Thursday, October 25, 2007

Not One More Dime to Continue the Iraq Occupation

by Ron Fullwood
October 25, 2007 at 11:49:33

NO one should be surprised to find Bush back at the public trough, looking for Congress to hand over another wad of taxpayer cash to fund his blundering Mideast occupations. The last time he went fishing for funding to cover his escalation of force in Iraq, Bush found a Democratic soft spot in the promises which had been made by the leadership that they would not hold funding intended for the troops hostage to their efforts to legislate a timetable for withdrawal.

After they had their timetable bill rejected by the White House, they went ahead and muscled through a funding bill which contained many Democratic priorities for the troops in Iraq, and was intended to cover those priorities for the troops through the period they expected to be debating withdrawal legislation. September was the point at which the Democratic leadership was assuring us that there would be some movement toward withdrawal by defecting republicans which would trigger the beginning of the end of the occupation.

That far-flung scenario of a legislated end to the occupation after September, obviously, didn't happen. Republicans pulled back from their rhetoric against the occupation and have decided to weather whatever backlash which may come their way come election day by insisting, along with their president, that the numbers of Iraqis our soldiers have been ordered to attack and kill under the pretext of fighting al-Qaeda represent 'success' and 'progress'; enough to justify continuing indefinitely.

There's every reason to expect that, if Bush is allowed to continue in Iraq with impunity -- if he's allowed to draw billions more from our treasury to fund his fiasco in Iraq and his misdirected defense of Kabul in Afghanistan -- that very capitulation will deepen the jeopardy our troops are in and make it that much harder to effect a safe and timely withdrawal. Like a spoiled child with an arsenal of dangerous toys, Bush is poking and taunting Iran at such a level that no one can be convinced he won't just leap forward with his particular brand of contrived aggression and unilaterally bomb the sovereign nation; carrying out one of the last, major planks of his right-wing benefactors' Mideast agenda before he leaves office. The troops in Iraq would, logically, be his ready-force for that aggression.

There is nothing left of the promises and benchmarks which Bush offered Democrats in congress as a fig-leaf for their summer stall. All there is to show for the faith the Democratic leadership put in republicans to confront their president is, yet, another yank of the political football and the moving of the goalposts.

In the period since Bush was given his latest infusion of money intended for Iraq, there has been none of the political reconciliation from the Maliki regime that was promised to be a cornerstone of any further commitment of U.S. troops to Iraq. The "surge" strategy was an obstinate response from the White House to the results of the November 2006 congressional elections which replaced Bush's republican majority in Congress with Democrats pledged to end the occupation. Bush didn't get any authorization at all from Congress as he began packing even more soldiers into the middle of the raging sectarian violence.

In every assessment from the administration of the effects of their increased occupation they have been reduced to citing their military 'progress' against the inflated 'threat' from those Iraqis who've taken on the moniker of the 9-11 fugitives Bush has allowed safe haven in Afghanistan. Instead of continuing to argue that our military occupation is defending some emerging Iraqi democracy in the Maliki regime, the justifications for continuing have evolved into the argument that we're actually fighting bin-Laden in Iraq by our soldier's killings of insurgents there (and, in some cases, innocent civilians).

Bush, shilling this week for his latest supplemental:

"Last month, General Petraeus said he believes that our successes in Iraq mean we can maintain the same level of security with fewer American forces. I accepted this recommendation that we not replace about 2,200 Marines who left Anbar last month," Bush said. "We expect to bring home another 3,500 soldiers by Christmas. The funds in the supplemental are crucial to continuing this policy of "return on success." Every member of Congress who wants to see both success in Iraq and our troops begin to come home should strongly support this bill," he insisted.

So, Bush is now walking away from the summer stall Democrats afforded him -- the 'surge' resulting in nothing but increased attacks on Iraqis by our forces, and producing none of the political reconciliation which Bush, himself, insisted was integral to any increased deployment. He's holding the troops in Iraq hostage to whatever he determines to be 'success' and he wants Congress to fund his open-ended militarism in Iraq to keep the bulk of the U.S. troops there, even after he leaves office.

There hasn't been any measurable amount of accounting for the almost a trillion dollars already spent on Bush's dual invasions and occupations; almost $200 billion on slate this year with his latest $46 billion supplemental request. Congressional investigations into official corruption in Iraq have been blocked by the administration; other investigations have been delayed by the absence of any accounting at all for money allocated by Congress and spent by contractors in Iraq.

The unsurprising news today was that defense contractors are raking in record profits from the demand for replacement equipment and supplies to sustain the occupation. WaPo reported today that:

General Dynamics said profit rose to $544 million ($1.34 per share) for the three months ended Sept. 30, up from $438 million ($1.08) in the comparable period last year.

Northrop Grumman's profits rose 62 percent, to $490 million ($1.41), on strength in the company's shipbuilding. Boeing said profit rose to $1.11 billion ($1.44). Lockheed said Tuesday that its profit rose 22 percent in the third quarter.

Before there is any more money spent to refurbish or replace the worn-out military equipment in Iraq and Afghanistan, there needs to be a full accounting for the billions which have already passed through the industry's hands.

Moreover, there needs to be a full accounting of all of the money spent by the administration in Iraq and Afghanistan before Congress begins to consider new funding requested by the administration in the Defense budget. Also, those funds which Congress intends to allocate for Iraq need to take a back seat to those concerns here at home which have been parsed out as miserly afterthoughts while over $800 billion since the invasion has flowed to Iraq, unabated by Congress.

There can't be any more cover for legislators who claim to be providing some necessary gear, equipment or supply for the troops because, there is more than enough money allocated in the last supplemental to just bring the troops home. There isn't even a bit of pretense left of any reasonable or acceptable justification for remaining in Iraq that anyone serious about their opposition to the occupation should accept or support with a vote for more tax dollars thrown into the money pit.

Any congressperson or senator claiming to be anti-occupation who gives Bush another dime for Iraq without legislating an exit date will be no less complicit in its continuing than the duplicitous liar in the White House. Those couple of thousand troops Bush promises to bring home by Christmas should be joined by several thousand more. The best way to ensure that Bush allows more troops to come home will be to show the new chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, that Congress is finished with funding their Iraq fiasco.

Mullen told students in the Artillery Captain's Career Course at Fort Sill this week that, "the Army is the best trained and equipped in the world and is a model for other countries. The question, he said, is: "How do I hang on to all of that?"

Congress needs to dictate the answer to his question, and not just wait for fate, or the demonstratively flawed judgment of the administration, to (once again) prevail.

Posted in full with permission of author.

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