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It didn’t take long, the former anti-war presidential candidate has now become the pro-occupation leader of the Democratic Party. Just when a majority of the public is saying the Iraq War is not worth it, Howard Dean the new leader of the Democratic Party is saying: “Now that we’re there, we’re there and we can’t get out.”
Like the good partisan he is Dean blames Bush for a war most in his party voted for and an occupation that most in his party recently voted to continue to fund. Of the President Dean said: “The president has created an enormous security problem for the United States where none existed before. But I hope the president is incredibly successful with his policy now that he’s there.”
Chairman Dean does not seem to understand that the illegal occupation of Iraq is part of the problem, not part of the solution. In fact, the many fears he expresses regarding pulling out of Iraq are made more likely by the US occupation of Iraq.
According to an article in the Minnesota Star Tribune, Dean claims that an American pullout from Iraq could endanger the United States in any of three ways: by leaving a Shiite theocracy worse than that in Iran, which he called a more serious threat than Iraq ever was; by creating an independent Kurdistan in the north, with destabilizing effects on neighboring Kurdish regions of Turkey, Iran and Syria, and by making the Sunni Triangle a magnet for Islamic terrorists similar to the former Taliban-ruled Afghanistan.
From his comments, it is evident that Chairman Dean only believes in democracy if the voters support the kind of government the U.S. wants. U.S. officials find a puppet government led by U.S sympathizers preferable to what Iraqis want. Indeed, we find autocratic governments like Saudi Arabia and Egypt preferable to democratic governments that are likely to oppose U.S. interests.
The fears expressed by Chairman Dean indicate that we really don’t want a democracy in Iraq. We want a government that will continue to keep Paul Bremer’s decrees as law, decrees that make Iraq very friendly to U.S. corporate interests. The decrees allow complete foreign ownership of Iraqi industry, very low tax rates that allow profit to be funneled out of Iraq, no trade unions to be organized by workers and no lawsuits against U.S. contractors. And, where through our puppets we get a seat at the OPEC table and first dibs on Iraqi oil. And for our military interests, a government that allows the U.S. to build 14 permanent military basis so Iraq becomes the center of U.S. military dominance over the region.
If we wanted a democracy in Iraq we would have announced an exit timetable. Iraqis have shown in many ways that they want the U.S. to leave. Author Naomi Klien summarized the evidence for this proposition on Democracy Now! on April 20:
“A majority of Iraqis voted in the election for a political party, the United Iraqi Alliance. The second plank of their platform was calling for a timetable for withdrawal. Then you have all the people who boycotted the elections because they believed that a clear statement about withdrawal was the prerequisite for having elections, that you couldn’t have elections before you had that commitment. So immediately after Iraqis have expressed this through opinion polls, through protests, through their votes . . .”
Add to her list the growing insurgency that seems to be primarily made up by Iraqis, religious leaders from both the Shiite and Sunni community calling on the U.S. to leave and recent protests involving hundreds of thousands and it is impossible to deny the obvious – Iraqis want the United States to leave. If we wanted majority rule in Iraq we would be announcing a timetable for U.S. withdrawal.
A responsible withdrawal plan will minimize the risks that Dean fears by stopping mainstream Iraqis from supporting the resistance to U.S. occupation. If Iraqis know they will be getting back their country and that there will be a dual withdrawal of U.S. troops and corporate interests in the near future the resistance will lose support. Our presence empowers anti-US views in Iraq – our exit will make the U.S. invasion truly into a liberation of Iraq from Saddam. Our continued presence makes clear this was not a war of liberation but a war of occupation and dominance of the region.
Democracy Rising has put forward a three step exit strategy that includes real elections under international, not U.S., supervision; an international peace keeping force from neutral countries, preferably in the region; and continued humanitarian aid to help rebuild Iraq. See: www.DemocracyRising.US for details on this exit plan.
Recently, Robert Novak reported that the Bush administration plans to get out of Iraq within a year. Wouldn’t is be ironic if while the Democratic leadership – John Kerry, Hilary Clinton, Howard Dean – is calling for continued occupation, the Republican leadership announced a withdrawal plan!
KEVIN ZEESE is director of DemocracyRising.US. You can comment on this column by visiting his blog at www.DemocracyRising.US.