Tuesday, June 23, 2009


Will we be leaving Iraq? Patrick Cockburn seems to believe that we will, beginning with removing U.S. troops from major cities on June 30 and a complete withdrawal by 2011. Well perhaps the withdrawal will happen as the war in Afghanistan and Pakistan begins to demand more warm bodies to be flung into the fray. However all that may be you will recall that Obama has always maintained that he will keep residual forces in Iraq after the withdrawal in 2011. The question is how you define “residual.” Are 50,000 troops residual? This isn’t a criticism of Cockburn who many deem to have done some of the best reporting on the Iraq War. In fact his essay in today’s Counter Punch is well worth reading. It’s just that I remain extremely skeptical regarding a complete withdrawal, one without preconditions. In fact, considering that an awful lot of things can happen between now and 2011 that could be used as an excuse to stay just a little longer I’m not going bet the farm we will be leaving Iraq. No crystal balls here, we’ll just have to wait and see.

So here we are presented with two contradictory pieces of information – one, that we are leaving Iraq, and two, we are not leaving Iraq via the estimated 50,000 U.S. soldiers that will be staying there as residuals. Already I have been reading a number of articles that point to the recent violence in Iraq that many interpret as a result of the impending June 30 date for U.S. troop withdrawal from major cities. We also know that for the most part the mainstream news are endless cheerleaders for American imperialism always eager and willing to repeat the false narrative emanating from the White House relegating the job of editors and owners of news outlets to that of a tape recorder. This parrot-like nature of the news media certainly helped Bush Jr. sell the Iraq War to the public where evidently even the most rudimentary research by our defenders of the flame of truth would have shot Bush’s sales pitch through with heavy doubts as to the veracity of what we were hearing at the time. Unfortunately it is also evident that the news media never bothered to look, with very few exceptions. And these exceptions were easily lost in the sea of lies we were daily deluged with. On the other hand there was a sad lack of skepticism on the part of the American public as well for the very idea that Iraq was or could have been a threat to the U.S. was patently absurd. These extraordinary claims from the White House should have demanded extraordinary proofs. Unfortunately no such demands were made with a few noteworthy exceptions and in the world of power exceptions do not make the rule.

This sea of lies was so predominant that today, six years later, people still cannot agree on what drove Bush to invade Iraq. A strong case can be made for a whole cadre of reasons. And does it really matter? I don’t think it does the reason being that we as a people and our government --if a bunch of inept buffoons can be dignified with that name – have not learned anything of value from our experience in that broken land we call Iraq. For proof all one need do is read the numerous news articles regarding the escalation in Afghanistan and Pakistan. As astonishing as it may seem to rational people after the debacle we witnessed in Iraq we are charging blindly headlong into another protracted war without skipping a beat.

In the end the Iraq War was about power, power for the executive office which was so eagerly and rabidly given over by Congress and has moved the U.S. further along its path of militarization, and it is a long path, one that we have followed for the last century. If the Iraq War was driven by oil, oil is power, for those who control the oil will have power over those who do not. If the Iraq War was driven by a need to reestablish the U.S. as the prime super power in the eyes of the world after 9/11 the war was about power. If the war was for political gain (Americans love wars especially if they believe we are winning) then the Iraq War was driven by power or the search for more power. Power is an end to itself and for those that seek it no explanations are needed.


At June 23, 2009 7:37 PM, Blogger Jonathan Versen said...

I try to avoid automatically assuming that a lack of publicly expressed discontent is the same as actual consent for empire.

Admittedly passivity is a form of consent, but I imagine most people either

A.automatically allow for government corruption as an understood constant, or

B.they shrug off excessive pre-occupation with the workings of government as a sign of mental feebleness, since nothing ever changes, or

C. they decide that it's easier to just believe that our social and cultural superiors know what's best for us, and are acting accordingly.

(Or, come to think of it, there's also "D", let's try to cash in on the crumbling of America by buying the right stocks, and screw everybody else. Buy low, sell high, get a house in a gated community, a shotgun and lots of ammo, and wait for society to bite the big one.)

Implicit in the above "choices" is increasing dissolution of the social fabric and/or learned helplessness, both of which make articulate resistance more difficult. Which, I might add, is one of the purposes of our latest round of wars.

At June 23, 2009 8:33 PM, Blogger rob payne said...



E. public protests against war are belittled in the news media through ridicule or by just not reporting protests even if they are major events. The government has learned some lessons even if they are the wrong ones.

But yes I think your list of reasons are likely quite accurate. And of course there is…

F. Some people just don’t care or deep down inside they really support the wars because they don’t want to pay high gas prices.

Right now it seems as if we as U.S. citizens are very far removed from the table of the powerful. Watching Obama it strikes me that he isn’t interested that much in what we think as he basically continues with Bush foreign policy and even domestic policy which flies in the face of the people who worked to put him in the oval office. It’s like he is just giving them the middle finger but with a gentle smile.

At June 24, 2009 4:57 AM, Blogger Mimi said...

I lean toward Jonathan's "C." I haven't taken any polls, but most of the people I know (real people, that is, not blog keepers like us)seem to be content with the "our leaders know better" belief--or maybe they know resistance is futile.

At June 24, 2009 11:11 AM, Blogger rob payne said...


Yup, C is very prevalent. The funny thing is there is very little evidence that should cause people to trust in Dear Leader. But that’s the world we live in.


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