Wednesday, December 07, 2005
The War Party
There is, really, only one party in Washington DC. The Manifest Destinied, white-men’s-burden bearing, do-as-we-say-not-as-we-do WAR PARTY:
“Staying the course” risks a slow and costly departure of American forces with Iraq increasingly factionalized and aligned with Iran. Yet a more rapid departure of American troops along a timeline, as some Democrats are calling for, simply reduces our ability to affect the outcome and risks broader regional conflict.
We need to keep our troops in Iraq, but we need to modify the strategy far more drastically than anything President Bush called for last week.
Yup, Clintonista & putative Presidential candidate General Wesley Clark says that we need to keep doing what we’re doing in the country we destroyed, only ... ummm ... be smarter about it. Sounds like a familiar plan, doesn’t it?
Public support for the war has sharply declined as layer after stinking layer of lies have been peeled back from the Bush Administration’s case for the war. It’s too bad that there wasn’t an opposition party in the nation’s capitol before the whole thing got started, or else we might have seen the same lack of support BEFORE the war started.
Of course, there was no opposition party. There was only the War Party, a cabal born of a culture of insular greed and jingoism. A party in the hands of war profiteers, religious nuts and modern-day imperialists. And now comes the General:
And we must start using America’s diplomatic strength with Syria and Iran. The political weakness of Bashar al-Assad opens the door for significant Syrian concessions on controlling the border and cutting support for the jihadists. We also have to stop ignoring Tehran’s meddling and begin a public dialogue on respecting Iraqi independence, which will make it far easier to get international support against the Iranians if (and when) they break their word.
Yes, our military forces are dangerously overstretched. Recruiting and retention are suffering; among retired officers, there is deep concern that the Bush administration’s attitude on the treatment of detainees has jeopardized not only the safety of our troops but the moral purpose of our effort.
Still, none of this necessitates a pullout until the job is done. After the elections, we should be able to draw down by 30,000 troops from the 160,000 now there. Don’t bet against our troops.
What a disaster it would be if the real winner in Iraq turned out to be Iran, a country that supports terrorism and opposes most of what we stand for. Surely, we can summon the wisdom, resources and bipartisan leadership to change the American course before it is too late.
I hate to break it to him, but it’s too late. Iran HAS already won. Our presence there only continues to fuel the insurgency. Of course, it also fuels profits for friends and funders of the War Party.
There have been some notable breaks from the War Party as of late, of course. Senator Feingold and more recently Representative Jack Murtha and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. In the corrupt pig pen of Washington, however, that sort of speaking out of turn merits a response:
Several Democrats joined President Bush yesterday in rebuking Dean’s declaration to a San Antonio radio station Monday that “the idea that we’re going to win the war in Iraq is an idea which is just plain wrong.”
The critics said that comment could reinforce popular perceptions that the party is weak on military matters and divert attention from the president’s growing political problems on the war and other issues. “Dean’s take on Iraq makes even less sense than the scream in Iowa: Both are uninformed and unhelpful,” said Rep. Jim Marshall (D-Ga.), recalling Dean’s famous election-night roar after stumbling in Iowa during his 2004 presidential bid.
Loyalty to the War Party comes before loyalty to the political party or even the will of the people. The meat grinder needs to keep turning blood and bodies into profit and power:
Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Rahm Emanuel (Ill.) and Rep. Steny H. Hoyer (Md.), the second-ranking House Democratic leader, have told colleagues that Pelosi’s recent endorsement of a speedy withdrawal, combined with her claim that more than half of House Democrats support her position, could backfire on the party, congressional sources said.
These sources said the two leaders have expressed worry that Pelosi is playing into Bush’s hands by suggesting Democrats are the party of a quick pullout—an unpopular position in many of the most competitive House races.
“What I want Democrats to be discussing is what the president’s policies have led to,” Emanuel said. He added that once discussion turns to a formal timeline for troop withdrawals, “the how and when gets buried” and many voters take away only an impression that Democrats favor retreat.
But the real thing that bowled me over about what Dean said, is just how bloody imperial his tone was about what to do with Iraq (disclosure, I worked on Dean’s presidential campaign in Vermont). After making the call to spend two years withdrawing, and to “bring the 80,000 National Guard and Reserve troops home immediately,” I didn’t like what I heard:
“We ought to have a redeployment to Afghanistan of 20,000 troops, we don’t have enough troops to do the job there and it’s a place where we are welcome. And we need a force in the Middle East, not in Iraq but in a friendly neighboring country to fight (terrorist leader Musab) Zarqawi, who came to Iraq after this invasion. We’ve got to get the target off the backs of American troops.” [emphasis mine]
In other words, Dean wants there to be thousands of U.S. troops in the Middle East, just not in Iraq. We need to base them in a country from which we can continue to launch attacks on Iraq. Dean cynically names the fake spectre of Zarqawi as the rationale, and doesn’t mention oil. Just why exactly, do we need a force in the Middle East, and why has Dean chosen to believe that U.S. troops are welcome in Afghanistan, when it’s a U.S. puppet in charge of rolling out the red carpet?
I’ll tell you why. Howard Dean has made the Faustian bargain, and bought into the imperial foreign policy of the D.C establishment. It boggles the mind that Dean and his colleagues in Washington haven’t been forced to give a reason for why the U.S. army is parked on top of all that oil.
So even the so-called “anti-war” statements coming from the Democratic wing of the War Party call for continued imperialistic assertions of American military power in this very unstable region of the world, a military presence that contributes to that same destabilization. This is a far cry from Candidate Dean, who called for a crash renewable energy program to tear us away from the petroleum teat and to bring an end to this conflict.
We have become a terrorist nation. We torture, unilaterally invade nations that haven’t attacked us and then subject those nations to brutal occupations, shred international human rights agreements, leave mountains of waste and billowing smoke in our wake. We are a danger to all around us, and virtually our entire political establishment agrees with these actions in whole or in part. We are sucking Gaia dry of crude oil while we sully her protective cushion of air, and we use our Imperial Army to maintain access to that resource. The American Eagle is the Twenty-First Century Imperial Eagle. We are Christendom reborn as Judeo-Christendom, yet we wonder why the world’s muslims consider this a religious war.
I fear for this country, this rampaging bully. Plainly the people will have to wash the media-induced static out of their eyes and ears and resist the War Party, yet this nation has always been home of a sizable number of people who LIKE being the King of the Mountain. It may be left to the other nations of the world to knock us off our perch before we stripmine the entire peak to rubble.
Why I don't support the military
Sure I feel bad if our guys die or get injured, mostly the way any parent would when I relate these casualties to the way I would feel if it happened to my kid. But as far as moral support for the modern killing machine goes, sorry, I can’t do it. I’m not one of these people who feels the need to provide phony moral support for a bunch of volunteers who are blindly following orders to invade, torture, and kill people. I think the left has gone too far in the wrong direction of supporting the troops while opposing the war. You can’t have it both ways. We can’t continue to make soldiers into victim puppets of our administration. Men and women of the military are smart enough to complain, withdraw, and refuse to serve as volunteers if they disagree with the killing that is going on in Iraq.
That said, Ted Rall has captured these sentiments exactly in his latest column, in which he too takes on the “they’re just following orders” excuses:
Soldiers, they say, must obey orders. However, “just following orders” wasn’t an acceptable excuse at the Nuremberg trials, where the charges included waging a war of aggression. Do our government’s poorly paid contract killers deserve our “support” for blindly following orders?
Not according to the military itself. The U.S. Army’s “Law of Land Warfare,” taught in basic training, says that U.S. troops must always refuse an unlawful order--one that violates the Constitution or other U.S. laws, is not reasonably linked to military necessity or is issued by someone without the proper authority.
So, to avoid dehumanizing soldiers by making them simply victims we must hold them accountable to being accomplices in this illegal and immoral war. Hitler had his willing executioners, so why does the U.S. military get off the hook?
My advice to our side would be to be unafraid of making the leap from the “support our troops” right-wing nonsense and to get a backbone and start pressuring the troops, who may need prodding, and allow them to stand up and say, this is all wrong.