Change change change change change hope hope hope hope hope change change cha –
I’m sorry – did you say something, Jeremy Scahill?
Anyone who took the time to cut past Barack Obama’s campaign rhetoric of “change” and bringing an “end” to the Iraq war realized early on that the now-president-elect had a plan that boiled down to a down-sizing and rebranding of the occupation. While he emphasized his pledge to withdraw U.S. “combat forces” from Iraq in 16 months (which may or may not happen), he has always said that he intends to keep “residual forces” in place for the foreseeable future.
It’s an interesting choice of terms. “Residual” is defined as “the quantity left over at the end of a process.” This means that the forces Obama plans to leave in Iraq will remain after he has completed his “withdrawal” plan. No matter how Obama chooses to label the forces he keeps in Iraq, the fact is, they will be occupation forces.
Announcing his national security team this week, Obama reasserted his position. “I said that I would remove our combat troops from Iraq in 16 months, with the understanding that it might be necessary — likely to be necessary — to maintain a residual force to provide potential training, logistical support, to protect our civilians in Iraq.” While some have protrayed this as Obama going back on his campaign pledge, it is not. What is new is that some people seem to just now be waking up to the fact that Obama never had a comprehensive plan to fully end the occupation.
Bu-bu-bu-but – change! Changey change. Hopey change hopey?
Answering anti-war liberal critics who seem surprised that Obama isn’t Dennis Kucinich, Scahill parses Obama’s voting record, his public statements, and the comments of his foreign policy campaign advisers. Worth a full read.
Click the image above to see the full size cartoon.
And yes, Virginia, I am back on a regular schedule. Hal-lay-loo.
Glenn Greenwald has been on a roll pointing out revisionism and hypocrisy (not to mention complicity) among the big media commentariat on subjects like the War on (t)Error, Iraq, imperialism and torture and detainment. Joe Klein and Tom Friedman have distinguished themselves as happy-talking fools in defense of the most egregious actions of state power and utter disregard for human rights. Greenwald’s posts are long, but worth reading at least for the twists and turns these “hired pens” (as the ultimate statist Lenin once put it) take in their efforts to justify the abuses of the war-mongering powers. All of which lays the foundation for future wars waged with the kind of ahistorical blindness that made the current mess in Iraq conceivable in the first place:
For a short while, it appeared that the one silver lining in the carnage and devastation wreaked by the U.S. attack on Iraq would be a palliative effect on the war-loving pathology among our political establishment. As Vietnam did for some short period of time, Iraq could have re-taught both the evil and stupidity of commencing optional wars against countries that haven’t attacked us and couldn’t do so, and more generally, could have underscored the grave error in viewing the battle against Muslim extremism through the glorious prism of “War.”
But with this intense Friedmanesque revisionism well underway — whereby war cheerleaders like Friedman were Right and Good all along and it was only the incompetent Bush and Rumsfeld who ruined everything with their “bumbling” — it seems increasingly likely that the opposite lesson will be learned. Attacking, invading and occupying other countries in order to change their governments to ones we prefer is the smart, wise and just thing to do. Friedman’s term for it today is “collaborating with them to build progressive politics.” Especially if there is another terrorist attack on U.S. soil — but even if there isn’t — the only lesson being drawn from the Iraq debacle in these precincts is that from now on, we just need to plan and execute it better, so that the Good and Just people who cheer these wars on have their noble schemes vindicated a lot sooner and a lot more proficiently.