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War or Impeachment

By Robert Parry
June 28, 2005

In the days ahead, American politicians and pundits will talk a lot about “leveling” with the people by speaking the hard truth about Iraq, meaning an admission that the war is sure to rage for years and require an even heavier sacrifice in money and blood.

But this “leveling” will be just the latest spin. What they won’t tell you are these two other hard truths:

First, whatever lies ahead in the Iraq War, the outcome is almost certain to be far worse for Iraqis and Americans than it would have been if the U.S.-led invasion had never happened. Despite the uplifting political rhetoric about democracy and peace, the smart money is on a staggering death toll, a grisly civil war, possibly even genocide, with Sunnis killing Shiites and Shiites killing Sunnis.

CIA analysts also have concluded that Iraq is emerging as a far more effective training ground for Islamic terrorists than Afghanistan ever was. Iraq is both more central to the Arab world and provides hands-on experience in bomb-making, kidnapping, assassination and conventional attacks on military targets. [Reuters, June 22, 2005]

If the Iraq insurgency ever ends, these battle-hardened terrorists also would be freed up to turn their skills on American targets around the world or on pro-U.S. governments in the Middle East, such as Saudi Arabia and Jordan., according to an internal CIA analysis written in May 2005.

A drawn-out Iraq War also is certain to damage America’s volunteer military, with some of the nation’s best warriors killed, wounded or embittered after repeated tours in Iraq. Recruiters have struggled to meet quotas, and many current GIs have stayed in the military only because the Bush administration has invoked so-called “stop-loss” orders that prevent soldiers from leaving when their tours of duty are up.

Another sign of how poorly “Operation Iraqi Freedom” is going is that one of the mission’s chief goals now is a major expansion of Iraq’s prison system. In other words, the expectation is that Saddam Hussein’s old police state will be succeeded by a government that will lock up even more people.

Two Choices

The second hard truth is that the American people have only two choices on what to do next: they can continue to send their young soldiers into the Iraqi death trap for at least the next several years and hope for the best, or they can build a movement for impeaching George W. Bush and other administration officials – and then try to make the best of a bad situation in Iraq.

Although the realistic prospects for electing a Congress in 2006 that would act against Bush may appear slim, an impeachment movement would create at least a focus for a national political campaign, much like the Republicans used the Contract with America to gain their congressional majorities in 1994.

An impeachment strategy would have two other benefits: it would create the framework for an official investigation into the deceptions that led the nation to war in 2002-2003 (as well as into the incompetence with which the war was fought) and it would offer a legal structure for achieving some accountability.

No accountability means that a precedent has been set for future presidents misleading the nation into other aggressive wars of choice and paying no price.

While many liberals and Democrats reject an impeachment strategy – fearing that it would be too confrontational and carry too many political risks – there are dangers, too, in again trying to finesse the Iraq War, as Democrats did in the disastrous elections of 2002 and 2004.

Arguably, the Democrats would be no worse off – and might actually be in control of the government – if they had stood up to Bush’s war hysteria in 2002 and made the case in 2004 that the war must be brought to a swift conclusion. If Election 2006 is a reprise of the past two elections, the Republicans might actually gain ground against a demoralized Democratic base.

But these two “hard truths” – the recognition that the Iraq War fails any reasonable cost-benefit analysis and the realization that only extraordinary political courage can force a change of course – are sure not to be part of Bush’s new PR push on Iraq, even as the politicians and the pundits say they’re finally “leveling” with the American people.

[To read the speech that George W. Bush would have to give if he really wanted to “level” about how and why the United States is bogged down in Iraq, click here.]


Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His new book, Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq, can be ordered at secrecyandprivilege.com. It's also available at Amazon.com, as is his 1999 book, Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & 'Project Truth.'

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