Organizing Notes

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

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Location: Brunswick, Maine, United States

I'm back to work for the Global Network. Will continue to help Lisa Savage for US Senate campaign on my free time. Trying to self-isolate as much as possible. Best wishes and good luck to you all.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

IRAQ OPTIONS RANGE FROM BAD TO WORSE

The Iraq Study Group (sounds like a bible study class or something - which might be a good name because you have to have alot of "faith" to believe in their conclusions) today released their recommendations to the nation on how Bush should proceed on Iraq.

Commenting on the report, William Hartung at the World Policy Institute said, “Despite some early headlines suggesting that the Iraq Study Group would be calling for a withdrawal of U.S. combat forces from Iraq by the beginning of 2008, a look at the fine print suggests otherwise. The group's recommendations look more like an exercise in ‘bait and switch’ than an actual commitment to U.S. withdrawal.”

“By offering the prospect of some change - even if it leaves tens of thousands of combat troops and trainers in Iraq in 2008 and beyond - the Baker-Hamilton report could take pressure off Republicans and Democrats alike. Major figures in both parties could be relieved of the demand to push for a genuine withdrawal prior to the 2008 presidential elections. Citizens who want a quicker timeline for U.S. withdrawal and a genuine military disengagement from Iraq will need to make their voices heard if U.S. policy is to go beyond the half-measures set out by the Baker-Hamilton panel.”

The Democrats in Congress held a secret meeting yesterday in Washington to figure out their position on Iraq. Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic Speaker-designate and a frequent critic of George W. Bush, announced the forum to flush out fresh ideas. Afterward, she said: "What we heard today is that there are no easy answers in Iraq."

Watching Robert Gates, nominated to replace Rumsfeld as Secretary of War, on TV yesterday while in Congressional hearings was no encouragement either. Then today I read reports on his testimony and a couple things stuck out like a sore thumb. Gates said his “greatest worry” about Iraq is that if U.S. forces leave the country “in chaos,” a variety of regional powers will become involved, “and we will have a regional conflict on our hands.” Gates said he wants to “forge that kind of bipartisan approach going forward” so that those who want to harm the U.S. “know we’re in it for the long haul.”

It’s the Vietnam-era domino theory making a comeback. Gates is invoking the fear that if the U.S. leaves, the region will be taken over by terrorists and other bad guys like Syria and Iran. So we are now seeing the justification shifting to a new excuse for keeping the occupation alive.

Then this morning I read a piece from Newsweek that interviewed the soon-to-be chairman of the House Intelligence Committee – Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D-TX) who was just appointed by Nancy Pelosi to head that post. Rep. Reyes, like so many other Democrats, says he is against the war. Reyes says now though, “We could not allow Iraq to become a safe haven for Al Qaeda, for Hamas, for Hizbullah, or anybody else. We cannot allow Iran or Syria to have a free hand in there to further destabilize the Middle East.”

Reyes continues, “We’re all interested in getting out of Iraq. That’s the common goal. How we do it, I think, is the tough part. There are those that say, they don’t care what Iraq looks like once we leave there. Let’s just leave there. And I argue against that. I don’t think that’s responsible. And I think it plays right into the hands of Syria and Iran.”

Do you notice the similarity between the words from Gates and Reyes? The administration’s talking points are making the rounds and are being picked up by the Democrats as well as the Republicans. Who said the Democrats are the opposition party?

Rep. Reyes is also calling for more troops in Iraq, from 20,000 – 30,000, so the U.S. can “dismantle the militias.” Isn’t it interesting that Nancy Pelosi appoints a guy to head the Intelligence Committee that wants more troops in Iraq and wants to expand the fighting? Do you think she didn’t know his thinking on Iraq?

Ray McGovern, a former CIA analyst who is active in the anti-war movement said this in response to Rep. Reyes, “I think he needs a course in Insurgency 101. Have they learned nothing from Vietnam? If he pushes this and gets some support for it, and with McCain in the Senate, it could become more respectable…I think Reyes has got a lot to learn.”

I was at a meeting last night and learned that a friend's son, who was in Iraq for a year with the Army, is being called back to active duty. Their son had been discharged over a year ago and has been attending the University of Maine. He is now being made to go back into the Army and will probably be sent back to Iraq. That is a draft. His parents, who severely suffered during his whole time in Iraq, are devastated at the thought.

Don’t think for a moment that this occupation is going to end anytime soon. The U.S. government is now playing with our heads and setting in motion the shell-game to keep this thing going for a long, long time.

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