FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Growing GOP Opposition to Iraq War

by KEVIN ZEESE

First it was Walter Jones (R-NC) who began to speak out in favor of an exit strategy for Iraq. Now there are nine. This is still a trickle ­ but it is a growing one. And as the support for the war decreases, evidence of the failure of the occupation and the increased risk the occupation poses to security at home becomes more apparent, this trickle could develop into a pounding river.

Rep. Jones has called for an exit strategy for two reasons. First, he recognizes that he was misled into supporting the war by misinformation about weapons of mass destruction. Second, he cares deeply for U.S. troops and after writing hundreds of letters to the families of soldiers who died in Iraq he thought it was time for them to begin to come home. The U.S. has toppled Saddam, arrested him and many of his top leadership and the first vote in Iraq has occurred ­ the U.S. has done its job ­ it is time to take U.S. troops out of risk.

Rep. Jones was joined by Representative Ron Paul (R-TX) in co-sponsoring the Homeward Bound Act with Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) and Neil Abercrombie (D-HI). Rep. Paul is a Republican with strong libertarian instincts. He has written critically about the “NeoCon Global Government” because he sees it hurting “the United States in blood, money, and sovereignty.” And in a column, “Ignoring Reality in Iraq” written on December 13, 2004, he points out that “a recent study by the Pentagon’s Defense Science Task Force on Strategic Communications concluded that in the struggle for hearts and minds in Iraq, ‘American efforts have not only failed, they may also have achieved the opposite of what they intended.’ This Pentagon report flatly states that our war in Iraq actually has elevated support for radical Islamists. It goes on to conclude that our active intervention in the Middle East as a whole has greatly diminished our reputation in the region, and strengthened support for radical groups. This is similar to what the CIA predicted in an October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate, before the invasion took place.” Further, he chides those who opposed the war for supporting the occupation. This includes many Democrats, like the candidate for Senate in Maryland, Ben Cardin, who initially opposed the war but now votes to keep funding it and opposes an exit strategy. Rep. Paul said of these types:

“Even opponents of the war now argue that we must occupy Iraq indefinitely until a democratic government takes hold, no matter what the costs. No attempt is made by either side to explain exactly why it is the duty of American soldiers to die for the benefit of Iraq or any other foreign country. No reason is given why American taxpayers must pay billions of dollars to build infrastructure in Iraq. We are expected to accept the interventionist approach without question, as though no other options exist.”

Recently, Rep. Paul was joined on the House floor by Rep. John Duncan, Jr. (R-TN) discussing why true conservatives should oppose the “undeclared and unnecessary war” in Iraq. He began his June 28 speech “The Situation in Iraq” saying: “Madam Speaker, last year William F. Buckley, Jr., said if he had known in 2002 what he had since learned, he would have opposed the war in Iraq. A few weeks ago, he wrote that it is now time for the U.S. to get out and leave Iraq to the Iraqis.”

In a speech two weeks earlier, “Hidden Costs of War,” Rep. Duncan pointed out the sad realities of the war: “the most unfortunate thing has been the more than 1,700 young Americans who have been killed there now, and the some 12,000 who have been wounded, many of them severely wounded, maimed for life, in what was a totally unnecessary war.” He reminded people that before this war started he told people “that there was nothing conservative about this war; that it was going to mean massive foreign aid, which conservatives have traditionally been against; that it was going to mean huge deficit spending, which conservatives have traditionally been against.” He highlighted the comments of Lawrence Lindsey, who was the President’s leading economic adviser until he was fired for his comments on the war, who said before the war started that “it would cost $100 billion to $200 billion. Now, by the end of this fiscal year, we are going to be at the astounding figure of $300 billion. And I think the only reason more people are not upset about that is that it is humanly impossible to truly comprehend a figure as high as $300 billion.”

Another Republican, Wayne Gilchrest (R-MD) has joined in co-sponsoring the Homeward Bound Resolution. He represents the Eastern Shore of Maryland, a Republican stronghold. His website features commemorations of U.S. troops and a more than 100 year old essay “The Present Crisis,” by poet James Russell Lowell that examines the choices between good and evil that people and nations must make. He wants to see a cautious withdrawal from Iraq ­ one where Iraq is left stable and U.S. troops are protected.

James Leach (R-IO), a moderate Republican who has differed with the president on Iraq from the outset, this week voted against a proposal opposing an early exit from Iraq. He has quietly questioned the war. In a speech on December 23, 2003 on Iraq he said: “America is in a strategic pickle and Americans are in a judgmental quandary.” He addressed the limits of a superpower’s power by asked a series of important questions:

“Does, for instance, overwhelming military might protect us from terrorism or, if used unwisely, increase our vulnerability to terrorism?

“Likewise, does overwhelming economic power ensure loyalty or buy friendship even from the countries most indebted to the US?

“In other words, can military and economic might ever become a substitute for sensible and sensitive foreign policy?

“And given the dilemma of Iraq, could it indeed be that the most important ‘multi-billion’ problem America faces is not deficits measured in dollars, fiscal or trade, but the antagonism of billions of people around the world who object to our current foreign policy?”

He noted “Many are not convinced by our words; many are appalled by our actions” and concluded the speech saying: “The lesson of the past year is clear: America does better as a mediator and multi-party peace maker than as a unilateral interventionist.”

There were some surprises in the vote for opposing an early exit strategy from Iraq.

Rep. John Hostettler (R-IN), who made national news recently for his comments on Christianity saying: “the long war on Christianity in America continues today on the floor of the House of Representatives” and “continues unabated with aid and comfort to those who would eradicate any vestige of our Christian heritage being supplied by the usual suspects, the Democrats.” Rep. Hostettler is a member of the Armed Services Committee, his website is silent on Iraq, highlighting instead his efforts to prevent gay marriage and to place the ten commandments in government buildings.

Rep. Zach Wamp (R-TN) who is the second ranking Republican on Homeland Security Committee and who has spoken out against terrorist beheadings of captives in Iraq, contrasting that with “the serious mistakes of a few Americans at the Abu Ghraib prison.”

Rep. Don Young (R-FL) who has served in the Congress for 34 years and is a strong advocate for the military. He describes himself as “a staunch supporter of our brave men and women in uniform who are fighting daily in defense of freedom.” And, who proudly proclaims that he has made “certain that defense contracts awarded benefit the workers and economy of Pinellas County. The defense programs Congressman Young has brought to Pinellas County have created thousands of new jobs here, and have helped create a world-class research and technology sector in the Tampa Bay area.”

Rep. Thomas Petri (R-WI) who is in his 14th term in Congress is most known as someone who closely monitors the budget. There is very little on his website about Iraq. The only mention is somewhat tangential ­ a column noting how the New York Times which is “reflexively hostile” to President Bush had something nice to say about him because of the movement toward democracy in the Middle East. Petri notes: “Freedom, it seems, is on the march.” In another column “Some Good News From Iraq” he states:

“Continuing American deaths and injuries in Iraq make me ill. I want to reduce the exposure of our troops as fast as possible. Also, I would much prefer to spend American money here at home, and I have raised plenty of questions about our aid programs in Iraq and elsewhere. But since we’re in Iraq, we have to make the best of it.”

Progress seems to be being made in the House. The vote against the amendment opposing an early exit from Iraq totaled 137 against the amendment and two voting present. A majority in the House is 218 so we are 81 votes away from the majority. On May 28 when the House voted on the Woolsey Amendment for an exit strategy the vote was 128 in favor of the amendment and five not voting. Congress will soon be taking a summer recess. They will be hearing from their constituents on Iraq when they speak at community meetings. This September the antiwar movement is getting behind a major demonstration and lobby day on September 24-26. Momentum is building as the 2006 elections approach.

KEVIN ZEESE is a director of Democracy Rising. You can comment on this column on his blog spot at DemocracyRising.US.

 

Kevin Zeese is an organizer at Popular Resistance.

Weekend Edition
April 29, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
What is the Democratic Party Good For? Absolutely Nothing
Roberto J. González – David Price
Anthropologists Marshalling History: the American Anthropological Association’s Vote on the Academic Boycott of Israeli Institutions
Robert Jacobs
Hanford, Not Fukushima, is the Big Radiological Threat to the West Coast
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
US Presidential Election: Beyond Lesser Evilism
Dave Lindorff
The Push to Make Sanders the Green Party’s Candidate
Ian Fairlie
Chernobyl’s Ongoing Toll: 40,000 More Cancer Deaths?
Pete Dolack
Verizon Sticks it to its Workers Because $45 Billion isn’t Enough
Richard Falk
If Obama Visits Hiroshima
Margaret Kimberley
Dishonoring Harriet Tubman
Deepak Tripathi
The United States, Britain and the European Union
Peter Linebaugh
Marymount, Haymarket, Marikana: a Brief Note Towards ‘Completing’ May Day
Eva Golinger
My Country, My Love: a Conversation with Gerardo and Adriana of the Cuban Five
Moshe Adler
May Day: a Trade Agreement to Unite Third World and American Workers
Vijay Prashad
Political Violence in Honduras
Paul Krane
Where Gun Control Ought to Start: Disarming the Police
David Anderson
Al Jazeera America: Goodbye to All That Jazz
Rob Hager
Platform Perversity: More From the Campaign That Can’t Strategize
Pat Williams
FDR in Montana
Dave Marsh
Every Day I Read the Book (the Best Music Books of the Last Year)
David Rosen
Job Satisfaction Under Perpetual Stagnation
John Feffer
Big Oil isn’t Going Down Without a Fight
Murray Dobbin
The Canadian / Saudi Arms Deal: More Than Meets the Eye?
Gary Engler
The Devil Capitalism
Brian Cloughley
Is Washington Preparing for War Against Russia?
Manuel E. Yepe
The Big Lies and the Small Lies
Robert Fantina
Vice Presidents, Candidates and History
Mel Gurtov
Sanctions and Defiance in North Korea
Howard Lisnoff
Still the Litmus Test of Worth
Dean Baker
Big Business and the Overtime Rule: Irrational Complaints
Ulrich Heyden
Crimea as a Paradise for High-Class Tourism?
Ramzy Baroud
Did the Arabs Betray Palestine? – A Schism between the Ruling Classes and the Wider Society
Halyna Mokrushyna
The War on Ukrainian Scientists
Joseph Natoli
Who’s the Better Neoliberal?
Ron Jacobs
The Battle at Big Brown: Joe Allen’s The Package King
Wahid Azal
Class Struggle and Westoxication in Pahlavi Iran: a Review of the Iranian Series ‘Shahrzad’
David Crisp
After All These Years, Newspapers Still Needed
Graham Peebles
Hungry and Frightened: Famine in Ethiopia 2016
Robert Koehler
Opening the Closed Political Culture
Missy Comley Beattie
Waves of Nostalgia
Thomas Knapp
The Problem with Donald Trump’s Version of “America First”
Georgina Downs
Hillsborough and Beyond: Establishment Cover Ups, Lies & Corruption
Jeffrey St. Clair
Groove on the Tracks: the Magic Left Hand of Red Garland
Ben Debney
Kush Zombies: QELD’s Hat Tip to Old School Hip Hop
Charles R. Larson
Moby Dick on Steroids?
David Yearsley
Miles Davis: Ace of Baseness
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail