Sunday, November 20, 2005

Dems: bums

Piechart from The War Resisters League's Where your money really goes flyer

Sure, it was cheap theater for the Republican leadership to put forth that resolution Friday. But give them credit--they once again exposed the Democrats' gutlessness, and made me question anew who exactly it is the "opposition" party represents. If 60 percent of the population says it was not worth going to war, wouldn't you expect more than three (THREE!) democrats to agree to a non-binding resolution that says we should get the hell out of Iraq?

I couldn't be more pleased that the Bush adminstration is having its problems. But I wonder where exactly this is all leading. Will anything really change?

If and when the Iraq nightmare ends, what kind of country will we have? Will we stop being the only country to regularly attack other countries? Will we still be directing nearly 50 percent of our tax dollars to military expenditures? Will we still have 10,000 nuclear weapons armed and aimed, with a pea-brained religious fanatic holding the key to the codes? Will the arms manufacturers, who spread out their "wealth" into virtually every congressional district in the country, still say "jump" and get congressmen to answer "how high?" every time?

Chalmers Johnson is quite pessimistic (and, sadly, convincing) on this topic:

It is hardly news to anyone who pays the slightest attention to American politics that Congress is no longer responsive to the people. Incumbency is so well institutionalized that elections generally mean virtually nothing. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay approves the private ownership of assault weapons and machine guns despite complaints from police around the country that they're outgunned by criminals, despite the 65% of the public who want them banned, despite pleas from the relatives of murdered Americans. On this issue, the National Rifle Association seems to own the Congress.

A similar situation exists with regard to munitions makers. In one district after another the weapons industry has bought the incumbent and the voters are unable to dislodge him or her. On really big projects like the B-2 stealth bomber, contracts are placed for pieces of the airplane in all of the 48 continental states to insure that individual members of Congress can be threatened with the loss of jobs in their districts should they ever get the idea that we do not need another weapon of massive destruction. The result is defense budgets of $425 billion per year (plus that extra $75 billion for Iraq and Afghanistan, another $20 billion for nuclear weapons, and $200 billion more for veterans and the wounded), leading to the highest governmental deficits in postwar history. It seems likely that only bankruptcy will stop the American imperial juggernaut.

For the past six months, I've been reading as much as I can get my hands on by Andrew Bacevich, a West Point grad, Vietnam vet and former contributor to the National Review (!). In his book The New American Militarism (excerpted here), he spells out in detail just how expensive our war state is and makes it quite clear that, "Simply put, for the Department of Defense and all of its constituent parts, defense per se figures as little more than an afterthought."

So what about the Democrats, then? Where do they fit in? Are they the solution, or a major part of the problem?

As this piece by Jeremy Scahill points out, the Dem bums are as responsible for this mess we're in as anyone, and their behavior, in refusing to represent the majority of Americans that want the troops home fast, is beyond reprehensible.

None of the horrors playing out in Iraq today would be possible without the Democratic Party. And no matter how hard some party leaders try to deny it, this is their war too and will remain so until every troop is withdrawn. There is no question that the Bush administration is one of the most corrupt, violent and brutal in the history of this country but that doesn’t erase the serious responsibility the Democrats bears for the bloodletting in Iraq. As disingenuous as the Administration’s claims that Iraq had WMDs is the flimsy claim by Democratic lawmakers that they were somehow duped into voting for the war. The fact is that Iraq posed no threat to the United States in 2003 any more than it did in 1998 when President Clinton bombed Baghdad. John Kerry and his colleagues knew that. The Democrats didn’t need false intelligence to push them into overthrowing Saddam Hussein’s regime. It was their policy; a policy made the law of the land not under George W. Bush, but under President Bill Clinton when he signed the 1998 Iraq Liberation Act, formally initiating the process of regime change in Iraq.

Manipulated intelligence is but a small part of a bigger, bipartisan 15-year assault on Iraq’s people. If the Democrats really want to look at how America was led into this war, they need to go back further than the current president’s inauguration.

As bloody and deadly as the occupation has been, it was Bill Clinton who refined the art of killing innocent Iraqis following the Gulf War. One of his first acts as president was to bomb Iraq, following the alleged assassination plot against George HW Bush. Clinton’s missiles killed the famed Iraqi painter Leila al Attar as they smashed into her home. Clinton presided enthusiastically over the most deadly and repressive regime of economic sanctions in history – his UN ambassador Madeline Albright calling the reported deaths of half a million children "worth the price." Clinton initiated the longest sustained bombing campaign since Vietnam with his illegal no-fly zone bombings, attacking Iraq once every three days for the final years of his presidency. It was under Clinton that Ahmed Chalabi was given tens of millions of dollars and made a key player in shaping Washington’s Iraq policy. It was Clinton that mercilessly attacked Iraq in December of 1998, destroying dozens of Baghdad buildings and killing scores of civilians. It was Clinton that codified regime change in Iraq as US policy. Bush ordered the invasion of Iraq but he could not have done it without the years of groundwork laid by Clinton and the Democrats. How ironic it was recently to hear Clinton call the war "a big mistake."

It’s easy to resist war with a president like Bush in the White House. Where were these Democrats when it was Clinton’s bombs raining down on Iraq, when it was Clinton’s economic sanctions targeting the most vulnerable? Many of them were right behind him and his deadly policies the same way they were behind Bush when he asked their consent to use force against Iraq. As the veteran Iraq activist and Nobel Prize nominee Kathy Kelly said often during the Clinton years, "It’s easy to be a vegetarian between meals." The fact is that one of the great crimes of our times was committed by the Clinton administration with the support of many of the politicians now attacking Bush.

Herein lies the real political crisis in this country: the Democrats are not an opposition party, nor are they an antiwar party – never were.

So what then? I agree but am at a loss....

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