Dems blink, Bush lies, what else is new?

Talk about non-news. The Democratic majority, after all their hot air, agrees to drop a timetable for troop withdrawal from the war funding bill. The only real news here is how thoroughly the Republicans have set the terms for the debate. Writes the New York Times, May 24: “Democrats said they did not relish the prospect of leaving Washington for a Memorial Day break — the second recess since the financing fight began — and leaving themselves vulnerable to White House attacks that they were again on vacation while the troops were wanting.”

Excuse us? US troops have been “wanting” since the beginning of the Iraq occupation—due to White House and Pentagon priorities. For instance, the Times itself reported March 7, 2004 how the Pentagon bungled the body army contract, reducing its priority “to status of socks”—sending troops into battle without bullet-proof vests, and prompting soldiers’ families to take up collections to buy protective gear for their sons or daughters in Iraq. The contract to develop new protective gear was given to a firm with no experience. When they failed to deliver, the Pentagon finally gave up. Then deliveries from other companies were delayed 167 days, as the insurgency in Iraq mounted. Some 10,000 body plates were lost en route. Columbia Journalism Review recalls how the Times had to use the Freedom of Information Act to even get the details of the contract released. A more recent example is the Veteran’s Administration scandal (noted with appropirate outrage by the Times’ own Paul Krugman March 6, 2007).

This is how the Pentagon squandered our tax-dollars—and now even the “liberal” NY Times blames the fact that the troops are getting shafted on the demand for a timetable for their withdrawal. Note the how this rhetorical trick insidiously shifts our perception of the issue. It is no longer a question of withdrawing from Iraq, but “supporting the troops.” Hence, in a victory of cynical propaganda, keeping the troops indefinitely in harm’s way is accomplished in the name of “supporting the troops.” Orwell would blush.

Meanwhile, Bush once again milks 9-11 to justify keeping the troops indefinitely in harm’s way. “In the minds of al-Qaeda leaders, 9-11 was just a down payment on violence yet to come,” he said during a commencement speech at the US Coast Guard Academy. “It is tempting to believe that the calm here at home after 9-11 means that the danger to our country has passed… Here in America, we are living in the eye of a storm. All around us, dangerous winds are swirling and these winds could reach our shores at any moment… Hear the words of Osama bin Laden: He calls the struggle in Iraq a ‘war of destiny.’ He proclaimed ‘The war is for you or for us to win. If we win it, it means your defeat and disgrace forever… Victory in Iraq is important for Osama bin Laden, and victory in Iraq is vital for the United States of America.”

Bush claims intelligence indicated that in January 2005, bin Laden tasked Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, his senior operative in Iraq, to organize an interntaionl terrorist cell and use Iraq as a staging ground for attacking the United States.

This claim expanded on a classified bulletin the Homeland Security Department issued in March 2005 warning that bin Laden had enlisted al-Zarqawi to plan potential strikes in the US. But the memo described the threat as credible but not specific. It did not prompt the administration to raise its national terror alert level.

Bush now says that in spring 2005, bin Laden instructed al-Qaeda operative Hamza Rabia to brief al-Zarqawi on a plan to attack sites outside Iraq. “Our intelligence community reports that a senior al-Qaeda leader, Abu Faraj al-Libi, went further and suggested that bin Laden actually send Rabia, himself, to Iraq to help plan external operations,” Bush said. “Abu Faraj later speculated that if this effort proved successful, al Qaeda might one day prepare the majority of its external operations from Iraq.”

Rand Beers, national security adviser to John Kerry’s 2004 Democratic presidential campaign, charged that the Bush administration is releasing intelligence to buttress the argument that Iraq is the central front in the War on Terrorism—while most intelligence sources say the new al-Qaeda nerve-center is in US allly Pakistan. “Bin Laden is using Iraq to kill and demonize the United States while remaining secure and planning further operations in Pakistan,” Beers said.

White House homeland security adviser Frances Fragos Townsend said new details about the plots were declassified because the intelligence community had tracked all leads from the information and the players were either dead or in custody. In May 2005, al-Libi was captured. Several months later, in December 2005, al-Rabia was killed in Pakistan. In June of 2006, al-Zarqawi was killed in Iraq in a US airstrike. (AP, May 23)

OK, could be. But it doesn’t alter the reality that the Iraq war is only breeding hatred for the United States throughout the Muslim world. More to the point, if Iraq is now a hornets’ nest of Islamist terrorists, it certainly wasn’t that under Saddam Hussein—who brutally supressed Islamists along with all other dissidents! It is Bush’s military crusade which has turned Iraq into a “univeristy of terrorism.” Trying to correct this by getting deeper into the military quagmire is like trying to sober up by drinking martinis. As we’ve said before, the terrorists love the GWOT!

See our last posts on Iraq, al-Qaeda and the politics of the GWOT.

  1. iraq / dems / timetable blahblahblah
    From JG, New York City:

    What’s through-the-looking-glass is I sort of tactically agree with the Republicans on this (note: ‘sort of’)

    If you’re against this whole debacle (as I am): TROOPS OUT NOW. period. or shut the fuck up and let them get their (losing) game on. This whole ‘timetables’ racket is a joke. If you want to ‘support the troops’ (and you’re a member of Congress) – stop this shit, bring em home and throw a bunch of suits in jail for various reasons with extensive entertaining TV coverage. And health care while you’re at it.

  2. Depressing, predictable update
    From AlJazeera, May 25:

    The Democratic-controlled US congress has approved $95 bn in new funds for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan without any timetable for withdrawing troops.

    The senate voted 80-14 to send the compromise measure to the president after the House of Representatives cleared the measure 280-142, with Republicans supplying the bulk of the votes.

    Besides abandoning their plan for a troop withdrawal timeline, Democrats gave up on attempts to insert provisions to require the Pentagon to adhere to troop training, readiness and rest requirements.

    The bill does establish, however, a series of goals for the Iraqi government to meet as it tries to rein in sectarian violence.