Times: U.S. must "stay course" and forge "free and peaceful Iraq"

Fred Feldman ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Mon Jul 21 03:43:07 MDT 2003



The following  editorial from today's New York Times shows that
neither the the US rulers, nor any substantial sector of them, are now
moving toward ending the occupation of Iraq.  While there is a growing
sense that Bush may have expended too much credibility in getting to
the war, and that the next phase of the "war against terrorism" may be
better led by an American Blair, the US rulers are still out to
consolidate and extend the positions they have won in Iraq.

Note the Times' use of the claim that it opposed the invasion -- not
true once it happened -- to lend credibility to its insistence that US
troops fight and die in Iraq until the goals of the invasion have been
secured.

The appeal to go along with the war now, whatever one thought in the
past, aims to establish a degree of "national unity" behind the war
that has not really existed thus far by bringing opponents of the war
on board with the occupation.  Can we allow the US to appear defeated?
Sure, Washington lied about Saddam and the weapons, Saddam and Al
Qaeda.  But now that we are there, we must control Iraq.  What about
the danger of an Islamic regime? How will Israel be affected? And so
on.

This kind of appeal is not completely ineffective.  It is even being
reflected among the forces in the antiwar movement, some of whom are
also open to the Times' suggestion to legitimize the US occupation by
internationalizing it.

This ruling class drive to legitimize and continue the occupation, in
part by welcoming opponents of the invasion to the camp of the
occupation, will be one of the purposes pursued by the sections of the
ruling class who will finance the "anybody but Bush" (and maybe
Lieberman) campaign that will almost certainly dominate liberal and
left electoral politics in the coming year.

Four years of a US Blair will not undo the crimes of four years of
Bush, but continue and deepen them, just as eight years of Clinton
continued and deepened the antiworker and antihuman course of his
predecessors.
Fred Feldman

New York Times, Jan. 21
A Bloody Peace in Iraq
Germany and Japan were not transformed into prosperous democracies
overnight after World War II, and it would be unrealistic to expect
miracles in Iraq. Yet as the weeks pass, it seems undeniable that the
Bush administration grievously miscalculated the human and financial
costs of the American occupation. That failure, which is starting to
register with Americans of all political persuasions and promises to
become an election issue, cannot be easily dismissed with glib
assurances of better days to come or Defense Secretary Donald
Rumsfeld's favorite refrain that the war ended just weeks ago. This
exercise in American power is going to be a lot longer and bloodier
than President Bush ever said.

This page opposed an invasion that lacked the endorsement of the
United Nations Security Council, and it now seems clear the Bush
administration exaggerated its central argument for the mission — the
threat of Baghdad's unconventional weapons. Nevertheless, establishing
a free and peaceful Iraq as a linchpin for progress throughout the
Middle East is a goal worth struggling for, even at great costs. We
are there now, and it is essential to stay the course. But if
Washington is to retain the public support needed to see the job
through, it can't pretend that everything is on track. The soldiers
returning home every week in body bags make that plain.

Most of the administration's critics predicted that Washington would
win the war but botch the peace, and so far they have turned out to be
disturbingly prescient. The administration seemed to think that when
the war ended, Iraq's government institutions, ranging from the army
to the waterworks, could simply be placed under new leadership and
returned to operation, providing order and basic services to a free
Iraq. Everything about the American plan, including the size and
composition of occupying military forces, was misconceived. Last fall,
top Pentagon officials scoffed at Gen. Eric Shinseki when the Army
chief of staff predicted that several hundred thousand American troops
might be needed to control Iraq after a war. Today there are 150,000,
and the number is expected to grow. Mr. Rumsfeld's defense of the
Pentagon's reaction appears to be that it all depends on your
definition of "several," and it has not been convincing.

There was also a naïve assumption that opposition would melt away once
Saddam Hussein was displaced. Recently, with the American death toll
mounting by the day, Gen. John Abizaid, the new American commander in
Iraq, accurately described the continuing combat as a guerrilla war —
a term that image makers at the White House and Pentagon had
studiously avoided. The scale of combat is nothing like the guerrilla
warfare in Vietnam, but the conflict in Iraq promises to be protracted
and expensive. The tab is currently running at close to $4 billion a
month.

By invading Iraq without Security Council approval, Washington greatly
complicated the task of enlisting foreign help during the postwar
period. Secretary of State Colin Powell is now belatedly discussing a
new Security Council resolution that would open the way for France,
India and other countries to send peacekeeping forces to Iraq. That is
critical to easing the burden on American troops.

It is not too late to set Iraq on a more promising course, but that
will require the kind of staying power and cooperation with other
nations that this administration has rarely shown much interest in
mustering.












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