Arun Gupta sees right through the smoke and mirrors.
ARUN GUPTA: Yeah, I think one of the interesting aspects is that there’s this elaborate dancethat goes on between the media, the Pentagon and the politicians. We all knew what Petraeus was going to say, that he was going to come there and say, well, we can’t draw down troops, but the corporate media treats it as this is some sort of dramatic breaking news, because I think what Petraeus’s real goal is to ensure that the occupation continues unhindered until January of 2009. What the Bush administration’s goal at this point and what it really has been for the last few years is to pass off a raging occupation to the next administration, because it’s going to make it harder for them to withdraw when you have 140,000 US troops, 180,000-plus mercenaries and private contractors, the largest US embassy in the world and enduring US military bases all throughout Iraq. So, you know, there was no real news in that.And in terms of the candidates, I think one thing that caught me was when Obama was talking about the endpoint. He implied that there would be 30,000 troops. So he is, in a way, calling for an open-ended occupation also; it’s just at a lower level. And when Clinton, when she had her chance, she said we’ll begin the process of withdrawal, which again implies that this could be a many-year process. So it seems to me that this is part of the dancethat even though the Democrats talk about withdrawal, because a large majority of the American public wants this war to end and an overwhelming majority of the Iraqi public wants this war to end, they are all still committed to the continuation and the maintenance of the American empire, especially the occupation of Iraq, because we’ve ended up roiling one of the most strategic countries in the most strategic region in the world in terms of energy production.
ARUN GUPTA: What should happen? A full immediate US withdrawal on one condition: reparations to Iraqis for the devastation we’ve wrought on them for the last seventeen years.
WORD! Compare the weasel words of the other two guests.
Eli Lake's slouch showed his contempt; his rhetoric confirmed it. He opened with the "outdated, provincial, 'outside agitator'" maneuver ("other people in the Left of the Democratic Party") in the process of scapegoating "special groups...who are targeting civilians." A double Bogeyman-at-the-Door! Masterful propaganda, Eli, take a bow.
That last sentence is almost incoherent. Incendiary Syrians? "Allah akhbar! flame on!" Human Molotov's? What's he talking about?
AMY GOODMAN: Eli Lake of the New York Sun, were you surprised by anything yesterday?
ELI LAKE: Yeah, I mean, I was—I think I would agree that Senator Obama began laying out markers for a policy that wouldn’t betray the Iraqi people to the forces of al-Qaeda, Quds and the remnants of the Baath Party, which apparently other people in the left of the Democratic Party think are the true voices of the Iraqis.
And I think that you also saw an interesting exchange on the Status of Forces Agreement, where we don’t really know the status of this agreement. It’s certainly not going to be a treaty that’s going to be submitted to the Senate. It is, however, going to go to the Iraqi parliament, as I think you played in your clips. And I think that they said at one point that there would be an explicit—or Ryan Crocker said he expected there would be an explicit declaration that the US would not seek permanent bases in Iraq. That was somewhat news to me.And finally, I think that what you saw also was over and again General Petraeus and Ryan Crocker said that you’re seeing the Iranians supporting these special groups who are—who they said they’ve trained, funded, equipped and so forth. And when you really kind of get on a ground level, I mean, that, you know, the Iranians have a policy of playing many sides in Iraq obviously, but these special groups are people who are targeting civilians. So I think, in that respect, they’ve made it—they think they’ve put it in very crystal relief the sort of role that the Iranians are playing, and I think you heard less—in fact, I hardly heard anything where another bugaboo in the past has been the Syrian—I think you’ve seen the Syrians or fewer of the terrorists coming into Iraq from Syria, who are sort of these, what they call lethal accelerants.
Gareth Porter mythbusts the "special groups" gambit. Go go Gareth!
GARETH PORTER: Well, this whole narrative about the special groups that Eli Lake refers to and which has been referred to repeatedly over the past year and more by the US military in Iraq is essentially dodge. It’s never been true that the Iranians have been selecting out specific splinter groups from the Mahdi Army to support. That idea suggests that the Iranians have much less influence and power in Iraq than they actually do.
And I have to say that, parenthetically, that it seems to me that this has at least as one purpose trying to minimize the difficulty the United States faces in regard to the Shiites in Iraq.[snip]
I was impressed by just how far both Crocker and Petraeus went in trying to obscure that reality. They’re trying to convey to the congressional committees and to the American people the idea that the United States is somehow really in control. And I’m afraid this line is primarily dedicated to trying to convey that very false idea.And then he starts sounding like he's standing just this side of Lieberman:
"Viable exercise"? It's a criminal enterprise, Brother G! What does "order of battle" matter? We were in violation of the international legal system we helped institute; then obtained ex post facto authority by bullying the UN. We need to get out now, AND renounce war AGAIN.
AMY GOODMAN: General Petraeus being questioned by the Democratic senator from Indiana, Evan Bayh. We’re going to get last comments now on where you believe—what should happen next—Gareth Porter, let’s start with you—and what you think will happen next, what should happen next.
GARETH PORTER: Well, you know, just in terms of the impact of these hearings, the problem that I see is that there was never really a focus on, you know, whether the United States has mastered the forces that have been opposed to and will remain opposed to the US occupation and the government forces that the US is supporting. It’s interesting that there’s no discussion in any of these questions to Petraeus about order of battle. No one is asking how many people is it that are opposed to the United States militarily in Iraq now? I think that’s an issue that we still need to take a look at in order to have a realistic expectation about whether this is a viable exercise. So, you know, what is the next step? Well, you know, I think the next step is to elect a new president, and then we can have really a different debate with a different cast of characters.