Following a vote by the Iraqi parliament to remove foreign troops from the nation, the US president threatened to destroy Iraq’s economy in retaliation and to refuse to leave unless an expensive military base worth billions of dollars was paid for.
“If they do ask us to leave, if we don’t do it in a very friendly basis,” Trump told the press on Sunday. “We will charge them sanctions like they’ve never seen before ever. It’ll make Iranian sanctions look somewhat tame. If there’s any hostility, that they do anything we think is inappropriate, we are going to put sanctions on Iraq, very big sanctions on Iraq.”
“We have a very extraordinarily expensive air base that’s there. It cost billions of dollars to build. Long before my time,” Trump also said. “We’re not leaving unless they pay us back for it.”
— The Hill (@thehill) January 6, 2020
This would be the same President Trump whose starvation sanctions are already known to have killed tens of thousands of people in Venezuela, and probably much more by now. The same President Trump who campaigned in 2016 on bringing the troops home from nations like Iraq.
And this would be the same US empire that used the narrative of bringing democracy to Iraq in order to help manufacture public support for “Operation Iraqi Freedom” (which Bush’s Press Secretary Ari Fleischer kept hilariously calling “Operation Iraqi Liberation” [OIL] by mistake). The same US empire that has used the “liberation” of Iraq from the tyranny of Saddam Hussein and the institution of democracy in the Middle East to justify its evil and unforgivable invasion ever since.
Yet the instant Iraqi democratic institutions become even slightly inconvenient for the US empire, Iraqi democracy gets flushed down the toilet. Iraq’s elected parliament voted very clearly for the removal of America’s military presence in the interests of its own sovereignty, and Trump has stated, in his typical accidentally-honest way, that America will not honor that vote. The US is allowing Iraq the same kind of democracy that Americans have: democracy so long as it doesn’t inconvenience the powerful.