Saturday, December 09, 2006

The American Establishment has no intention of leaving Iraq... ever.

The war-crazed neo-cons are up-in-arms (figuratively, of course, these are chicken-hawks, after all) about the ISG's report because its members aren't drinking the full-strength Kool-Aid and advocating for more war. These neo-cons have an "insatiable appetite for endless wars" and their extreme behaviour is making it clear to anyone with the eyes to see that they are "on the outer fringe of our political spectrum".

But Glenn Greenwald is not reassured with the small beneficial effect of exposing the neo-cons this way because it is vastly out-weighed by the report's effect of "transforming anti-withdrawal sentiment into the mainstream, centrist, bipartisan position". That and the unfortunate fact that this fringe groups still has its hooks set deeply in that pathetic excuse for a president.
America has turned against these extremists and this warmongering sentiment, but the President (and especially his closest advisor, the Vice President) remains solidly in their camp. They're convinced that they will be vindicated by staying forever in Iraq, and possibly expanding our military force beyond Iraq. And Jim Baker, having supported the war in the first place, all but ensured that this would happen (even, admittedly, while forcing into the establishment dialogue some important observations).

It's true that these extremists (and, hopefully, the establishment institutions which have enabled them, beginning with the Beltway media) are being marginalized as they become further and further removed from popular American sentiment. And that could be a real long-term gain for the country. But it's also true that we are going to remain in Iraq (at least) through the Bush Presidency (at least), and it's hard to see any benefit that could possibly compete with that tragic harm. Chris Floyd captured the bottom line perfectly:

The Iraq Study Group's report simply confirms, yet again, the bedrock truth of the war: the American Establishment has no intention of leaving Iraq, ever, and no intention of having anything but a pliant, cowed, bullied puppet government in Baghdad to carry out whatever the Establishment decides is in its best interests on any given day.

Iraq was invaded because large swathes of the American elite thought they could make hay of it one way or another (financially, politically, ideologically or even psychologically, for those pathetic souls who get their sense of manhood or personal validation from their identification with a big, swaggering, domineering empire).

And U.S. troops will remain in Iraq, indefinitely, at some level, because the American elite think they can make hay of the situation one way or another. The war is all about -- is only about -- what the American elite feel is in their own best interest, how it aggrandizes their fortunes, flatters their prejudices, serves their needs.

I've been persuaded by those who have argued here over the past couple days that the Baker-Hamilton Report isn't pure evil, because it so fundamentally undercuts the neoconservative narrative about the world. That may be true. But its effect of solidifying our ongoing presence in Iraq and transforming anti-withdrawal sentiment into the mainstream, centrist, bipartisan position vastly outweigh that. As long as we stay as an occupying force in Iraq -- with all of the abuses and destruction and drain that inevitably goes with it -- it is difficult to imagine how we are going to reverse any of the damage that has been done to our country over the last six years.

The neoconservatives are being revealed as the ugly, crazed extremists that they are. But they still remain more or less firmly in control in the form of George Bush, Dick Cheney and company. And that control has not been loosened any by the Baker-Hamilton Report. If anything, the opposite has occurred.

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