Statement of Phyllis Bennis in advance of President Obama’s speech detailing ‘the end of the war in Iraq’

Above: Phyllis Bennis on Fox 5 DC News.

The U.S. occupation of Iraq continues on a somewhat smaller scale, with 50,000 troops. These are combat troops, “re-missioned” by the Pentagon with new tasks, but even Secretary of Defense Gates admits they will have continuing combat capability and will continue counter-terrorism operations. The 4500 Special Forces among them will continue their “capture or kill” raids while building up the Iraqi Special Operations Forces as an El Salvador-style death squad.

The only transition underway is not from U.S. to Iraqi control, but from Pentagon to State Department deployment. Thousands of new military contractors, armored transport, planes, “rapid response” forces and other military resources will all be shifted from Pentagon to State Dept control, thus remaining within the terms of the U.S.-Iraqi Status of forces Agreement that calls for all U.S. troops and Pentagon-controlled mercenaries to leave by the end of 2011.

President Obama’s speech will not use any terms remotely close to “mission accomplished” – because with violence up, sectarianism rampant, the government paralyzed, corruption sky-high and rising, oil contracts creating more violence instead of national wealth, there is no victory to claim.

Phyllis Bennis is the director of the New Internationalism project at the Institute for Policy Studies.