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How many will Bush allow to die in Iraq before he gets his "benchmarks?"

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Message Ron Fullwood
. . . as if the two bills he's pressing Iraq's parliament to pass would somehow end the violence and cause him to bring our troops home.

The Iraqi junta will never stop asking for more blood from our soldiers to defend their puppetry. All the resistance has to do to keep our forces bogged down in Iraq, most of them inviting targets, is keep up the killing. That's all they have to do, so long as Bush refuses to allow our soldiers to walk away. They'll just keep picking at our forces to elicit the predictable bravado from Bush as he tells them to bring it on from his protected bubble thousands of miles away . . .

Today finds the head puppet Maliki proposing yet another mission for our soldiers that the Iraqis should damn sure be doing themselves. Prime Minister Maliki has asked the U.S. commander in Iraq to send 'troop reinforcements' to Samarra where combatants have blown up the two minarets of the Askariya Shiite shrine.

Aside from the apparent aim of those involved in the shrine bombings to stoke further unrest in the Shia community, there is the obvious goal of drawing the U.S. even further into the middle of Iraq's civil war to entice even more Iraqis to active and violent resistance to the propped-up Maliki regime's manufactured authority.

As if on cue, Lt. Gen. Martin Dempsey, former head trainer of the Iraqi forces, informed Congress yesterday that Iraq's military was short some 20,000 soldiers, owing to the more than 14,000 who were killed and the thousands of Iraqis who've abandoned their posts. Not surprisingly, Dempsey sees the U.S. military deeply involved in Iraq for years if we expect to ensure the cobbled government remains in power.

They should remain in power to do what, precisely? The answer to that has been repeated over and over, for the consumption of the American public, as well as for the attention of Maliki and his minions. ""I accept and respect (Congress') desire to have benchmarks," Bush told reporters in early May. "After all, I'm the person who laid them out initially," he said.

What Bush 'laid out' were two goals for the Maliki government which he offered as a means to end the violence there and pave the way for an exit for our troops. Iraqis must pass an oil bill; and a bill that allows the Batthists Bush's defense chief Rumsfeld chased away after the initial invasion, to return and be represented in the deliberations and management of the new regime.

Those two initiatives have been repeatedly presented by the Bush administration as the panacea which would quell the violence surrounding Iraq's civil war. The notion sounds amazingly similar to Bush's claims in the 2004 presidential campaign and beyond that elections would do the trick; and after the elections failed to end the violent resistance, the enactment of an Iraqi constitution was offered as a solution. After the enactment of their constitution did nothing to end the violence, Bush claimed it was Iraq's failure to put together leadership for the new regime which was fueling the unrest. Yet, the Maliki cabal which emerged has overseen the stiffest rise in killings of Iraqis since Bush's own initial invasion and its 'shock and awe.'

The Bush administration can't credibly claim that the protection of Iraqis is the justification for the over 3500 U.S. lives lost in the sovereign nation. That boast vanished as quickly as the U.S. sponsored Iraqi prisons swelled with thousands of Iraqis detained indefinitely without charges or counsel. That claim vanished with the impact of our cluster bombs; with the spray of bullets from necessarily defensive soldiers patrolling Iraqi streets or manning the myriad of checkpoints; with those caught in the way of the search and destroy missions where they'd fire into neighborhoods at night to track and kill whoever dared to defend themselves.

They can't even rely on any justification for the lives they've squandered and sacrificed for their cynical politics they use to puff up their manufactured 'war on terror.' Despite attempting to shift the country's focus off of their failure to apprehend the 9-11 suspects for over five years since the attacks to their Iraq diversion, that failure by the Bush administration has been highlighted instead as the influence of their allowing the original terror suspects to run free has inspired a new generation of antagonists (in and outside of Iraq) to violently oppose the U.S. presence and expansion into the Middle East and organize under the banner of Bush's rhetorical, ideological enemies.

Bush has obliged those manufactured ideological antagonists with his flooding of even more U.S. soldiers into the middle of the civil war he fostered and fueled, to serve as bait to fight the enemies he's created, "over there" instead of "over here." There's not a chance in hell that the violence he's escalating with our forces will bring an end to the cycle, but he wants us to believe that. That's what's hiding behind the nonsense about urging Iraqis to pass oil legislation or goading Iraq's parliament into legislating some sort of amnesty for Batthists. There's that hook for the perpetual war crowd; the 'terrorist' bogeyman. "They'll follow us home." As if 'they' would exist at all if 'we' weren't busy traipsing all over their yard . . . as if we could somehow quell what Bush has repeatedly called an "ideological struggle" with an escalation of the same militarism which fostered and fueled that resistance.

It's not surprising at all for Bush's new generals, ascending up the unpopular ladder of command, to counsel that it would take years of uncertainty and sacrifice from our soldiers to maintain and ensure that the Iraqi government stands secure. The question which their commander has left arrogantly unanswered is, how many more lives should be sacrificed to achieve that dubious end? How many U.S. soldiers should have to lose their lives defending the Maliki government; or any Iraqi government?

How long will Bush and his republicans continue to tolerate their manufactured equation in Iraq that has resulted in our military presence actually creating more combatants than our forces can counter? There's no apparent end to Bush and his Iraqi newbies' willingness to sacrifice even more of our soldiers to prop-up their Iraqi folly. We know they're itching to order even more into battle, and we know that, in response, the Iraqi resistance will oblige with escalating violence of their own.

At the very least, our nation's defenders shouldn't be forced to provide cover for the Iraqi government while they diddle around with their politics. Even under the best of circumstances, an occupying army is nothing more than an interloper. Despite any rationale for continuing his intrusion, Bush's occupation has become the rule as he intends to make certain Iraqis get the 'benchmarks' he's been telling them they've asked for.

After all, he's the "person who laid them out" for his Iraqi liege, Maliki . . . all behind the continued sacrifices of our troops . . . against the overwhelming will of the American people.
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Ron Fullwood, is an activist from Columbia, Md. and the author of the book 'Power of Mischief' : Military Industry Executives are Making Bush Policy and the Country is Paying the Price
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