On Sunday, July 8, the New York Times editorial page featured a long piece, “The Road Home,” that seemed to turn the Times former role as chief cheerleader for the Bush Administration’s “Global War on Terror,” into a call to “cut and run.”
“It is time for the United States to leave Iraq, without any more delay than the Pentagon needs to organize an orderly exit,” was the first line. A clear and unequivocal statement, that.
The response was quick, massive and overwhelming, as Colin Powell would say. Editorials across the nation trumpeted the Times turnabout, with many seconding the e-notion. Letters in the July 9 Times uniformly supported the call for withdrawal. Even much of the progressive media and press in the US and elsewhere, grudgingly lifted thumbs from computer keyboards long enough to point them up, while trying not to snicker: This is what we have been trying to tell you all along.
Yet “The Road Home” very much presents a uniquely elite US point-of-view and, at bottom, is both fatally flawed and disingenuous. Not to mention profoundly racist and imperialist.
The editorial nakedly points to core US./Western “interests” which the Times speaks for: “To put it baldly, terrorism and oil make it impossible to ignore.” It being a “mess” created by 12 years of US./UK bombings and UN-supported sanctions leading to the deaths of at least one million Iraqi people, followed by the US.-led invasion and the endless, bloody, gruesome occupation.
What a mess it is: “At first, we believed that after destroying Iraq’s government, army, police and economic structures, the United States was obliged to try to accomplish some of the goals Mr. Bush claimed to be pursuing, chiefly building a stable, unified Iraq.”
It is good of the Times to finally acknowledge that the reality of the US invasion and occupation of Iraq has been the total destruction of the Iraqi state, its military and police forces and its economy — not to mention the misery brought down upon the Iraqi people, the implosion of the US military machine, the bloodshed, the money spent. So yes, we are obliged to do something: what, exactly remains extremely murky.
But a small shaft of light creeps through the fog: “When it became clear that the president had neither the vision nor the means to do that, we argued against setting a withdrawal date while there was still some chance to mitigate the chaos that would most likely follow.” It is good that “it” has finally become clear since chaos certainly does need mitigation from time-to-time. But, a cynic might ask, why now?
“While Mr. Bush scorns deadlines, he kept promising breakthroughs – after elections, after a constitution, after sending in thousands more troops. But those milestones came and went without any progress toward a stable, democratic Iraq or a path for withdrawal. It is frighteningly clear that Mr. Bush’s plan is to stay the course as long as he is president and dump the mess on his successor. Whatever his cause was, it is lost.”
Ah, we begin to get to the crux of it: HIS CAUSE IS LOST. Frighteningly clear, non?
Bush lost the “cause,” therefore he has sinned.
From a military point of view, the latest Western Iraq adventure was lost the day in May 2003 that a former National Guard chicken hawk, sporting a crotch-padded flight suit, declared from the deck of the USS Kitty Hawk that major combat in Iraq had ended.
With “Stars and Stripes Forever,” blaring in the background as a nearly-united nation roared its approval, We’re Number One! We’re Number One! And the New York Times fully revealed itself as Izveztia, publishing the playbook for a “free and democratic” Iraq and Middle East, where cheap oil would flow endlessly into US SUV’s and Hummers and Al Queda would seek out Al Franken to dance the night away
But that was then and this is now.
His cause is lost. His cause is lost. Boy George lost the cause and he can’t seem to find it. Bad, bad boy.
The boy, it seems, committed the greatest sin in the Land of Numbah One. “He” (in the religious-imperial sense) lost the cause. What to do? What to do? The emperor has indeed lost his pants, , shirt, sox, u-trow, the whole shebang — and he never had much of a mind or soul in the first place.
So, the Times and its designated presidential replacements in 2008 (Hillary the Preferred, Barak the Slick, or Edwards the Last Resort) are building a consensus to punt. Using the widely-ignored “bipartisan” Iraq Study Group report as verbal justification, they are scurrying via email, think-tank conferences and I-phones to develop a strategy to convince US voters that re-deployment is actually “withdrawal.” Orwell (or is it Goebbels?) lives.
By-and-large, they are succeeding. The Dems in the House have just pushed through a bill to withdraw the bulk of US forces — of course leaving behind enough troops and air power to train Iraqi security forces (like they need that training they have shown as resistance fighters that they can execute mass violence quite well, thank you), “help” the “democratic” government and protect US assets (i.e. oil fields and the Green Zone).
Warmed-over Bush, presumably without the current level of US casualties.
Meanwhile, the Republicans are fraying around the edges. McCain has totally self-destructed and a few (somewhat) more coherent senators are beginning to hedge their bets, by cautiously holding their venom back in an effort to save their party. It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to
And of course, there are increasing demands upon an illegitimate Iraqi puppet government that cannot deliver clean water, electricity, sewers, health care, food, transportation, fuel, security or even protect its own corrupt leaders to “step up as we step down,” according to both George and Hillary in lock-step (or is it goose-step?).
By demanding the impossible of our hand-picked Iraqi leaders working under a constitution that was drafted by the US ( extensively by Noah Feldman a US lawyer who writes regularly in the Times as an expert on the Iraqi basic law that he helped to create), our own courageous chiefs have successfully created a permanent bunch of hapless “partners” to beat like scapegoat piñatas until they’re discarded. Apparently, Iraqi premier al-Maliki has never heard of Manuel Noriega, a “partner” of times not-so-long-gone. Or Diem, or the Shah, or Papa/Baby Doc
None of which is the real problem, — as the Times and their bipartisans in DC see it. The real problem is the original problem: oil and terror. How do we control Mideastern oil, gang? How do we control the Mideast? (Because that is what the GWOT is actually about: US/Israeli military, economic and political hegemony over the region).
The answers to those questions are so obvious that we can’t see them, and probably never will.
We don’t. We can’t.
That simple and that unclear.
The best ways to prevent terrorism are to: stop aggressive, murderous, illegal, and immoral pre-emptive attacks on sovereign nations and innocent peoples; stop supporting brutal dictatorships; stop the US-Israeli oppression of the Palestinians; apologize and fund a massive reparations program controlled by Iraqis and the international community; and encourage a proper distribution of oil revenues and water resources in the region to promote healthy economic development for the peoples in the region.
Obviously, Western dependence on an unsustainable petroleum-based economy must quickly cease if humanity is to survive, but first we, especially in the US, must erase the absolutely destructive and self-destructive notion that the Earth’s oil belongs to us.
Which leads to even a greater short-term problem: the solution proposed by the editorial. The proposed withdrawal is not a withdrawal at all. It is simply a game of military musical chairs. Where should we put our bases so we can ostensibly chase terrorists around Iraq, protect our assets and perpetuate endless violence?
How about Kurdistan? Well, Kurdistan is still very much part of Iraq and is engaged in a near civil war between the PUK and PKK parties, as well as suffering on-going invasions from Iranians and Turks. Neither the Kurds (many of whom remain Iraqi patriots) nor the Iraqi resistance will allow US troops to be based there without the massive violent resistance that is now driving US-led forces out of the rest of the country. The “combat theatre” will simply shift north.
As long as US-led forces continue to use any regional bases for attacks in an attempt to control the region’s oil, they (and those who collaborate with them) will be subject to uncontrollable violent resistance in the midst of an ongoing civil war — including terroristic violence, ala Afghanistan. And if we attack — or join with Israel in attacking — Iran, as the Times and all “top-tier” presidential candidates of both parties have suggested (including the threat of using nuclear weapons), a conflagration beyond imagination will follow.
TOM JOHNSON lives in Austin, Texas. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.