Sunday, December 25, 2011

End of Iraq War? Let's not celebrate quite yet

When the leaders speak of peace
The common folk know
That war is coming.
When the leaders curse war
The mobilization order is already written out. -- Bertolt Brecht
A letter from  a friend tells me the war is over, that Obama has pulled all combat troops out of Iraq. She suggests that we who protested Bush's invasion from the beginning should hold a press conference and claim credit even though the anti-war movement in the U.S. has long been dormant, anesthetized since Obama's election in 2008.

Liberal peace activist, Tom Hayden writes in the L.A. Times that, "the war is as over as a war can be, and the peace movement should celebrate." The president himself has declared the war effort, "a success" and the New York Times goes so far as to tells us that "War Really Is Going Out of Style." Remember, it was the Times that banged the war drums the loudest in the months leading up to the invasion with article after article offering "proof" of weapons of mass destruction. 

Hayden also sends around an interview with Ben Rhodes, the deputy national security advisor for strategic communications, who claims that "The tide of war is receding around the world." 

Like my friend, I'm happy to recognize any and all accomplishments by the peace movement but only with my favorite caveat attached, Tell no lies. Claim no easy victories.

Like Hayden, I'm happy about the pull-out and detest war industry lobbyists and  opportunist Republicans like John McCain, who are trying to score points by calling the withdrawal "premature" and arguing for a large residual force to remain in Iraq. McCain knows full well that Obama had no choice but to pull out after negotiations with the Al-Maliki regime broke down. I'd also be elated if we could get out from under the great financial burden a decade of war has placed on our backs. The war cost, amounting to $2 trillion by most estimates, has been a key factor in the current economic collapse and has helped devastate public education and erode civil liberties.

In the pit of my stomach I know that any anti-war celebrations are premature and just plain wrong, considering the death and devastation our retreating troops are leaving behind. I mean --thousands of U.S. soldiers and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis killed; the cradle of civilization bombed, battered and bleeding with little left of infrastructure, torn by sectarian violence which was inflamed by the U.S. 10-year occupation. A corrupt, anti-democratic, U.S.--installed but pro-Iranian regime, in Baghdad sitting next door to the world's largest embassy, guarded by mercenaries from the murderous group of thugs and assassins formerly known as Blackwater. Their main job, it seems, will be to protect the western oil profiteers from tripping over each other for a shot at Iraqi oil.

Then there's the accompanying erasure of memory about the torture cells at Abu-Ghraib and the 2005 Haditha massacre.

We broke it, but we sure as hell have no intention of fixing it. Tom, celebrate? Really?


Largest embassy in the world
Now comes the news, leaking out in dribs and drabs, that the war in Iraq may not be as "over as over can be." A NYT article by Helene Cooper and Thom Shanker appears on Christmas eve, describing a new, secret phase of U.S. military action in Iraq.  According to this and other reports, "the responsibility for security assistance" has now moved to the C.I.A., "which operates in Iraq under a separate authority, independent of the military." The agency historically has operated its own strike teams, and it also has the authority to hire indigenous operatives to participate in its counterterrorism missions.
“As the U.S. military has drawn down to zero in terms of combat troops, the U.S. intelligence community has not done the same,” a senior administration official said.
The U.S. also has about 40,000 combat troops remaining throughout the region, including a ground combat unit that was one of the last out of Iraq — and remains, at least temporarily, just across the border in Kuwait. Significant numbers of long-range strike aircraft also are on call aboard aircraft carriers and at bases in the region.

Rhodes tries to counter the NYT story in the plausible-denial language only a Defense Dept. bureaucrat could love.
"I don't think we're looking to reallocate our military footprint in any significant way from Iraq. They won't be reallocated to other countries in the region in any substantial numbers."
Eli Lake, writing for the Daily Beast, has more on the "CIA's covert Iraq Mission."
The programs involve everything from the deployment of remote sensors that scan the wireless spectrum of terrorist safe havens to stealth U.S.-Iraqi counterterrorism commando teams, and their status is uncertain as a U.S. diplomatic team negotiates with Iraqi leaders, according to officials, who made clear the CIA intends to keep a footprint inside the country even as troops leave by Dec. 31.
The causes of war still remain -- now more than ever. Big power contention for markets and for old sources of energy, strategic footholds, ports, etc... power and influence of the military-industrial complex and Wall St. on our elected politicians. The next phase may focus on Iran. A Libya-type attack on Syria is also possible.

The face of war is changing. Less and less emphasis on large-scale troop surges -- or what people like Rhodes call, "a large footprint."  More on hi-tech warfare, drone wars and use of mercs. The New National Defense Act budget is larger than ever, replete with new assaults of civil liberties for Americans and foreigners living here.

No celebrations yet. Keep the pressure on! Use the 2012 elections to rebuild the movement against war.   Bring all the troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan!  Demobilize Blackwater! Jobs and justice for our returning troops! Obama keep your promises! Close Guantanamo! End the torture!

That's where I'm at this Christmas Day.


  1. Up early, Mike. For as long as George W. Bush escapes justice for his sordid aggression, propaganda, and other crimes against humanity, the war itself remains an unqualified success, as well as an object lesson in how to get away with it for the next degenerate oligarch primogeniture loughs up the downspouts. That said, I feel the incumbent President deserves a good deal of credit on this truly beautiful Christmas morning, that's for his exceptionally steady leadership on the war, and the meta complexities of the withdrawal itself. In my experience there's always another war waiting in the wings, or at least one final battle; in fulfillment of the revealed word, as we westerners reckon things. I heard somewhere that eternal vigilance is the price of liberty, and if that's true, then Junie hasn't slept for years.

  2. It looks like Obama is with you, Mike. He's being attacked by Rick Perry and others on the right for not having a big ticker-tape parade to celebrate the end of the war in Iraq. But word is that lots of troops oppose holding such a celebration when war is still raging in Afghanistan.


Agree? Disagree? Let me hear from you.