The “new” Bush plan to “help Iraq achieve democracy and freedom,” far from laying out the definite steps needed to resolve the Iraq crisis, instead sets the stage for continuing US occupation and for continuing instability and violence.

Impelled by his falling approval ratings and the images of US torture of Iraqi prisoners, George W. Bush attempted in his May 24 speech to sell the Iraq war using one of the false arguments he has used from the start: that “Iraq is now the central front in the war on terror.” (The other argument, the presence of WMD, is no longer available.) After this dishonest linking of Iraq and 9/11, Bush went on to outline how the United States is fighting terrorism while building democracy in Iraq, a plan that includes providing Iraqis with a sham version of sovereignty on June 30.

Iraq will never be sovereign, or stable, as long as it is occupied by 138,000 American troops–troops that it cannot order to withdraw, let alone control. The furthest Washington appears ready to go is to say, as Bush did in his speech, that these troops “will operate under American command as a part of a multinational force authorized by the United Nations.” But as envisioned in a draft UN resolution prepared by the United States, neither the “multinational force,” nor the protection force for the UN mission that is to be part of it, will report to either the interim Iraqi government or to the UN. Instead, as described by British UN ambassador Sir Emyr Jones Parry, the plan is for the Iraqis to “consent” to the new arrangements, to be worked out in an exchange of letters.

Other aspects of Bush’s plan are no less deceitful; for example, Bush said that Washington will “hand over authority” to the Iraqis and “continue rebuilding [Iraq’s] infrastructure” but failed to note that Administration officials said earlier that the interim Iraqi government will not have the power to overturn any of the privatization or security laws imposed by US proconsul Paul Bremer or the power to draft or enforce any significant new legislation. Iraq will, however, continue paying reparations to Kuwait from its oil revenues.

Members of the UN Security Council may yet demand significant changes in the resolution, and realities on the ground may very well force the United States to give up more control. But for now, the Bush “plan” appears simply to call for more of the same.