FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Head for the Exits, Now!

Imagine a steer in the stockyards hollering to his fellows, “We need a phased withdrawal from the slaughterhouse, starting in four to six months. The timetable should not be overly rigid. But there should be no more equivocation.” Back and forth among the steers the debate meanders on. Some say, “To withdraw now” would be to “display weakness”. Others talk about a carrot and stick approach. Then the men come out with electric prods and shock them up the chute.

The way you end a slaughter is by no longer feeding it. Every general, either American or British, with the guts to speak honestly over the past couple of years has said the same thing: the foreign occupation of Iraq by American and British troops is feeding the violence.

Iraq is not on the “edge of civil war”. It is in the midst of it. There is no Iraqi government. There are Sunni militias and Shia militias inflicting savagery on each other in the awful spiral of reprisal killings familiar from Northern Ireland and Lebanon in the 1970s. Iraq has become Chechnya, headed into that abyss from the day the US invaded in 2003. It’s been a steep price to inflict on the Iraqi people for the pleasure of seeing Saddam Hussein die abruptly at the end of a rope.

If the US is scheduled for any role, beyond swift withdrawal, it certainly won’t be as “honest broker”, lecturing fractious sectarians on how to behave properly, like Teacher in some schoolhouse on the prairie. It was always been in the US interest to curb the possibility of the Shia controlling much of Iraq, including most of the oil. By one miscalculation after another, precisely that specter is fast becoming a reality. For months outgoing ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad tried to improve the Sunni position, and it is clear enough that in its covert operations the US has been in touch with the Sunni resistance.

If some Sunni substitute for Saddam stepped up to the plate the US would welcome him and propel him into power, but it is too late for such a course. As Henry Kissinger said earlier this week, the war is lost. This is the man who — if we are to believe Bob Woodward’s latest narrative — has been advising Bush and Cheney that there could be no more Vietnams, that the war in Iraq could not be lost without humiliating consequences for America’s status as the number # 1 bully on the block. When Kissinger says a war is lost, you can reckon that it is.

Democrats, put in charge of Congress next January by voters who turned against the war, are now split on what to do. The 80 or so members of the House who favor swift withdrawal got a swift rebuff when Steny Hoyer won the House Majority leader position at a canter from Jack Murtha, humiliating House majority whip Nancy Pelosi in the process. But there are still maneuvers to have Murtha capture a significant role in brokering the rapid exit strategy he stunned Washington by advocating a year ago.

Next came Senator Barack Obama of Illinois, who never opens his mouth without testing the wind with a supersensitive finger to test the tolerance levels of respectable opinion. In Chicago on Monday he said there are no good options left in Iraq, but that it “remains possible to salvage an acceptable outcome to this long and misguided war.”

This time Obama plumped for the “four to six months” option for “phased redeployment”, though the schedule should not be “overly rigid”, to give–so the senator said — commanders on the ground flexibility to protect the troops or adapt to changing political arrangements in the Iraqi government. Then there followed the familiar agenda for America as stern, disinterested broker: “economic pressure” should be applied to makie Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds sit down and forge a lasting peace. “No more coddling, no more equivocation.”

It sounds great as a clip on the Evening News, provoking another freshet of talk about Obama as presidential candidate. Substantively it means absolutely nothing. What “economic pressure” is he talking about, what “coddling”, in ruined, looted Iraq? It’s all the language of fantasy.

The only time reality enters into Obama’s and Democrats’ foreign policy advisories is when the subject of Israel comes up. Then there’s no lofty talk about “No more coddling”, but the utterly predictable green light for Israel to do exactly what it wants–which is at present to reduce Gaza to sub-Chechnyian levels and murder families in Beit Hanoun: this is a Darfur America really could stop but instead is sponsoring and cheering on, to its eternal shame.

The Palestinians are effectively defenseless, even as the US Congress cheers Israel on. What political Washington cannot yet quite comprehend is that Iraq is not Palestine; cannot be lectured and given schedules. America is not controlling events in Iraq. If the Shia choose to cut supply lines from Kuwait up to the northern part of the country, the US forces would be in deep, deep trouble. When the Democrats take over Congress in January, they should vote to end funding for anything in Iraq except withdrawing US forces immediately. If they don’t, there’s nothing but downsides, including without doubt a Third Party peace candidacy that could well cost them the White House in 2008, or–who knows–the return of Al Gore as the peace candidate, now that Russ Feingold has quit the field. Perhaps that’s what Obama was trying to head off.

ALEXANDER COCKBURN and Jeffrey St. Clair’s new book, End Times: the Death of the Fourth Estate, will be published in February by CounterPunch Books / AK Press.

 

 

 

More articles by:

Alexander Cockburn’s Guillotined! and A Colossal Wreck are available from CounterPunch.

Weekend Edition
August 14, 2020
Friday - Sunday
Matthew Hoh
Lights! Camera! Kill! Hollywood, the Pentagon and Imperial Ambitions.
Joseph Grosso
Bloody Chicken: Inside the American Poultry Industry During the Time of COVID
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: It Had to be You
H. Bruce Franklin
August 12-22, 1945: Washington Starts the Korean and Vietnam Wars
Pete Dolack
Business as Usual Equals Many Extra Deaths from Global Warming
Paul Street
Whispers in the Asylum (Seven Days in August)
Richard Falk – Daniel Falcone
Predatory Capitalism and the Nuclear Threat in the Age of Trump
Paul Fitzgerald - Elizabeth Gould
‘Magical Thinking’ has Always Guided the US Role in Afghanistan
Ramzy Baroud
The Politics of War: What is Israel’s Endgame in Lebanon and Syria?
Ron Jacobs
It’s a Sick Country
Eve Ottenberg
Trump’s Plan: Gut Social Security, Bankrupt the States
Richard C. Gross
Trump’s Fake News
Jonathan Cook
How the Guardian Betrayed Not Only Corbyn But the Last Vestiges of British Democracy
Joseph Natoli
What Trump and the Republican Party Teach Us
Robert Fisk
Can Lebanon be Saved?
Brian Cloughley
Will Biden be Less Belligerent Than Trump?
Kenn Orphan
We Do Not Live in the World of Before
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Compromise & the Status Quo
Andrew Bacevich
Biden Wins, Then What?
Thomas Klikauer – Nadine Campbell
The Criminology of Global Warming
Michael Welton
Toppled Monuments and the Struggle For Symbolic Space
Prabir Purkayastha
Why 5G is the First Stage of a Tech War Between the U.S. and China
Daniel Beaumont
The Reign of Error
Adrian Treves – John Laundré
Science Does Not Support the Claims About Grizzly Hunting, Lethal Removal
David Rosen
A Moment of Social Crisis: Recalling the 1970s
Maximilian Werner
Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf: Textual Manipulations in Anti-wolf Rhetoric
Pritha Chandra
Online Education and the Struggle over Disposable Time
Robert Koehler
Learning from the Hibakushas
Seth Sandronsky
Teaching in a Pandemic: an Interview With Mercedes K. Schneider
Dean Baker
Financing Drug Development: What the Pandemic Has Taught Us
Greta Anderson
Blaming Mexican Wolves for Livestock Kills
Evaggelos Vallianatos
The Meaning of the Battle of Salamis
Mel Gurtov
The World Bank’s Poverty Illusion
Paul Gilk
The Great Question
Rev. Susan K. Williams Smith
Trump Doesn’t Want Law and Order
Martin Cherniack
Neo-conservatism: The Seductive Lure of Lying About History
Nicky Reid
Pick a Cold War, Any Cold War!
George Wuerthner
Zombie Legislation: the Latest Misguided Wildfire Bill
Lee Camp
The Execution of Elephants and Americans
Christopher Brauchli
I Read the News Today, Oh Boy…
Tony McKenna
The Truth About Prince Philip
Louis Proyect
MarxMail 2.0
Sidney Miralao
Get Military Recruiters Out of Our High Schools
Jon Hochschartner
Okra of Time
David Yearsley
Bringing Landscapes to Life: the Music of Johann Christian Bach
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail