There is a time to talk the talk, and a time to walk the walk a time for analysis, and a time for action and now is the time for the latter. We need immediate action to stop the war before it spreads beyond Iraq, before it bankrupts our country, before all the blood needlessly shed leaves an indelible moral stain that will shame us for generations to come. I read and write about this rotten war practically every day, and I’m beginning to wonder: when will it ever end?
We’ve talked, and written, and discussed among ourselves until we’re blue in the face: now it is time to act. Thanks to United for Peace and Justice, a national coalition of hundreds of groups opposed to our interventionist foreign policy, a golden opportunity presents itself on the weekend of Sept. 24-26, when a great coming together of the antiwar movement is planned.
This event, however, promises to be far more than a gathering of the usual suspects. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, as resentment of the lies, the incompetence, the sheer criminality of our rulers reaches a crescendo, this weekend of protest has the potential to become the focal point of a mass movement one that has the power to defeat, once and for all, the neoconservative gang that has hijacked American foreign policy and recklessly steered it in an increasingly dangerous direction.
The polls show that the majority of Americans now want a reduction of U.S. troops in Iraq: a large and growing minority demands a complete withdrawal sooner rather than later. Post-Katrina, those “withdraw now” numbers are bound to rise. A majority is now saying, for the first time since 9/11, that domestic policy is a higher priority than foreign policy. As Pat Buchanan puts it in the new issue of The Spectator:
“America remains a superpower, but seriously overstretched. With armed forces of 1.2 million, we are fighting insurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan, have troops in scores of countries, and are committed to defend dozens of others all over the world. The U.S. budget is $400 billion in deficit, as 77 million Baby Boomers approach retirement age and eligibility for social security and Medicare. Either the Bush tax cuts go and we recruit hundreds of thousands more troops, or the war guarantees must be re-assessed and the empire abandoned.
“My feeling is that when the time comes to choose, the empire goes. Message from Katrina: come home, America.”
We were lied, cajoled [.pdf], and manipulated into this war which soon turned into a quest for Empire by a relatively small number of people; a cabal of highly placed government officials, “mainstream” pundits, and think–tank theoreticians, who, in alliance with the leadership of both parties, reacted to the 9/11 terrorist attacks by unleashing a policy of untrammeled aggression in the Middle East and around the world. On the home front, we saw a massive and concerted attack on our civil liberties, carried out in tandem with a propaganda campaign of unprecedented proportions and based, as it turned out, on pure deception.
Widespread anger at the discovery that Iraq possessed no “weapons of mass destruction” and had nothing to do with 9/11 has slowly been building as the casualty count in Iraq has skyrocketed. The news that the U.S. government is preparing 25,000 body bags for use not in Iraq, but in Louisiana, where this administration was caught flat-footed and completely unprepared for a natural disaster, is enough of a spark to set off a social and political explosion, the reverberations of which could take down both wings of the War Party.
We are all familiar enough with our Republican war-birds, whose cries of “invade!” and “bombs away!” are heard on Fox News and the right-wing radio circuit on a daily basis. But there is another, and in many ways more formidable, branch office of the War Party embedded deep inside the Democratic Party, which lays claim to the mantle of liberalism (in the 20th century sense, not the 19th) and yet regularly worships at the temple of Ares, sitting in the pews right next to Rush Limbaugh and Bill Kristol.
Few politicians are as hawkish as Hillary Clinton: she wants more U.S. troops in Iraq, not less. No wonder she and Newt Gingrich are such bosom buddies. The same goes for the Two Joes Lieberman and Biden and their neoconnish cohorts at the Democratic Leadership Council. While Bill Kristol and the Project for a New American Century (PNAC) prod the GOP leadership to stand fast on the war, Marshall Wittmann of the DLC who made the transition from Social Democrats, USA to the Christian Coalition to John McCain’s staff to the DLC with the effortless ease of a born amphibian harangues his fellow Democrats from his perch on the “Moose blog,” invoking the specter of “national greatness” to shore up support for the war among the party faithful.
There is lots of shoring up to do, as the Democratic rank-and-file shows increasing impatience with spineless leaders tripped up by their own rhetorical and moral ambiguity. Democrats are searching, restlessly, for real leadership a Moses to lead us out of the Iraqi quagmire and back onto dry land. Go and check out dailykos.com, where Democrats lash out in anger at the DLC smoothies who offer up only Bush Lite as a program. The war is increasingly the focal point of their anger and frustration, and chances are the Democrats won’t have another lockstep convention of Stepford delegates. The days when the Democratic grassroots are content with their role as hand-raisers for their timorous and thoroughly neoconized leadership are definitely over. The only question now is: will a leader emerge? Is Senator Russ Feingold, who is showing every sign of launching a presidential bid, their Gene McCarthy, their McGovern who, unlike his predecessors, has the potential to take the White House?
Only time will tell, but of this much we can be certain: the Democratic Party establishment, which has been staunchly pro-war up until this point, is facing a challenge from within. Democrats, in their millions, hate this war. In this they reflect the general feeling in the country that something is very wrong with this nation’s foreign policy and that we need to get our priorities straight.
Come home, America from Pat Buchanan to Russ Feingold, the cry is being heard. From right to left, in the South and in the North, in the board room and the back room the realization is spreading that we have taken on too much, that we cannot sustain this tremendous outpouring of energy and resources, that something’s got to give. The nation is finally awakening, and not only to the massive deception carried out by the war propagandists and their fifth column in the American media, but to the fact that we have the power to change all this that things don’t have to be this way. We don’t have to live in a predatory empire: we can have our old republic back. But only if we are willing to act now
On Sept. 24, 1869, known as “Black Friday” in the annals of American economic history, a financial panic ensued as a result of the political manipulation of the gold market by Jay Gould and James Fisk, and the subsequent sell-off of gold reserves by the U.S. government. As Wikipedia explains: in order to finance the Civil War,
“The United States government issued a large amount of money that was backed by nothing but credit. After the war ended, people commonly believed that the U.S. government would buy back the ‘greenbacks’ with gold.”
When that promise was not forthcoming, the panic of 1869 ensued: it was a crisis of confidence in the veracity of our leaders, both political and financial. The legitimacy of the ruling regime was challenged, and the Gilded Age turned to tin as the moral stock of our rulers fell.
Let Sept. 24, 2005, be the War Party’s “Black Saturday.” The day on which the promises of our rulers that they can “liberate” Iraq and save Louisiana; that they can defend America and embark on a campaign to spread “democracy” across the globe; that they can ensure order in Baghdad and on the mean streets of our own decaying inner cities begin to catch up with them. They will panic while the rest of us celebrate and begin to realize our own power to change the world instead of just mourning it.
As the lefties say, “Don’t mourn organize!” If you can’t get to Washington to register your protest, then organize your own protest on your home turf. Get together with some of your friends, have them contact their friends and acquaintances and show the War Party and its minions that you’re mad as hell and you aren’t going to take it anymore. Do your part, however large or small it may be, and together we can take back this nation from the hijackers who made off with our resources, our military, and our good name. Get involved. Contact United for Peace and Justice at: (212) 868-5545.