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It’s Obama’s War Now

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Posted on Mar 2, 2009
Marine Corps / Lance Cpl. Michael J. Ayotte

President Obama talks to service members and civilians during a visit to Camp Lejeune, N.C., where he elaborated on his exit strategy from Iraq.

By Chris Hedges

(Page 2)

Al-Qaida, which we have also inadvertently resurrected, still finds plenty of recruits. It still runs training facilities. It still carries out attacks in London, Madrid, Iraq and now Afghanistan, which did not experience suicide bombings until December 2005. Al-Qaida has moved on. But we remain stuck, confused and lashing about wildly like a wounded and lumbering beast.

Obama, during the campaign, promised that he would pull out one combat brigade per month over a 16-month period from Iraq. But this promise has been scrapped. Instead, troop levels will remain steady for most of this year and into the first few months of 2010. Troops will only start leaving, we are told, in large numbers in the spring and summer of next year, but even the pace of this downsizing will be left to the discretion of commanders. The troops left in Iraq after the “withdrawal” will, the Obama administration says, train Iraqi soldiers, protect U.S. assets and conduct “anti-terror operations.”

The U.S. agreement with Iraq, known as SOFA, or status of forces agreement, calls for all U.S. forces to be out of Iraq by the end of December 2011. But this seems very unlikely. The Pentagon has, despite the SOFA agreement, built its long-range planning around the assumption that anywhere from 30,000 to 50,000 troops will be based in Iraq long after 2011. The U.S.-Iraq agreement (which was ratified by the Iraqi parliament but never brought to the U.S. Senate for ratification, as mandated by the Constitution) calls for a national referendum to be held in Iraq during the summer of 2009. Iraqis will supposedly be able to approve or reject the agreement. The some 50 U.S. bases in Iraq are, under the agreement, to be turned over to the Iraqis. 

Will Obama defy the results of a referendum and ram the continued occupation down the throats of Iraqi voters? It certainly looks like it. Of course, all this will be handled, I suspect, by having our client government in Baghdad “request” that we remain, making an even greater farce of our public commitment to democracy. 

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There are huge corporations who are making a lot of money off this war. Obama seems intent on not impeding the profits. So much for our anti-war candidate. We should have known better than to trust the Democrats after they rode to power in Congress in 2006 on an anti-war platform and then continued to fund our wars and approve increased troop levels in Iraq and Afghanistan.

If the delicate cease-fire we have negotiated with the former Sunni insurgents in Iraq breaks down, how will we respond? Suppose the some 100,000 Sunnis, who have been allowed to ethnically cleanse the areas they control and build militias, turn on the central Shiite-led government. Suppose we can no longer buy off these Sunni “Awakening” militias with the $300-a-month salaries we dispense to these fighters. Suppose the war heats up again. This is what happened in Afghanistan when we tried to bribe tribal groups with money and support. A deterioration of the security situation in Iraq could instantly scuttle even a reduction of forces. 

And the military, if some troops do leave Iraq, will have to rely more heavily on airstrikes to control territory and keep insurgents at bay. The airstrikes in Afghanistan have, along with the expanded fighting, driven tens of thousands of Afghan refugees into Iran and Pakistan. Even the Karzai government has vigorously protested these airstrikes, which feed scores of recruits to the Taliban. Expect the same ugly backlash in Iraq.

I could live with the prolonged injustice of the occupation in Iraq if I thought there would really be peace, that we could then help rebuild the country we destroyed and that we had restored the rule of law by rejecting the Bush doctrine of pre-emptive war, something that under post-Nuremberg laws is defined as a criminal “war of aggression.” I could live with 19 months more of the war if I knew it would really be the end. But the war in Iraq, like Afghanistan, will go on. Our imperial projects and killing will continue under the Obama presidency. Many more, including some of our own, will die.

The only hope now lies in renewed protests against the war and a reinvigorated anti-war movement. This time the movement should hold fast, as stalwarts like Cindy Sheehan, Cynthia McKinney and Ralph Nader have, to the moral imperative of peace and not the false hopes offered by the Democrats. They cannot be trusted. Politics is a game of pressure. Abandon that pressure and you lose.


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By Bubba, March 2, 2009 at 7:00 am Link to this comment

As the saying goes, Afghanistan, “where empires go to die.”

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Paul_GA's avatar

By Paul_GA, March 2, 2009 at 6:21 am Link to this comment

Folks voted for the “lesser of two evils”, BeerDoctor—as they usually do; and they forget (as they always do) that the “lesser of two evils” is still evil.

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By empire, March 2, 2009 at 4:49 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

obama is wack

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By thebeerdoctor, March 2, 2009 at 4:47 am Link to this comment

Chris Hedges’ assertion: “so much for our anti-war candidate” reveals that the former NY Times correspondent never looked at Obama’s position on military issues. This was a candidate who advocated increasing the military, both monetarily and with troop strength, so anybody who thought Barack Obama was a peace candidate was quite frankly, delusional. Many people who voted for President Obama with their eyes open, did so because they believed him to be a smarter and more clever weasel, because that is what is required in this ungodly, avaricious slime pit that is more kindly referred to as the American political system. But this decision may not work out, due to the enormity of the problems created over the last 25 years, where lie onto of lie was used to justify even greater delusions.
One of the great zinc linings in all of these dark clouds, is the revelation that when it comes to American hegemony both the conservative and liberal crowds are equally full of it. Whether it was “smoke them out of their holes” Bush or now “refocus on Afghanistan” Obama, both camps seek to ensure that the United States remains the preeminent military power in the world. As Joe “the plumber” Wurzelbacher said: “America has always been a kick butt, take-names kind of country.”
The main difference between the two parties is deciding whose butt is going to be kicked first.

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By david dixit, March 2, 2009 at 4:29 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Obama should speak to a priest,
withdraw, means withdraw totally !

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