The War and the Wimp Factor

by , November 17, 2007

I had to laugh, albeit bitterly, when I saw the headline: "Democrats vow not to be bullied by Bush on Iraq." Oh, the poor dears, are those dastardly Republicans kicking sand in their faces? That wimpishness just about sums up the style and spirit of the Democrats’ alleged "antiwar" campaign. No matter how critical they are of administration policy, they invariably frame the debate in terms of their own alleged weakness. It’s uncanny how this kind of self-sabotage works: it doesn’t matter how overwhelming opposition to the war has become, with something like sixty-plus percent wanting us out, pronto – the Democrats always undercut their own ostensibly antiwar position, and eventually back down.

The claim is that they can’t cut the funding, because they don’t have a veto-proof majority: a defense appropriation bill that didn’t pay for an ongoing "surge" would simply be sent back to Congress, they aver. If, however, in a sudden fit of Ron Paulish integrity and dedication to principle, the Democrats refused to fund the war in spite of the President’s veto, no defense appropriations bill would be passed, and it would come down to who’s to blame for that. We are told that the Democratic leadership fears being targeted for "not supporting the troops," and even causing an American defeat. Yet it will be the President, exercising his veto power, effectively preventing the entire US military from getting a thin dime.

Not that the Pentagon is in any real danger of running out of money: after all, they have untold billions in assets, including lots of prime real estate in some of the most desirable locations on the good green earth. They can always sell some of those bases, if things gets really hand-to-mouth. I won’t say "privatize," because I don’t want to scare congressional Democrats away from the idea: think of it as a garage sale.

In any case, we won’t be seeing that anytime soon. Instead, what is coming from Capitol Hill is just a lot of bluster. Here’s Reid:

"’He damn sure is not entitled to having this money given to him just with a blank check,’ Sen. Harry Reid, the Democrats’ Senate leader, told reporters. ‘Americans need someone fighting for them taking on this bully we have in the White House.’"

What kind of a "bully" is a President with approval ratings in the twenties? Sounds more like a political 96-pound-weakling to me, and yet the Democrats are quaking in their boots like so many Cowardly Lions. What’s up with that?

Think like a cynical political hack, who only cares about power and manipulating voters: I knew you could. Now imagine, in about a year’s time, that your party is preparing to take power. The Democratic presidential candidate trounced Huckabee, and the Democrats, having won control of the Senate, are now in the drivers’ seat. Now, it’s their war – and they’ll need money to fight it. That’s the real reason they let themselves be "bullied" into submission every time this issue comes up in a new defense appropriations bill. This isn’t bullying: it’s consensual S&M.

In this election season – which has come earlier than ever, it seems – many who oppose our foreign policy of global intervention are understandably hopeful that regime-change in Washington will at least stanch the possibilities of escalating the war, and bring the "surge" to a halt. My own view is that these people are bound to be disappointed.

If the story of US foreign policy since the end of World War II could be summed up in a single, non-polemical word, it would have to be continuity. No president in the modern era has veered very far off the road to empire: the only difference has been the speed at which they traveled. We’ve slowed down, at times, but never reversed course, at least not since FDR. To avoid further warfare in the Middle East and elsewhere, the US would have to reverse the policies of the past two administrations, to start with, and challenge the very premises of our bipartisan foreign policy of global meddling.

If the present policies continue, in the context of the destruction they have already wrought, a wider war is only a matter of time. The train is about to collide with the hard realities of the Middle East, and the Democrats, with their hands on the controls, are going to have to either push "stop" or else continue on course, and take their party – and the rest of us – over a very high cliff.

I am a great believer in electoral politics as a tactic, and even a strategy, to achieve social change, but it has its limits, and that is especially true this time around. The inability of the ostensibly antiwar netroots of the Democratic party to get behind a single credible candidate, and the success of the Hillary juggernaut, has pretty much neutered the Democratic party as the instrument that can lever us out of the Iraqi quagmire. And please don’t write me and ask why I don’t mention Dennis Kucinich: I’ll start taking his presidential campaign seriously when he does. On the Republican side, Ron Paul is the bright star of reason in an otherwise dim albeit crowded constellation.

I like to write about politics, and often do, but my readers need to understand that this strategy is not going to save us from a catastrophic war in the Middle East – yes, a war worse than the one in which we’re currently stalemated. The Iraq war can no longer be contained within the borders of that country: wars are like that. Like a fire that jumps roads, this war is ineluctably spreading, and it won’t stop until every capital in the region is in flames.

This is the "World War IV" the neocons keep gabbling about. The horrible reality is that their dream of another global conflagration is about to come true. Unless there is a fundamental change in US policy, centrifugal forces unleashed by the invasion and occupation of Iraq will tear the region apart in a whole series of wars that will involve the US into the indefinite future.

The politicians aren’t going to do anything "radical" unless they’re pushed by massive public pressure. Yet a "radical" solution is precisely what’s needed to head off the even more "radical" consequences of a failure to act. We’ve seen what the internet can do as far as empowering a mass grassroots movement. In electoral politics, the Howard Dean and Ron Paul campaigns are lessons in what can be accomplished. Meet-up groups to defeat war funding are the next logical step. Think of all the mail and phone calls you could generate: we’d tie up the lines in Washington for a week!

My point is that electoral politics is fine, in its place, but it’s no substitute for building a real solid movement, one that can act quickly, decisively, and in massive numbers to achieve specific goals. The War Party is good at lobbying the lords and ladies of the Beltway: inside deals, indirect subsidies, and outright pay-offs are the order of the day in Washington. Outside the Beltway, however, the commoners – that’s you and me – are getting restless. A mass "people’s power" movement is what’s going to bring down the Empire, in the end, just like similar movements brought down the Soviet empire in Eurasia and the Balkans.

That’s why Antiwar.com is such an integral part of the movement to liberate America. Yes, America does need to be liberated – from an atmosphere thick with war propaganda, where the "mainstream" media dutifully repeats government "talking points" in the guise of reporting the "news." These people may not be on the government payroll – at least openly – but they sure are the most manageable, malleable mouthpieces since the days when Soviet newsmen solemnly assured their audiences that the glorious people’s revolution in Afghanistan was on the verge of victory.

We told the truth in the run-up to the Iraq war, and we were right: the "mainstream" was wrong. And we continue to provide our readers with the truth about what is really going on in the Middle East, and around the world, as our foreign policy wreaks havoc on our own real interests – and destruction on the peoples of the earth. No lie goes unchallenged, no "intelligence" proffered by the War Party goes un-debunked: we’re nothing if not comprehensive – and consistent. We’re also catholic in our views, and our determination to give a platform to a wide variety of writers, from the right as well as the left – and everything in between – is really the key to our success.

We’re building a broad movement against our crazy foreign policy, and we need your help. Antiwar.com depends on reader contributions – we don’t get funding from big foundations, or corporations. Our average contribution is around $50 – and we need a lot of these to make our $70,000 fundraising goal. (Okay, so I’m not that good at math …). Every penny of your tax-deductible donation goes a long way toward ensuring that, when all the shouting and electioneering is over, and the confetti is being swept up by the night janitor, there’s something that remains: the foundations of a real movement for meaningful change in American foreign policy – because nothing less than a real turnaround will do.

So don’t just sit there, and think: Oh, they’ll make it – they always do. I have never taken the success of Antiwar.com for granted, and I never will: I’ve lived through too many harrowing fundraisers to make that mistake. And this one’s turning out to be a real hair-raiser.

Look, we’re not making it, quite frankly, and I’m about ready to push the panic button. C’mon, get cracking – and make that contribution right now, before you forget. Can we really afford to lose Antiwar.com – at a time like this?

NOTES IN THE MARGIN

Oh, and when you’re done making your online contribution (you can mail it in, too, if you like), go on over to Taki’s Top Drawer and check out the outrageous stuff I don’t dare post on Antiwar.com! Only kidding: it’s not that outrageous ….

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