Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Keep CounterPunch ad free. Support our annual fund drive today!

Playing Politics with Timetables


In another Woody Allen moment reminiscent of George W. Bush pinning the Medal of Freedom on disgraced ex-CIA Director George Tenet, a third George – General Casey – has taken a page from the Democrats’ troop withdrawal playbook.

After being prepped with the Pentagon’s 74-page cheat sheet about “staying the course” rather than “cutting-and-running” from Iraq, the Republicans walked in lockstep for the past two weeks, shooting down the Democrats’ calls for bringing our soldiers home.

Late last week, Casey, the US commander in Iraq, condemned the concept of a withdrawal timetable. “I don’t like it,” he declared. “I feel it would limit my flexibility. I think it would give the enemy a fixed timetable, and I think it would send a terrible signal to a new government of national unity in Iraq that’s trying to stand up and get its legs underneath it.”

At the same time, speaking out of both sides of his medals, Casey was secretly recommending that Bush drastically reduce our troop commitment, coincidentally, just before the November elections. How bizarre.

Maybe it wasn’t Woody Allen who said, “When you’re being run out of town, get in front of the crowd and make it look like a parade.” But that’s just what the un-indicted Karl Rove is best at.

Karl Rove knows that the mess his boss created in Iraq will be on voters’ minds come November. By pulling the rug out from under the (semi-unified) Democrats’ strongest issue, he maximizes the chances of GOP retention of Congress.

Senator John Kerry, who finally admitted a couple of weeks ago he was wrong to vote for the war, said Casey’s plan “looks an awful lot like what the Republicans spent the last week attacking. Will the partisan attack dogs now turn their venom and disinformation campaign on General Casey?” Unlikely, given the GOP’s proclivity to goosestep to its commander in chief.

Keeping his options open, Bush conditions the pullback on the Iraqis’ ability to do the job. He can always send the troops back in after the election.

Things are not going swimmingly in Iraq right now. Twelve US troops died or were found dead this week. On Friday, a car bomb killed at least 5 people and wounded 18 in Basra. A bomb hit the Sunni mosque in Hibhib northeast of Baghdad where Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was killed earlier this month; Friday’s bomb killed 10 worshippers and wounded 15. Also on Friday, the Iraqi government declared a state of emergency in Baghdad as US and Iraqi forces battled resistance fighters armed with rocket-propelled grenades, hand grenades and rifles near the Green Zone.

On Monday, bombs at markets in two Iraqi cities killed at least 40 people and at least 22 others died throughout Iraq.

The same day, Zalmay Khalizad, US ambassador to Iraq, verified claims in a paper he signed documenting retaliation against Iraqis working with the US in the Green Zone. He touted the 8 hours of electricity per day that people in Baghdad now enjoy, up from 4 just a month ago.

Ultimately, the Bush administration plans to retain a small contingent of about 50,000 troops and the large “super” military bases it is building in Iraq, the raison d’etre for Operation “Iraqi Freedom.” Bush has no intention of ever leaving Iraq.

Meanwhile, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki presented a 24-point national reconciliation plan on Sunday.

It calls for the recognition of the legitimacy of the national resistance, differentiating it from the terrorists. The plan also calls for a timetable for withdrawal of coalition forces from Iraq but specifies no actual date.

According to recent surveys, 87 percent of Iraqis favor a withdrawal timetable for US forces. On Monday, one Sunni leader in Iraq said the insurgency would persist until Washington sets such a timetable, but 7 Sunni groups offered the government a conditional truce.

The prime minister’s plan aims to offer amnesty to insurgents “not proved to be involved in crimes, terrorist activities and war crimes against humanity.” That would seem to exclude Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Rice.

Oddly, it was the Democrats who screamed the loudest about the amnesty plan. Senator Carl Levin called it “unconscionable,” exclaiming, “For heaven’s sake, we liberated that country.”

Tell that to the Iraqi people.

MARJORIE COHN is a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law and president-elect of the National Lawyers Guild.



Marjorie Cohn is professor emerita at Thomas Jefferson School of Law and former president of the National Lawyers Guild. She writes, speaks and does media about human rights and U.S. foreign policy. Her most recent book is “Drones and Targeted Killing: Legal, Moral, and Geopolitical Issues.” Visit her website at and follow her on Twitter at @marjoriecohn.

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine


Weekend Edition
October 21, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Wight
Hillary Clinton and the Brutal Murder of Gaddafi
Diana Johnstone
Hillary Clinton’s Strategic Ambition in a Nutshell
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Trump’s Naked and Hillary’s Dead
John W. Whitehead
American Psycho: Sex, Lies and Politics Add Up to a Terrifying Election Season
Stephen Cooper
Hell on Earth in Alabama: Inside Holman Prison
Patrick Cockburn
13 Years of War: Mosul’s Frightening and Uncertain Future
Rob Urie
Name the Dangerous Candidate
Pepe Escobar
The Aleppo / Mosul Riddle
David Rosen
The War on Drugs is a Racket
Sami Siegelbaum
Once More, the Value of the Humanities
Cathy Breen
“Today Is One of the Heaviest Days of My Life”
Neve Gordon
Israel’s Boycott Hypocrisy
Mark Hand
Of Pipelines and Protest Pens: When the Press Loses Its Shield
Victor Wallis
On the Stealing of U.S. Elections
Michael Hudson
The Return of the Repressed Critique of Rentiers: Veblen in the 21st century Rentier Capitalism
Brian Cloughley
Drumbeats of Anti-Russia Confrontation From Washington to London
Howard Lisnoff
Still Licking Our Wounds and Hoping for Change
Brian Gruber
Iraq: There Is No State
Peter Lee
Trump: We Wish the Problem Was Fascism
Stanley L. Cohen
Equality and Justice for All, It Seems, But Palestinians
Steve Early
In Bay Area Refinery Town: Berniecrats & Clintonites Clash Over Rent Control
Kristine Mattis
All Solutions are Inadequate: Why It Doesn’t Matter If Politicians Mention Climate Change
Peter Linebaugh
Ron Suny and the Marxist Commune: a Note
Andre Vltchek
Sudan, Africa and the Mosaic of Horrors
Keith Binkly
The Russians Have Been Hacking Us For Years, Why Is It a Crisis Now?
Jonathan Cook
Adam Curtis: Another Manager of Perceptions
Ted Dace
The Fall
Sheldon Richman
Come and See the Anarchy Inherent in the System
Susana Hurlich
Hurricane Matthew: an Overview of the Damages in Cuba
Dave Lindorff
Screwing With and Screwing the Elderly and Disabled
Chandra Muzaffar
Cuba: Rejecting Sanctions, Sending a Message
Dennis Kucinich
War or Peace?
Joseph Natoli
Seething Anger in the Post-2016 Election Season
Jack Rasmus
Behind The 3rd US Presidential Debate—What’s Coming in 2017
Ron Jacobs
A Theory of Despair?
Gilbert Mercier
Globalist Clinton: Clear and Present Danger to World Peace
James A Haught
Many Struggles Won Religious Freedom
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Dear Fellow Gen Xers: Let’s Step Aside for the Millennials
Tom Clifford
Duterte’s Gambit: the Philippines’s Pivot to China
Uri Avnery
The Peres Funeral Ruckus
Reyes Mata III
Scaling Camelot’s Walls: an Essay Regarding Donald Trump
Raouf Halaby
Away from the Fray: From Election Frenzy to an Interlude in Paradise
James McEnteer
Art of the Feel
David Yearsley
Trump and Hitchcock in the Age of Conspiracies
Charles R. Larson
Review: Sjón’s “Moonstone: the Boy Who Never Was”