1. Please tell us more about your notion of ‘full sovereignty’ for Iraq. Will this be like our returning Okinawan sovereignty to Japan in 1972, when we retained exclusive control over the 38 military bases on the island and the deployment and behavior of American forces on them?
2. Please tell us: If we plan to return Iraq to the Iraqis, why is the U.S. currently building fourteen permanent bases there?
3. Presumably the American troops to be stationed on these bases will remain under the control of the Pentagon and beyond the legal reach of any ‘sovereign’ Iraqi state. Such arrangements are usually covered by a ‘Status of Forces Agreement’ (SOFA) that we normally impose on the government in whose territory our bases are placed. Who will sign the SOFA on the Iraqi side? What are its terms? Will it be binding on the new government you hope the Iraqis will elect early next year?
4. The sovereignty discussion has been focused mainly on the question of who will control the actions of what troops — Iraqi or American — in the coming months. But American advisers will be stationed in every Iraqi ‘ministry’; the new government will evidently be capable neither of passing, nor abrogating laws or regulations laid down by the occupying power; and the economy, except for oil, will remain open to all foreign corporate investors. Please tell us if this really strikes you as ‘full sovereignty’?
5. You say that we will tear down Abu Ghraib prison if the Iraqis so wish. What if they wish to preserve it as a monument to our cruelty as well as Saddam Hussein’s?
6. Your administration has recently confirmed that while captured Taliban and al Qaeda fighters were not, in your eyes, covered by the Geneva Conventions, Iraqi prisoners and detainees were. The acts in Abu Ghraib prison contravened those conventions. We now know that teams of interrogation experts were sent by Maj. Gen. Geoffrey D. Miller, commandant of our Guantanamo prison from Cuba to Abu Ghraib to teach Americans working there ‘better’ interrogation techniques. If these contravened the Geneva Conventions, should General Miller be brought to trial for this? If General Miller acted at Guantanamo and elsewhere on the basis of guidelines and urgings from his superiors in the Pentagon and the military chain of command, should they face the same? Your views on this would be appreciated.
7. If it turns out to be true that some of the acts of torture in Abu Ghraib prison were, in fact, committed by members of the Israeli intelligence services, who were placed in the prison via our independent contractors, does this not further confuse American policy in the Middle East with that of Ariel Sharon’s Israel? Is this really a good idea?
8. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the war and occupation in Iraq by 130,000 U.S. troops now costs close to $5 billion per month, or $60 billion a year. So far the war has cost American taxpayers $186 billion in direct military expenses. You’ve asked for another $425 billion in defense appropriations for the 2005 Pentagon budget, plus another $75 billion for Iraq, $25 billion for the development of new generations of nuclear weapons, and untold billion for such things as military pensions and veterans’ health care. Not included in these figures are the multibillions in secret amounts spent on the CIA and other intelligence activities, not to speak of other Department of Defense ‘black budget’ activities kept out of the appropriations process. Where is all this money going to come from? Why is our government putting all this money on the tab for future generations to deal with?
9. Speaking of military pensions and health care, would you please address the fact that something like 30% of the troops who participated in the first Gulf War are now seeking disability payments for illnesses contracted there — chiefly as a result of our use of depleted uranium shells. Would you please discuss some of these long-term dangers of modern warfare (even when our initial short-term casualties seem relatively modest)? How will our military hospitals be able to care for all the soldiers who are likely to develop cancer or give birth to children with birth defects as a result of the current war?
10. On June 1, 2002, in your West Point speech enunciating your new doctrine of preventive war, you said there were 60 countries that were potential targets for regime change. Would you please list those 60 countries for us, and are you still determined in a second term to proceed down this list?
11. If you are determined to start new wars, or if the Iraq war drags on and not enough soldiers re-enlist, will you reinstate the draft?
12. Why do you usually give your speeches to the American people before audiences of servicemen and women at military academies, on bases, and the like, where they have been ordered by their superiors to attend and to applaud? Why not give one of your speeches — especially if you’re going to propose reinstating the draft — at a large state college?
Chalmers Johnson is the author of The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic and of an earlier volume, Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire, among other works.
Copyright C2004 Chalmers Johnson
[This article first appeared on Tomdispatch.com, a weblog of the Nation Institute, which offers a steady flow of alternate sources, news, and opinion from Tom Engelhardt, long time editor in publishing and author of The End of Victory Culture and The Last Days of Publishing.]
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