The Bush administration, losing the war in Iraq, has come with a "new" strategy: setting a timetable for Iraq’s puppet regime and its fledgling army to "stand up" to the task of running the country so that the U.S. military can "stand down."
If you think this brilliant "new" plan sounds remarkably like the one proposed earlier this year by many Democrats, who were accused at that time of "cutting and running" for proposing just such a withdrawal timetable, you’re right.
` It also sounds like yet another one of those Bush/Rove scams that are pulled out at each election to trick gullible voters into thinking the president is actually going to do something dramatic when he is really just talking. The truth is this plan is no more serious than Bush’s early announcement of a plan to send Americans to the moon and on to Mars.
That plan, of course, was a joke from the start. The president didn’t offer any money for a Moon or Mars project, and never had any intention of doing so. It was just more of the same at NASA, blowing money on the giant white elephant in the sky called the International Space Station. And of course, we don’t hear anything about Mars anymore.
The new Iraq plan being touted by the administration, which notably involves doing nothing for a year, and then calls for a phased drawdown of U.S. troops over subsequent years, basically shoving off any significant change in Iraq until after Bush is safely out of office and holed up somewhere in Paraguay, behing a barricade of defense lawyers.
On its face, this "new" plan also would require remarkable cooperation and forbearance on the part of the Iraqi resistance, which has shown no inclination to ease up on its attacks on U.S. forces and on Iraq’s puppet regime, and which moreover has no incentive to ease up, since it is the resistance’s increasing success at attacking and killing Americans that is driving the administration to talk about withdrawal.
What we actually have here is an election gambit: if the administration tells the voters that it is changing course and making plans to get out of the quagmire in Iraq, maybe at least some voters will reward them by voting for embattled Republican congressional candidates.
But it is in fact all just a scam. Saying that the government of Prime Minister Nauri Kamal al-Maliki must start effectively cracking down on sectarian killings, must clean up its police forces and get them to stop behaving like gangsters and death squads, and must turn its joke of an army into a dedicated fighting force that will stand up to the forces of rebellion and revolution arrayed against it and the U.S. military is not going to make it happen. After all, that’s supposedly what the Iraqi government has been trying to do now for two years, right? And the situation has not improved at all. In fact the situation in Iraq for the government has gotten noticeably worse. Why anyone would think that giving this pathetic colonial regime some kind of a "timetable" for doing those things would make them accomplish something that they have been congenitally unable to accomplish to date is beyond me.
But then, that’s not the point.
Like most of what this administration offers up in the run-up to national elections, this is all about appearances, not about substance.
This is an admistration that knows all about fooling some of the people some of the time.
What Karl Rove long ago figured out is that it doesn’t matter that you can’t fool all of the people all the time, or even some of the people all of the time. All you have to do is fool some of them enough of the time to get through an election cycle with a narrow win. Then people move on to other concerns and forget what you promised. By the time the next election cycle rolls around, you can come up with some new promises and fool some of them again.
It’s a question whether the scam will work this time, though.
People seem to be waking up to the reality that there is a serious disaster in Iraq, that it is not going to be solved by continuing to slaughter Iraqis and by continuing to let American kids get chewed up and sent hom in boxes or with parts of their bodies missing.
People seem to be waking up to the fact that "staying the course" is just another way of not having to say, "We’re sorry, but we f***ed up."
What we all need to be doing now is demanding some answers from this administration and its enablers in Congress:
* Why hasn’t the US been demanding action from the Iraqi government for the past two years?
* Why did some 2000 Americans have to die over that period of time, if all we are doing is something we could have done two years ago?
* Why are Democrats "cut and runners" for proposing a phased withdrawal, but Republicans are not "cut and runners" for proposing the same thing?
* If the success of this plan involves negotiating with the insurgents and giving them–including the Baathists we supposedly overthrew in 2003–a role in the future Iraq, doesn’t that mean we lost the war after all?
If not, then why weren’t we negotiating with them a long time ago?
If so, then what did the other several hundred Americans die for in the early days of the invasion and occupation?
If the US has been "stupid and arrogant" in its Iraq policies, as administration sources are finally admitting, just who are the stupid and arrogant people we are talking about here?
If those "stupid and arrogant" people are the president, the vice president, the secretary of defense and the national security adviser/secretary of state, what is to be the consequence of their stupiditdy and arrogance–particularly given that this stupidity and arrogance has cause the deaths of as many as 600,000 innocent Iraqi civilians and 3000 Americans? Enough of the game playing.
It’s time for a little truth and consequences in America.
DAVE LINDORFF is the author of Killing Time: an Investigation into the Death Row Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal. His new book of CounterPunch columns titled "This Can’t be Happening!" is published by Common Courage Press. Lindorff’s new book is "The Case for Impeachment",
co-authored by Barbara Olshansky.
He can be reached at: email@example.com