and she is babysitting a savage war still going on in still-occupied Iraq. Hillary's de-escalation was half-hearted: she opted for leaving tens of thousands of boots on the ground to "fight al-Qaeda" and to "stabilize" a Kurdistan mired for years in, what



else, total war after the disastrous referendum in Kirkuk. After all, Sunni Arabs and even a large percentage of Shi'ites would never forget that the Kurds were always US collaborators.

Clinton's "surge" - troops basically concentrated in secluded US bases, with more reliance on military contractors (now ballooning to more than 150,000), plus an all-around, nationwide air-strike campaign against "terrorist" targets, Sunni and Shi'ite alike - still has not delivered the expected results. The president constantly reminds the nation, "General David Petraeus told Congress the 'surge' will take as much as 10 years to work, so we must be patient." Thus all eyes are set on 2017.

The Iraqi government for its part still does not and will never have enough funds to rebuild the country's infrastructure destroyed by George W Bush's and Hillary's war because billions of dollars of the reconstruction budget simply keep "disappearing" into US contractors' deep pockets and those of their associated Iraqi gangsters.

Hillary also has not been exactly moved by the humanitarian catastrophe unleashed by the war - which has killed, conservatively, more than 1.5 million Iraqis and internally displaced or exiled more than 5 million. Not to mention that according to Oxfam now 70% of the overall population lives under the poverty line. The president even performed a Madeleine Albright: asked about the horrendous cost in human lives, she told YouTube, "It's worth it," as the most important thing was to "protect the lives of the American people from Iraqi-based terrorists". From Beijing, which is still financing the US war effort, the authorities of the soon-to-be-No 1 economy in the world quietly acquiesced.

Back to the future
It's 2007, and the latest "theater of the apocalypse" White House concoction - appointing Iran's 125,000-strong Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRCG) as a "specially designated global terrorist" group, once again making a mockery of the 1945 United Nations Charter - has not raised as many eyebrows as it should, either in the United States or in the Middle East. It's as if there were a sort of Dostoyevskian resignation in the air that 2008 is destined to become yet another year of illegal, preemptive war.

From the point of view of the messianic Bush administration, it's all covered under the post-September 11, 2001, congressional authorization for war against terror groups. Future president Hillary is also in favor. Perennial presidential candidate John "can a white man still be president?" Edwards, who voted for war on Iraq when he was a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, is also part of the Donald Rumsfeld-inspired "all options are on the table" club as far as Iran is concerned.

So is presidential candidate Barack Obama - but he would rather unleash an anti-al-Qaeda cruise-missile barrage, Bill Clinton-style, over North and South Waziristan in the Pakistani tribal areas.

Even barring the surrealist masterpiece that the IRGC trained thousands of paramilitary Badr Brigades who are ensconced at Iraq's Ministry of Interior (death squads included) and thus aligned with "Americastan in Iraq", the White House doesn't have a clue what it's up against. The IRGC is no rag-tag army, but a disciplined part of Iran's elite and society. This is a declaration of war on Iran. It's as if French President Nicolas Sarkozy declared war on the US marines.

White House logic spells a preemptive attack on the IRGC as setting off a new popular Iranian revolution and the the fall of the ayatollahs. Anyone remotely familiar with the complexity of Iranian society and the pull of national pride knows this will not happen.

Well, that's just a detail. The Pentagon has been desperately spinning for months that IRGC-supplied explosive formed projectiles, or shaped charges, capable of making minced meat out of an Abrams tank, are killing American soldiers in Iraq.

There's no conclusive proof. Why bother? Once again - as in the buildup toward war on Iraq - "facts" will have to conform to a predetermined decision, and this has been the anointed casus belli du jour for an attack on Iran. Moreover, the IRGC helped Hezbollah to win the war against Israel in the summer of 2006. That should be "proof" enough of its evil character.

As for a "Hillary with balls" persona who voted for the war on Iraq and wholeheartedly supports a zillion-dollar missile-defense system, she may be just winning a war of political positioning. Or she may actually mean it. Presidential candidate Hillary, with her eyes already on the history books, knows as much as anyone in the US establishment that the US hyperpower, declining or not, simply cannot accept a majority-Shi'ite Iraqi government closely aligned with an Islamic Republic of Iran.

So might as well quietly approve the induction of the IRGC into the Hall of Terror. If the subsequent "surge" for regime change in Iran does not work - as it won't - she can always grab the limelight later, and do it the Clinton way.

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007). He may be reached at pepeasia@yahoo.com.

(Copyright 2007 Asia Times Online Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact us about sales, syndication and republishing.)


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