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The “New” Framing of the Debate on Iraq


It is quite interesting and instructive to look into how the “debate” on the war in Iraq is now being framed.

With the legality and morality of the war and the U.S.’s overall conduct in occupied Iraq long since out of the general dialogue, both Congress and the mainstream media are now looking at the war from the standpoint of what CNN calls “Issue #1” – the domestic economy.  That struggling economy is now disrupting the lives of millions more Americans than usual; while usual just stomping on the hopes of the impoverished and working class people, the so-called middle class is now having its greatest fears realized and exploited by the global, yet ever-so-American capitalist machine.  The collapse of the housing market has been well-documented, as has the fact that nearly 50 million Americans are without health insurance. 

Linda Bilmes and Joseph Stiglitz have done their part in exposing the part that the war in Iraq plays in all of this, detailing in a recent bestselling book that the war is costing Americans 3 trillion dollars.  But the connections have not been made by the media that the domestic economy is failing in large part because of the war and occupation of Iraq.  This is slowly coming to be common knowledge, despite the media’s best attempts to keep elementary facts out of the common discourse.

The discussion has moved on to what role the U.S. has in paying for both the reconstruction and the defense of Iraq from terrorist elements and insurgents.  Apparently, our government has been hoodwinked by the Iraqi government into thinking that the Iraqi police force and military cannot handle its defense on its own, just so we will foot the bill.  And while we’re at it, we have to shell out more money for the reconstruction of Iraq, even though Iraq’s massive oil revenues should be able to pay for all of that and more.  And this boils down to more money coming out of the American taxpayer’s pocket. 

Conveniently, the media fails to mention that the massive oil revenues flowing to the Iraqi government are for the most part controlled by the American government.  It also leaves out of the discourse the fact that since our occupying forces have played the largest part in destroying any previously existing infrastructure (or, what was left of it since the long-existing sanctions crippled the Hussein regime’s ability to provide for its people), it is our responsibility to build that back up; as Noam Chomsky and others have pointed out, invading armies and the subsequent occupying forces have no rights, only responsibilities. 

The subject of reparations is so far removed from the mainstream political dialogue that only a wing-nut would dare broach the subject, but the fact is that the money that is flowing into Iraq from American should be paying reparations top the Iraqi people who have had their lives and livelihoods destroyed.  Again, it is part of the U.S.’s responsibility to do so.

But the media won’t tell you that.  It will only open the debate up to whether or not the U.S. should be paying for the defense of Iraq’s so-called democratic sovereignty.  It doesn’t mention that if Iraq was truly sovereign and democratic, the U.S. would have been forced to pull out long ago.  It also doesn’t mention that had the U.S. never invaded Iraq, the insurgents (whose rebellion against U.S. forces is entirely legitimate and legal under the UN Charter) and terrorist forces such as al-Qaeda in Iraq would likely have never come into existence.  The media keeps this out of the dialogue, as does Congress (although Barack Obama was kind enough to mention it in response to John McCain’s insistence on destroying al-Qaeda in Iraq).

If the war ended today, and American troops were brought home (not “re-deployed”), the trillions of dollars that will undoubtedly be spent on fighting a war that cannot be won could be used to be rebuild Iraq, pay enormous reparations to the Iraq people, and provide universal health care to every American.   Most Americans are smart enough to figure this out for themselves, but the propaganda machine has other ideas, and spins the various stories here (which are really just one story) to the right.  What’s obvious from all of this is that the American government is not being hoodwinked – it knows very well what it is doing.  The American and Iraqi people are the true victims here, their fates being handed to them on a brass platter by their respective ruling classes.

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