The Democrat and Chronicle’s resident sages have done it again: they attempted to define “a sensible war policy” but ignored the small matter of the war’s illegality.
The June 21 editorial rightly declares the war “the most important public-policy issue America faces.” But in identifying “the heart of the matter,” the editors find only three core tasks: first, determining what must be done to stop the insurgency; second, finding how the US “can “get more support in soldiering and money from our allies”; and third, “stopping the war profiteers.”
Amen to number three. Down with Halliburton, et al. As for number two, read the tea leaves. Italy is now about to withdraw its token force under stiff domestic opposition to the deployment, and there’s a history of similar troop withdrawals by other nations finally listening to their citizens. And of course, there were many more nations who never supported our adventure in the first place and wouldn’t touch it now with even an eleven-foot stick. Anyone who suggests the US now make the rounds with the begging bowl must be totally wacko or Gannettized. (On the other hand, if the US were to prostrate itself before the UN, a true coalition of the willing might form to pick up the pieces.)
And number one? Yeah, right, we’ll whip ‘em with one hand tied behind our back, just like we did in Vietnam. (Actually, we did win the Vietnam War, in the broader sense. US ruling elites did realize their core objectives: thwarting a nationalist movement with merciless physical force and reinforcing an old imperialist object lesson to countries who stray; then eventually re-integrating the wayward country into the “world system” as an offshore sweatshop.)
The D&C editorial writers caution against what they call the “let's-just-get-out solution,” which they say is a no-go because there are “repercussions to leaving Iraq in chaos.” Yes, there will be repercussions – more of what we’re seeing now, though probably not more in frequency or scope, and very likely less. But not just a host of analysts, but the Iraqi people themselves (minus our lackeys; think Vietnam again) are telling us to leave ASAP because our presence is making things worse. We should heed these voices, not least because they echo what our moral instincts tell us.
But finally, we have to get out ASAP because our war/occupation was illegal from the get-go and doesn’t acquire legality with age.
I remember what Stan Goff, a former US Army Special Forces master sergeant, told a Rochester audience last winter at a rally in support of US war resisters. (Confession to a class prejudice: I like Goff because he’s a radical non-com, not an officer.) He said, in essence, we shouldn’t fool ourselves with talk of an “exit strategy.” Military types know “exit” is an order, he said, not a strategy.
Indeed, to borrow a legalism with a good provenance, we must get out of Iraq “with all deliberate speed.” When you’re conducting a criminal military expedition, you have to pull back and pull out - and you should feel blessed if granted even the time to make travel arrangements.