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By Herman Melville

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Ending Empire Is as Crucial as Confronting Wall Street

Posted on Jun 22, 2014

Photo by Senor Codo (CC BY-SA 2.0)

By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers, PopularResistance

This piece first appeared at PopularResistance and was produced in conjunction with AlterNet.

In the last week, there has been a rapid march toward military action in Iraq despite widespread opposition to more war among the US population for a variety of reasons. One concern is that it would require more military spending despite immense and unmet needs for funding in a broad array of areas at home. Unlike any other policy area, there never seems to be a lack of funds for a military attack or even a war. The military-industrial complex has a powerful hold on US lawmakers.

The hawks in Congress are exerting tremendous pressure for military action in Iraq to prevent ISIS and former members of Saddam Hussein’s government from taking control. On Thursday President Obama delivered a statement describing the steps he is taking on Iraq. These include:

- Reinforcing the US Embassy in Iraq by removing some Americans stationed there and adding military troops to protect it;
- Significantly increasing intelligence and surveillance to understand what ISIS is doing as well as what the US can do to counter their influence;
- Increasing support for the Iraq military, including sending 300 soldiers to Iraq to “advise” them and set up joint operation centers in Baghdad and northern Iraq;
- Repositioning additional US military assets in the region so that “going forward, we will be prepared to take targeted and precise military action…”
- And finally, pursuing diplomacy in the region to support stability in Iraq.

While this is not the military attack that hawks are urging, it certainly is a policy that moves in that direction. This week, President Obama told congressional leaders that he did not need any authorization for the use of military force from Congress, but that he would keep congressional leadership informed of his actions.


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Protests around the United States

The American public is sick and tired of war. It is a mistake for President Obama to decide that he can take military action in Iraq without congressional or UN approval. He likely made this decision because he knows that if Congress were allowed to consider the issue, there would be a tidal wave of opposition from constituents in an election year. If Congress really functioned as a check and balance, it would be warning President Obama that a military attack without congressional approval is an impeachable offense; that the Constitution is clear – only Congress has the power to declare war and a military attack is an act of war. The silence of Congress will mean complicity in another illegal military action and will again reveal the bi-partisan nature of the war machine.

If unchecked, it seems the most likely scenario is that the President will build intelligence to justify further intervention and will then use drones to bomb Iraq. The President, with the support of groups like Human Rights Watch, acts as if unmanned bombing is a legal military attack even though his drone policy is being questioned by the UN, the legal community and the public. This will ultimately lead to another US war in Iraq.

Perhaps this is the President’s desired purpose. The goal of having US military bases in Iraq to control the region, which is the center of the Middle East at a time when oil is desperately needed, has not been achieved. A justification for intervention would provide an excuse to re-occupy those bases.

If we re-occupy Iraq, we can expect a long-term presence. The (currently) most likely next president, Hillary Clinton, has a track record as a hawk. She has already signaled to the military-industrial complex that she is open to more war. Clinton recently said she was even open to staying in Afghanistan beyond President Obama’s already-too-slow exit from that country.

Opponents of war organized opposition quickly. This week Veterans For Peace (VFP) held nationwide protests against war in Iraq along with Military Families Speak Out and other organizations. They also protested the failure to adequately fund the Veterans Administration and to take care of current veterans when they return from war. VFP warned the President that military attacks will just add to the disaster in Iraq, result in the loss of more American and Iraqi lives and create more wounded veterans. They put out an action alert that included a variety steps people can take to oppose a military attack in Iraq and that listed the many organizations petitioning the government against war.

Iraq Veterans Against the War have spoken out against another military engagement in Iraq. They spoke as experienced veterans, writing:

“Many of our members deployed to Iraq during the recent US occupation. Those of us who were there know firsthand that US military solutions in Iraq do not serve the interests of the Iraqi people. We advocate for the self-determination of all people, in this case the people of Iraq. Any solution to this crisis must come from them. When the United States invaded and occupied Iraq, the formerly secular country was destabilized. The United States and the Department of Defense intentionally created and agitated sectarian divisions that would not have otherwise existed. The result of this is what we see today, and Iraqi civilians are paying for it.”

Americans are also protesting members of the previous administration. This week protesters disrupted a speech by Condolezza Rice at Norwich University in Vermont with a mic check which in part said: “I come here today to charge Condolezza Rice for having participated in and perpetrated crimes against humanity in the name of the citizens of the United States.” This is not the first protest against Rice. She was protested at the University Of Minnesota in April. Also at Rutgers, students protested Rice being invited to speak at their commencement. As a result of opposition by students and faculty, Rice declined to speak.

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