Monday, August 22, 2005

Let's Hear it for Chaos!

UC Irvine professor Mark LeVine, who teaches modern Middle Eastern history, culture and Islamic studies, writes about the Iraqi constitution's development in the context of competing interests among the Suunis, Kurds, Shi'ites — and Americans.

After considering how the constitutional process will necessarily paper over such key questions as the presence of US bases and the rights of women, Levine asks a chilling question: Whether continued chaos in Iraq is actually in the US interest:

The idea of "sponsored" or "managed" chaos as a defining characteristic of contemporary neoliberal globalization has already been demonstrated by scholars working on Africa, the former Soviet Union, and other locations along the "arc of instability" that happens to contain some of the world's most resource petroleum rich and politically unstable countries. The main thrust of this argument is that the coming "Age of Peak Oil" makes it strategically necessary for the United States to maintain a long-term military presence in Iraq, and thus have unrestricted influence over its vast oil. In an environment where the vast majority of Iraqis do not want either of these things, creating a situation of violence and instability becomes a logical, and perhaps the only feasible way, to secure them.

Ironically, this dynamic interacts with the constitutional negotiations precisely by being largely absent from the discussions and debates over it. Lost in most of the public discussions around the constitution is whether it will prohibit or allow any foreign country (in this case, the United States) to have permanent bases, which is clearly opposed by the vast majority of Arab Iraqis. But as long as the violent insurgency continues, the Shi'i majority government cannot risk asking the United States to leave. Therefore, a serious but manageable insurgency becomes the most viable way to ensure that by the time the Iraqis work out their differences, the United States has half a dozen or more permanent bases constructed and has ensured that legal impediments to their presence are no longer an issue.


In other words, Cindy Sheehan's son died because a truly free and stabilized Iraq would have kicked us out.

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