The United States has lost the war in Iraq, and that’s a good thing.
I don’t mean that the loss of American and Iraqi lives is to be celebrated. The death and destruction are numbingly tragic, and the suffering in Iraq is hard for most of us in the United States to comprehend. The tragedy is compounded because these deaths haven’t protected Americans or brought freedom to Iraqis — they have come in the quest to extend the American empire in this so-called “new American century.”
So, as a U.S. citizen, I welcome the U.S. defeat, for a simple reason: It isn’t the defeat of the United States — its people or their ideals — but of that empire. And it’s essential the American empire be defeated and dismantled.
The fact the Bush administration says we are fighting for freedom and democracy (having long ago abandoned fictions about weapons of mass destruction and terrorist ties) does not make it so. We must look at the reality, no matter how painful. The people of Iraq are better off without Saddam Hussein’s despised regime, but that does not prove our benevolent intentions nor guarantee the United States will work to bring meaningful democracy to Iraq.
Throughout history, our support for democracies has depended on their support for U.S. policy. When democratic governments follow an independent course, they typically end up as targets of U.S. power, military or economic. Ask Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez or Haiti’s Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
In Iraq, the Bush administration invaded not to liberate but to extend and deepen U.S. domination. When Bush says, “We have no territorial ambitions; we don’t seek an empire,” he tells a half-truth. The United States doesn’t want to absorb Iraq nor take direct possession of its oil. That’s not the way of empire today — it’s about control over the flow of oil and oil profits, not ownership.
In a world that runs on oil, the nation that controls the flow of oil has great strategic power. U.S. policymakers want leverage over the economies of its competitors — Western Europe, Japan and China — which are more dependent on Middle Eastern oil. Hence the longstanding U.S. policy of support for reactionary regimes (Saudi Arabia), dictatorships (Iran under the Shah) and regional military surrogates (Israel), aimed at maintaining control.
The Bush administration has invested money and lives in making Iraq a platform from which the United States can project power — from permanent U.S. bases, officials hope. That requires not the liberation of Iraq, but its subordination. But most Iraqis don’t want to be subordinated, which is why the United States in some sense lost the war the day it invaded. One lesson of contemporary history is that occupying armies generate resistance that, inevitably, prevails over imperial power.
Most Iraqis are glad Saddam is gone, and most want the United States gone. When we admit defeat and pull out — not if, but when — the fate of Iraqis depends in part on whether the United States (1) makes good on legal and moral obligations to pay reparations, and (2) allows international institutions to aid in creating a truly sovereign Iraq.
We shouldn’t expect politicians to do either without pressure. An anti-empire movement — the joining of antiwar forces with the movement to reject corporate globalization — must create that pressure. Failure will add to the suffering in Iraq and more clearly mark the United States as a rogue state and an impediment to a just and peaceful world.
So, I’m glad for the U.S. military defeat in Iraq, but with no joy in my heart. We should all carry a profound sense of sadness at where decisions made by U.S. policy-makers — not just the gang in power today, but a string of Republican and Democratic administrations — have left us and the Iraqis. But that sadness should not keep us from pursuing the most courageous act of citizenship in the United States today: Pledging to dismantle the American empire….
Every element of the college admissions scandal, a.k.a “Operation Varsity Blues,” is fascinating. There are the players: the Yale dad who, implicated in a securities-fraud case, tipped the feds off to the caper; a shady high-school counselor turned admissions consultant; the 36-year-old Harvard grad who ... Read More
Friends of the young Bill Clinton and Barack Obama spoke of the special glow of promise they had about them, even back in their early twenties. Angels sat on their shoulders. History gave them a wink and said, “Hey, good lookin’, I’ll be back to pick you up later.” Robert O’Rourke? Not so much. He ... Read More
She's not a fan. Read More
Rule No. 1 of tort law: The bad guy is the one with the most money to pay you. On December 14, 2012, Adam Lanza murdered 26 people, 20 of them schoolchildren ages six and seven. Lanza killed himself, too. Can’t sue him. Lanza had a history of mental illness — a long one. He’d been treated under the ... Read More
President Trump has been doing a lot of tweeting today -- against TV programs, companies, and other things that have incurred his displeasure. These tweets make for interesting reading. One of them is this: So it was indeed (just proven in court papers) “last in his class” (Annapolis) John McCain that sent ... Read More
Nebraska GOP senator Ben Sasse has been lambasted by many of his Trump-skeptical fans in the conservative movement for voting Thursday to uphold the national emergency declared by President Trump. A month ago, Sasse issued a statement, saying: We absolutely have a crisis at the border, but as a ... Read More
On February 12, Joaquin Guzman Loera, a.k.a. “El Chapo,” was convicted of multiple crimes related to running the Sinaloa drug cartel, Mexico’s largest. Thirteen days before his conviction, authorities seized enough of the synthetic opioid called fentanyl for 100 million lethal doses. It was hidden in a ... Read More
The well-meaning David Brooks urges us to prevent suicide in his most recent New York Times column. The crisis is certainly real. From "How to Fight Suicide:": You’ve probably seen the recent statistics about the suicide epidemic — that suicide rates over all have risen by over 30 percent this century; ... Read More