Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Bush: Iraq like Korea

Josh Marshall:

The president says so many stupid things about Iraq that it's sort of hard to know which ones to focus on. But in purely political terms if no others I would think the president's critics would want to focus in on what the White House said about how long the president thinks US troops should stay in Iraq.

By saying that Korea is the model for the US military presence in Iraq, the president is saying that he envisions the US military presence in Iraq continuing for many decades into the future.

Or let's put that in more stark terms, for most of you reading this post, the president envisions US troops remaining in Iraq long after you're dead.

Talking about drawdowns in late 2007 or by the end of 2008 is basically a joke, in other words. Countries can really only think on forty or fifty year horizons. So what this means is that the US military presence in Iraq is permanent.

As TPM Reader DS made clear in the email we posted earlier [see below -- bill], there's only one goal that makes sense of that strategy. And that is to permanently dominate the cluster of oil fields in southern Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iran. Nothing to do with democracy, as though that needed saying. But also nothing to do with terrorism. We're permanently occupying Iraq to lock down the world oil supply.

But all that is commentary. The headline is clear enough to get the message out: the president wants US troops in Iraq for decades to come.

TPM Reader DS follows up on the White House's new Korea/Iraq analogy ...

I have believed, from the beginning – though I have always hoped to be proven wrong – that the Bush White House (i.e. Cheney) has had as its principal goal in Iraq the establishment of a permanent military presence in that country. The neocon dream of transforming the region (from the PNAC manifesto and elsewhere) has always envisaged such a military presence. These people see America’s long-term national interest in terms of (overwhelmingly, though not exclusively) energy security and therefore the control of energy supplies. This means control of the flow of oil from the Middle East. [Relying on a mutual-interest-between-sovereign-states approach, à la western Europe, is considered naïve when it comes to Arab countries.] Everything else – from the initial justifications for the war to the current rhetoric-of-the-day (we have to ensure stability, we have to fight them there or they’ll follow us here, etc.…) – is aimed at making such control, by means of long-term military presence, possible. When 9/11 took Saudi Arabia off the table as a viable base, some other country had to be found – but of significant size. Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, et al. are simply not big enough.

Cheney, in particular, is vicious enough to contemplate a long-term presence at the cost of a daily toll in the dozens or hundreds as well as ongoing domestic opposition. He’s convinced that the US needs to be there to keep an eye on – and always to be in a position to intervene in the affairs of the region, with particular attention to the the Arabian Sea oil fields, but also the Caspian Sea oil and gas fields. Bin Laden was the publicly accepted casus belli for the invasion of Afghanistan; but finding Bin Laden is irrelevant to the true purpose: to be on the ground, to have bases, to be able to project force in the region. [Remember that, within a month or two of 9/11, Bush and his people are known to have talked about going into Iraq in order to control the southern oil fields. This was explicit, and it has been widely reported, through seldom dwelt upon as explanatory of the whole enterprise.] Similarly with Iraq: WMD, democracy, removing a tyrant, fighting Al Qaeda,… all offered for public consumption, but none of any real importance to the White House and all irrelevant to the actual goal. When the public rationales evaporate, or when events make the achievement of any of the rationales still being offered in fact impossible of achievement, the White House will still keep troops on the ground – even when their presence makes the stated goals even harder to achieve (e.g. reconciliation between Iraq’s factions), the White House will find some other justification for staying, no matter how weak. Because staying is itself the objective.

Occam’s Razor supports me in this; the creation and maintenance of a long-term military presence is the only policy objective that unifies, aligns and makes sense of everything Bush has done. If any other goal is posited, his policies and actions are incoherent; but if this goal is posited, they all make sense.

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