Feb 18, 2008
Even before the military began withdrawing combat troops from Iraq, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates announced a “pause.”
“Pause” – that’s another one of those fuzzy words used to blur the reality of the U.S. war on Iraq. A little like “collateral damage,” when the military means that its planes kill hundreds of civilians in a bombing raid; or like “stress,” when it means that U.S. soldiers were put in such horrible situations that some of them were driven to kill themselves or others when they came back.
Pause? You can’t pause what you never started. And the U.S. military hasn’t yet started to withdraw its troops from Iraq – only to rotate them.
If the military were envisioning a significant withdrawal – even if gradual – it wouldn’t have demanded so much money this year for the two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan: 189 billion dollars. The military demanded, the Republican administration agreed, and the Democratic Congress gave – 87 billion dollars already, with another 102 billion or so slated to come.
That 189 billion dollars is for one year alone, 2008. It’s nearly double what was appropriated during the previous year, 2007. And it’s added to the “regular” military appropriation of 483 billion dollars for the year.
A spiraling cost in dollars, which is a direct, simple reflection of the spiraling cost in Iraqi lives, as well as the lives of U.S. troops.
Today, people like Gates dare to say that Baghdad is relatively calm and peaceful. If so, it’s only the “peace” of the graveyard and the “calm” of ethnic ghettoes, into which Baghdad’s millions have been herded at gunpoint.
More than four million people in the whole country have been driven from their homes, with more fleeing every day, as the U.S. continues its bombing on civilian areas, and the ethnic and sectarian militias working with the U.S. continue to terrorize people.
The only pause that matters will be the complete, total, absolute final pause in all U.S. military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan – a complete end to the U.S. war. And that’s nowhere in sight. The U.S. politicians who continue to fund these wars, Democrat and Republican alike – McCain, Clinton and Obama among others – offer only a continuation.
The U.S. population, if it wants an end to these wars, will have to impose it, just as the population of the U.S. helped to impose an end to the U.S. war on Viet Nam and the rest of Southeast Asia.