Ackerman says it's a big deal the troops are coming home, but America's military efforts in Iraq are anything but over:
They are instead entering a new phase. On January 1, 2012, the State Department will command a hired army of about 5,500 security contractors, all to protect the largest U.S. diplomatic presence anywhere overseas.
The State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security does not have a promising record when it comes to managing its mercenaries. The 2007 Nisour Square shootings by State’s security contractors, in which 17 Iraqi civilians were killed, marked one of the low points of the war. Now, State will be commanding a much larger security presence, the equivalent of a heavy combat brigade. In July, Danger Room exclusively reported that the Department blocked the Congressionally-appointed watchdog for Iraq from acquiring basic information about contractor security operations, such as the contractors’ rules of engagement.
That means no one outside the State Department knows how its contractors will behave as they ferry over 10,000 U.S. State Department employees throughout Iraq — which, in case anyone has forgotten, is still a war zone. Since Iraq wouldn’t grant legal immunity to U.S. troops, it is unlikely to grant it to U.S. contractors, particularly in the heat and anger of an accident resulting in the loss of Iraqi life.
It’s a situation with the potential for diplomatic disaster.
And the cost of the transition may again be hidden in public accounting.
Via Stoller on Twitter, a blog hoping to elicit a constructive dialog on the Occupy protests and the future of the movement. In response to George Lakoff's How to Frame Yourself advice to Occupiers at Common Dreams, one post in particular stands out:
1) Lakoff’s insistence that the movement focus on getting candidates with “its moral focus elected in 2012.” I couldn’t agree less. If OWS turns into a get out the vote drive for the Democratic Party, it would be a betrayal of it’s raison d’etre and its resonance with people who are thoroughly disillusioned with the political process, particularly after 2008, when Obama managed to sway a lot of people with his soaring rhetoric and promise of renewal. Election season is already well underway; the Republican candidate will be decided by January and Democrats will try to convince liberals and progressives to fall into line behind Obama. The possibility of OWS running its own candidates in this short period and with existing campaign finance laws in place, or supporting politicians from the existing bipartisan pool who share its ‘moral values,’ are slim to none outside of a few local races.
Agree that any appearance co-option by the party would dissolve what momentum is possible quickly, but I'm also reminded of watching the tea party in 2010 with their litmus tests and the "other" kind of influence they had on the elections (Sharon Angle, O'Donnell come to mind). Anti-establishment and in the spotlight only gets you so far. The tea party's influence on 2010 wasn't so much the candidates they ran and it definitely wasn't their independent fundraising as a "movement," but the exponential effect they had on disappointment with the Democratic Party. They got out the vote. Much more could be said about the decline of tea party popularity since. Was it always going to fade, or are they paying the price for a hard line approach that a majority of voters now blame for gridlocked government?
So you can't run your own candidates in 2012, but you can find issues or even specific legislation to rally behind. Does a candidate have to be right on every issue to get some support, or can a candidate be right on the most important issues and draw the crowd? And what about influencing members of congress throughout the campaigns? You're not getting the ear of a single Republican, no question.
I'm not sure the right answers for the movement. Questions of where things could go and the role of Occupy in 2012 seem almost two separate dilemna's, yet in the end they'll be tied together.
Without a tangible influence of some kind in 2012, we won't be hearing much about Occupy after the elections. Unfortunate reality, sure, but still the case. Anyway, go speak your mind.
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