The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Iraq:
Candidates offer no way out

Mar 31, 2008

Last week, the Iraqi government, in an attempt to show that they are in control of the country, ended up proving the opposite.

When the government sent the Iraqi army to disarm Shiite militias, the militias fought back – and a large number of the troops took off their uniforms and joined the militias openly. Bombing attacks on the Green Zone, the center of the U.S. presence in Baghdad, increased. And in Sadr City, a poor area of Baghdad, hundreds of thousands demonstrated against the Iraqi government and the U.S. occupation.

For the last couple of months, U.S. officials and the news media have pushed the idea that the U.S. “surge,” or military build-up, has reduced violence and promoted greater stability. But in the space of a few days, all that talk about how the “surge” was changing things in Iraq was exposed as a fiction.

The idea that the surge was just a temporary increase in the troops in Iraq has also been a fiction. The U.S. always intended to keep its troops there; it wants to control Iraq’s oil fields for U.S. corporations. It would like the situation there to be much more under its control, though, so they can get the oil out.

What hope is there that the presidential elections will end the war in Iraq? None.

Republican candidate John McCain has, of course, stated that the troops should remain in Iraq for as long as it takes – “100 years,” if necessary. He openly says that such a continuing presence isn’t even a question, just as troops have been stationed in South Korea, Germany, and many other places for more than half a century. He supports stepped-up operations to try to subdue the Iraqi population. He even dares to take credit for proposing the surge before Bush did.

The Democratic candidates are, in fact, no better.

Hillary Clinton states that she would start troop withdrawals within 60 days of entering office. But she doesn’t say how MANY troops she would withdraw, and how fast; and she doesn’t give any indication of when the troops would be finished withdrawing. She can easily say she’d BEGIN withdrawing troops (even Bush says that), but could take years and years to finish the job.

Barack Obama says this even more openly. For all his talk about “ending” the war in Iraq, he openly agrees with McCain that the U.S. will have a presence there for years to come. Of course, like everyone, he says he wants to reduce official U.S. troop casualties. He also says he wants to pull troops out. But he says that a “follow-on” force will be needed, including a security force to protect U.S. personnel in the country. In other words, Obama is proposing to replace some U.S. troops with other forces of occupation. Obama and his campaign staff refuse to rule out a role for hired mercenaries like Blackwater, or death squads from former regimes in El Salvador and South Africa.

So Obama is planning a sleight-of-hand in Iraq: pull soldiers out, then hire them back as private mercenaries. The war would go on; Americans and Iraqis would continue to die, but the numbers would be hidden from public view.

Hidden behind all the nice talk about “withdrawing troops” and “ending the fighting,” all three of the Republican and Democratic candidates plan to continue the war in Iraq, in one form or another.

In other words, after 5 years of war, little has changed. The latest promise of supposed success, the surge, has just been one more stage of an ongoing bloody debacle with no end in sight. And the latest crop of presidential candidates are proving to be little different than the current president in power.

When they tell us to wait for the election to end the war, they tell us to accept that it will continue.