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

Monday, November 21, 2005


Over on Znet, Gilbert Achcar and Stephen Shalom say pretty much what I wanted to say regarding Murtha's recent bombshell:

Nevertheless, the anti-war movement needs to be careful not to confuse Murtha's position with its own.

When Murtha says "redeploy" -- instead of withdraw -- the troops from Iraq, he makes clear that -- despite his rhetoric -- he doesn't want to really bring them home, but to station them in the Middle East. As he told Anderson Cooper of CNN:

"We ... have united the Iraqis against us. And so I'm convinced, once we redeploy to Kuwait or to the surrounding area, that it will be much safer. They won't be able to unify against the United States. And then, if we have to go back in, we can go back in."

Moreover, Murtha's resolution calls for the U.S. to create "a quick-reaction U.S. force and an over-the-horizon presence of U.S. Marines" to be "deployed to the region."

We strongly disagree. The anti-war movement cannot endorse U.S. military intervention in the Middle East, whether over or under the horizon. We don't want U.S. troops remaining in the region and poised to go back into Iraq. They don't belong there, period. Some -- though not Murtha -- suggest keeping U.S. bases within Iraq, close to the oil fields or in Kurdistan, in order to intervene more or less on the pattern of what U.S. forces are doing in Afghanistan. But this is a recipe for disaster, since the Iraqi view that the United States intends a permanent occupation is one of the main causes inciting the insurgency. Moreover, stationing U.S. forces in Kurdistan could only deepen the already dangerous ethnic animosities among Iraqis. In any event, if U.S. troops continue to be used in Iraq -- whether deployed from bases inside the country or from outside -- they will inevitably continue to cause civilian casualties, further provoking violence. Having a U.S. interventionary force stationed in Kuwait or in a similar location will continue to inflame the opposition of Iraqis who will know their sovereignty is still subject to U.S. control. As for the impact of keeping U.S. forces anywhere else in the larger region, it should be recalled that their presence was the decisive factor leading to 9-11 and fuels "global terrorism" in the same way that the U.S. military presence in Iraq "fuels the insurgency" there.

Murtha, we need to keep in mind, is not opposed to U.S. imperial designs or U.S. militarism. He criticizes the Bush administration because its Iraq policies have led to cuts in the (non-Iraq) defense budget, threatening the U.S. ability to maintain "military dominance."

Of course, it is nice to see a mainstream Democrat come over to some semblance of the Out Now! position -- however, it would be nicer if by "out" he really meant "out".

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