I’m going to go out on a limb here and make a startling prediction: Combat operations (as we know them) will end in Iraq in 2008!
Bold, isn’t it?
But I can tell that you’re probably not convinced that I know something that all the 170,000-some-odd U.S. military personnel; all the brass hats and the suits at the Pentagon; and all the chicken-hawks at the White House (who ducked out of their own military service when they were of age) don’t know about what’s going on in Iraq. I don’t. But, the word is that the President has already started floating trial baloons, such as a transition to “a different configuration” in Iraq after the surge is completed this summer.
I just know that whatever happens on the ground, they are going to “say” something different about what’s going to be going on in Iraq for the foreseeable future. They are going to “say” that combat operations are going to end, and that as many as 50,000 troops will come home. Start planning the parades.
You see, the enemy has already “surrendered” and it’s all over but the shouting. Accordingly, President George W. (For “Worst in History”) Bush has been using a different nomenclature to describe what is his definition of victory, or “when the job is done.”
The vanquished foe is the new Democratic majority in Congress. They have raised the white flag of total capitulation to the awesome might of the Neo-Con Militia.
On May 24, led by 86 House Democrats (including the No. 2, No. 3, and No. 4 ranking party leaders), the House voted 280-142 to appropriate $95 billion the President asked for, for his war without any restrictions. In the Senate, led by 30-some Democrats, the vote was 80-14. The money is good until Sept 30. By my calculations, that’s almost $24 billion per month, or more than $5 billion per week. That’s “real money,” as Illinois Republican Senator Everett Dirksen used to say: “a billion dollars here, a billion there, pretty soon you’re talking about real money.”
Earlier this year, the Democrats approved a measure with what they called “time lines” for the withdrawal of combat forces. The time lines were toothless, because they were not mandatory. And no matter what the Democrats proposed, any legislation would have permitted the Prez to waive the deadlines, just because he said so. The President (no fool he) vetoed that bill, and there was never any possibility that either branch of Congress would override that veto.
So now, the Democrats will end the war by redefining its “mission.” I don’t know why someone didn’t think of that strategy before now.
I heard it from the lips of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, so if’ it’s a lie, she told it. “I think that the President’s policy is going to begin to unravel now,” Speaker Pelosi told reporters at the Capitol May 24. “September is the moment of truth for this war.” Her ultimate strategy is to insist on a “change of mission for our troops, and we will vote to repeal the President’s authority for this war in Iraq when we are ready to do that.
“The President must know — or if he doesn’t, he is ill-advised — that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11 and that the terrorists who now are in Iraq weren’t there before the President initiated hostilities in Iraq” Pelosi said.
This is the critical language: “Be that as it may, if they are there now, we are there to track them down, and that’s why we want to change the mission from combat to fighting terrorism.
“We have our kids dying there to referee a war we have no business being in,” she continued. The new U.S. Iraq policy should be: “redeploying our troops, changing our mission to fighting terrorism, an all-out fight on terrorism and a change of mission to train the Iraqis to help in that, to protect our forces and our diplomats there and to have a vision for stability in the region,” Speaker Pelosi said.
So, as long as U.S. troops are “fighting terrorism,” “training Iraqis,” and protecting “our diplomats” U.S. troops can, and by the Speaker’s permission should be in Iraq indefinitely.
Last summer, a member of the House Armed Services Committee warned me that the question that was not being asked in public was whether or not the U.S. is planning for a “permanent occupation of Iraq?”
In a meeting Pelosi had with members of the Trotter Group of Black columnists and commentators before the election and her ascension to be the Speaker, I asked her that question. She replied that she had asked that question in briefings she had with Pentagon brass, but they always replied: “no comment.”
Now we know that the U.S. is building the largest embassy anywhere in the world, in Iraq—a fully self-contained city-within-a-city, with its own power plant and water purification system, which war critics insist is evidence of a permanent U.S. occupation and intention to control the country’s vast oil reserves. It’s an embassy, a military base, and then some. Plus, all those castles that used to belong to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, which have become regional military headquarters for battalion commanders, no matter how you describe what those fellows are doing over there, they are not going anywhere, anytime soon!
But “the war” as we know it will be over. We will no longer describe what U.S. forces are up to as “combat operations.” Sort of like the four-years-premature photo-opportunity the President staged on an aircraft carried just off the coast of California, under that famous “Mission Accomplished” banner. Combat operations as we know them, are over The Decider-in-Chief declared proudly. The sailors and marines on board cheered. The bunting streamed. The confetti flew. Only thing, the parades had to be postponed.
But now…combat operations are really going to end for U.S. forces and their 20,000 mercenary companions working for private companies. We’ll just fight terrorism, train Iraqis, and protect our diplomats until the cows come home, or until the oil fields dry up. Whichever comes sooner. This time, you can start planning the faux parades for real!