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Tom Hayden: People need to know that a complete pull out of Iraq is not planned (2 of 3)

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TOM HAYDEN, ACTIVIST AND AUTHOR: Can any of these Democratic candidates defeat somebody like John McCain, who’s a full-throated supporter of permanent war? If they can, that’ll be a very strong mandate for peace. And I believe public opinion is the only thing on our side. But whoever’s president will go through the motions of starting to reduce what I’ve called combat troops. They will pull some out. In fact, it may start in July of this year under Bush, 30,000 out, to try to take the issue away from the Democrats. At some point they have to decide: are they talking about withdrawing 100,000, 125,000 troops? And when? Barack Obama is talking about getting 160,000 troops out in 18 months. Hillary Clinton has been talking about 2013, a five-year withdrawal. Lately, she’s been saying she hopes to get them out in one year. I don’t know where she’s at. All right. So when they’re done with that—which may never happen, because even in Obama’s plan, which is pretty smart, he’s got loopholes. You know, if the fighting flares up, then, of course, the withdrawals have to end; so the implication is, well, we have to win, and if we’re not winning, if we’re losing, then we can’t leave. But let’s say they get through that. I have confidence the American people will see very quickly, because when Nixon tried the same thing, when Cambodia was invaded and the campuses erupted, it was South Vietnamese troops that were invading. There were no Americans. There were American advisors. There was American bombs. And the bombing last year in Iraq by the Americans increased fivefold over the previous year. It’s an old script. Air-war bombardment, save American lives, changed the color of the dead, make them Iraqi dead, but keep the American advisors there. At some point, that is going to further inflame the entire Muslim world, keep the United States totally isolated, involve us in mad schemes, like somehow trying to stabilize Pakistan by starting a war with guerrilla forces buried in the mountains of South Waziristan. Afghanistan, that’s going nowhere. That’s not going to be a victory. So, yeah, I have confidence if we study war instead of studying war-no-more and we spend another ten years on it, the American people will gradually learn that this is not going anywhere, and these candidates will have to step up their timetable and come up with a different policy. Fortunately, Obama’s very sophisticated, but he’s doing something very, very unfortunate. By saying, “Of course we should go into Pakistan,” he’s preventing Democrats from criticizing this coming invasion. And he’s doing what Hillary Clinton did by facilitating the invasion of Iraq in 2003, by saying she authorized it, maybe, which kept other Democrats thinking, “Well, okay, she may be the nominee, so, okay, we’re going to go with her.” So you’ll notice the only person preventing us from invading Pakistan is Musharraf, who’s a mad dictator, whose army harbors al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups. He knows, like any sensible person, that when the Americans go in, it will totally polarize and unravel Pakistan, and anti-Americanism will rise, and support for the insurgents and the so-called terrorists will increase. What the American agenda is is to get in there before Bush is out of office so we have a four-front war, at least on the wars we know about: Gaza, Iraq, Afghanistan, South Waziristan. So it cements in funding and personnel and deployment for what they call the permanent war against terror. And then, once you get that established, no matter who’s president, it becomes a heck of a problem to withdraw, politically. Big problem. That’s what they’re trying to do. They tried Iran. I think we have them checkmated on Iran. But you’ll notice they sent Bhutto back on the clear condition that if she became prime minister, then she would green-light American troops going into South Waziristan and starting to make Pakistan a front in the global war on terror. She got killed—they couldn’t even protect her. They treated her like a dish-rag. Didn’t work. Now that she’s dead, now they’re lobbying by every means necessary, Gates, they’re all lobbying to get into Pakistan, ’cause they want to get in before November so we’re locked, it’s a lock—the United States is in Pakistan. In any event, if the antiwar movement and public opinion succeed in electing a Democrat, then we have to be more educated about these possibilities than we are now, and we have to be ready to hold them accountable. It doesn’t look under Republicans like it’s possible. So what I’m saying is a precondition to ending the occupation of Iraq is to elect a Democrat, but it is not a sufficient condition. They will, in the course of things, turn it into Latin America, Central America counterinsurgency. These candidates will have to step up their timetable and come up with a different policy.


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Tom Hayden is an American social and political activist and politician, most famous for his involvement in the antiwar and civil rights movements of the 1960s. Hayden served in the California State Assembly and the State Senate. His books include Rebel: A Personal History of the 1960s; Ending the War in Iraq.