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So You Think Know About the American Empire? -- 11 Questions to Test Your Knowledge

Now’s your chance to pit your wits (and your ability to suspend disbelief) against the best the Pentagon has to offer.

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b. An IOU for two trillion dollars to reconstruct a country which the U.S. invasion and occupation plunged into a ruinous civil war that cost millions of Iraqis their homes, their jobs, their economic security, their peace of mind, or their lives. 

c. Some hot air.

Correct answer: c.  We’ll bet you didn’t know that, in 2003, the U.S. military occupied not only the land of Iraq, but its air, too.  Just recently, according to a Pentagon press-release-cum-news-story, “the U.S. Air Force handed over the Kirkuk sector of airspace, 15,000 feet and above, to the ICAA [Iraq Civil Aviation Authority] at Baghdad International Airport.”  In November, the U.S. plans to hand over even more hot air, this time in the south of the country -- but not all of it.  Iraq will not control all of its air until some time in 2011.  Of course, once they have their air back, the Iraqi Air Force will only need planes and trained pilots to make use of it.  (See question 4.)

6. The 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, a “combat-capable brigade-sized unit,” has been deployed three times (according to the U.S. Army) “during Operation Iraqi Freedom -- serving successfully in tough areas including Fallujah, Tall Afar, Ramadi, and Baghdad.”  Its lead elements were recently sent from Fort Hood, Texas, to where?

a. Afghanistan as the final installment of President Obama’s surge of U.S. troops into that country. 

b. Camp Justice, the U.S. military base in Oman, as a warning to insurgents in neighboring Yemen. 

c. Camp Darby in Livorno, Italy, because the war there didn’t end all that long ago and, besides, Switzerland sits threateningly to the north. 

d. Juarez, Mexico, because Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently declared Mexico’s drug war an “insurgency,” and insurgencies are now an area of U.S. military expertise. 

e. Iraq, the country that the “last U.S. combat troops” left less than a month ago.

Correct answer: e.  Of course, the "Brave Rifles," as the unit is known, are not -- we repeat not -- combat troops.  They’re just, says the Army, “combat capable.”  Yes, they’re trained for combat.  But take our word for it, they’re NOT combat troops.  Yes they’re well armed.  But NOT for combat.  And yes, they’re an “Armored Cavalry” unit.  But it’s NOT about combat, OK?  They’re in Iraq strictly in an “advise and assist” capacity.  Did we mention that they aren’t a combat unit?

7. With the U.S. military occupation of Iraq due to end in 2011, the American mission there is officially being left to the State Department, representing the civilian side of U.S. foreign policy, which is planning to:

a. Spend about $1.5 billion dollars to set up and run two embassy branch offices and two or more “enduring presence posts” (they used to be called “consulates”), including hiring the necessary armed private contractors.

b. Employ 2,400 people in its (“largest in the world”) embassy, the size of the Vatican (but far better defended) in Baghdad’s Green Zone and at its other posts.

c. More than double its force of private civilian contractors to 6,000-7,000, arm them with cast-off Pentagon heavy weaponry and Apache helicopters, and form them into “quick reaction teams.”

d. Spend another $800 million on a program to train the Iraqi police.

e. Take on more than 1,200 specific tasks previously handled by the U.S. military.

Correct answer:  a, b, c, d, and e (and even they don’t cover the subject adequately).  Michael Gordon of the New York Times supplied most of the numbers above.  Who knows what those 1,200 previously military tasks may be, but, reports the Nation’s Jeremy Scahill, those five “enduring presence posts” are to be set up on what are now U.S. military bases, assumedly so that the Pentagon's costly base-building won’t go completely to waste.  It all represents a unique arrangement, since the civilian State Department’s corps of mercenary warriors will then be used to “operate radar to warn of enemy fire, search for roadside bombs, and fly surveillance drones,” among other jobs.  Oh, and good news -- if you happen to be a private contractor at least -- that police-training program will be run by private contractors; and even better, just in case the private contractors don’t act on the up-and-up, there will be people specially assigned to provide oversight and they will be... private contractors, of course.  How can the new diplomats from the remodeled five-sided State Department go wrong, advancing as they are encased in the latest mine-resistant vehicles known as MRAPS and ever prepared to give peace a chance?

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