While the Supremes have managed to take our focus away from the war in Iraq over the past few days, with their latest aggravated assault on affirmative action, it's important not to allow what the president calls "political theatre" to distract us from what will prove to be crucial discourse on Iraq in the coming month, and confusion as to the difference between troop withdrawal and withdrawal of our presence in Iraq. All prospective presidential nominees, of both parties, must account for their position on an "American presence" in Iraq, and should be asked to clarify exactly what that means.
When we hear candidates from both parties say they support troop withdrawal, we need to listen to whether or not they propose ending the occupation totally and complete withdrawal, which must include sending home those military, and private contractors who are making barrels of money off the civil war, carnage and plundering of Baghdad.
More often than not, the word "benchmark" when applied to Iraq, is thinly guised code for the ongoing presence of Haliburton and others, to maximize unlimited profitability. Our deconstruction of Iraq may well have been intended not merely for the obvious access to that country's oil, but for the lucrative reconstruction contracts.
Ultimately, it's essential that "benchmarks" be exposed for what they are -- euphemisms for corporate deployment and redevelopment. Any candidate for president who claims to have a deadline to bring the troops home must say exactly when they plan to end the occupation, and withdrawal of the mercenaries as well as the soldiers there.