The mission of the US military left behind in Iraq will not be confined merely to training, protection of US interests and “anti-terrorism” operations. With a continued monopoly over air power and heavy artillery in the country, it will remain the dominant force, with the Iraqi army functioning essentially as a US puppet force.
The essential mission of the US troops, whether they number 50,000 or more, will remain the one they were given with the invasion of Iraq nearly six years ago—the neo-colonial subjugation of one of the most oil-rich nations on the planet.
The Obama administration continues to pursue this goal—albeit by somewhat altered means. Its aim, like the Bush administration before it, is to secure a strategic advantage over US imperialism’s principal economic rivals in Europe and Asia by establishing hegemony over key energy supplies upon which they depend.
Liberal supporters of Obama have sought to comfort themselves and deflect criticism by arguing that the 19-month withdrawal plan about to be announced represents only a three-month deviation from the timetable he advanced during the 2008 election campaign, and that he had always included the proposal for the “residual force” remaining in Iraq.
Such legalistic arguments evade the central issue. In election after election—2002, 2004, 2006 and 2008—the American people have been defrauded, denied the right to cast any real vote on the war in Iraq. Time after time, the Democrats have colluded with the Republicans to assure that the act of military aggression that both parties approved and sustained could not be challenged by the electorate. The millions upon millions of voters who wanted an end to the war have been effectively disenfranchised.
This process culminated in the 2008 election itself, in which Obama’s capture of the Democratic nomination was unquestionably driven in large measure by his attempt to identify himself with these broad antiwar sentiments and to pillory his principal Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, for her October 2002 vote authorizing the war.
Now Clinton serves as his secretary of state, while Bush’s appointee Gates still heads the Pentagon.
The emergence of the Obama administration’s policy of continued occupation in Iraq and escalation of the war in Afghanistan and Pakistan only underscores the bankruptcy of the American democratic process. It is impossible under the present two-party system for the voters to exert their influence on war or any other essential question.
Obama’s policies are being determined not by the popular hostility to war felt by the millions who voted for him, but by the financial and strategic interests of the America’s corporate and financial elite. He has emerged more and more openly as a mouthpiece for finance capital and the military. read article