Initial reactions to the sweeping Democratic gains and the replacement of Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld appeared to leave Iraqis, like many Americans, unsure of the likely impact on America's policy on the war.
Some Iraqi politicians said they hoped for major changes, while others seemed more concerned about reassuring Iraq's 27 million people that America would not abandon its commitments here and order American troops home.
Mr. Rumsfeld, though, has long been reviled by Iraqis and blamed for everything from the uncontrolled looting after the invasion in 2003 to the collapse of public services and the mounting wave of sectarian violence.
The above (text) is from John F. Burns and Michael Luo's "In Iraq, New Calculations of the U.S. Role" in this morning's New York Times and the subheading could be: "Nobody liked Rumsfled." The illustration is Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts from April. It's official, Rums-fled is out.
As you read coverage of Bully Boy playing "Flee on my Rumsfled" (Laura can explain it to him), notice what's missing from the coverage: Iraqis. Oh you can get officials and even a garmet peddler or two. But polls of Iraqis have consistently demonstrated that the overwhelming sentiment is foreign troops out.
Strangely, none of those voices are quoted in the coverage members are e-mailing about (we're noting Burns and Luo for a reason, read to the end). Members are surprised (Erika's furious) by this. Why do you supposed that is?
It could be the curse of the embed -- failure to move freely in Iraq. It could be the overreliance on 'official sources' which goes far beyond the New York Times. Or it could be that we're not being informed, we're being manipulated.
Jimmy e-mailed about that. He made the mistake of watching local news (CBS 11 in the Dallas-Fort Worth area of Texas) which opened their post-primetime news cast announcing that Robert Gates was the new Secretary of the Defense. This by an anchor ("who's been anchoring since my parents were my age") and by a DC reporter they then tossed to. Robert Gates is not the new Secretary of Defense. He is the current nominee. In DC, the 'reporter' told Nancy Pelosi jokes ("without a smile") and "looked glum throughout as he noted the Democrats victory" (control of the House and Senate). "After a few comments about voters wanting the troops home, they went to a local event where some military guy was speaking to a rotary club. They interview him and he starts tying Saddam into 9-11 and they just air it, they don't even offer a clarification that the link the guy's saying exists is false. He's pushing the lie that we have to say in Iraq." Eddie caught the same broadcast and also wrote in to note it. His comments echo Jimmy's and he's even more vocal about the "cowardice" involved in allowing a false-link to be broadcast without correction (the myth of a link between Iraq and 9-11).
A number of them will be pushing it. Gates is the nominee, not the new Secretary of Defense. The US military doesn't "have to" stay in Iraq. There was no link between 9-11 and Iraq. Things to remember when the little liars who sold you the war now, despite the election results, want to sell you on more war.
From Tom Hayden's "Iraq Wins the Election, What Now?" (Common Dreams):
The White House may wish to lure the Democrats into a "bipartisan", or no-fault, approach to Iraq in order to extend the war while defusing it as an issue with voters. They may even have to sacrifice Donald Rumsfeld as a gesture to gain time for "new leadership." It is almost certain that they will replace the current Iraqi regime with a strongman to go after the Madhi army of Moktada al-Sadr, the main Shiite leader who wants the US to withdraw its troops. Finally, both parties will hide behind the recommendations of the bipartisan Baker-Hamilton study group, which is likely to propose a partial "redeployment." The Democrats' successful House campaign strategist Rahm Emanuel, who never wanted to make Iraq an issue, already is suggesting such a new bipartisanship even as the polls show that tonight's new American majority believes the Democratic Party will end the war sooner than the Republicans.
These are steps in the right direction, but only baby steps. The Vietnam War continued for seven senseless years after the Paris peace talks began. While scaling back its original victory plans, the US still wants to station tens of thousands of troops in a subdued, and perhaps partitioned, Iraq, and it wants the issue neutralized by the 2008 elections.
The peace movement therefore needs to gear up for the 2008 elections, by establishing anti-war coalitions that no candidate can avoid in the primary states. The first four states - Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina - have large peace-and-justice constituencies.
The electoral anti-war movement is the big winner of the 2006 elections, especially the legions of activists associated with MoveOn.org. Having virtually abandoned the Iraq issue in the six months following the 2004 election, MoveOn presumably has learned to stay with the issue.
But can this movement sustain itself in the face of bipartisan efforts to neutralize Iraq as an issue? Should that movement align with an anti-war candidate or be a non-aligned independent force pressuring candidates from both parties? Can it connect with domestic constituencies like the fair trade movement, the environmental [anti-Big Oil] movement, and Katrina's victims?
Whatever the answers to these complicated questions, peace advocates will have to keep up people pressure on the pillars of the war policy - until those pillars fall. Tonight the Democratic Party has fallen as a pillar of bipartisan support. So has Bechtel. So have several generals, overtly and covertly. So have the neo-conservatives. The pillar of the armed forces is breaking. So is the "Coalition of the Willing." Above all, 80 percent of the Iraqi people are demanding a US withdrawal timetable, and 60 percent endorse armed struggle against the Americans.
But you won't hear from the 80 percent of Iraqis who want a timetable -- not in the press. Why? They're not 'reporting,' they're marketing. We've seen it before and it's best not to be surprised that we're seeing it again. Be outraged, be angry, just don't be surprised. They sold us the war, not just Judith Miller. But allowing Judith Miller to be the scapegoat for all allowed a number to get off scott free. They're still in the same spots they lied from and they're lying again.
(For the record, the Times does quote an Iraqi who wants foreign fighters out, Sadoon al-Zubaidi: "The Americans came to Iraq three and a half years ago to do something good for Iraqis, to free them from dictatorship. That has failed. The Americans helped, encouraged and planted civil disorder and sectarianism. Now, I would like to see all American troops taken out. I’d like to see all the reins of power placed in Iraqi hands.")
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