Troops in Iraq, Now and Forever


Don’t blame the Democrats for backing down yesterday on troop withdrawals from Iraq. Blame them for backing the Bush regime back in the fall of 2002. Enforcing Pax Americana was the dream of neocons like Paul Wolfowitz, and Don Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney, no neocons themselves, helped make it come true.

Rumsfeld set us up for a long war, a really long war, one that stretches from generation to generation. No wonder he was looking fondly at today’s Boy Scouts in 2005; what he saw is tomorrow’s fodder. In late November 2004, I pointed out in “Giving Tanks to the Next Generation” how Rumsfeld flew to Iraq and waxed nostalgic to the troops there about what a long and glorious war it would be.

Of course, he needed to tell those troops that they weren’t going to be abandoned:

There can be no doubt but that this global war against extremism is a task for a least a generation. It is a war that very likely will go on for many years, much like the Cold War went on for many years.

We will look back at the Cold War in the history books as a great, almost preordained victory for freedom. But I was alive during that whole period, and involved in it, and I can tell you that the almost 50-year span of the epic battle between the free world and the Soviet empire was filled with division, it was filled with uncertainty.

There was self-doubt, there were setbacks, there were failures during those 50 years. Territories were seized, wars were fought — many times when the enemy seemed to have the upper hand. There were times when the free world contemplated withdrawing from the Cold War. It was not simply a smooth upward path towards victory as it looks now in the history books. Indeed, very few things in life are simply a smooth upward path towards victory.

You can say that again, Rummy. No, don’t.

For God‘s sakes, Rumsfeld made that speech in October 2004, just before the election, and America re-upped the Bush regime anyway. Did anyone really think at the time that we’d be able to just pull out of Iraq with impunity? The civil war was already raging there. If the Democrats had captured the White House in 2004, a fairly quick pullout from Iraq would have been extremely difficult. Now, it’s unthinkable, because Iraq is even more chaotic.

But let’s go back to October 2002. Here are the 23 senators who voted against the war resolution:

Daniel Akaka (D-HI)

Jeff Bingaman (D-NM)

Barbara Boxer (D-CA)

Robert Byrd (D-WV)

Lincoln Chafee (R-RI)

Jon Corzine (D-NJ)

Kent Conrad (D-ND)

Mark Dayton (D-MN)

Dick Durbin (D-IL)

Russ Feingold (D-WI)

Bob Graham (D-FL)

Daniel Inouye (D-HI)

Jim Jeffords (I-VT)

Ted Kennedy (D-MA)

Patrick Leahy (D-VT)

Carl Levin (D-MI)

Barbara Mikulski (D-MD)

Patty Murray (D-WA)

Jack Reed (D-RI)

Paul Sarbanes (D-MD)

Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)

Paul Wellstone (D-MN)

Ron Wyden (D-OR)

Note that one is dead (Wellstone), one was almost killed and isn’t even a senator any longer (Corzine), and none of them are candidates for president.

We know how Hillary Clinton voted. What about Barack Obama? He was a Senate candidate in October 2002 when he gave a brilliant speech, two weeks after the Senate vote, calling the impending Iraq war “dumb” and “rash.”