When Murtha says “redeploy” – instead of withdraw – the troops from Iraq, he makes clear that – despite his rhetoric – he doesn’t want to really bring them home, but to station them in the Middle East. As he told Anderson Cooper of CNN:

“We … have united the Iraqis against us. And so I’m convinced, once we redeploy to Kuwait or to the surrounding area, that it will be much safer. They won’t be able to unify against the United States. And then, if we have to go back in, we can go back in.”

Moreover, Murtha’s resolution calls for the U.S. to create “a quick-reaction U.S. force and an over-the-horizon presence of U.S. Marines” to be “deployed to the region.”

We strongly disagree. The antiwar movement cannot endorse U.S. military intervention in the Middle East, whether over or under the horizon. We don’t want American troops remaining in the region and poised to go back into Iraq. They don’t belong there, period. Some – though not Murtha – suggest keeping U.S. bases within Iraq, close to the oil fields or in Kurdistan, in order to intervene more or less on the pattern of what U.S. forces are doing in Afghanistan. But this is a recipe for disaster, since the Iraqi view that the United States intends a permanent occupation is one of the main causes inciting the insurgency. Moreover, stationing forces in Kurdistan could only deepen the already dangerous ethnic animosities among Iraqis. In any event, if our troops continue to be used in Iraq – whether deployed from bases inside the country or from outside – they will inevitably continue to cause civilian casualties, further provoking violence. Having a U.S. interventionary force stationed in Kuwait or a similar location will continue to inflame the opposition of Iraqis who will know their sovereignty is still subject to external control. As for the impact of keeping U.S. forces anywhere else in the larger region, it should be recalled that their presence was the decisive factor leading to 9/11 and fuels “global terrorism” in the same way that their presence in Iraq “fuels the insurgency.”

Murtha, we need to keep in mind, is not opposed to U.S. imperial designs or militarism. He criticizes the Bush administration because its Iraq policies have led to cuts in the (non-Iraq) defense budget, threatening the America’s ability to maintain “military dominance.” ~Gilbert Achcar and Stephen R. Shalom, Antiwar.com

The authors make a very good point. If opponents of the war wish to be truly successful, we will need to accomplish the complete scrapping of the interventionist model of foreign policy that put us into the Persian Gulf 15 years ago and has kept us there ever since. Rep. Murtha is not exactly “on our side,” but he has slowed the jingoist juggernaut more effectively in just one week than anything the hopelessly fragmented and aimless antiwar movement has achieved in three years. For sake of extracting Americans out of this pointless and unjust war, supporting “redeployment,” even if it is motivated by hegemonist and interventionist concerns, is the best course available. Demanding unconditional withdrawal as the gold standard of the antiwar movement, as the authors do, will have the same effect that demanding unconditional surrender has in war: the war will go on with moderate levels of popular support and a majority of Congress unwilling to change course, and more American and Iraqi lives will be claimed in the absurd conflict.

In other news, not entirely surprisingly, media darling Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) has inched his way to a position of gradual reduction of forces from Iraq. It is admittedly not much, and it comes from a Senator whose career has been typified by embracing the far left, which will hardly lend the idea much credibility with the members who need to change their positions for the policy to change. Nonetheless, it is a bit of movement.