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08.15 RIDE FOR THE OVERRIDE
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Health Care & Environment
08.21 The Link Between Health Spending and Life Expectancy: The US is an Outlier [the U.S. is the only 'advanced country' with for-profit healthcare without price controls...]
08.20 It’s Not Just Texas. Maternal Deaths Are High Across The U.S. [how do U.S. Blue States compare to Red States?]
News Media Matters
US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'
08.24 Ties to Clinton Foundation are a knotty problem for Hillary’s campaign [more bad judgement]
08.23 Clinton’s Transition Team: A Corporate Presidency Foretold [the 'assumed' proviso should be said and promised: "...if it helps the public...]
08.22 Why Donald Trump is Reaching Out to Black Voters [an appeal to gain votes from ALL the uninformed and uneducated]
08.23 UK in denial over Saudi arms sales being used in Yemen, claims Oxfam [US too...]
Economics, Crony Capitalism
08.24 Acceptable Losses
08.22 After 10 Years, US B-52H Resumes Operations in Afghanistan [is killing more, faster our policy objective?]
OBAMA EMBRACES NEOCON LOGIC: ILLEGAL ‘PREEMPTIVE’ WARS FOLLOWED BY NEVER-ENDING MILITARY OCCUPATIONS IS “THE BEST WAY” TO CATCH WIDELY-SCATTERED CRIMINALS
Surge Protectors: Obama Embraces Bush-McCain Spin on IraqFriday, 05 September 2008
Obama continues to purge himself of any of that weak-sister "anti-war" taint that got attached to him in the early days of his campaign -- which was, of course, responsible for his phenomenal rise in the first place.
Barack Obama has now declared -- on Fox News, no less -- that George W. Bush's escalation of the flagrant war crime in Iraq has "succeeded beyond our wildest dreams." He also proclaimed his "absolute" belief in the "War on Terror," and pledged, once again, "never to take a military option off the table" (not even the nuclear option) against the "major threat" of Iran.
In short, he continued his relentless campaign to purge himself of any of that weak-sister "anti-war" taint that got attached to him in the early days of his campaign -- which was, of course, responsible for his phenomenal rise in the first place. He rode that wave to national prominence -- trading on the desperate hopes of millions of Americans that the ungodly criminal nightmare in Iraq might finally end -- but it was obvious long ago that he was never going to dance with the ones that brung him. Once it was clear that he might really make it all the way to the top of the greasy pole, he began a dogged campaign to prove to our ruling elite that he would be a "safe pair of hands" for the imperial enterprise.
We've seen this in, among other things, the shameful FISA vote, the bellicose threats to launch incursions into Pakistan (a policy which the Bush Administration is already implementing, with the usual deadly results for civilians), the ritual and repeated assertions of his willingness to attack Iran, and the foolhardy promise to shepherd Georgia's entry into NATO -- a mirror-image of Dick Cheney's stance, and a policy guaranteed to ratchet up tensions with Russia and quite possibly spark not only a new Cold War but a hot war of horrendous proportions if Georgia pulls its future NATO treaty partners into another conflict with Moscow.
But it is Obama's surrender on the Iraq War front -- or rather, the anti-Iraq War front -- that is most striking, and most disheartening. On the very night that John McCain was putting the "success" of the surge at the center of his campaign, Obama was openly, cravenly laying down one of his chief weapons at the feet of Bill O'Reilly. Obama's cheerleading for the surge -- "beyond our wildest dreams!" -- surpassed anything that McCain himself has claimed for the escalation.
Obama also emphasized the obscene and morally depraved position that has become the Democrat's standard line on Iraq: that the lazy, no-good Iraqis "still haven't taken responsibility" for running "their own country." The arrogance and inhumanity of this position is staggering, almost indescribable. The United States of America invaded Iraq, destroyed its society, slaughtered its citizens, drove millions from their homes, occupied the country and made itself the ultimate master and arbiter of the conquered land -- but still the Iraqis are condemned for "not taking responsibility for their own country."
Not a single Iraqi attacked America. Not one. America's action has killed more than a million Iraqis. But it is the Iraqis who are now "responsible."
Not only has Obama validated McCain's position on the surge, but his and the Democrats' stance on the Iraqis' "responsibility" also completely buys into the Bush Faction's lie that the "government" of Iraq -- installed at the point of foreign guns, with a "constitution" based upon the arbitrary directives of an occupying power -- is somehow legitimate. This stance too validates the "success" of the entire war: "Hey, they've got a legitimate government there now, so they need to take responsibility for their own country."
This bears repeating: the Democrats' position on Iraq fully accepts -- and even celebrates -- the Bush Administration's fundamental claims for the war. The war has established a legitimate, democratic government in Iraq, Bush and the Democrats both say. The "surge" has succeeded "beyond our wildest dreams" in "securing" Iraq, Bush and the Democrats both say. When "conditions on the ground" are right, America should withdraw its "combat troops" from Iraq, leaving behind an unspecified number of troops for training Iraqi security forces, conducting counterterrorism operations and providing security for other American personnel and reconstruction projects, Bush and the Democrats both say.
Where then is the actual difference -- the evidence for genuine "change" -- between these two positions? While the Democrats will occasionally assert that instigating the war was a "mistake" -- because we should have been fighting more wars elsewhere -- they steadfastly refuse to denounce it as an illegitimate and criminal action. And, as we have seen, they agree almost entirely with Bush on the results that the war has produced. The rhetoric is different, of course, and each side denounces the other in the usual partisan bickering -- but the fundamental agreement is undeniable.
And now Obama has made it explicit: a success "beyond our wildest dreams."
But let's put the disturbing implications of Obama's stance aside for a moment, and deal with the facts of his statement. Is the surge really a "success"?
Well, yes, it is. The "surge" -- which in addition to an influx of troops included the ruthless ethnic cleansing of Baghdad, the walled ghettoization of vast swathes of the city, and the arming and funding of violent sectarian militias across the land -- certainly succeeded in extending the duration of the murder, suffering and chaos engendered by America's armed and belligerent presence in Iraq.
So it is indeed a great "success" ... in the same way that, say, Albert Speer's miraculous efforts to keep the Nazi war machine going from 1943 to 1945 -- resulting in the deaths of millions of people, including the worst ravages of the Holocaust -- was a "success."
This is what Obama is celebrating when he lauds the "wild" success of the "surge": the extension and entrenchment of war he ostensibly opposes.
But is the surge a "success" on its own public terms, in the way that it is portrayed almost universally now in the media: a bold campaign that has brought peace and security to Iraq? Of course not. As Juan Cole points out below, the "surge" (and several other major factors unrelated to the U.S troop escalation, not least of which is Iran's intervention to tamp down Shiite insurgency and bolster the allies it shares with Bush in the Baghdad government) merely reduced the amount of violence in Iraq from that of an unspeakable hell on earth to the level of some of the very worst sectarian conflicts of the last century. As Cole noted a few days ago (see original for links):
This is the "success" that exceeds all dreams, according to the Democratic candidate for President of the United States -- the voice, you'll recall, of hope and change.
But there is no hope in Obama's stance on Iraq today, which does not differ in any fundamental way from that of George W. Bush or John McCain. And given the Democrats' agreement on every front with Republican positions -- on Iraq, Iran, Russia, the War on Terror, authoritarianism, offshore drilling, etc., etc., etc. -- there will be no change come November either.
Chris Floyd has been a writer and editor for more than 25 years, working in the United States, Great Britain and Russia for various newspapers, magazines, the U.S. government and Oxford University. Floyd co-founded the blog Empire Burlesque, and is also chief editor of Atlantic Free Press. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This column is republished here with the permission of the author.
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This story was published on September 6, 2008.
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