Will President Bush share with the American people the reason he is planning a long term American military occupation of Iraq?
You ask, "Isn't the occupation scheduled to end on June 30 when we hand rule over to a provisional government? "
Not on your life!
On April 23 General Richard Myers, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told reporters that the US occupation of Iraq will last a very long time: "Decades is probably not unreasonable," said General Myers.
With 4,600 dead and wounded American soldiers as of April 24 (the first year of the occupation), and with Republican Senator John McCain calling for President Bush to send more divisions to Iraq, shouldn't Bush first tell us why US troops will be occupying Iraq for decades?
Indeed, isn't it time for President Bush to tell us the real reason he ordered the Iraq invasion in the first place?
"Weapons of mass destruction" was the first reason Bush gave for invading Iraq. Now that it has been proven beyond all doubt that Iraq had no such weapons, why does the US need to occupy Iraq for decades?
Removing Saddam Hussein was the second reason Bush gave. Now that Saddam is gone, why do we need to remain one more day?
Bringing Iraqis "freedom and democracy" was the third reason Bush invented. Why then did Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Marc Grossman tell Congress last week that the US military occupation force and the new American ambassador would be the real rulers of Iraq for the foreseeable future?
If the US is gifting democracy and freedom to Iraqis, why did Mr. Grossman tell Congress that the handover of "sovereignty" on June 30 was just a device for putting an "Iraqi face" on the American occupation?
Asked what would happen if the make-believe Iraqi government attempted to exercise real sovereignty, Mr. Grossman indicated that it would not be tolerated.
How can a decades-long US occupation of Iraq be the same as bringing "freedom and democracy" to Iraqis?
Many Iraqis already know that they are occupied, not liberated, and others will discover it soon after June 30. Will Iraqis submit to American rule? If not, insurgency will increase, and more of our troops will be killed and wounded. Why?
Gen. Myers justified the long-term occupation as part of the "war against terrorism." But, of course, there were no terrorists in Iraq until we invaded. We brought terrorism and terrorists to Iraq. Every day that we stay, we create more terrorists. How do we fight terrorism by creating more terrorists?
Until last week, the Bush administration blamed Iraqi insurgency on remnants of Saddam's Baath Party. Now the US plans to bring back the banned Baathists, install them in the new puppet government and make them the generals in the Iraqi security force. Obviously, the US plan is to rule through the Baathists of Saddam's regime, a regime Bush claims to have overthrown in the name of "democracy."
The commitment for US troops to occupy Iraq for decades has not been explained to the American people. A commitment of this magnitude must be debated by foreign policy experts and examined in congressional hearings. President Bush never told us that he intended to occupy Iraq for decades. We were promised a "cakewalk" and troops home by Thanksgiving.
Why hasn't Democratic presidential candidate Senator John Kerry asked Bush this most obvious of all questions: Why are we still in Iraq and planning to stay for decades?
Where is the American press corps? The "watchdog" burnt itself out in its opposition to the Vietnam War in the 1960s and to Reagan in the 1980s. Today the media functions as a public relations office for the Bush administration. Fox News is the Ministry of War Propaganda.
President Clinton did Bush the favor of establishing the convention that it is no big deal for an American president to be caught in lies. Sex, war, what does it matter?
September 11 has made Americans fearful that they live in dire danger from terrorists. This fear causes Americans to accept whatever the government does in the name of "fighting terrorism."
The American people are far more quiescent than Iraqis in accepting Bush's unexplained policy of converting Iraq into a permanent American base. Unless Iraqis become as accepting of this mad enterprise as Americans, or unless Americans become as unaccepting of it as Iraqis, the blood and treasure thus far squandered in Iraq is but a drop in the bucket to what we will be forced to pay.
COPYRIGHT CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.
Paul Craig Roberts was Associate Editor of the WSJ editorial page, 1978-80, and columnist for "Political Economy." During 1981-82 he was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy. He is the author of Supply-Side Revolution: An Insider's Account of Policymaking in Washington.