Thursday, September 13, 2007


Thomas Riggins

Unless Obama changes his position on Iraq, I think the answer is, at present, No! This is why I think so.

The New York Times reports (9-13-07) that while Obama wants to withdraw COMBAT brigades by the end of 2008 he wants to leave some forces behind "to strike at terrorists, train Iraqi soldiers and protect American interests."

But to strike at terrorists will require leaving combat troops in Iraq so this is really not a withdrawal but merely a troop reduction and a continued occupation disguised as a withdrawal.

We all know what "protect American interests" means. It means protect the imperialist corporate interests of the major war industries that are making super profits out of the occupation and the oil interests who want to privatize as much as possible of the Iraqi reserves (the much ballyhooed new oil law benchmark pushed by Bush AND the congress).

"What's at stake," Obama says, "is bigger than this war: its our global leadership." Is this not a confession that the goal of US imperial hegemony is part of Obama's outlook?

Its true that according to recent polls 56% of the American public agree with Obama and that only 20% favor complete withdrawal. Its also true that Obama would be better than any likely Republican as president. But progressives cannot, I believe, support continued occupation of Iraq, nor a program based on protecting the interests of US imperialism in the region. A program that can only lead to more and bigger disasters for the American people in the long run.

Obama supporters should struggle with him to improve his position on an Iraqi withdrawal. In the meantime, I think progressives, at this time, should be supporting the Kucinich campaign as a educational pressure tool to move the front runners to the left.

We should also be supportive, on the issue of Iraq, with the position of Gov. Bill Richardson who favors complete withdrawal and said, with respect to Obama's position, "Leaving behind tens of thousands of troops in Iraq for an indefinite amount of time is nothing new. [Obama's] plan is inadequate and does not end the war."

Finally, I think my position is more consistent than not with the following quote from the Iraqi Communist Party:

"A national consensus is emerging in Iraq, among the major political forces, that there should be a clearly defined objective timetable for a speedy withdrawal of the occupying forces, linked to rebuilding the Iraqi armed forces. Up to now, Bush has adamantly refused to be committed to such a timetable, obviously preferring an open-ended military presence and occupation. While an immediate withdrawal is widely seen by Iraqis as not feasible, it is increasingly not acceptable to have an open-ended foreign military presence, especially with the evident responsibility of the Americans for certain aspects of the deteriorating security situation."

Based on this, it might be a feasible position for Obama to call for the UN to take over the training of the Iraqi forces and for all (except for Marine guards at the embassy) US troops to be out of Iraq as soon as possible on a timetable proposed by the Iraqi government and the progressive people's forces represented by the CPI and its allies. While this would be a great advance for Obama, the slogan of the US peace movement should remain "Out Now!"


Joel said...

I completely disagree. I think assertions about supporting this or that candidate in the primary season is premature and pointless.

As with each presidential election, support for a candidate is not going to come down to specific statements on any one issue.

It is going to be about the forces we are trying to block from gaining power.

Statements like "progressives" should not support a particular candidate because of their position on this or that issue can be made about any candidate.

I believe Obama when he says he will end the war and bring the troops home. But I do doubt that any plan laid out by any candidate is not the plan that will be implemented after their election. That will have to be fought for as well.

Looking for the perfect candidate beforehand gets progressives stuck in narrow politics.

Thomas Riggins said...

You may well be right. I think, however, that the war is so important an issue that pressure has to be put on the candidates or they will not adopt progressive positions. I don't know why you believe Obama when he says he will bring the troops home. That is just what he says he won't do. He says he will leave some troops in Iraq indefinitely to protect American "interests". That is Bush lite.

CHUQ said...

I have a problem with most candidates, but as far as the war goes I would support kucinich. While the support for any candidate is supporting lies, or at best half truths; I look for someone who has a solid program that would benefit the majority of American people.

While I am not a supporter of war, I see the US there for many many years. I will agree that any of the top tier candidates are just a form of Bush Lite.