Phyllis Bennis on Supplemental Bill

Friends,

The Democratic leadership claims the $125 billion supplemental is the
way to end the war. Aside from setting a date for bringing home troops,
the bill includes a number of items many in the peace movement would
ordinarily support - veterans' health benefits, Katrina survivors'
assistance, children's health insurance...So what's the problem with the supplemental? Why aren't peace activists
supporting it?

Because it gives President Bush another $100 billion to continue the
wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. And it doesn't end the occupation or
prevent expansion of the war to Iran.

WHAT IT DOES

It calls for pulling out half the troops from Iraq by August 2008

BUT -

It exempts whole categories of troops from the withdrawal

** Troops "training the Iraqi military" can stay - currently 6,000,
perhaps as

many as 20,00 (no limit in the supplemental)

** Troops engaged in "special operations" can stay - the Marines say
they want

20,000 for Anbar Province alone, perhaps as many as 40,000 for the whole
country (no limit in the supplemental)

** Troops "protecting diplomatic enclaves" like the huge Green Zone and
the US

Embassy, the largest in the world, and maybe including the numerous US
bases established in Iraq, can stay - 20,000 is a conservative number
(no limit in the supplemental)

That means Bush could keep unlimited numbers, perhaps 60,000 - 80,000
troops, permanently in Iraq - and still be in compliance with the bill.

And the bill does not require that the troops withdrawn from Iraq be
sent home; they can be immediately deployed to Afghanistan, or to bases
in surrounding Arab countries, or to ships in the Persian Gulf - or be
used to attack Iran.

WHAT IT DOES

It imposes restrictions on Pentagon deployments, prohibiting the
deployment of troops not fully trained, not adequately equipped, and not
adequately rested between deployments.

BUT -

It includes a waiver for President Bush to simply state his intention to
override those restrictions, allowing him to send in as many untrained,
badly equipped and exhausted troops as he wishes.

WHAT IT DOES

Prohibit construction of new permanent bases in Iraq

BUT -

It does nothing to close the existing permanent bases the U.S. has built
across Iraq

WHAT IT DOES

Cut 10% of the funding for private military contractors

BUT -

It allows 90% of the 100,000 or so mercenaries who fight alongside the
U.S. military to remain in Iraq

WHAT IT DOESN'T DO

The supplemental does not prohibit an unprovoked attack on Iran.

The supplemental does not end the occupation of Iraq.

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