Tuesday, December 04, 2007

That's true. The Congress has signed on essentially to a new war. And I'm talking now not of people like Dennis Kucinich or any members of the Out of Iraq Caucus. But the majority of Democrats, and particularly the Democratic leadership, I believe, have accepted privately at least the secret goal of many people in the administration. And that is an indefinite occupation of Iraq, preferably of reduced scale in forces. A more politically sustainable and less costly environment, with hopefully fewer U.S. casualties.

But the maintenance of U.S. bases in the middle of the oil-rich sphere of the Middle East, and specifically in Iraq -- indefinitely. I don't mean the ten-year war that Nancy Pelosi has accused the President of having in mind, and which General Petraeus talks about. I'm talking fifty years, the way the President talks, when he mentions Korea or other places. We've been in Korea, of course, over fifty years. I think that not only President Bush and Cheney foresee a stay that long, and indeed much longer -- basically until the oil is gone in the Middle East. But I think that the Democratic leadership and the major Democratic candidates have essentially accepted that idea and that project. Hillary Clinton revealed as early as March 13 in The New York Times that if she were president, she would not remove all troops from Iraq. She wasn't specific as to just how many she would reduce, but the same article gave estimates of cutting the troops in half, taking out most of the so-called combat troops, which is a rather elastic definition actually, and getting down to between 50,000 and 100,000 troops to remain indefinitely. She mentioned a number of goals which could actually easily justify leaving a much larger force there indefinitely.

The other candidates essentially have not disagreed with that, as you've probably noticed. Even when they were asked the simple, concrete question: Do you foresee our American troops being out at the end of your first term if you were elected -- that is, by 2013, the start of a new term -- not one of them was willing to say yes. And that's five years away.

I really don't think they were just allowing a little flexibility as to whether it would be five years or six years. I've seen no indication that the Democratic leadership in Congress, or the Republican leaders, or the candidates, envision the Americans being out of those bases any time in their lifetime or our children's lifetime. And that means that Americans will be killing Iraqis and dying, and killing Iraqi civilians -- committing atrocities, among other things -- as long as they're there. And that, as I say, is another half-century or more. -Daniel Ellsberg, Vietnam Veteran, Pentagon Papers Leaker, Activist, and Author

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