By Ramin Mazaheri
(Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of the books ‘Iíll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red Chinaí and the upcoming ‘Socialismís Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism.í)
Donald Trump, in his inimitable way, continues to reveal to the world the brutal imperialist truths of "democracy with American characteristics".
When the Iraqi Parliament voted to expel US troops as a result of Washingtonís inhuman slaying of Iranís Qassem Soleimani, US President Donald Trump made it very clear: Iraq belongs to the
United States, completely.
"We will charge (Iraq) sanctions like theyíve never seen before, ever. Itíll make Iranian sanctions look somewhat tame." Trump added the sanctions would be imposed on Iraq, "if thereís any hostility, that they do anything we think is inappropriate."
In my mind this is perhaps the 2nd most important news out of Iraq this year: the public acknowledgment that the US is never leaving Iraq, will never countenance Iraqi dissent and would rather destroy Iraq than recognize its sovereignty.
This was a naked declaration from Trump to Iraq declaring, "We are your imperial masters."
Iraq cannot even dare to do anything which Washington might consider "inappropriate" - the values of Washington decide what is "inappropriate" in Iraq, not Iraqi values.
Iraqis, Iím sorry to say, should realize that they have become the 51st US state. (Well, the 52nd, after Puerto Rico.) The Iraqi people have zero sovereignty, its votes are worthless nonsense, and
Iraq cannot go against the will of the US federal government any more than Wyoming, Rhode Island or Nebraska can.
My claim here is not an overreaction, and especially when we ask what exactly is it that Iraq did "wrong" in order to "deserve" sanctions?
Iraq is not Iran - they do not keep defending a popular revolution which successfully mixed Islam and democracy, something the West claims is impossible. Iraq is not North Korea, who refuse to let US troops and corporations based in Seoul move up to the China-Russia border. Iraq is not China, which has a government overseen by a party which refuses to let Western high finance control its major industries (however, I note that Iran is even more vigilant in this regard than China, which earns Iran even more Western animosity).
Baghdad has worked with Washington for nearly two decades.
Yes, we can say that this work was done at the barrel of a US cannon, but Iraq has complied with US demands. Iraqis have created links, contacts, contracts and all sorts of entanglements with
Americans and American businesses.
And yet Trump made it clear that without the presence of US troops that all means nothing.
It is now crystal clear that there is zero goodwill from Washington after all these years, zero trust, zero desire to see Iraq stand on its own two feet. Every American smile to an Iraqi inside the Green Zone has been false; every warm word a cold lie.
Itís an amazing declaration by Trump - all the years of talk about "humanitarian intervention" and about the US desire to bring "freedom to Iraq" has been declared a sham. This was guessed at by countless billions of non-Western people, but the threat of sanctions which make the Iran sanctions look "tame"... my God, hasnít Iraq complied enough to at least avoid that?!
In many ways, this is all a part of the "beauty" of Trump.
Trump came to office in large part because he says things which Main Street knows but which no mainstream politician would even dare to suggest. Trump is such a terror to the Pentagon, Wall Street, Madison Avenue and the Beltway - which concocted an impeachment plan before Trump was even inaugurated - because Trump cannot be trusted to lie properly, and that makes him a risk to US domination.
We cannot imagine Barack Obama bragging about the sanctions he would levy on Iraq if they voted out US troops - he was a smooth-faced liar. Obama would have talked instead about
reconciliation with the past, peace and not justice, patience... and then "temporarily surge" more soldiers to Iraq.
Hillary Clinton had none of Obamaís charm - she would have reacted by boringly referring to the legal obligations of Iraq, the feasibility of processes, what the definition here of "vote" is, etc. And then would have decided on a reaction even more brutal than one Obama or even Trump could conceive.
Any "normal president" would have responded to the Iraqi vote in a way which would have calmed the situation; in a way which would have reassured Westerners that, despite their nagging
consciences, they were actually doing moral and humane things in Iraq; in a way which the Western media could use as a weapon against dissenters of Western capitalism-imperialism and
to further their insistence of TINA (There Is No Alternative).
And this is what so many hate Trump for, yet many others love him for: if the US had a "normal president" many would have complacently and mistakenly continued to believe there is genuine goodwill from Washington towards the Iraqi people. Instead Trump speaks from his gut and makes it clear: "Ha!" Itís a big, fat "Ha!" indeed.
Trump is hated by the US 1% because he egotistically and instinctively wants to take the credit and power inherently contained by this "Ha!", but by doing so he threatens to upset the whole
enterprise of US domination; he threatens to provoke resentment which could turn revolutionary. The Iraqi people need to understand this sadistic laughing, this murderous contempt, this arrogant gloating.
The world is often fooled by brand repackaging like Obama, (phony, alleged) technocrats like Hillary Clinton and professional foolers like Bill Clinton - nobody is fooled by Trump. Trumpís
egotism makes it impossible to be fooled.
To Trump the Iraqi people do not even have the power of children to mildly rebel, but he is not the only president to hold such an imperial view.
As usual, this was an overreaction by Trump: while I certainly hope it comes to pass (although the US State Department has just officially rejected any troop withdrawal), I will believe there are no US soldiers in Iraq - no "advisers", "technicians" or "contractors" - when I finally see it. But Trump is undoubtedly on edge over an, empty, superficial, Biden corruption-covering, essentially anti-democratic impeachment process. Incredibly, incredibly lamentably, Trump assassinated Soleimani merely to provide a distraction, and heís not about to have some puny nobodies like Iraqis make him look weak domestically now.
Iraqis only exist to serve the US - this is what Trumpís threats to terribly sanction Iraq mean. The pity of it is that Iraqis already know all about inhuman Western sanctions: I used to ask Iraqi friends how their family was doing amid the sanctions (1990-2003) and they said, "Please, stop asking - it just gets worse and worse." You know they were inhuman and starvation-inducing by the very name of the "concession" plan the West finally granted - the "oil-for-food program".
Ugh. Iraqis should hope for only Iran-level sanctions, compared to that. Indeed, it is not a pleasant past, present or future for Iraq.
Their vote to expel US soldiers and reclaim sovereignty was along sectarian lines, just as Washington would have hoped for (or the French in Lebanon, to give another parallel of "Western democratic culture"). It was unanimous, but missing about 150 public servants - Kurdish and Sunni lawmakers didnít vote.
Will Iraqís non-Shia politicians also absent themselves when a vote comes up to denounce Trumpís new sanctions? I really donít see what Shia theology has to do with voting against foreign occupation - do Iraqis think the US will tolerate Iraqi soldiers and bases in the US? Do they think Washington is kidding? The Washington Post reported the new sanctions are already being drafted.
Do Iraqís non-Shia politicians still think that Washington is their friend and partner? Do non-Shia Iraqis really view their fellow Shia as more dangerous and disagreeable than the current reality permanent colonization by the US? Or are these politicians too close to the US (to use a polite phrase) and not close enough to the lower classes, their crushed reality and their legitimate demands?
We will not get another Trump era anytime soon - we should appreciate the way he shatters one illusion after another, laying bare the realities which so many Westerners have labored so hard to
cover up for so very, very long.