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Of Campaigns and Timelines

Is there anyone on the planet that does not yet recognize the inconsistencies of President George Bush’s many statements? Let us all take a walk down memory lane which is, unfortunately, cluttered with the litter of Mr. Bush’s many lies.

September 12, 2002: “Today, Iraq continues to withhold important information about its nuclear program.” We all know today that Iraq had no nuclear program by the date Mr. Bush made this proclamation.

June 28, 2005. This speech, to help rally support for the war in Iraq when it had long since begun to lose its appeal to the general populace, had two memorable statements.

1) “The only way our enemies can succeed is if we forget the lessons of September the 11th.” This was nearly a year after the 9/11 Commission report said that there was ‘no credible evidence’ indicating any link between Iraq and the September 11 attacks on the U.S.

2) “Sending more Americans would undermine our strategy of encouraging Iraqis to take the lead in this fight.” Apparently Mr. Bush no longer cared about ‘undermining our strategy’ when he added over 30,000 additional troops to terrorize the Iraq people in early 2007.

May, 2005: President George Bush signs legislation to continue funding the war after vetoing such legislation when it included a timeline for withdrawal of U.S. troops. Mr. Bush has always said that a timeline for withdrawal equates to a timeline for surrender.

July 18, 2008: President Bush and Iraq’s prime minister Nouri al-Maliki agree to a “general time horizon” for the withdrawal of U.S. troops.

Regarding Mr. Bush’s willingness to accept a ‘general time horizon’ (read: timeline) for withdrawal, one wonders what might have changed. Has the much vaunted ‘surge’ succeeded in killing and intimidating enough Iraqi freedom fighters that the nation has begun to submit, after five years, to the will of its imperial occupiers? Does Mr. Bush believe that ‘victory,’ which to him is apparently an Iraq with a western-style democracy, forced upon it against the will of the people, has been achieved? That is too much of a stretch even for the intellectually-challenged Mr. Bush to believe. But using Hitler’s ‘Big Lie’ theory, perhaps he hopes that U.S. citizens will buy it. In case anyone is not familiar with the ‘Big Lie’ theory, it comes from Mein Kampf, Hitler’s autobiography, and is this: ‘…in the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility; because the broad masses of a nation … more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie, since they themselves often tell small lies in little matters but would be ashamed to resort to large-scale falsehoods. It would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths, and they would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously.” So if Mr. Bush would have us believe that a new democratic Iraq is dawning, he is telling ‘the big lie.’

But perhaps neither of these explains the president’s apparent willingness to accept a troop withdrawal timeline (he calls it a time ‘horizon,’ apparently believing that the U.S. citizenry is too stupid to know he means timeline). The youthful, dynamic Democratic presidential candidate, Illinois Senator Barack Obama is ahead in the polls; his Republican opponent, the awkward, elderly and decrepit senator from Arizona, John McCain, has not been able to spark any excitement on the campaign trail. Mr. McCain is a stalwart supporter of war, any war it seems, and foresees the U.S. occupation in Iraq lasting for generations. Perhaps it has finally dawned on Mr. Bush that this is not what the American people want; perhaps someone has finally gotten through to him; perhaps someone has penetrated his inner circle of yes-men and women, and has made him realize that a campaign platform of more of the same death, blood and destruction, is not selling too well even in middle America. If he defuses the Iraq war as an issue in this campaign, he may feel that Mr. McCain has a chance of being elected. That would ensure future wars, permanent tax breaks for the rich and other money-making schemes that are so close to Mr. Bush’s heart.

Unfortunately, something appears to have been overlooked in Mr. Bush’s planning; he neglected to confer with Mr. McCain, who proclaims the following on his official campaign website: “To promise a withdrawal of our forces from Iraq, regardless of the calamitous consequences to the Iraqi people, our most vital interests, and the future of the Middle East, is the height of irresponsibility. It is a failure of leadership.”

Now certainly this is not what Mr. Obama has proposed; never has he said he would withdraw U.S. forces ‘regardless of the calamitous consequences’ that may ensue. Rather, unlike Mr. McCain, he seems to recognize at least to some extent that the U.S. made a mess in Iraq, and its continued presence only compounds the original, catastrophic mistake. Like Mr. Bush today, Mr. Obama proposes a sixteen-month time ‘horizon’ (he is somewhat more candid than Mr. Bush; he simply calls it a timeline) for withdrawal. Poor Mr. McCain is once again left looking like the perennial bridesmaid, always in the limelight but never quite making it to the star position.

Mr. McCain’s website also reveals countless other gems, too numerous to discuss here. However, a few are worth noting.

“John McCain believes it is strategically and morally essential for the United States to support the Government of Iraq to become capable of governing itself and safeguarding its people.” If one looks back prior to the U.S. invasion, it appears that Iraq was doing that at least adequately without U.S. interference.

“It would be a grave mistake to leave before Al Qaeda in Iraq is defeated….” Do we need to remind Mr. McCain that Al Qaeda had no appreciable presence in Iraq prior to the U.S. invasion, and even now the ‘Al Qaeda’ in that country has only the most minimal ties to Osama bin Laden’s Al Qaeda?

“The best way to secure long-term peace and security is to establish a stable, prosperous, and democratic state in Iraq that poses no threat to its neighbors.” Does it ever occur to Mr. McCain that, perhaps because of centuries old traditions and deeply held religious beliefs, the Iraqi people many not want a democratic state? Or does he simply not care, believing instead that the American way is the best, like it or not? And why should Iraq not pose a threat to its neighbors, when the U.S. poses threats to so much of the world? Is the threat of deadly, international violence only the ‘right’ of the U.S?

Yet Mr. McCain persists, despite his hero’s acceptance of a timeline for withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. Perhaps in the next several days we will see him squirm his way into a new position, proclaiming that he has said all along that a timeline is the way to go. It’s politics as usual in the U.S.

But one should not attempt to predict the future; what Mr. McCain says tomorrow may differ substantially from his ‘deeply held’ beliefs next week. It is likely that the electorate is too bored of this campaign already to pay any close attention to what he or Mr. Obama say. That would be unfortunate, since even a cursory look at Mr. McCain’s statements indicate his desire and intention to continue Mr. Bush’s policies which have proven disastrous for the people of the U.S. and Iraq. Mr. Obama may not be able to usher in the ‘Change we can believe in,’ as his appealing campaign slogan promises, but at least the U.S. and the world can hope for something different, and better, than the last nearly eight years have produced.

ROBERT FANTINA is author of ‘Desertion and the American Soldier: 1776–2006.

 

 

 

 

 

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Robert Fantina’s latest book is Empire, Racism and Genocide: a History of US Foreign Policy (Red Pill Press).

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