Sunday, June 25, 2006

Stay the Course = Indefinite Occupation
Stay the Course = Indefinite Occupation
Cenk Uygur

We're clearly no longer fighting the original war we went into Iraq for in 2003. Our goals of getting rid of the non-existent WMDs, stopping the non-existent cooperation between Iraq and Al Qaeda, and even regime change have all been met, in one way or another.

So, now when the administration says we should stay the course so that we can "win," clearly they can't be referring to any of our original objectives.

As Thom Hartmann and others have written about, at this point, our presence in Iraq is an occupation. It is nearly impossible to describe it in any other way. If we're not occupying Iraq, then what are we doing with it?

The definition of an occupation is "control of a nation or territory by foreign armed forces." Though we might wish we had a bit more control than that seems to indicate, it is clear that our forces, not sovereign Iraqi forces, are in control in the nation or territory of Iraq. Our presence in Iraq is an occupation by definition. So, if reporters do not call it that, they are simply not doing their job. Their job is to be accurate. Occupation is inarguably the accurate description of our situation in Iraq.

I want to add something else to this though, the administration is not simply arguing for an occupation of Iraq. They are arguing for an indefinite occupation. This is also literally true. They say that we cannot ever have a timetable for withdrawal, which apparently would encourage the enemy to stay and fight (ignoring the fact that the "enemy" lives in Iraq and hence can wait us out no matter how long we stay). They are steadfast in refusing to outline any exit strategy. Therefore, it is indisputable that they are arguing for an indefinite occupation. That's the very definition of indefinite.

Words matter. Accuracy in journalism matters. Every time a reporter mentions the administration's "stay the course" strategy in Iraq and doesn't describe it as a plan for indefinite occupation, they should get a letter demanding they use accurate terminology. Because if they don't, then they are taking part in a concerted effort to mislead the American people.

There's a lot of hand wringing in the media about how they should have been more vigilant before the lead up to the Iraq War (among print journalists, the TV guys don't seem to give a damn about anything). They think in retrospect that they should have questioned the government more and not blindly accepted all their suppositions. I agree. But that's a lot of empty talk if you continue to make the same mistake today.

So, when the administration claims they are trying to "help" the Iraqis by keeping hundreds of thousands of US soldiers in Iraq for an undetermined period of time, reporters should accurately point out that they are in reality arguing for an indefinite occupation of Iraq.

And now that even the Iraqi Prime Minister has begun the call for a timetable for withdrawal, if we continue to stay, we don't even have the excuse of trying to "help" the Iraqis stand up. Any further US presence in Iraq, including our permanent military bases there, would start our transition from an indefinite occupation to a permanent occupation.