Many people think the Bush regime is politically weakened and will no longer be able to achieve its political agenda, particularly in regard to the Iraq war. Millions also have the illusion that after the 2008 elections that the U.S. military will finally withdraw from that beleaguered country. But the Bush regime is currently expanding the size of the U.S. military, and the leading Democratic presidential contenders are not likely to remove the U.S. military presence in Iraq if they are elected.
On September 27, 2007, Defense Secretary Robert Gates stated he is likely to approve an army proposal to expand the size of the army. At a Department of Defense press conference, Gates said, “I’m probably going to recommend they go ahead and give it a try. I’m inclined to approve it.”
In a related development regarding the size of U.S. forces in Iraq, Army Secretary Pete Geren recently met with a group of reporters and said it was possible that even if the army withdraws five combat brigades from Iraq between December 2007 and July 2008, the number of “non-combat” troops there could remain the same or even increase. Geren stated that a reduction in the number of combat troops in Iraq could mean that more support troops are needed to train the Iraqi forces or perform other functions. “That’s a possibility. I’m not saying it’s a likelihood,” Geren told the reporters. Gates confirmed this when he met with the Senate Appropriations Committee on September 26, 2007, and admitted that the Pentagon has not decided on the level of support troops in Iraq for 2008.
On September 27, 2007, Geren an-nounced that in addition to expanding the active-duty army to a total of 547,000, he is also planning to increase the size of the National Guard and Reserve. The army expects to reach its targeted growth within four years.
In addition to the army expansion, the Marines intend to add an additional 27,000 personnel to their ranks, bringing their total to 202,000.
Well, if a Democrat wins the presidential race in 2008, all this madness will end, right? Dream on!
The Democrats held a debate on September 26, 2007. At the beginning, debate moderator Tim Russert asked Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, as well as former Senator John Edwards, whether they would promise to have all U.S. troops out of Iraq by January 2013. All three refused, even though that would be at the end of their first term if they were elected.
Obama responded, “We would get combat troops out of Iraq. The only troops that would remain would be those that have to protect U.S. bases and U.S. civilians, as well as to engage in counter-terrorism activities in Iraq.” He failed to mention that this would allow tens of thousands of troops, if not more, to remain in Iraq for the indefinite future. Obama has previously stated he wants to expand the overall size of the U.S. military by 92,000, so he must want to use these additional forces somewhere.
Clinton echoed Obama when she stated, “I will drastically reduce our presence there to the mission of protecting our embassy, protecting our civilians, and making sure that we’re carrying out counterterrorism activities there.” Clinton claimed that the only combat missions she would permit would be those aimed at “eradicating al Qaeda in Iraq.” As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Clinton has advocated a permanent troop increase for the military. She also introduced legislation to increase military burial travel allowances, which will undoubtedly be needed if she is elected.
John Edwards also refused to pledge withdrawal while attacking Clinton in the debate. He said her stand allows “a continuation of the war. I do not think we should continue combat missions in Iraq.” But he did not explain how he would stop the war if he refuses to withdraw troops from Iraq. I guess we are just supposed to believe him when he says, “I believe this war needs to come to an end.” Edwards, like Obama and Clinton, has also stated he wants to increase the military’s size.
While all three of these leading Democratic contenders claimed they would stop the active use of “combat troops” in Iraq, with some caveats, they have also made it clear the Iraq war will continue under their administrations. But look at the Army Secretary’s comments above. He says even if “combat troops” are no longer used, there still will be the need for troops in Iraq, including the possibility of increased numbers.
We must stop the madness of the Bush regime. But we cannot rely on the Democrats to do so. They have shown us repeatedly that they support the Bush wars by authorizing hundreds of billions of dollars to finance them. Only a mass movement can halt these endless wars that were initiated by the Bush regime and its enablers, the Democrats in congress. We can’t wait until 2008, we must declare it now!
Kenneth J. Theisen is an organizer with The World Can’t Wait! Drive out the Bush Regime!