Backtalk November 13, 2006

The Antiwar Wave

Dear Mr. Editor:

I have been a Republican for most of my life, and have generally though not always made it to vote on election day. But this Tuesday I stayed home until it was time to go to work. As a conservative (fiscally and socially) I could not vote Democrat, but neither could I vote Republican. A foreign policy that seeks to dominate the world or spend money on wars to promote the corporate sponsors of a political party are not my idea of a conservative administration. I wonder how many conservatives, like me, simply failed to make it to the polls this past Tuesday. My no-show was not a retreat from politics, but a thought-out expression that even if I will not vote for the left wing, neither will I vote for a right wing interested in continuing to police the world while neglecting the ordinary things governments ought to do like balance a budget, live within its means, and provide stability, rather than glitz and crusades, for their populace. Conservatives, you will now need to work to show me that you have changed enough to win my vote back. Send the neocons packing or I will continue staying home. Besides it saves on oil use – not voting for so called pro-war conservatives may help to reduce our need for imported oil by saving me a trip to the polling station.

~ Dan McDonald, Cleveland, Okla.

I was impressed with Raimondo’s prescient comment a day before the election: Democrats are just another wing of the War Party. We should not expect too much if they win.

Anybody else notice how just before the election, every TV talking head joined in the chorus: “It’s about Iraq, Iraq, Iraq. A majority of the people do not like the war in Iraq”?

On the morning after the election I turned on CNN and was informed, with big colorful graphics, that exit polls showed the public was concerned with – in descending order of importance – (1) corruption, (2) war on terror, (3) economy, (4) Iraq.

Bob Shrum, perennial Democratic strategist and election loser (Kerry’s campaign manager), on CNN the day following the Democratic election victory, said that the first order of the day is to send a minimum wage bill to President Bush. Nothing about Iraq. Naturally, the minimum wage bill will be vetoed, and the two parties can throw a few mud cakes at each other before getting down to the business of the day: divvying up the profits of politics, including war profits.

Let there be no mistake, our Constitution makes it very clear: only Congress can declare war. It is well known what that means: Congress decides when war begins, continues and ends. Period. (That is why the Supreme Court has consistently refused to declare any war “illegal” in the cases brought before it.)

Congress need not send any bill to Bush for signature to end the war. Spending bills can only originate in the House. Democrats control the House. Without appropriations the war cannot continue. End of story. In the next two years we will be hearing a lot of bull to the contrary. Don’t believe it for a second.

Going to war was not my choice, but the voters of America voted for war. Now voters have voted to end the war. The Democrats have it in their power to end the war and will have two years to complete the job. They must begin at once.

~ Tim Blendheim

Can Jim Baker Save the American Establishment?

Assume that young Bush accepts the Baker proposals, whatever they may be. What mechanism is there to force the Iraqis to go along with them?

The puppet regime may accept them but how do you apply them to those engaged in the current civil war?

It would be nice to drag Iran and Syria into the Iraqi maelstrom, but would they consent? The Iranians have proven time and again that they are much wiser than us in these matters, and isn’t it more to their benefit to watch us twist slowly in the wind?

Is it realistic, even at this point, to think young Bush would ask Iran and Syria to to get him off the hook, please?

There is another interested group in this discussion, people who don’t care a fig (or date) about Baker or the salvation of the American Establishment: the citizens of Iraq.

Poll by for PIPA (Sept. 2006):

“A new WPO poll of the Iraqi public finds that seven in ten Iraqis want U.S.-led forces to commit to withdraw within a year. An overwhelming majority believes that the U.S. military presence in Iraq is provoking more conflict than it is preventing and there is growing confidence in the Iraqi army. If the United States made a commitment to withdraw, a majority believes that this would strengthen the Iraqi government. Support for attacks on U.S.-led forces has grown to a majority position — now six in ten. Support appears to be related to a widespread perception, held by all ethnic groups, that the U.S. government plans to have permanent military bases in Iraq.”

Also asked about Iraqis’ feelings toward al-Qaeda, Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah. Al-Qaeda is looked on unfavorably by large majorities in all Iraq’s ethnic groups, while the other regional actors are viewed more variably.

Poll for the U.S. Department of Defense (Sept. 2006): John Simpson for the BBC reports a U.S. Department of Defense poll which found that about 75 percent of Iraq’s 5 million Sunni Muslims now support the armed insurgency against the coalition.

The only viable solution to the Iraqi nightmare is for the U.S. to get out now.

~ Michael Charles Stanley

The War God That Failed

Hi Justin,

I’ve been telling all my antiwar friends that their faith in the Democrats is misplaced for months now. Same war(s), different marketing. I just don’t think my message is penetrating, and I think the big reason for that is that to admit that there is merely a left and a right wing of an all-encompassing war party is too terrible a thing to contemplate. I used to think similarly as recently as 2002, but since then the scales have ever so slowly fallen from my eyes and what I behold is a terrible thing indeed: corporatism with a thin democratic veneer. Anyway, keep up the good work. Hopefully after this round of (s)elections people will finally wake up to the need to a broad-based, grass-roots anti-imperialist movement.

~ Brendan Buxton

Wake Me When It’s Over

I don’t know who if anyone reviews or edits these pieces you post, or who reads these e-mails.

But I want to point out the ridiculously sloppy approach to reporting and analysis in Mr. Frank’s piece, “Wake Me When It’s Over.” To describe Peace Action by calling us “the self-proclaimed largest grassroots peace organization in the U.S.” is just the beginning. Is it so hard for Mr. Frank to go to a few Web sites or check a few numbers to verify our very easily verifiable claim? Apparently so. Easier to just make a snide comment about it, I suppose. … His description of the activity on our voter guides is completely inaccurate, and his description of our goals and motivations in this is laughable. “Cocktail party networking”? Has Mr. Frank ever worked for a grassroots peace organization in D.C.? If he had, he would know just how ridiculous that sounds. We scratch and fight for everything we get here, and no one works at a place like this to schmooze at fancy cocktail parties and further their career. Naturally, he cannot even cite a name of anyone who gave him his information about Peace Action’s plans or strategy. Once again, I guess it must have been just too darn difficult to call our national office to get an accurate quote he could attribute to an actual person in leadership.

Generally I very much appreciate, but you should be a little more careful about stuff like this. People who can’t do basic reporting or cite their sources shouldn’t be given the space to smear the names of those people and groups working to end the war, bring social justice, etc. …

~ Gordon S. Clark, communications director, Peace Action & Peace Action Education Fund

Anna Pullinger’s Backtalk

Even though I’m still waiting on any coherent illumination of Serbs’ historic grievances against Russia from Nebojsa Malic, I nevertheless feel compelled to explain to Anna Pullinger that I have no bitterness toward Serbs, whatsoever. Maybe incomprehension, maybe a desire to remind them that it was … they who sold out Russia in all those memorable years of Cold War. But bitterness? No. No bitterness.

After all, what Russia could do to prevent bombing of Serbia, Russia did: promising to block its authorization within the framework of the UN. After that, Russia could do nothing, short of going to war against the West.

Since Russia once did that, and got Communist takeover and the Serbs’ Cold War betrayal as a consequence, it’s only logical that this time around Moscow decided not to plunge into a concrete wall headfirst.

If the Serbs don’t like it – tough. My only hopes are that from now on, Russia protects its own interests first, the interests of her friends second, and the Serbs’ interests never.

~ Oleg Beliakovich

Nebojsa Malic replies:

I would dearly like to hear an explanation how the Serbs – having been partitioned, humiliated, deceived, robbed, and jailed by Yugoslavia’s Communist overlords trained in Moscow – “sold out” Russia during the Cold War. Serbs do not have “historic grievances” against Russia; if anything, they may have a surplus of Russophilia, a misguided belief that the “Big Brother” from Moscow will defend them against Western depredations. It’s an expectation perhaps borne of Russia’s aid to Serbs that dates back to the early 1800s; but with due respect to many Russians who fought valiantly to help the Serbs, that help never actually accomplished much. Russian participation in the Contact Group and other Imperial ventures in the Balkans during the 1990s has done a lot to lend those diplomatic atrocities an undeserved air of legitimacy. And in 1999, it was by all accounts Russia’s Chernomyrdin who persuaded Milosevic to strike a deal with NATO that amounted to surrender, promising Russian support that never materialized. I’ve never said that Russia should neglect its own interests to defend those of Serbia (in fact, I explicitly said otherwise), but insofar as those interests overlap, Moscow has done a remarkably poor job of championing them. So far.

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