|The Fall of Baghdad – Wiki Image|
Peter Van Buren
Iraq? Where’s that? Most Americans no longer seem to know and evidently could care less, but don’t tell that to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, various key military figures and Washington officials, or some of the neocons, warrior-pundits, and liberal war-fighters circling them. They continue to relentlessly promote Iraq as a mission-never-accomplished-but-never-to-be-ended experience. Somehow, two decades after our Iraq wars began, they still can’t get enough of them. Learning curve? Don’t even think about it. It’s as if they’re trapped in that old Thomas Wolfe novel, You Can’t Go Home Again.
For more than a year now, a crew of lobbyists eager to abrogate the withdrawal agreement the Bush administration negotiated with the Iraqis have been dropping the broadest of hints. Should the Iraqis ask, they say, the U.S. military must stay in that country (whatever war-ending pledges President Obama might once have made). General Martin Dempsey, the newly appointed Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, is typical. Only weeks before the president picked him, he reaffirmed his support for “keeping American troops in Iraq beyond December if requested by Iraqi leaders.” And when Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki nonetheless continued to insist on sticking to an end of 2011 withdrawal date for all U.S. troops (and assumedly for emptying those monster military bases the Pentagon sank billions of dollars into), top Washington officials began pleading, wheedling, and undoubtedly pressuring him in all sorts of ways to change his mind. Now, he’s provisionally done so.