Thursday, May 10, 2007

An End to Occupation in Sight?

A million years ago I was in a community college play, You Can't Take It With You. There's a part that goes something like this:
Grandpa: Don't worry, I have a plan to foil the Tax Man.

Other person: What is it?

Interruption by entrance of Russian Dance Instructor: Hello, everybody! In Russia, horse rides YOU!

A very convenient interruption. One day, the actress playing the Russian Dance Instructor missed her cue, leaving the poor actors to improv. It went something like this.
Grandpa: Don't worry, I have a plan to foil the Tax Man.

Other person: What is it?

...

Grandpa: ... It's a ... a good plan .... that I thought up the other day ... I've got it written down here in my pocket.

[Shows other person slip of paper that was in his pocket]

Other person: ... It looks dangerous. Do you think it will work?

Grandpa: ... I don't know why not.

Other person: ... It does look like a pretty good plan ... I guess.

Interruption by entrance of Russian Dance Instructor: Hello, everybody! In Russia, horse rides YOU!

I was reminded of that by the meeting on Tuesday between the moderate House Republicans and Bush about how the Iraq Occupation is becoming politically untenable and is harming Republicans' chances in the next election ... and the one after that ... and probably a couple of others, too.
The House members pressed Bush and Gates hard for a "Plan B" if the current troop increase fails to quell the violence and push along political reconciliation. Davis said that administration officials convinced him there are contingency plans, but that the president declined to offer details, saying that if he announced his backup plan, the world would shift its focus to that contingency, leaving the current strategy no time to succeed.
Another event on Tuesday, which the U.S. media has been silent about, is that more than half of the Iraqi Parliament signed a legislative petition for the U.S. to set a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq. (AlterNet)
Reached by phone in Baghdad on Tuesday, [Al Sadr spokesman] Al-Rubaie said that he would present the petition, which is nonbinding, to the speaker of the Iraqi parliament and demand that a binding measure be put to a vote. Under Iraqi law, the speaker must present a resolution that's called for by a majority of lawmakers, but there are significant loopholes and what will happen next is unclear.
Those Tuesday events plus the pressure of public opinion both in the U.S. and Iraq (and, breaking news, Tony Blair is quitting June 27) ... I'm getting a feeling that the occupation may actually end before the end of Bush's term. Atrios warns against such hopes, as Bush has made it clear many times he will never leave Iraq because to him leaving is losing.

But losing what? The nationalists represented by Al Sadr, according to the AlterNet article, have the best chance of unifying and pacifying Iraq under a strong central government, free from interference from Iran, which Bush has claimed is his goal. But the nationalists would block the U.S. from having permanent bases or oil rights. So leaving would be losing bases and oil. Staying, on the other hand, would be losing even marginal Republican power in the U.S. for many, many years, which would mean Democratic government, business regulation, national healthcare, more sensible energy policy -- all those liberal, progressive programs that people really love though they've been convinced that they hate them by corrupt neocon Republicans. But staying might win them more war profits and oil rights for Halliburton.

Bush must already know he's lost the war of hearts and minds at home. So staying in Iraq until the oil rights are attained is the only way he thinks he, personally, can win, even if that means more fighting and terrorism.

Whether we stay in Iraq or leave, however, Bush has already succeeded in destroying the long-term ambitions of his corrupt neocon cronies. Now we just need to get our future Democratic government to pursue the criminals beyond getting them out of office. If they're not thrown in prison and all shred of credibility destroyed, they'll just come back like the annoying weeds that they are.

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