WTMA commentary broadcast 7/11/08:

When it was announced this week that Iraqi officials wanted to set a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq it was interesting to watch the usual suspects squirm. It’s one thing for a Republican president or a Republican presidential candidate to suggest that setting a timetable is somehow radical, irresponsible or constitutes surrender – it’s quite another to suggest that the Iraqis simply don’t know what’s good for them, especially when they were handpicked by our government.

Writes conservative Justin Raimondo “Negotiations over the status of U.S. forces in Iraq, and the future relationship between the liberator and the liberated, have been going on for months and seem now to have hit a major snag: the Iraqis want us out, and we aren’t budging. Conflict between Washington and its former puppets is coming to a head… It’s kind of like one of those relationships that, after a while, sours to the point that, instead of getting them little gifts and passing love notes, you’re handing them a restraining order.”

Raimondo is right. For some time now, that a majority of Iraqis have wanted America to leave Iraq is as telling as the words of American leaders who would prefer we never leave, whether the words they use are a positive spin like “stay and win,” negative attacks like “cut and run” or even the seemingly mundane “timetable for withdrawal” which for pro-war interventionists, are nothing less than cuss words.

President Bush has consistently laughed off setting any timetables, even saying such measures would be a gift for terrorists. During the Republican presidential primary John McCain attacked Mitt Romney, arguing the former Massachusetts governor had once supported a timetable for withdrawal, something Romney vehemently denied. This is the dire straits the Republican Party finds itself today on foreign policy – in which when a majority of Americans want to bring the troops home and a majority of Iraqis want to send U.S. troops home, men like Bush, Romney and McCain find the very concept of phased and efficient withdrawal controversial, yet the notion of staying for 100 years is perfectly acceptable.

Let’s be blunt – for the neoconservatives who started this war and who continue to rationalize justifications for continuing it, the worst possible scenario would be that once the smoke settled – the U.S. would no longer militarily occupy a significant portion of the Middle East. Whether for Israel or oil, or both, a permanent U.S. foothold in the Middle East has been the primary neoconservative goal since day one and certainly since long before 9/11.

The war in Iraq has never been exclusively or even predominantly about fighting terrorism, stopping Saddam Hussein from acquiring WMDs, spreading democracy or even “victory” in a part of the world where none is to be had. These have been little more than convenient talking points and cheap rhetoric at various intervals, to help sell a nonsensical war to the American people and the world. The mission has always been U.S. dominance in the Middle East, for both political gain and profit, including the establishment and maintenance of permanent military bases.

That the Iraqis explicitly reject any permanent U.S. bases on their homeland is particularly interesting as it relates to the protection of ours, as it was U.S. military presence on the Arabian peninsula that Osama Bin Laden cited as his primary reason for orchestrating 9/11. With Iraq, we have increased the chances of another terrorist attack occurring tenfold, the longer we stay the longer those chances further increase, and the Iraqis themselves want us to begin making plans to be on our way.

It’s time we start making them. And it’s high time we stop listening to neoconservatives who never had a serious war plan, other than to fool the rest of us as to what it was really all about.