No, the Iraq War Is NOT Over

The NYT, which played a key propaganda role in getting us into the Iraq war, has a 1000-word article telling us the Iraq war has officially been declared over.

And while it is true that the Administration had a campaign event dog and pony show yesterday declaring the war over, it is not.

After all, Rand Paul tried to formally, legally end the Iraq war last month. And 67 Senators refused to do so.

The fact that the Iraq AUMF remains on the books matters. It matters because no matter how many times we wax eloquent about Iraqis controlling their own destiny, Nuri al-Maliki knows that little prevents Obama from bringing in troops again–or dropping drones in his country. Maybe that’s why Maliki is doing unfathomable things like laying a wreath at the military cemetery of the country that has occupied and ravaged his country for 8 years.

And, as I keep noting, the Iraq AUMF serves another purpose. That AUMF’s general language on “terrorism” has been used to authorize the use of “war powers” against people the Executive Branch claims are terrorists who have nothing to do with al Qaeda. The Iraq AUMF has been interpreted by the Executive Branch to authorize a war against all so-called terrorists, not just the terrorists who hit us on 9/11. And based on that argument, it was used to authorize the wiretapping of American citizens in the US.

Credulous journalists may want to accept the Administration’s propaganda about the Iraq war ending. But until we take the expanded powers given to the President pursuant to a vile propaganda campaign away from him, the Iraq war is not over. And Obama should not be able to use it as a campaign line until he actually gives up those powers.

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

21 replies
  1. Jen Briney says:

    It’s also not over because the withdrawal of troops was countered with an increase in private contractors. We’re very much still there, we’re just paying more & allowing companies to skim off war profits.

  2. Clark Hilldale says:

    “The war ain’t over … Ask somebody who fought it. The war ain’t over until you don’t have to live with it anymore.” – Ron Kovic

  3. A Conservative Teacher says:

    Thankfully it isn’t over. It would suck to leave after we worked so hard to achieve our policy objectives in Iraq. I know a lot of people think that if we leave then it’ll be like it never happened, but the truth of the matter is we were there, we won, and now we have to make sure we win the peace and it all wasn’t in vain.

  4. emptywheel says:

    @CDD: It’s not just me. Pat Lang, who unlike you or I is an expert, has been saying that since it became clear that Ahmed Chalabi was sharing our classified information with Iran in 2004.

  5. Mary says:

    Argh, I am having all kinds of computer issues. Let me try again with a twice-failed comment. There is also the point that Obama didn’t really make this decision, Iraq did. Up to the last minute, Obama was lobbying hard for an extension to the sofa. It’s only when Iraq said the parliament would have to be involved and the parliament absolutely refused to go on the record handing out immunity from crimes and war crimes, that Obama made the decision to slink out while immunity was still in effect.

    The US sofas are so unpopular that the one with our friends in Kuwait is kept secret.

  6. Mary says:

    There was a win in Iraq and a post here demonstrates that win. The US Executive branch and the war profiteers and mercenaries and multinationals won the battle to engage in shameless and false domestic propaganda for their private profit and benefit. Not really a “hats in the air” moment for a nation that docilely sent its 18 yos to die and be maimed so that Halliburton and Lockheed and Exxon would have good years, and so that al Qaeda could actually get a foothold in a nation where it had been shunned, and so that Iran could expand its influence and Turkeys borders and secular Govenment could be weakened, and so that 2 million Iraqi refugees could be created to “hate us for our freedoms,” and so that Americans would race to give up those freedoms and line Rupert Murdoch’s pockets, and so that the shining city would shamefully reshape itself into a torturer’s favorite tool.

    If the poster wants to brag over those objectives being achieved, it’s a sad thing

  7. Jeff Kaye says:

    While we are at it, why not eliminate Section 104 of the National Security Act of 1947 (codified later as 50 USC-4 and 50 USC-4a), written during a very different time in this nation’s history, but still used every day in the most pernicious, criminal ways — especially the part where the Director, CIA is instructed to have his organization:

    (4) perform such other functions and duties related to
    intelligence affecting the national security as the President or
    the Director of National Intelligence may direct.

    Will we be looking back in 60+ years (those of us still alive) and be wondering why the AUMF is still operational? Minus massive social change and an end to the supremacy of the military-national security-corporate elite in this country, I’m afraid the answer will be “yes.”

  8. Mary says:

    Explaining what helped “end” the war (i.e., the US occupation with criminal immunuity, that ended with loss of immunity)

    http://readersupportednews.org/news-section2/308-12/8918-documents-reveal-us-massacre-in-haditha-iraq

    “That sense of American impunity ultimately poisoned any chance for American forces to remain in Iraq, because the Iraqis would not let them stay without being subject to Iraqi laws and courts, a condition the White House could not accept.”

  9. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Thank you for that headline. This war is not over; our presence remains substantial and Iraq’s sovereignty remains an aspiration. That is, America’s bases, some of the largest in the world, largely remain intact, as does the world’s largest, most fortified “embassy” compound. So, too, do tens of thousands of troops and at least as many mercenaries, for whom the rule of law is a foreign concept. Instead of Iraq being Honduras to America’s United Fruit Company, I’d say that politically it resembles South Vietnam in 1963. The question is for how long and what directions it and we take from here.

  10. earlofhuntingdon says:

    @Mary: Our friends in beleaguered Okinawa would agree. Chalmers Johnson was prolific in describing their mixed, unwanted benefits; the bars, brothels and sexual assaults accompany them like the train of a shotgun wedding dress.

  11. ryan says:

    The Times also rooted the denial of a SOFA in the impunity of the Haditha marines. As Mary says, though to somewhat different ends, the war is over because our Iraqi ally (or “ally” for those who prefer) says it’s over. While Maliki may wonder what could happen if he provoked the U.S. again, he issued a pretty big provocation with the denial of a SOFA, and little happened. He has to feel pretty secure, all in all.

    Tens of thousands of soldiers are home or coming home, the residual people will be a tiny fraction of those who were there a year ago. Just because the British continued to patrol Detroit, sent arms to native tribes and later fought the War of 1812 because they retained pretensions to dominate America south of the Great Lakes doesn’t mean the American Revolution didn’t end in 1783.

    I’m by no means arguing we “won”. But the Iraq war is over.

    I’m editing my post to point out that Mary’s weird link to “Reader Supported News” is actually a link to a plagiarized copy of the very Times article that this post implies doesn’t exist. Here’s the real article:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/15/world/middleeast/united-states-marines-haditha-interviews-found-in-iraq-junkyard.html?ref=world

    “Reader Supported News”! What a friggin’ joke. How is money sent to some goof at TruthOut helping keep Michael Schmidt writing for the New York Times.

  12. bmaz says:

    @ryan: I have no problem with the people at Truthout, kind of like them and hope they are supported. Fuck the NYTimes, they have enough money to pay Schmidt already.

  13. Susan says:

    The US military is still bring the freedom of the grave and the democracy of death to Iraqis (particularly Iraqi babies) and will for decades or centuries to come. And this is true even if the US military and US mercenaries never directly kill another Iraqi.

    One out of four babies born in Fallujah die before they are a week old from birth defects. Hideous birth defects that are clearly a sign of genetic destruction. Two more of those four babies are also born with easily observed birth defects.

    On top of that, cancer rates are skyrocketing. The birth defects and cancer increase started in early 2005.

    As people in Pakistan say – the USA is the ally from hell.

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