Serious imperialists have nothing at all against using ideologues to destroy domestic enemies, thereby consolidating their power, but when the ideology becomes a threat to that power, they turn against it.
My reading is that Rep Murtha speaks for a military, members of which have been so cowed by the Bush Administration that, fearful of damaging their careers, they have not dared speak for themselves. Rep Murtha, however, at 73 years of age and after 31 years of service in the House, has no career to lose, and is obviously willing to bring the concerns of an overstrained military apparatus - overstrained, despite a yearly budget as great as that of the rest of the world combined - front and centre.
Reagan's war on Grenada, Bush senior's war on Panama and his first Gulf War, and Clinton's war on Serbia are the type of limited engagement in which the US military, due to its massive firepower, shines and which it loves to undertake, but conflicts like those in Korea and Indochina, and now the invasion and occupation of Iraq, cannot be won on the cheap.
For these reasons, my guess is that Mick Youther in his OpEd of 28 November is right ; Rep Murtha's speech on 17 November does signal «the beginning of the end ». Soon US ground troops will begin to be withdrawn from Iraq, whether this be done by Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld or, these figures having been discarded, by other representatives of the US corporate class. But don't expect to see, unless something very unusual indeed occurs in US politics, an immediate end to the slaughter of Iraqis ; instead, as Seymour M Hersh writes in the current issue of the New Yorker, «the departing American troops will be replaced by American airpower ». The question remains : will the United States leadership be able to impose its will on Iraq - and surrounding countries - as it did on Serbia, merely through the use of air power ? And no less important : will the people of the US accept that the killing continues, when it is only the «bad guys » - the «terrorists » and the «towel-heads » (and their wives and children) who are doing the dying ?...
Brief author bio : Sinologist and psychiatrist who resides mainly in Stockholm but has a history of longer stays in neighbouring countries for purposes of work.