Iraq: The End Is Not Near
by Leon Hadar
lack confidence that Iraq will have a stable government in place
within the next year, and more than half say that the war has not
been worth its cost, according to a recent CNN/USA Today/Gallup
one in five, or about 19 per cent, of the 1,003 adults quizzed said
they believe the Iraqis can assemble a sound, democratic government
in the next 12 months that is able to maintain order without the
assistance of US troops.
per cent said they didn't believe that would happen. The poll also
suggested that most Americans remain skeptical about the March 2003
invasion of Iraq, with 52 per cent telling pollsters it wasn't worth
going to war.
is a marked decrease from a poll taken fewer than two months ago,
indicating that 60 per cent of Americans didn't think the war was
worth the cost.
So, is it over?
In fact, US Congressman Jack Murtha, a Democrat from Pennsylvania
is predicting the "vast majority of US troops to leave Iraq
by year's end."
see . . . isn't that Jack Murtha from last year's "Murtha Moment"
– the famous tipping point that should have marked the beginning
of the end of the Bush presidency and the start of the US withdrawal
That was at
least the spin that was advanced last year when Murtha, a Vietnam
War hero, suggested that the United States would not be able to
win the war in Mesopotamia and urged the White House to consider
setting a timetable for the withdrawal of US troops there.
compared Murtha's comments to those made by celebrated television
anchorman Walter Cronkite whose 1967 observation that the US was
losing the war in Vietnam forced then president Lyndon Johnson to
conclude that US military involvement in Southeast Asia was over.
Murtha criticized the Bush administration's conduct in Iraq, the
left-of-center Nation magazine suggested that "history may
well record that the beginning of the end of the American nightmare
in Iraq came on Nov. 17, when an old warrior said it was time for
the troops to come home."
didn't happen. And I don't think it will be happening anytime soon.
To be fair to the Nation and other the-Iraq-war-is-over crowd, the
magazine as well as many pundits qualified their prediction by stressing
that that rosy scenario would take place only if the Democrats seized
the opportunity that Murtha offered them to become the tribune of
popular sentiment against the war.
But the critics
of the Iraq war and the US imperial project should admit now that
there was a lot of expectation – wishful thinking is probably the
right term – that the tide was turning against the neoconservative
ideologues and the other members of the War Party.
fantasizing about Republican Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska emerging
as a Republican presidential candidate, not to mention all the talk
about the Democrats taking control of Capitol Hill in the coming
midterm elections in November, followed by Congressional investigations
of the war, and who knows? Impeachment?
time has come for the members of the Reality-based Community to
stop dreaming and conclude that it ain't gonna happen anytime soon.
The Democrats may gain a small advantage in the House of Representatives,
and even that isn't a certainty.
spinning would create the impression that the Americans are starting
to withdraw from Iraq. A few US troops will return home but others
will be deployed to Iraq.
is going to be there for a long time to come.
"did Iraq" because they could do it. In March 2003, there
were no constraints operating on the Bush administration at home
(no opposition in Congress) or abroad (no counterbalancing global
changed since then? I don't think so. It's not only that the Democrats
are still politically impotent. The fact is that the majority of
the members of the Democratic establishment – those who supported
going to war – are opposed to withdrawing from Iraq. They actually
accept President George W Bush's rules for debate on the war, that
only "honest criticism" – never challenging the need to
remain in Iraq – should be applied.
At the same
time, no leading global power is ready to challenge the United States.
The Europeans are divided and have failed to come up with alternative
and coherent policy options on Iraq (although they still are not
going to help the US there with troops and money); the Russians
are weak; and the Chinese, whose central bank (together with those
of Japan and South Korea) continues to finance the US current account
deficit, are watching the Americans drowning in the Middle Eastern
quagmire – and smiling. Their hope is that the "war on terrorism"
will end – and they, the Chinese, will emerge as the winners.
project in Iraq and elsewhere will face serious challenges only
when the global geo-strategic and geo-economic costs of the endeavor
become obvious. Perhaps when the price of oil will reach the stratosphere.
Or the Asian central banks and the oil-producing countries will
stop buying dollar assets. Or the US current account deficit will
not be sustainable. Perhaps when the US dollar sinks.
housing bubble will pop – and will start impacting on the economic
welfare of the white middle-class voter. She can't pay for the gas
for my SUV? He can't borrow against capital gains on my home? She
can't pay off my credit cards?
that happens – and one of the reasons for opposing the US imperial
project is to prevent that from happening – the war critics should
ensure that a Democrat or a Republican or an Independent will be
there to pick up the political pieces and to advance an alternative
foreign policy based on a more realistic assessment of US global
Hadar [send him mail] is
Washington correspondent for the Business
Times of Singapore and the author of Sandstorm:
Policy Failure in the Middle East (Palgrave Macmillan). Visit
© 2006 Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. All rights reserved. Reprinted
with permission of the author.