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Iraq: A Rush for the Exits

With the pressure building for the US to start retreating from Iraq, and our coalition "allies" abandoning ship, what's a soldier in Iraq to think? D?j? vu. It's 1970 Vietnam.

The growing opposition to the war in Iraq here in the US, and the growing strength and success of the various resistance groups fighting against the US occupation in Iraq, have put the Bush Administration in a serious bind, not just at home but in Iraq itself.

Here in the US, of course, there's the problem of trying to go from "stay the course" and condemning anyone who talks about pulling troops out of Iraq as a traitor, to the political imperative of pulling significant numbers of troops out and getting casualties way down before next November's congressional elections 11 months hence. That's going to be a tough one even for Karl Rove to manage.

For one thing, progressive Democratic candidates--and the smell of blood dripping out under the White House door is encouraging more progressives to run and more Democrats running to act more like progressives--are going to pound on the issue of the president's "flip flop" on Iraq, as well as all those wasted lives on his hands and the $300-billion damage bill. For another, there's no easy way to cut back on troop strength in Iraq without risking higher casualties along the way. Fewer troops on the ground, for example, will mean fewer people to guard convoys, check out suspected roadside bomb sites, etc.

Any military expert will tell you that retreats are among the hardest maneuvers to conduct safely.

Meanwhile, there is the problem of military morale. It was relatively easy to get the troops all fired up and ready to kill and be killed during the invasion of Iraq. Officers drummed it into the heads of the grunts that they were getting revenge for what Al Qaeda had done to America. It was a lie--Saddam Hussein and Iraqis in general had had nothing to do with the 9-11 attacks--but with nobody to rebut the propaganda, it worked pretty well. Later, there was "overthrowing Saddam" and "building democracy." Those rallying cries didn't work so well, and as months turned into years, and hundreds of deaths and thousands of casualties turned into thousands of deaths and tens of thousands of injuries, morale plummeted.

But think what will happen now, once soldiers understand that they are being asked to gradually--ever so gradually--retreat from Iraq, leaving the place in a complete mess, handing the government over to militias, thugs and religious fanatics, all the while being hit with sniper fire, IEDs, mortars and rocket propelled grenades. This will be like Vietnam in 1970, when troops knew it was over and they were being asked to fight and die for nothing except Nixon's re-election. Now it's Bush's and Cheney's and Rumsfeld's asses that soldiers are being asked to shield with their bodies.

Anyone want to make any predictions about morale and fighting spirit over the next year?

It won't help matters--and does give some indication about how our troops must be feeling themselves--that our allies have already gotten the message and are starting to say "enough." Ukraine and Bulgaria, with a combined 1250 troops in Iraq, this week announced plans to pack up and call it quits by mid-month. They're not ready to sacrifice any more soldiers for a doomed US venture. That's nearly 1 percent of the "allied" forces in Iraq.

Predictably, there are rumblings from the other major US coalition allies: Britain, Italy, Japan, Poland, South Korea and Australia, all of whose voters are opposed to their governments' participation in the Iraq War anyway. As an AP article notes, if those countries pull out all or many of their troops, "more than half of the non-American forces in Iraq could be gone by next summer."

This kind of thing tends to have a snowball effect, too. The end result is likely to be a rush for the exits, which could end up looking a lot like the one on the roof of the U.S. Embassy in Saigon 30 years ago.

For other stories by Lindorff, please go (at no charge) to This Can't Be Happening! .

homepage: homepage: http://www.thiscantbehappening.net

one more illusion 02.Dec.2005 12:30


...time to pull out and leave Iraq to its rightful owners - Halliburton and Wackenhut

? for Dave 02.Dec.2005 18:59

Converse Murdoch

The Prez just flat out said he has no intention of stopping the war. Congress just overwhelmingly re-endorsed the war in their latest skit. Yet you seem to think that there is a "... political imperative of pulling significant numbers of troops out and getting casualties way down... " .

Where did you get this "political imperative" notion ? Is this just wishful thinking, fantasy, or what ?

Converse Murdoch 02.Dec.2005 23:58

George Bender

"The Prez just flat out said he has no intention of stopping the war."

That's what presidents always say as they feel themselves being pushed to the exit. I wouldn't believe that any more than the other obvious bullshit he says. I think he'll start reducing troop numbers soon. Republican congresspeople are getting nervous about the next election.

"Congress just overwhelmingly re-endorsed the war in their latest skit."

Actually I think what happened is that House Republicans, feeling the heat from the Dems, tried to strike back by forcing them to vote on immediate withdrawal. Only three of the Dems were prepared to take that strong a stand. They saw it as a Republican trick. I wish they had voted yes.

But if you look at recent statements by Murtha and Pelosi, among others, the shift in news coverage and the polls, I think it's obvious that we're at a tipping point. I don't know how long it will take. We need to put more pressure on our senators and representatives to back the position taken by Murtha and Pelosi -- start withdrawal now, finish within 6 months (the time it will physically take, according to Murtha and Ralph Nader).

Contact Congress at:

OK Mr. Bender 03.Dec.2005 06:41

Converse Murdoch

I tried to e-mail my Senator. I got an error message saying it couldn't process it for some reason or other. I'm not done trying though. I know you're right about this and it's the least anybody can do.

This is what this Iraq war looks like to me. Bush's real intentions are to invade and set up a puppet govt. that will hand over the oil rights to Bush's pals. It's an armed robbery gone bad. It's an international heist so there's no cops to worry about but an angry mob is gathering around the scene of the crime.

In this situation what would any self respecting thief do ? They would stall for time until they got what they want. This is the phase we're in now.

Hang in there people it's almost over. Just wait till some elections in Iraq. Just wait until some elections in congress. Just wait until the democrats and republicans and the Shias and Sunnis... blah blah blah. Stall stall stall. There's light at the end of the tunnel. Someday soon now we might even begin to withdraw some of the troops. SOME of the troops.

This is the drift the propaganda machine is putting out.