No one wants this disastrous war to end faster than those of us with children who have served -- or are serving -- in Iraq.
While today's bold and lengthy New York Times editorialwas encouraging -- "It is frighteningly clear that Mr. Bush’s plan is to stay the course as long as he is president and dump the mess on his successor. Whatever his cause was, it is lost" -- it's been a while since I felt The Times's influence has made any difference to how this nightmare is prosecuted. The Bushies will do as the Bushies want.
And while I'd rather believe that the editorial's wish list will be punched post-haste by the Bush-Cheney Empire and its dwindling coalition-of-the-drilling, a recent piece in the U.K.'s Guardian offered a more sobering outlook.
On June 9, the Guardian published an article by Middle East historian Patrick Seale entitled "Withdrawal Won't Happen."
With the subhead "The U.S. plans permanent military bases in Iraq, confirming to many that it really was all about oil," Seale cites the hard evidence of plans for a long-term U.S. military presence in Iraq. In his view, the ultimate goal is to maintain American control of Iraq's enormous crude-oil reserves.
A few excerpts:
On a visit to Honolulu on May 31, Robert Gates, the defence secretary, said that the United States was looking for a "long and enduring presence," under an arrangement with the Iraq government. . . . Last week the White House spokesman Tony Snow confirmed that President Bush wanted a lengthy troop presence in Iraq. "The situation in Iraq, and indeed, the larger war on terror, are things that are going to take a long time," he said.
It's all twaddle...
Such statements, and the planning that goes with them, make nonsense of the current debate - in Congress, the press and the public - about a date for withdrawal from Iraq, and whether the surge is producing results. The administration is looking way beyond that.
If there were no oil in Iraq, the US would not be there. Another is the ability to project US power over the whole of the oil-rich Gulf and beyond, a vast area from central Asia to east Africa. Other motives include confronting hostile Iran and Syria; making up in Iraq for the loss of bases in Saudi Arabia; and, not least, being on hand to protect Israel. Indeed, these were the main reasons for the invasion four years ago.
The military-industrial-political-think-tank complex is bigger than dKos...
Jimmy Carter was prescient when he declared last year: "There are people in Washington ... who never intend to withdraw military forces from Iraq ... the reason that we went into Iraq was to establish a permanent military base in the Gulf region."
Yet the building of US military bases in Iraq continues apace, at a cost of over $1bn a year. Shortly after the invasion, the US established 110 bases in Iraq. The present plan appears to consolidate these into 14 "enduring bases" in Iraqi Kurdistan, at Baghdad airport, in Anbar province, and in the southern approaches to Baghdad. This does not point to an early US disengagement. And nor does the construction of a US embassy able to house 1,000 staff on a 100-acre site on the banks of the Tigris - the biggest US embassy in the world.
My U.S. Marine son is scheduled to return to Iraq next February. It's going to take a lot more than an editorial in The Times to bring home the troops home by then.
Postscript: Last night at a dinner party here in the U.K., visiting scholars from Lawrence, Kansas -- a liberal pocket in a very red state -- told us of folks there who honestly believe that reading The New York Times is akin to helping the jihadists.