The Wall Street Journal reports this morning that the "The Bush administration’s embrace of a flexible timeline for pulling
Every day, it’s becoming clearer that the Bush administration, Iraqi prime minister Nuri al-Maliki, and presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain are reaching a new consensus, which can be summed up as "let’s not and say we did."
Let’s not end the occupation. Let’s not withdraw all the troops. Let’s not resolve the fundamental problems created by the
The advantages for all the parties are enormous.
Nuri al-Maliki gets to pretend that he’s standing up for the interests of Iraqis, who want to see an end to the occupation.
The Bush administration gets to shout its mantra "the surge worked," creating the illusion that things are getting better in
As the Wall Street Journal notes in today’s article, "Iraqi officials had been adamant about not granting immunity to
John McCain gets some room to maneuver out of the corner he had painted himself into on Iraq, while also claiming credit for supporting Bush’s policies, in contrast to Obama.
And Barack Obama gets to claim he has the only workable plan to end the war, which voters so desperately want, and the Iraqi government (and now pretty much every one else, including McCain) supports it.
The only problem is, the "flexible timeline" around which all these parties are now coalescing is a bridge to continuing the occupation for years, perhaps even decades, to come.
Obama’s withdrawal plan — which he says he will revise based on advice from his military advisers and conditions on the ground — would still leave tens of thousands of troops in
Talk of "permanent bases" is a smokescreen, as Kyle Chrichton of the New York Times has rightly pointed out.
There will be long-term bases in
To start, we have to challenge this new consensus.
A "flexible timeline" is not a timetable. Redeployment of some or even all "combat troops" is not withdrawal. Limited Iraqi sovereignty is not sovereignty. Continuing the occupation is not ending it.
Anthony Arnove is the author of Iraq: The Logic of Withdrawal (American Empire Project/Metropolitan Books).