Andrew Sullivan gets into how we define success in Iraq, reading an article by a fellow named Jim Holt in the London Review of Books. Specifically, Holt digs into Alan Greenspan's assertion that, despite the hullabaloo, the war was indeed all about oil.
Who will get Iraq’s oil? One of the Bush administration’s ‘benchmarks’
for the Iraqi government is the passage of a law to distribute oil
revenues. The draft law that the US has written for the Iraqi congress
would cede nearly all the oil to Western companies. The Iraq National
Oil Company would retain control of 17 of Iraq’s 80 existing oilfields,
leaving the rest – including all yet to be discovered oil – under
foreign corporate control for 30 years.
The goal, therefore, is to establish that permanent US presence, and use US troops to protect the taxpayers' investment in those oil fields.
I sort of knew all this before, but this particular article really drives it home. Iraq isn't the next Germany, the next Japan, the next Vietnam, or even the next Bosnia. It's something far worse: the next Nigeria.
Well, before I get going, another apology about the light posting. Things will return to normal, whatever that is, in a couple of weeks.
With that out of the way, I'm going to turn the focus to national politics for a change here today. The premise is pretty simple -- back in March, Congress approved an appropriation bill giving the President funds for his "surge," or increase in troop levels in Iraq. Despite a strong sentiment at the last election that it was time for the war to end, bills designed to end the war failed to muster enough support to override a veto. Instead, many Republicans said that the President had until September to show some progress, and they would reconsider then.
Checking the calendar, it's September now, and almost no progress has been made in Iraq. Most Republicans are sending the signal that they're going to hang with the President and give him yet another six months to try to do something useful. And Democrats, without any cross party support, are frankly acting timid when it comes to forcing the President's hand. A bill requiring troop withdrawals from Iraq is going to be vetoed, and it's unlikely that Congress can muster the 2/3 majority to override that veto. However, Congress is under no Constitutional mandate to authorize funds for Iraq. The President has requested another $200 billion for continuing operations. If Congress does not appropriate these funds, the President cannot continue. Now, without any funds, there isn't money to get them out either, so SOME bill has to pass. However, by insisting that any funding bill include mandatory withdrawal timelines, Congress can force an end to the war with a simple majority and some political will in the face of the President's vetoes.
We're approaching decision time, and folks in the Bull City, including myself, are often reticent to call our Congressfolk about the Iraq War. Our Representative, David Price, is already a staunch war opponent, and our Senators, Elizabeth Dole and Richard Burr, have rarely ever said anything in opposition to the President. Calling may sometimes seem like a waste of time.
But if there's a lesson we can learn from this President, it's that consistent, repeated pressure can often do things you didn't expect. In 2002, any talk about a war in Iraq looked ridiculous. But with the sustained PR effort from the White House for nearly a year, the President got his invasion. So today, the day after the President gave his national address to act as the final keystone in his PR push to continue the same strategy that by any objective account has failed, I'm asking the readers of this blog to make three phone calls. Please call your House representative and your two Senators. For most of my readers, of course, that's Price, Dole, and Burr.
Here's the numbers:
David Price - 202-225-1784
Elizabeth Dole - 202-224-6342
Richard Burr - 202-224-3154
You don't need to make speaches -- you'll just be talking to a 20-something staff member who will jot down the gist of what you said and add it to the pile. The key points I'd emphasize are these: based on what we've heard this week, it's time to get out of Iraq, and the President isn't going to do it himself. Please don't appropriate funds without a mandatory withdrawal of the majority of troops from Iraq.
And if, by some happenstance, you agree with the President, go ahead and call them anyway and tell them that. (I think you're a looney, but go ahead and call.) It's worth having the national conversation. But in that case, go ahead and tell them you read about it on my blog... ;)