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Obama’s Non-Withdrawal Withdrawal Plan


It would be superfluous in us to point out that a plan to “end” a war which includes the continued garrisoning of up to 50,000 troops in a hostile land is, in reality, a continuation of that war, not its cessation. To produce such a plan and claim that it “ends” a war is the precise equivalent of, say, relieving one’s bladder on the back of one’s neighbor and telling him that the liquid is actually life-giving rain.

But this is exactly what we are going to get from the Obama Administration in Iraq. Word has now come from on high – that is, from “senior administration officials” using “respectable newspapers” as a wholly uncritical conduit for  government spin – that President Obama has reached a grand compromise with his generals (or rather, the generals and Pentagon poobahs he has inherited — and eagerly retained — from George W. Bush) on a plan to withdraw some American troops from the country that the United States destroyed in an unprovoked war of aggression. Obama had wanted a 16-month timetable for the partial withdrawal; his potential campaign rival in 2012, General David Petraeus, wanted 23 months; so, with Solomonic wisdom, they have now split the difference, and will withdraw a portion of the American troops in 19 months instead.

But the plan clearly envisions a substantial and essentially permanent American military presence in Iraq, dominating the politics and policy of this key oil nation – which was of course one of the chief war aims of the military aggressors in the Bush Administration all along. By implementing his war continuation plan, Obama will complete the work of Bush and his militarist clique. From the New York Times:

“Even with the withdrawal order, Mr. Obama plans to leave behind a “residual force” of tens of thousands of troops to continue training Iraqi security forces, hunt down foreign terrorist cells and guard American institutions…”

And a “senior military officer” dispatched to pipe the spin to the Los Angeles Times added another potential role for the remaining American troops: fighting Iraq’s war for it. He was also refreshingly frank on the plan’s ultimate intentions:

“The senior officer said the troops also could help protect Iraq from outside attack, something the Iraqis cannot yet do.

“‘When President Obama said we were going to get out within 16 months, some people heard, ‘get out,’ and everyone’s gone. But that is not going to happen,’ the officer said.”

No indeed, that is “not going to happen.” One of the most remarkable aspects of Obama’s “war lite” plan is its brazen and absolute disregard for the agreement signed between the United States and the supposedly sovereign Iraqi government guaranteeing the complete withdrawal of all American troops by the end of 2011. Of course, this “agreement” was always considered a farce by everyone – except for the American corporate media, which kept reporting on the “tough negotiations” as if the pact would have any actual meaning in the real world. The agreement contained escape clauses allowing the Iraqi government to “request” a continued American military presence after the 2011 deadline – and considering that any Iraqi government in place in 2011 will be helplessly dependent on American guns and money to maintain its power, such a “request” has always been a dead certainty.  So I suppose we must admire the Obama Administration’s candor in dropping all pretense that U.S. forces are going to leave Iraq at any time in the foreseeable future.

But the hypocrisy – the literally murderous hypocrisy – of claiming that this plan “leaves Iraq to its people and responsibly ends this war,” as Obama asserted in his State of the Union speech, is sickening. It does no such thing, and he knows it.

Instead, it entrenches the United States more and more deeply in a “counter-insurgency” war on behalf of whichever clique or faction of sectarian parties in Iraq is most effective in adhering to America’s dominationist agenda in the region. It sends an apparently endless stream of American troops to die — and, in even greater numbers, to kill — in a criminal action that has helped bankrupt our own country while sending waves of violent instability and extremism around the world. It will further enfilth a cesspool of corruption and war profiteering that has already reached staggering, world-historical proportions.

All of this is what the Obama-Petraeus plan will do. But what it won’t do is “end this war” — “responsibly” or otherwise. When Obama says it will — as he said last night to a rapt national audience — he is, quite simply, and very deliberately, lying.

CHRIS FLOYD is an American writer and frequent contributor to Counterpunch. His blog, Empire Burlesque: High Crimes and Low Comedy in the American Imperium, can be found at


Chris Floyd is a columnist for CounterPunch Magazine. His blog, Empire Burlesque, can be found at

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