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UNDERNEWS

Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who covered Washington during all or part of ten of America's presidencies and who has edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review, which has been on the web since 1995, is now published from Freeport, Maine. We get over 5 million article visits a year. See prorev.com for full contents of our site

July 14, 2008

OBAMA WILL GET THE TROOPS OUT OF IRAQ. . . EXCEPT FOR THE ONES HE LEAVES THERE

Progressive Review - Although Barack Obama is commonly described as the candidate who would end the war in Iraq and remove our troops, the reality appears to be somewhat different. For example, in a July 14 New York times op ed, Obama wrote, "As I've said many times, we must be as careful getting out of Iraq as we were careless getting in. We can safely redeploy our combat brigades at a pace that would remove them in 16 months. That would be the summer of 2010 - two years from now, and more than seven years after the war began. After this redeployment, a residual force in Iraq would perform limited missions: going after any remnants of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, protecting American service members and, so long as the Iraqis make political progress, training Iraqi security forces. That would not be a precipitous withdrawal."

Leaving aside the remarkable circularity of leaving troops in Iraq to protect "American service members" and the fact that we went to Afghnistan to go after remnants of Al Qaeda, Obama's plans leave unclear just how large his force will be.

Democracy Now - Obama will not "rule out" using private military companies like Blackwater Worldwide in Iraq. Obama also has no plans to sign on to legislation that seeks to ban the use of these forces in US war zones by January 2009. Despite their antiwar rhetoric, both Obama and Senator Hillary Clinton have adopted the congressional Democratic position that would leave open the option of keeping tens of thousands of US troops in Iraq for many years.

Eli Lake, NY Sun, April 4 - A key adviser to Senator Obama's campaign is recommending in a confidential paper that America keep between 60,000 and 80,000 troops in Iraq as . . . The paper, obtained by The New York Sun, was written by Colin Kahl for the center-left Center for a New American Security. In "Stay on Success: A Policy of Conditional Engagement," Mr. Kahl writes that through negotiations with the Iraqi government "the U.S. should aim to transition to a sustainable over-watch posture (of perhaps 60,000–80,000 forces) by the end of 2010 (although the specific timelines should be the byproduct of negotiations and conditions on the ground).". . .

Mr. Kahl's approach would call on the remaining troops in Iraq to play an "over-watch role." The term is used by Multinational Forces Iraq to describe the long term goal of the coalition force presence in the country, Mr. Kahl said in an interview.

"It refers to the U.S. being out of the lead, largely in a support role. It doesn't mean the U.S. does not do things like targeted counterterrorism missions or continue to train and advise the Iraqis," he said. "It would not be 150,000 Americans taking the lead in counterinsurgency."

Mr. Obama's policy to date also allows for a residual force for Iraq. In early Iowa debates, the senator would not pledge to remove all soldiers from Iraq, a distinction from his promise to withdraw all combat brigades. Also, Mr. Obama has stipulated that he would be open to having the military train the Iraqi Security Forces if he received guarantees that those forces would not be the shock troops of one side of an Iraqi civil war.

From Democracy Now

AMY GOODMAN: Senator Obama, quick question: 70 percent of Iraqis say they want the US to withdraw completely; why don't you call for a total withdrawal?

SEN. BARACK OBAMA: Well, I do, except for our embassy. I call for amnesty and protecting our civilian contractors there.

AMY GOODMAN: You've said a residual force-

SEN. BARACK OBAMA: Yeah, but-

AMY GOODMAN: -which means [inaudible] thousands [inaudible].

SEN. BARACK OBAMA: Well, no. I mean, I don't think that you've read exactly what I've said. What I said is that we do need to have a strike force in the region. It doesn't necessarily have to be in Iraq; it could be in Kuwait or other places. But we do have to have some presence in order to not only protect them, but also potentially to protect their territorial integrity.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you call for a ban on the private military contractors like Blackwater?

SEN. BARACK OBAMA: I've actually-I'm the one who sponsored the bill that called for the investigation of Blackwater in [inaudible], so-

AMY GOODMAN: But would you support the Sanders one now?

SEN. BARACK OBAMA: Here's the problem: we have 140,000 private contractors right there, so unless we want to replace all of or a big chunk of those with US troops, we can't draw down the contractors faster than we can draw down our troops. So what I want to do is draw-I want them out in the same way that we make sure that we draw out our own combat troops. Alright?

JEREMY SCAHILL, DEMOCRACY NOW: I started looking at Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton's Iraq plans, and one of the things that I discovered is that both of them intend to keep the Green Zone intact. Both of them intend to keep the current US embassy project, which is slated to be the largest embassy in the history of the world. . . . I think it's 500 CIA operatives alone, a thousand personnel. And they're also going to keep open the Baghdad airport indefinitely. And what that means is that even though the rhetoric of withdrawal is everywhere in the Democratic campaign, we're talking about a pretty substantial level of US forces and personnel remaining in Iraq indefinitely. . .

Obama is saying he wants to keep the embassy. Obama is saying he wants to keep the Green Zone. Obama is saying he wants to keep the Baghdad airport. Who's guarding US diplomats right now at this largest embassy in the history of the world? Well, it's Blackwater, Triple Canopy and DynCorp; it's these private security companies. . . And so, the situation right now is that Obama seems to have painted himself into a corner on this issue, . . .

JUAN GONZALEZ: Well, let me ask you, in terms of this whole issue of mercenaries in general, I mean, are we facing the possibility that a Democratic president would in essence reduce the troops but increase the mercenaries?

JEREMY SCAHILL: . . . Joseph Schmitz, who's one of the leading executives in the Blackwater empire, recently said this: "There is a scenario where we could as a government, the United States, could pull back the military footprint, and there would then be more of a need for private contractors to go in." So apparently these contractors see a silver lining in that scenario. You know, the reality is, right now, that these forces are one of the most significant threats to Iraqis in the country. I mean, we've seen scores of incidents where they've shot at them, etc.


2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"As I've said many times, we must be as careful getting out of Iraq as we were careless getting in..." -Barack Obama

This is like a rapist trying to justify his rape because his withdrawal was more careful than his forcible entry.

July 14, 2008 7:44 PM  
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