U.S. Senator Barack Obama has planted his feet deeply
inside the Iraq war-prolongation camp of the Democratic Party,
the great swamp that, if not drained, will swallow up any hope
of victory over the GOP in next year's congressional elections.
In a masterpiece of double-speak
before the prestigious Council on Foreign Relations, November
22, the Black Illinois lawmaker managed to out-mush-mouth Sen.
John Kerry - a prodigious feat, indeed.
Obama's speech had the Democratic Leadership Council's
(DLC) brand stamped all over it. Triangulating expertly, Obama
first praised the war record of Rep. John Murtha (D-PA), who has
called for immediate steps towards U.S. military redeployment
out of Iraq, hopefully in six months, then dismissed both Murtha's
bill and any hint of "timetables" for withdrawal.
In essence, all Obama wants from the Bush regime is that it fess
up to having launched the war based on false information, and
to henceforth come clean with the Senate on how it plans to proceed
in the future. Those Democrats who want to dwell on the past -
the actual genesis and rationale for the war, and the real reasons
for its continuation - should be quiet.
Both sides are wrong, says Obama - deploying the
classic triangulation device - for engaging in a "war of
talking points" - "one I am not interested in joining."
Then Obama positions himself above the fray:
"Iraq was a major issue in last year's election.
But that election is now over. We need to stop the campaign."
Americans want a "pragmatic solution to the
real war we're facing in Iraq."
According to Webster, the term "pragmatic"
means "practical as opposed to idealistic." Here is
what Obama contends is a practical solution to what ails U.S.
policy in Iraq:
"The President could take the politics out
of Iraq once and for all if he would simply go on television and
say to the American people ‘Yes, we made mistakes. Yes, there
are things I would have done differently. But now that we're here,
I am willing to work with both Republicans and Democrats to find
the most responsible way out.'"
It's not hard to satisfy Sen. Obama. If Bush would
just stop repeating his lies to cover the fact that the Iraq war
was premeditated, on the front-burner since his administration
came to power, and therefore a crime against peace, well, we could
all pretend like nothing criminal had happened - and was still
In the near term Obama, a semanticist with a vengeance,
says, "we need to focus our attention on how to reduce the
U.S. military footprint in Iraq. Notice that I say ‘reduce,' and
not ‘fully withdraw.'"
"Withdrawal" and "timetables"
are bad words, and Obama will have nothing to do with them. The
Senator praises the bipartisan Republican Senate bill - meaningless
in the practical sense, but psychologically painful to the Bush
men - that calls for the administration to report on how it has
moved toward "benchmarks" in winding down the Iraq war:
"What the Administration and some in the press
labeled as a ‘timetable' for withdrawal was in fact a commonsense
statement that: one, 2006 should be the year that the Iraqi government
decreases its dependency on the United States; two, that the various
Iraqi factions must arrive at a fair political accommodation to
defeat the insurgency; and three, the Administration must make
available to Congress critical information on reality-based benchmarks
that will help us succeed in Iraq."
In other words, treat the Congress as if it is really
a lawful branch of government, and declare 2006 a "Year of
Living Dangerously" for those Iraqi "factions"
that insist on remaining in a state of "dependency."
That'll stop the war, Obama thinks.
Of course, the "insurgents" are not a
"faction," and must therefore be defeated. On this point,
Obama and the Bush men agree:
"In sum, we have to focus, methodically and
without partisanship, on those steps that will: one, stabilize
Iraq, avoid all out civil war, and give the factions within Iraq
the space they need to forge a political settlement; two, contain
and ultimately extinguish the insurgency in Iraq; and three, bring
our troops safely home."
Nobody in the White House would argue with any of
these points. Point number two in Obama's "pragmatic"
baseline is, the containment and elimination of the "insurgency."
Of course, one can only do that by continuing the war. Indeed,
it appears that Obama and many of his colleagues are more intent
on consulting the Bush men on the best ways to "win"
the war than in effecting an American withdrawal at any foreseeable
They want "victory" just as much as the
White House; they just don't want the word shouted at every press
These Democrats would "perfect" the process.
One might just as well perfect the act of rape.
Gradations of Occupation
In a speech of 4,250 words, Obama manages to only
once speak any variant on the word "occupation" - and
he puts that in someone else's mouth. He drapes himself in military
(and political) camouflage, agreeing with "our top military
commander in Iraq…that a key goal of the military was to ‘reduce
our presence in Iraq, taking away one of the elements that fuels
the insurgency: that of the coalition forces as an occupying force.'"
Perhaps Obama and his chosen military mentors believe
that an occupation of 80,000 Americans, rather than the current
160,000, is only half an occupation, which can then be scaled
down to varying degrees of less-than-occupation. (The rape analogy
works well, here.)
Obama sees virtue in a prolonged American military
"I believe that U.S. forces are still a part
of the solution in Iraq. The strategic goals should be to allow
for a limited drawdown of U.S. troops, coupled with a shift to
a more effective counter-insurgency strategy that puts the Iraqi
security forces in the lead and intensifies our efforts to train
"At the same time, sufficient numbers of U.S. troops should
be left in place to prevent Iraq from exploding into civil war,
ethnic cleansing, and a haven for terrorism."
Here we see contradictions so glaring, that we cannot
believe a man of Obama's intelligence to be innocent of rank,
purposeful obfuscation. If the U.S. troops are to remain in place
in order to "prevent" Iraqis, in and out of government,
from taking certain actions, then the Americans are meant to be
a classic occupying force - the real power in Iraq.
It becomes clear that, in matters of war and of
peace, Barack Obama is engaged in a balancing act - one that he
believes can be endlessly perfected by the proper use of speechifying
"We must find the right balance - offering
enough security to serve as a buffer and carry out a targeted,
effective counter-insurgency strategy, but not so much of a presence
that we serve as an aggravation. It is this balance that will
be critical to finding our way forward."
Ah, now we understand! Eighty-two
percent of Iraqis want the foreigners out of their country
because the American and British troops are "aggravating"
them. The issue of national self-determination - the right not
be bossed around and shot down in one's own country - is a petty
aggravation, easily managed by careful calibrations from the occupier's
legislative and executive branches. Aggravation is a sad consequence
of war, but the Iraqis will have to live with it - or die from
it - while Obama and his colleagues get their "pragmatic"
In his senatorial incarnation, Obama does his best
to avoid aggravating anybody - except the people to his left.
Certainly, he does not want to aggravate the Bush Pirates, lest
they resume saying nasty things about "reasonable" people
such as himself. One must be a wordsmith. Obama is up to the task:
"…we need not a time-table, in the sense
of a precise date for U.S. troop pull-outs, but a time-frame
for such a phased withdrawal. [Italics added.] More specifically,
we need to be very clear about key issues, such as bases and the
level of troops in Iraq. We need to say that there will be no
bases in Iraq a decade from now and the United States armed forces
cannot stand-up and support an Iraqi government in perpetuity
- pushing the Iraqis to take ownership over the situation and
placing pressure on various factions to reach the broad based
political settlement that is so essential to defeating the insurgency."
Not a "table" but a "frame."
Now, that's some slick wartime furniture. And the U.S. occupation
"time" that will be "framed" (not "tabled")
must not exceed a decade. During that "frame" of "time"
the U.S. will push the (governmental factions) of Iraqis to "take
ownership" of their occupied country. Ownership from whom?
From other Iraqis? Or from - heaven forbid - the occupiers?
Sorry Obama - U.S. Cannot Remain in Iraq
There is a point at which the word-smith's specialty
becomes so detached from reality that it can only be appreciated
as…art, an abstraction, a conjure, a mo-jo. Obama's speech falls
in such a category.
The current corporate media interest in Iraq-exit
"strategies" was sparked by hawkish Rep. John Murtha's
startling turnaround. Obama failed to address a single point made
by his fellow Democrat. Murtha provided both a military and political
"The United States and coalition troops have
done all they can in Iraq. But it's time for a change in direction.
Our military is suffering. The future of our country is at risk.
We cannot continue on the present course. It is evident that
continued military action in Iraq is not in the best interest
of the United States of America, the Iraqi people or the Persian
"I have concluded the presence of U.S. troops
in Iraq is impeding this progress. Our troops have become the
primary target of the insurgency. They are united against U.S.
forces, and we have become a catalyst for violence. U.S. troops
are the common enemy of the Sunnis, the Saddamists and the foreign
jihadists. And let me tell you, they haven't captured any in
this latest activity, so this idea that they're coming in from
outside, we still think [they constitute] only seven percent
[of the insurgency].
"I believe with the U.S. troop redeployment
the Iraqi security forces will be incentivized to take control.
A poll recently conducted - this is a British poll reported
in The Washington Times - over 80 percent of Iraqis are strongly
opposed to the presence of coalition forces, and about 45 percent
of Iraqi population believe attacks against American troops
are justified. I believe we need to turn Iraq over to the Iraqis.
I believe before the Iraqi elections, scheduled for mid-December,
the Iraqi people and the emerging government must be put on
notice. The United States will immediately redeploy - immediately
redeploy. No schedule which can be changed, nothing that's controlled
by the Iraqis, this is an immediate redeployment of our American
forces because they have become the target."
"All of Iraq must know that Iraq is free
- free from a United States occupation, and I believe this will
send a signal to the Sunnis to join the political process."
Both Senate and House Democratic leadership have
done everything in their power to bury Murtha's evaluation, and
to instead engage in fantasies and diversions. They embraced Murtha,
and then kissed him off. Obama's speech was a magnificent diversion,
4000-plus words signifying nothing but his dalliances with the
Gang of Four presidential aspirants (all DLC) mentioned by the
Washington Post, in its coverage
of Obama's presentation to the Council on Foreign Relations:
"Four prospective Democratic presidential candidates
- [Sen. Joseph Biden (D-DE)], Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.),
Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) and former North Carolina senator
John Edwards - have advocated a more gradual approach, with no
sudden steps. Biden called Monday for the withdrawal of 50,000
troops by the end of next year and all but 20,000 to 40,000 out
by January 2008."
None of these nonsense numbers have anything to
do with the war, which is an Iraqi war, the war that Rep.
Murtha and his military confidantes know is being lost (or, if
you are an Iraqi who wants an independent nation, won).
Everyone with a political antenna understands that
Obama is jockeying for position as a VP or presidential nominee-maker
in 2008. He has created a political action committee, HopeFund,
to finance 14 of his senatorial colleagues - ten
of whom are DLC (that's half of the DLC presence in the Senate.)
Although not a formal member of the DLC, Obama's stance on the
Iraq war places him squarely in their camp on this issue - and
he is advertising the fact. The arc of his ambition dictates his
Gaming, When the Game is Over
The corporate-funded DLC will likely doom the Democrats'
chance to catch up with U.S. public opinion on Iraq, which is
on an irreversible curve toward withdrawal. But U.S. opinion is
the least important factor in the equation - it is the imperial
tail that is wagged by the Iraqi dog. As Murtha's military buddies
informed him, the situation on the ground has deteriorated beyond
American control. Their agents and proxies no longer feel beholden
to Washington - an imperial center they resent as much as any
other Iraqi, personified as it is by racist idiots who insult
their servants without care, conscience or even consciousness.
Obama attempts to create new "benchmarks"
to replace the Bush men's old "benchmarks" of progress
in the war: elections, nominal transfers of power, etc. But it
is all too late. Will there be a transition period to disentangle
Halliburton and the other corporate contractors from Iraq, so
that Iraqis can participate in their own reconstruction, as Obama
proposes? How long a transition? There is no time, and never was.
The United States invaded Iraq with no base of support within
the country - just a gaggle of greedy CIA-funded exiles. The aggression's
purpose was to create a corporate-ruled colony - a Houston on
the Euphrates that would become a platform to new corporate colonies.
It failed. Now, other forces are in play. Game over.
The Iraq adventure was step-one of a game plan -
a history-shaking aggression - to destroy the existing world order
and transform U.S. military supremacy into imperial sovereignty
over vast new stretches of the globe. The people that are referred
to as Iraqi "insurgents" stopped it cold, and the whole
gambit is about to go into the deep freeze.
At the very start of the invasion, on March
20, 2003, BC understood that the Bush men
had embarked on a course that would accelerate American imperial
decline. The article was titled, "They Have Reached Too Far":
"War is the great and terrible engine of
history. Bush and his Pirates hope to employ that engine to
harness Time and cheat the laws of political economy, to leapfrog
over the contradictions of their parasitical existence into
a new epoch of their own imagining.
"Instead, they have lunged into the abyss,
from which no one will extricate them, for they will be hated
much more than feared.
"In attempting to break humanity's will to
resist, the Bush pirates have reached too far."
It is truly pitiful that the Bush men and DLC-centered
Democrats cling to the hope that their Iraqi clients will rescue
them from the debacle that was foreordained in March, 2003. Barack
Obama has definitively joined the ranks of those who seek to prolong
the agony. However, BC's critique is not
"idealistic," as Sen. Obama might seek to paint it,
but practical - "pragmatic," if you will. By late summer
of 2006, when voters are deciding what they want their Senate
and House to look like, if the Democrats have not caught up to
public opinion to offer a tangible and quick exit from Iraq, the
Republicans will retain control of both chambers of congress.
All that will be left in November is mush from Kerry,
Hillary, Biden, Edwards - and Obama's - mouths.
BC Publishers Glen Ford and
Peter Gamble are writing a book titled, Barack Obama and the
Crisis in Black Leadership.