June 13, 2004

Rainesian Encroachements

Tucked into a Jeffrey Gettleman New York Times article today, the U.S. Embassy is described thusly: "a large United States Embassy is being built on the grounds of the occupation authority in central Baghdad, essentially to serve as a shadow government."

Remember, this isn't a news "analysis" piece--just straight reporting from Iraq. Per this description, John Negroponte would appear to simply be a Jerry Bremer-lite--operating in the shadows, murky, Tegucigalpa-style.

Of course, it would be disingenuous to claim that with billions of dollars being distributed, 140,000 men on the ground, and a massive Embassy with thousands of employees--that the U.S. won't be retaining a massive influence in Iraq post-sovereignty handover.

But to simply describe the future U.S. Embassy in Baghdad as a "shadow government" ignores tangible and verifiable handing over of real powers to the new Iraqi government.

Such casual turns of phrase help reinforce a skeptical Arab/Euro-narrative that the Iraq war was all about a neo-colonialist land grab for a piece of strategic real estate and oil.

After all, and as even Gettleman's piece mentions, when key Iraqi Ministries like oil, foreign affairs, and transport have been turned over to Iraqi management-well, that's pretty significant.

Or when, even before the sovereignty handover, Bremer's top choice for the Iraqi presidency (Adnan Pachachi) is spurned in favor of Ghazi Ajil al-Yawar--well, that's a pretty big decision that the Iraqis took in direct opposition to a clearly enunciated U.S. preference.

Hardly the stuff of a domineering, 'shadow' government, no?

Posted by Gregory at June 13, 2004 09:00 PM
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