With one sweeping declaration this past week, presidential hopeful Barack Obama brought truth and reality to the Iraq debate and stripped bare the blundering excuses and lies of the Bush administration and their lackey-in-waiting, John McCain, and left them to wallow in their own inanity and ignorance.
"As should have been apparent to President Bush and Senator McCain," Sen. Obama declared, "the central front in the war on terror is not Iraq, and it never was. That's why the second goal of my new strategy will be taking the fight to al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan." he said.
"This war distracts us from every threat that we face and so many opportunities we could seize. This war diminishes our security, our standing in the world, our military, our economy, and the resources that we need to confront the challenges of the 21st century. By any measure, our single-minded and open-ended focus on Iraq is not a sound strategy for keeping America safe."
As Sen. Obama has done, Democrats and others opposed to the Iraq occupation who continue to acknowledge Bush's 'terror war' should oblige him and aggressively tie it to the quagmire in Iraq and his wallowing failures elsewhere in the world. Bush 'cut-and-ran' from the hunt for bin-Laden in Afghanistan to invade and occupy Iraq. As critics have repeatedly pointed out, Bush has far more military and other resources in Iraq than he does in Afghanistan where al-Qaeda was based.
And, if Iraq has been the center of their 'terror war', than Bush and McCain should know that effort has been hopelessly bogged down in the bloody civil war that surrounds the troops hunkered down in the U.S. Green Zone. The administration has worked to conflate legitimate concerns about the occupation and the brutality and oppression surrounding our country's involvement there with al-Qaeda in an attempt to paint opposition to their bloody imperialism as akin to terrorism and terrorists.
Bush spent most of the last presidential and congressional election seasons flying around the country, with his cohort Dick close behind playing the War president to Cheney's messianic campaign of fear and smear. This election will be no different, except in the substitution of his own ambition to continue his bloody quagmire with the political zealotry of John McCain in his opportunistic bid to be the one to continue to commit our men and women in uniform to deadly sacrifices in Iraq.
The Bush regime, backed by all of his republicans, 'cut and ran' from Afghanistan and let bin-Laden and his accomplices get away. That's why our nation is still at risk; not from 'terrorists' in Iraq, but from an al-Qaeda organization and network which was emboldened by bin-Laden's escape, and is further encouraged to act against the US, our allies, and our interests by Bush's failure to catch them years after he promised to apprehend them, "dead or alive."
The Bush regime has told their embattled, unpopular Iraqi junta that they will accept "alternatives to democracy" in Iraq. That's a far stretch from the rhetoric that Bush used to get us into this occupation and will keep us there while he looks for some 'victory.' If our troops are now going to be fighting and dying to protect and defend anything less than democracy there, that's yet another definition of proper use of the defensive forces of our nation's military by this dissembling administration.
It was a huge admission that they were willing to compromise on the most basic of principles that our defensive forces operate under. It's one thing to muckrake with our military under the guise of a threat to our nation's security, but that excuse went out the window years ago. The most salient excuse Bush has used is the defense of Iraq's 'democracy'. Now, it seems, they have abandoned this last lie as Iraqis continue to throw off any product of Bush's imperialism he repeatedly claimed was in the Iraqi's interest.
By his own declaration, Bush has framed the continuing failure in Iraq as a referendum on his handling of issues of national security and foreign affairs. And, despite his devastating failures, he and McCain are still demanding more time to fit the square peg of terrorism into the circular hell-hole in Iraq. Nobody 'stays the course' in the face of failure as consistently as Bush does. But, John McCain is making a bid to better Bush on that score.
It should be clear to most everyone by now that Bush has absolutely no intention of doing anything the American people have demanded of him. After his veto of the Iraq withdrawal legislation earlier this year, Bush took pains to explain the reasons for his obstinacy which centered almost exclusively on Iraqi concerns instead of any American interest. Apparently, the political success of the regime installed and maintained behind the sacrifices of our soldiers is more important to Bush than anything the American people are telling him with their votes in November, and more important than their response to almost every poll they've answered insisting that he bring our troops home.
There are glaring, anti-democratic aspects of his escalation of the occupation of Baghdad - like the decision to construct a 'wall' isolating the Sunni community from whatever amenities and opportunities the residents there would expect to be entitled to avail themselves of from a "free and democratic" Iraq. The building of walls meshes perfectly with the apparent decision of the Bush regime to throw their support behind the Shiite-dominated Iraqi government and to cast all of the Sunnis as "enemies" akin to those in their community who took on the moniker of Bush's nemesis, al-Qaeda, in their resistance to the new regime.
All talk of reconciliation between the warring sects in Iraq has given way to a notion that some amount of legislative maneuvering by the Maliki regime and his fractured parliament will satisfy for the democracy which was promised Iraqis who were privileged to vote in the elections held under the increased U.S. military occupation of the sovereign nation. Talk of the Shiite majority reconciling with the Sunnis who were driven from power and opportunity by the U.S. invasion has been replaced with the generic goal of passing legislation reversing the de-Batthification of the military and the government which was zealously ordered after the initial invasion by Bush and Rumsfeld.
Still, Bush and McCain insist that their "top priority is to help the Iraqi leaders," who, they say, "were elected by nearly 12 million of their citizens -- secure their population." And that the "young democracy needed some time to make important political decisions to help reconcile the country."
It's a no-brainer for most Americans, steeped in the broad history and tradition of our own democracy, that one election held years ago under the supervision of the U.S. military -- which invaded and overthrew the existing regime -- is no substitute for the checks and balances an accountable government provides by enabling a continuing process where average citizens can actually participate and influence their rulers and their elevated edicts.
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