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Andy Thayer Headshot

The "End" of the Iraq War?

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In his speech to the nation Tuesday night, President Obama essentially claimed to be ending the U.S. war in Iraq, and preparing to wind up U.S. domination in Afghanistan and by implication, elsewhere. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Taking a look at Iraq alone, the violence that the United States illegally initiated seven years ago has not ended. Instead of predominantly white bodies being draped in flags, it is now brown bodies. Troops bearing the national flag of the United States are increasingly bearing corporate flags as hated mercenaries replace regular troops. The killing continues, albeit in somewhat different form.

Iraq's infrastructure is a shambles after decades of U.S. sanctions, war and occupation. The mess is exacerbated by a corrupt and incompetent U.S.-directed rebuilding effort. At least 30% of the nation remains unemployed. Is it any wonder that violence is endemic in a country where various armed forces are one of the few steady sources of employment for those Iraqis who remain in their country?

The new U.S. embassy in Iraq is by far the largest in the world and is emblematic of the real relationship between the United States and its client Iraqi "government." If instead of being put in downtown Baghdad, it was instead plunked down in Chicago's downtown, the new U.S. embassy would stretch clear across Chicago Loop, enveloping City Hall, the County Building, the Daley Center, Daley Plaza, the James R. Thompson Center, Block 37, Macy's and more - extending from Millennium Park all the way over to the south branch of the Chicago River.

Fearing a backlash in November's elections as corporate giveaways have failed to stimulate the U.S. economy, President Obama now claims that he's winding up the war in Iraq so that we he can focus on promoting economic prosperity at home.

Not only does the occupation of Iraq continue, albeit in different form, Obama has dramatically escalated the war in Afghanistan, and spread it into Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, leading to the highest military spending by any country in world history.

Like President Kennedy, he conducts assassinations abroad and encourages bloody coups in countries like Honduras, and then feigns bewilderment that his "war on terrorism" might never end, and that U.S. citizens and officials might themselves come under violent attack.

Amidst the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, the United States spends as much on its military as the rest of the world's countries combined. It has troops occupying bases in over 130 countries around the globe - most in opposition to the express wishes of the inhabitants of those countries. The United States maintains by far the largest nuclear arsenal in the world, yet denounces alleged nuclear programs of relatively weak countries like Iran and North Korea, while at best, only clucking at the military attacks of its own nuclear armed client state, Israel.

Like President Johnson, President Obama cannot fight imperial wars abroad and deliver social justice at home. The "peace prize" President is really a war emperor, and it's about time that we pointed out that he's wearing no clothes.

In 1967 Martin Luther King courageously announced his opposition to the Vietnam War, saying the United States is "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today." King's words - which earned him vicious denunciations almost all liberal and conservative leaders alike, and undying hatred of the Johnson administration - are even more true today.

Justice at home is held hostage to military spending which sucks up 57% of all federal spending. As in Dr. King's time, social justice movements today, regardless of issue, which do not clearly break from the two parties and their bipartisan support of U.S. military domination other countries, are doomed to failure.


Andy Thayer is one of many activists organizing for a Midwest Regional March for Peace & Justice in downtown Chicago on October 16th. The aim of the event is to clearly reject Obama's wars, in his home town, on the eve of the Congressional midterms. For more information on the Midwest Regional March, email