If you’ve been following the news, you’ve noticed the build-up of stories related to President Bush’s desire to get one last troop “surge” in Iraq for a final, momentous push to victory. The White House wants to put 20,000 additional soldiers on the ground as soon as possible. What would that accomplish? If the 80,000 men and women currently engaged in Iraq can’t keep Baghdad stable, why does he (or anyone) think a flurry of troop activity will help matters?
Moreover, how does Bush expect to boost troop numbers? Recruitment is in free-fall, and even stop-loss orders that restrict servicemen from retiring don’t create a deployment that meets Bush’s goals. Simply put, we do not have 20,000 people ready to put into Iraq. It’s just not possible.
So why try? The American people don’t want more soldiers dying in Iraq, nor do they want them in the Middle East as a strong-arm tactic used against Iran. When elections were held last November, they served as a referendum on war, and the Republican party lost dominance because they were seen as complicit in our foreign policy. Even Bush advisors fail to see the wisdom in deploying more troops. The people have spoken: End the war. Bring our sons and daughters home.
The president will, of course, ignore common sense in this matter and plow ahead, just as he’s done with every other policy gaffe committed in the past few years. And whereas before it may have been part of the larger goal of creating a new American Empire, the reason for shifting our reserves into Iraq is even more selfish and absurd — it’s about saving face.
Senator Joe Biden (D-Delaware) hit the nail on the head last week when he suggested Bush’s drive to increase troop strength was about postponing the loss of Iraq until the next administration took office. “I have reached the tentative conclusion that a significant portion of this administration, maybe even including the vice president, believes Iraq is lost,” Biden said. “They have no answer to deal with how badly they have screwed it up. I am not being facetious now. Therefore, the best thing to do is keep it from totally collapsing on your watch and hand it off to the next guy — literally, not figuratively.”
Biden further paralleled Iraq with Vietnam, where, during the final tumultuous days of U.S. occupation, troops were forced to evacuate by helicopter and the North Vietnamese army encroached on their territory. One infamous photo, of soldiers scrambling up buildings in a mad dash to escape, haunts the American zeitgeist to this day. It’s a scene Bush doesn’t want repeated under his watch, even if it means committing more lives to a wasteful endeavor.
Let’s face it: Restructuring Iraq is no longer a priority, and those we have on the ground there aren’t capable of helping alleviate brutal civil war. Even if all rebellion stopped immediately, the human toll in rebuilding what he helped destroy will take more than 100,000 troops and a handful of months. So Bush plans to turn the frown of failed foreign policy upside down. With people being shipped over there en masse, the people will have a sudden need to either put up or shut up.
It’s a gambit that seems to be working. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-California) has said that, while she isn’t interested in writing a blank check for more troops, she won’t ignore the well-being of those over there (well, any more than they’re already being ignored). Biden furthered those sentiments by saying Congress is constitutionally incapable of providing a check or balance to Bush’s warmongering. “As a practical matter,” he concludes, “there’s no way to say, ‘Mr. President, stop.'”
Given all this, it’s easy to see Bush simply push our military to the breaking point. In spite of the American mandate to cease war abroad, those now in charge won’t challenge his hubris. And while Senator Ted Kennedy (D-Massachusetts) today introduced legislation that would halt Bush’s plans — even going so far as to draw a direct correlation between the current situation and Vietnam — nothing will come of it. Political courage is an extinct commodity on Capitol Hill. As long as a representative’s relative isn’t in the body count, don’t look for him or her to care. Remember, they rubber-stamped Bush’s actions in the past in the face of all logic. There’s no reason to believe real change in Iraq will start any time soon.
There’s also the business of privatizing Iraq’s oil fields. As much as the public likes to dismiss the “war for oil” conspiracy, The Independent has learned “the Iraqi Council of Ministers is expected to approve a new ‘hydrocarbon law’ essentially drawn up by the Bush administration.” Oil, nationalized in Iraq since 1972, will now be split up among major petroleum corporations such as Shell, BP, and Exxon Mobil, giving “cronies of the White House unprecedented sweetheart deals, allowing them to pump gargantuan profits from Iraq’s nominally state-owned oilfields for decades to come. This law has been in the works since the very beginning of the invasion – indeed, since months before the invasion, when the Bush administration brought in Phillip Carroll, former CEO of both Shell and Fluor, the politically-wired oil servicing firm, to devise ‘contingency plans’ for divvying up Iraq’s oil after the attack.”
Death and corporate greed. Is it any wonder why President Bush wants to surge ahead to victory in Iraq?