Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

November 23, 2006

Another “antiwar” General calls for escalation

Filed under: Iraq — louisproyect @ 3:26 pm

Retired Major General John Batiste: antiwarrior?

On November 10th, I wrote about retired General Eaton’s call for “a Manhattan Project-level effort to build the Iraqi security forces”, a sentiment in clear distinction to an article in the Nation Magazine that characterized him as “antiwar”. That same article grouped him with General John Batiste, who is even more bellicose based on this interview on Chris Matthews’s MSNBC Hardball show last night:

MATTHEWS: Well, help us. What should we do in Iraq? Who should we be shooting at and fighting at, and who should we be defending? What side should we be on in Iraq? Tell us how to — what`s going on over there, and what should we be doing?

BATISTE: Chris, the first thing we have to do, like I said, is recognize that we are fighting a long-term struggle. Iraq is but phase one in this whole effort. This could go on for decades. We need to mobilize this country in multiple areas. We have been fighting this war on the cheap. We`ve inconvenienced the American people as little as possible and that`s not how we`re going to eventually win this struggle.

We need to properly resource the Army and the Marine Corps. These great organizations — we`ve never fielded better military forces in our history — are too small for our national strategy. We need to get serious about funding this war. We need to think about some kind of a war tax so we are not funding this war at the expense of our domestic budget. It goes on and on.

Matthews is an interesting figure. He was much more closely aligned with the political center, even hailing Bush’s “war on terror” when it first began, but has since become truculently opposed to continuing involvement in Iraq. Along with MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann, whose show follows Matthews, the two constitute the leading edge of television antiwar journalism (as opposed to the excellent spoof journalism of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert.)

The night before Matthews pressed Democratic Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island and the Armed Services Committee to define what his party would do about ending the war in Iraq, now that it controlled both houses of Congress. Reed, who is a bit to the left of figures such as Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton, was not very forthcoming:

Well, we have to try every option to try to regain the momentum. I don`t think we are in a position of winning, as the president said before the election. We have to do all we can to regain the momentum and try to move this Iraqi government forward.

Other Democrats are advocating dovish sounding policies, but that all fall short of pulling out of Iraq. Barack Obama, who was exposed as a creature of big business by Ken Silverstein in a recent Harper’s, says that American troops should be redeployed to the Kurdish-held North. Joe Biden advocates dividing the country into 3 parts along the lines that Peter Galbraith has described in the New York Review of Books.

But most of all, both parties seem bent on buying time in the hopes that the imperialists can “regain the momentum” as Reed stated. At this point, you are leaving the realm of politics and entering the world of clinical psychology and the phenomenon of denial in particular.

I can understand why these bourgeois politicians are so deeply reluctant to withdraw from Iraq. Unlike Vietnam, Iraq is one of the world’s largest oil suppliers. In an ensuing civil war, the only outcome would be hostile to US interests, with either a pro-Iranian regime or one that might embody a kind of radicalized Baathism.

Although this war is obviously less costly in terms of US lives than the Vietnam War, it is now reaching the same level of intractability. There are signs that the Democrats will attempt to wriggle out of responsibility for ending the war by arguing that war-making powers are invested in the Executive branch. This means that we face another 2 years of war until after the 2008 election. This will of course deepen the political crisis in the US and present openings for the left. The only question, as has been the case for the past half-century or so, is whether it has the presence of mind and the guts to take advantage of it.


  1. To the left-liberals people, people like Batiste are antiwar.

    The hatred towards Bush43 is so visceral amongst the liberals, that it clouds their thinking.

    There were so-called leftists, upset that Valerie Plame was outted. More CIA should be outted.

    Anybody who criticizes anything Bush does is lauded.

    I’ve been investigating the local left. I’ve gone to about three local events. The old SWP style coalition seems nostalgic now.

    I don’t see a vehicle, sophisticated enough to take advantage of the openings. They all will be campaigning for Hillary.

    Comment by Renegade Eye — November 24, 2006 @ 8:12 am

  2. Bush won’t stop this war as long as it provides the perfect way to hide from Impeachment and accountability for what he has done. Bush was never about “winning” a war on terrorism, he has always been about starting it. Now we are hopelessly in this trap with no good options to choose. Bush intends to push this war beyond a point of no return so he can dump it on the next President assured that the war will be big enough to still hide behind.

    Comment by Davol — November 24, 2006 @ 10:00 pm

  3. Clear evidence that:

    “War is much too serious a matter to be entrusted to the military.”

    Comment by bert — November 24, 2006 @ 11:18 pm

  4. “There were so-called leftists, upset that Valerie Plame was outted. More CIA should be outted.”

    When Phillip Agee outed several agents in his book Inside the Company: a CIA Diary, what he was doing was trying to interfere with CIA subversion, dirty tricks, etc., in South America, a laudible undertaking. But Plame was investigating WMD proliferation, and outing her in order to try to discredit her husband, when what he had done was expose some of the Bush admin’s lying in the run up to the invasion of Iraq, is a different matter. Other things equal, learning more about proliferation that was going on in secret, is not a bad undertaking, and putting the effort to learn more in jeopardy, esp. as part of a move to try to defend the US attack on Iraq, was not virtuous in the way that what Agee was doing was. So I am not persuaded that these two cases are comparable in the easy way that Renegade Eye suggests (I am presuming that RE had something like the Agee revelations in mind,)

    Comment by Paul Lyon — November 25, 2006 @ 1:33 am

  5. Is there any better, or easier blog software out there than this? i need something php based that doesnt kill MySQL. Any techie types on this thread that can point me in the right direction?

    Comment by Pogo Stick — January 15, 2007 @ 12:29 am

  6. Bush seems to go brass shopping for 3 & 4 star generals when his current ones go off the reservation. Abizaid and Casey’s replacements appear to be consummate team players. From the Jan. 22 New Yorker; p. 28.

    Bush has appointed Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno [2nd in command to Patraeus] to implement the new approach as the leader of day-to-day operations in Iraq. Odierno commanded the 4th Infantry Division in Iraq during 2003 & 2004, he oversaw the capture of Saddam Hussein. He also has a record of either misreading the war or glossing over its difficulties. Odierno said in the summer of 2003 that the Sunnis were “not close to guerrilla warfare” and that the enemy had no will to fight. Early in 2004, he declared at a news conference that the insurgents he was facing were a “fractured sporadic threat” who had been reduced to just a “handful of cells.” He said, “We see constant improvement. And so it is getting better.”

    According to others quoted in Thomas Ricks’ book, Fiasco; Odierno has been criticized for being too belligerent during the initial invasion into Iraq, this lack of sensitivity losing the “hearts & minds of Iraqis.” Bush Doctrine=Reward Incompetence thru Promotion.

    Comment by m.c. — January 18, 2007 @ 7:06 pm

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