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

Monday, June 18, 2007

The Emperor's New Clothes 

How does a party in opposition that supports the indefinite occupation of Iraq try to persuade the public of the contrary? Easy:

Rep. Ellen Tauscher of Walnut Creek thinks she knows the way to get the United States out of Iraq. She wants to repeal the October 2002 resolution that authorized President Bush to launch a war to oust Saddam Hussein.

And her California colleague and fellow Democrat, Sen. Barbara Boxer, thinks she has an equally good idea. She wants the United States to admit that the idea of a strong national government in Iraq won't work and instead aim to set up a federal system in which Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds can separate, cool the sectarian killings and manage their own affairs.

Both ideas have been getting a lot of attention in recent weeks and both seem headed for action in the House or Senate, or in both chambers of Congress, as Democrats seek ways to keep pressure on Bush and congressional Republicans standing behind his war policy to change course in Iraq.

"I've begun to think this is about the need for two political settlements,'' Tauscher said of the war in Iraq, now into its fifth year with a U.S. death toll that exceeds 3,500 military personnel. "There is one needed in Iraq and one here. There is no military solution in Iraq.''

Her proposal, which she calls the Change the Course in Iraq Act, is going places in Congress because it has acquired a most-powerful patron, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco. The speaker has written Tauscher a letter expressing support and pledging a vote on the legislation at some point in the next few months.

Pelosi wrote, "As we discussed, I believe it is appropriate that there be a national debate on the existing authorization for the war in Iraq and how that authorization has been affected by the events'' since March 2003, when U.S. forces entered Iraq and scored an easy initial victory over Hussein's military.

Of course, the measure, if passed, is meaningless. It would not necessitate the withdrawal of any troops from Iraq, now or ever. Furthermore, Representative Ellen Tauscher, the author so enthusiastically praising herself for her creativity, is well known for voting for the Iraq war resolution in 2002, and frequently opposing measures to bring the occupation to an end. Boy, you'd think that they could find a better front person for the bill than one of the most notorious Democratic hawks in the Congress.

Tauscher does deserve credit, though, and her enthusiasm gives her away. Her purpose is to channel public opposition to the occupation into harmless measures that will allow it to persist indefinitely, while creating the illusion that the Democrats are trying to end it and bring the troops home. No wonder she is so pleased with herself.

In this, Tauscher is aligned with presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who wants to achieve the same objective by the same means. Clinton, however, let the cat out of the bag when she said she wants to retain a lesser, permanent occupation force in Iraq, a proposal that, according to the New York Times, is similar to one suggested by an aide to Donald Rumsfeld, Dov S. Zakheim, a few years ago.

Yet more proof that the invasion of Iraq and the ongoing occupation of the country has always been a bipartisan enterprise. No need to worry, though, Zakheim estimated that the number of US troops in Iraq would be reduced to approximately 75,000. Predictably, Clinton wasn't nearly as candid when asked how many troops would remain. And, equally predictably, the Times didn't bother to ask any Iraqis what they thought about the concept, even though Clinton was talking about stationing US troops indefinitely in their country.

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