By Pepe Escobar
December 17, 2011
Asia Times Online

BAGHDAD – The Pentagon officially pronounced its US$3 trillion-and-counting, “war on terror”-related invasion, occupation and decimation of the Iraqi nation dead on Thursday even as the country prepared for a low-intensity Sunni-Shi’ite civil war and the Muslim world wondered whatever happened to the George W Bush administration’s Greater Middle East.

In an open-air cement bunker at the former Baghdad airport turned military base, Pentagon chief Leon Panetta praised more than one million Americans in uniform or in mercenary gear for “the remarkable progress” in death and destruction accomplished over the past nine years, but acknowledged the severe challenges that faced the virtually devastated country.

“Let me be clear: Iraq will be tested in the days ahead – by al-Qaeda in the Land of the Two Rivers, by al-Qaeda in the Maghreb, by al-Qaeda in the Arabic Peninsula, by the Taliban, by Iran, by Hezbollah, by the Assad dictatorship in Syria, by China, by Russia, by Occupy Wall Street.

“Challenges remain, but the US will be there to stand by the Iraqi people with the necessary amount of Hellfire missiles as they navigate those challenges to build a prosperous haven for neo-liberalism and US corporations.”

The muted ceremony stood in contrast to the spectacular “shock and awe” in 2003 when an America fully emboldened by lies after lies printed on the cover of the New York Times sent columns of tanks north from Kuwait and lit up the sky “like Christmas”, according to CNN, to conduct regime change against evil dictator Saddam Hussein.

As of last Friday, the war in Iraq had claimed 4,487 American lives, with another 32,226 Americans wounded in action, according to Pentagon statistics. As for Iraqi victims, the Pentagon doesn’t do body counts.

The tenor of the moving, hour-long farewell ceremony, officially called “So long, towelheads”, was likely to sound an uncertain trumpet for a war that was invented to get rid of non-existent weapons of mass destruction. It now ends without the Iraqi chapter of the Empire of Bases the Pentagon badly wanted in the first place – essentially because the American military were shown the door by ungrateful Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.

Although Thursday’s poignant ceremony marked the official end of the war, the Pentagon, just in case, still has two bases in Iraq and roughly 4,000 troops, including several hundred who attended the ceremony. At the height of the war in 2007, during the surge of General David Petraeus, the occupation maintained a sprawling 505 bases and more than 170,000 troops.

According to military officials, the remaining diehards are still being shown Iraqi love on a daily basis, mainly by strategically placed improvised explosive devices set against convoys heading south through Iraq to bases in Kuwait.

Even after the last two bases are closed and the final American soldiers go home to certified unemployment by December 31, under rules of a shady agreement with the government in Baghdad, a few hundred military personnel and a sprinkle of spooks and mercenaries will remain, working within the larger-than-the-Vatican American Embassy as part of an Office of Security Cooperation to assist in extremely profitable weapons deals.

But negotiations could resume next year on whether additional American soldiers, spooks and mercenaries can return to further profit from the action.

Link to the rest of the article The war is pronounced dead

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