It’s been three-and-a-half years since the United States stumbled into Iraq with intentions of doing wonderful good. Three-and-a-half years, and the United States is still there, in a selfless struggle to promote peace and democracy and stability and other super-terrific things.
With this the liberal leftist Democrats agree, despite the partisan bickering we get to read about every day as we approach the midterm elections. Even if the Democrats take control of both houses of Congress, there will be little change in U.S. policy in Iraq, the defining issue of the election, because the Democrats don’t actually oppose the current policy. The Democrats will sometimes call the war a mistake, and they will say that President Bush’s tactics have failed, or that he has gotten the U.S. into an unwinnable mess. But no Democrat who has any media influence or influence on the party’s policies will say anything worse, because the Democrats agree with the unstated goals of the war.
The U.S. invaded Iraq to control its oil, which accounts for about 10 percent of the world total, and to establish a permanent presence in a region that accounts for 60 percent of the world’s energy. By controlling Iraq’s oil and maintaining a presence in the world’s main energy-producing region, the U.S. would be better able to influence the policies of China, Western Europe and other main rivals, while shaping Iraq’s internal policies to the demands of U.S. corporate profits. This is, of course, why the Democratic Party as a whole voted for the war.
And that is why the Democrats will say that Bush and the Republicans are pursuing “failed” policies in Iraq. “Criminal” policies – illegal invasions of sovereign nations with enormous natural resources – are not easily corrected. In fact, criminal policies should be reversed, and the criminals should be put on trial and brought to justice. “Failed” policies can be corrected, and who better to correct those policies than the Republicans’ main critics in the opposition party? The first description implicates the entire U.S. political system in a major global crime. The second description wins elections, and allows all sides to pursue the same goals, but through more effective means.
This is also why, when creating policies for the government of a sovereign Iraq, both the Democrats and the Republicans ignore entirely the concerns of the Iraqi people. Should the U.S. remain in Iraq indefinitely, or until the Iraqi security forces are strong enough to “allow” us to leave? According to a Program on International Policy Attitudes/World Public Opinion poll released in September, Iraqis have had “a growing sense of urgency for withdrawal of U.S.-led forces” since the beginning of the year. Nine percent of Iraqis agree with the Republican and Democratic parties that we should keep our troops in Iraq until the security situation improves, while nearly three-quarters of Iraqis, 71 percent, want U.S. forces to withdraw from Iraq within a year or less.
Seventy-eight percent of Iraqis say the U.S. military presence is “provoking more conflict than it is preventing.” The same amount believe that the U.S. has plans to maintain permanent military bases in Iraq, and that if the Iraqi government asked the U.S. to withdraw its forces within six months, the U.S. would refuse to leave. More than 60 percent of the country has no confidence in the U.S. military and approves of attacks on U.S. forces, according to the poll.
While over 2,800 U.S. troops have died in Iraq since the beginning of the war, about that many Iraqis are killed every month, according to U.N. and official Iraqi estimates. In September, more than 2,660 Iraqis were killed in Baghdad alone, according to the Iraq Health Ministry. These figures include only those who died violent deaths, not all of those who have died as a result of the war.
In December 2005, President Bush told reporters that 30,000 Iraqis, “more or less,” had died “as a result of the initial incursion and the ongoing violence.” At a press conference in October 2006, one journalist had the courage to ask the president if he stood by his 30,000 figure – 10 months after he’d originally made it. Ten months later, according to Mr. Bush, not one additional Iraqi had died as a result of that violence.
Whether or not the Democrats take control of Congress, or even the presidency in 2008, we can expect that figure to stay the same, as Iraqis continue to die by the thousands, and the U.S. pursues its righteous and noble goals in Iraq for years to come.