'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Kerry on Pulling Out of Iraq 

I had meant to post about Kerry's response to Lehrer's request for specifics regarding how President Kerry would disengage from Iraq but it slipped my mind until I read this article by antiwar.com's Justin Raimondo that mentions the exchange (and that covers a lot of the same ground as this post). To me the most significant statement made by Kerry during the debate was this: (here's the debate transcript)

The time line that I've set out -- and again, I want to correct the president, because he's misled again this evening on what I've said. I didn't say I would bring troops out in six months. I said, if we do the things that I've set out and we are successful, we could begin to draw the troops down in six months. And I think a critical component of success in Iraq is being able to convince the Iraqis and the Arab world that the United States doesn't have long-term designs on it.

As I understand it, we're building some 14 military bases there now, and some people say they've got a rather permanent concept to them.

When you guard the oil ministry, but you don't guard the nuclear facilities, the message to a lot of people is maybe, Wow, maybe they're interested in our oil.

Now, the problem is that they didn't think these things through properly. And these are the things you have to think through.

What I want to do is change the dynamics on the ground. And you have to do that by beginning to not back off of the Fallujahs and other places, and send the wrong message to the terrorists. You have to close the borders.

You've got to show you're serious in that regard. But you've also got to show that you are prepared to bring the rest of the world in and share the stakes.

I will make a flat statement: The United States of America has no long-term designs on staying in Iraq.

And our goal in my administration would be to get all of the troops out of there with a minimal amount you need for training and logistics as we do in some other countries in the world after a war to be able to sustain the peace.

Now, unless I'm reading it wrong the above implies Kerry believes building permanent military bases in Iraq is a bad idea, and if elected will presumably not follow through with this policy goal of the neoconservatives. Fine, that's good. But then what's this about not backing down from Fallujahs? The United States shouldn't have backed down from Fallujah because it shouldn't haven't invaded Fallujah in the first place, just like it shouldn't have invaded Iraq in the first place.

The only reasonable course of action right now is an immediate total withdrawal of US forces from Iraq. The only moral argument against such an action is that it would lead to even greater chaos and strife, but this argument can be quickly dealt with by noting that by a large majority Iraqis (besides Kurds but that's another story) would like the US to take its things and go; for example, here's the lead sentence from a USA Today article months ago

Only a third of the Iraqi people now believe that the American-led occupation of their country is doing more good than harm, and a solid majority support an immediate military pullout even though they fear that could put them in greater danger, according to a new USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll.

Look, you can argue Iraqis are wrong if you want; you can argue that pundits on CNN know what's good for Iraq better than Iraqis, but if you honestly believe in democracy then it follows that we should leave. If anyone in Washington really believed in democracy we would have left months ago. We didn't leave months ago because Bush's war was never about WMD's or helping Iraqis -- it was about empire, about controlling a region of the world of tremendous strategic importance, which means military bases, puppet governments, occupation, and so forth. And the way you get military bases and secure puppet governments is by crushing those resisting them. Let me be clear here: yes, there are now people in Iraq who can best be described as terrorists, as criminals committing mass murder, but the vast majority of Iraqis who fight against the US forces in places like Fallujah are not terrorists; they are insurgents, ordinary Iraqis resisting occupation by a foreign power.

So if Kerry's future administration truly "has no long-term designs on staying in Iraq", if Kerry isn't interested in pursuing the goals of the neoconservatives who entangled us in this bloody mess, if he believes that Allawi is a puppet of the US as Kerry campaign spokesman Joe Lockhart has recently insinuated, he should rethink his position on dealing with towns that are controlled by insurgents, and indeed rethink his plan to stay in Iraq for another four years. The only reason to slaughter insurgents is to shore up support for the US's domination of the country, or, if support can never be won with bullets, to shore up the illusion of control by the puppet government. The correct and moral way to deal with Fallujahs is to ignore them; the way to deal with Iraq is to leave. If the Allawi government falls then so be it -- it will fall because it has no base of support other than US tanks and rifles.

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