Sunday, July 13, 2008

Obama and McCain on Iraq

Obama and McCain on Iraq
By Jerome Grossman

Whether Barack Obama or John McCain is elected president, it is difficult to imagine a full withdrawal of American troops from Iraq.

McCain insists on complete victory, refuses to ask Iraq's leaders to take responsibility for their own future, and has completely changed his own stated position that he would leave Iraq when the Iraqis ask us.

Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki has indeed asked for a set timetable for US withdrawal but the silence from Bush, McCain and Obama has been deafening. McCain has forsworn deadlines for troop withdrawal without support for al-Maliki's position.

Obama's reaction is loaded with hedges:” If current trends continue and we are at a position where we continue to see reductions in violence and continue to see some improvements on the part of the Iraqi army and Iraqi police, then my hope would be that we could draw down in a deliberate fashion in consultation with the Iraqi government at a pace that is determined in consultation with General Petraeus and the other commanders on the ground."

Obama approaches his consultations with the military in a defensive position. “Precisely because I have not served in uniform, I am somebody who strongly believes I have to earn the trust of men and women in uniform." Does this sentiment weaken the historic civilian control of the US military?

MSNBC's crack reporter David Gregory interprets Obama: "When Obama says we have to be as careful getting out as we were careless getting in, that's the line, that's a signal that says he's not yanking (troops) out right away." Careless is a gross understatement, leaving unsaid the misrepresentations and lies on intelligence, on weapons of mass destruction, as well as the US ignoring the refusal of the Security Council of the United Nations to give legal sanctions to the US invasion.

In any case, both McCain and Obama plan for a residual US military force to fight Al Qaeda and insurgents, to train the Iraqi military, and to protect the US Embassy and US military bases in Iraq. That is the likely key to US policy in Iraq under either administration. The US is the dominant military, economic and political power on the planet and surely wants to remain in that position. It is inconceivable that the US would give up its control of the Middle East, an area that contains more than 40% of the oil reserves on earth. We now know that the supply of oil is finite, that modern society cannot function without oil, that the price of oil can be stretched to extraordinary heights. We cannot and will not walk away from the trillions of dollars involved and the power over all other nations we can exercise by control of oil.

After the investments the US has made in life, treasure and reputation, after the incompetence of the Bush administration in destroying the system it had in place for dominating the area without US troops, the American empire is surely not going to divest itself of this incalculable asset. No other empire in human history has done that. We won't either.


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