Triangulation for War


Over the weekend, a spectrum of liberal responses to Cindy Sheehan came into sharper focus.

The message is often anti-Bush… but not necessarily anti-war.

Frank Rich spun out his particular style of triangulation in the New York Times. While deriding President Bush’s stay-the-course stance, Rich also felt a need to disparage the most visible advocate for quick withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.

Putting down Sheehan — and, by implication, the one-third of the U.S. public that wants all American troops to exit Iraq without delay — Rich’s column on Sunday mocked "her bumper-sticker politics" and "the slick left-wing political operatives who have turned her into a circus."

Rich criticized "the utter bankruptcy of the Democrats who had rubber-stamped this misadventure in the first place." Yet, in effect, he was willing to help rubber-stamp continuation of the "misadventure" in the present tense.

The president, Rich lamented, "pretends that the only alternative to his reckless conduct of the war is Ms. Sheehan’s equally apocalyptic retreat."

Equating what George W. Bush is doing with what Cindy Sheehan is advocating? Is there really an option for non-reckless "conduct of the war" that would be better than ending the U.S. war effort in Iraq?

Rich praised Sen. Russell Feingold’s "timetable theme" — along the lines of getting U.S. troops out of Iraq by the end of next year. That would be a "target date," Rich explained approvingly, "as opposed to a deadline."

But no realistic explanation is available as to what conditions will exist in December 2006 that won’t exist in December 2005 in Iraq. Are we supposed to believe that all the Americans who die next year — and all the Iraqis they kill and all the Iraqis who die at the hands of other Iraqis incensed by the U.S. occupation — should be ultimately sacrificed so that pundits, politicians and their reliable sources can wait a decent interval before (in Rich’s words) "our inexorable exit from Iraq"?

For that matter, we should question just how "inexorable" a U.S. exit from Iraq is. After all, it’s hardly certain that the worst and dumbest or the best and brightest in Washington will opt for evacuation of the U.S. military bases in Iraq. And can we really assume that the president will order complete withdrawal from a country with so many billions of barrels of oil under the sand?

While many anti-GOP pundits insist that a fast withdrawal is no way to go, numerous leaders of the Democratic Party are even more eager to triangulate. "Senior Democrats sought to distance themselves Sunday from Sheehan’s protest," the Washington Post reports. On a Fox network show, Sen. Byron Dorgan said: "If we withdrew tomorrow, there would be a bloodbath in Iraq. We can’t do that." Yet a bloodbath is already well underway in Iraq and shows no sign of abating under the U.S. occupation.

Meanwhile, a more overt pro-war position is explicit from the Washington Post, which seems bent on replicating its blood-soaked history of editorial support for the Vietnam War.

In August 1966 the Post’s owner, Katharine Graham, discussed the war with a writer in line to take charge of the newspaper’s editorial page. "We agreed that the Post ought to work its way out of the very supportive editorial position it had taken, but that we couldn’t be precipitate; we had to move away gradually from where we had been," Graham was to write in her autobiography. Many more deaths resulted from such unwillingness to "be precipitate."

In August 2005, while noting the latest setbacks for the U.S. agenda in Iraq, the Post’s editorial on the last Saturday of the month did not waver — and was certainly not precipitate: "There is no cause for despair, or for abandoning the basic U.S. strategy in Iraq, which is to support the election of a permanent national government and train security forces capable of defending it with continuing help from American troops. But it is dispiriting, and damaging to the chances for success, that President Bush still refuses to speak honestly to the country about the challenges the United States now faces, or how he intends to address them."

This is an inventive proclivity of the Washington Post and many other corporate media outlets that are eager to advise the president on how to build a better war trap.

Meanwhile, by any measure in this country, the summer has brought a grassroots upsurge of insistence that the Iraq war is not suitable for tinkering or for a long goodbye. On Monday, two days after the Post published its editorial claiming that "there is no cause for despair," a news article in the paper quoted one of the activists who has been working for years against this war. Nancy Lessin, a co-founder of Military Families Speak Out, is working on preparations for bus tours that will soon depart from Crawford and travel various routes to Washington, with activists aboard from MFSO, Gold Star Families for Peace, Iraq Veterans Against the War, and Veterans for Peace.

"The questions that Cindy Sheehan has for George Bush are now questions for members of Congress and decision-makers across the country," Lessin said. "We are not here to make deals with the lives of our children. We will be calling on all decision-makers to bring the troops home now."

Commentators who dismiss such a plea as "bumper-sticker politics" have failed to truly grasp the significance of the Vietnam War and its somber memorials, including the one in Washington. Those pundits do not comprehend the writing on the wall.

NORMAN SOLOMON is the author of the new book "War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death."


Weekend Edition
October 9-11, 2015
David Price – Roberto J. González
The Use and Abuse of Culture (and Children): The Human Terrain System’s Rationalization of Pedophilia in Afghanistan
Gary Leupp
The Six Most Disastrous Interventions of the 21st  Century
Mike Whitney
Putin’s “Endgame” in Syria
Jason Hribal
The Tilikum Effect and the Downfall of SeaWorld
Paul Street
Hope in Abandonment: Cuba, Detroit, and Earth-Scientific Socialism
Andrew Levine
In Syria, Obama is Playing a Losing Game
Louis Proyect
The End of Academic Freedom in America: the Case of Steven Salaita
John Feffer
Mouths Wide Shut: Obama’s War on Whistleblowers
Conn Hallinan
Portugal: Europe’s Left Batting 1000
Brian Cloughley
Hospital Slaughter and the US/NATO Propaganda Machine
John Walsh
For Vietnam: Artemisinin From China, Agent Orange From America
Robert Fantina
Canadian Universities vs. Israeli Apartheid
Paul Craig Roberts
The Impulsiveness of US Power
Philippe Marlière
Class Struggle at Air France
Binoy Kampmark
Waiting in Vain for Moderation: Syria, Russia and Washington’s Problem
Paul Edwards
Empire of Disaster
Margaret Knapke
These Salvadoran Women Went to Prison for Suffering Miscarriages
Cesar Chelala
The Perverse Rise of Killer Robots
Halyna Mokrushyna
On Ukraine’s ‘Incorrect’ Past
Walter Brasch
Mass Murders are Good for Business
William Hadfield
Sophistry Rising: the Refugee Debate in Germany
Christopher Brauchli
Why the NRA Profits From Mass Shootings
Pete Dolack
There is Still Time to Defeat the Trans-Pacific Partnership
Andre Vltchek
Stop Millions of Western Immigrants!
Dave Lindorff
America’s Latest War Crime
Ann Garrison
Sankarist Spirit Resurges in Burkina Faso
Cesar Chelala
The Perverse Rise of Killer Robots
Franklin Lamb
Official Investigation Needed After Afghan Hospital Bombing
Linn Washington Jr.
Wrongs In Wine-Land
Charles R. Larson
Prelude to the Spanish Civil War: Eduard Mendoza’s “An Englishman in Madrid”
October 08, 2015
Michael Horton
Why is the US Aiding and Enabling Saudi Arabia’s Genocidal War in Yemen?
Ben Debney
Guns, Trump and Mental Illness
Pepe Escobar
The NATO-Russia Face Off in Syria
Yoav Litvin
Israeli Occupation for Dummies
Lawrence Davidson
Deep Poverty in America: the On-Going Tradition of Not Caring
Thomas Knapp
War Party’s New Line: Vladimir Putin is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things
Brandon Jordan
Sowing the Seeds of War in Uruguay
Binoy Kampmark
Imperilled by Unfree Trade: the TPP on Environment and Labor
John McMurtry
The Canadian Elections: Cover-Up and Steal (Again)
Anthony Papa
Coming Home: an Open Letter to 6,000 Soon-to-be-Released Drug War Prisoners From an Ex-Con
Ramzy Baroud
Listen to Syrians: The Media Jackals and the People’s Narrative
Norman Pollack
Heart of Darkness: A Two-Way Street
Gilbert Mercier
Will Russia, Iran, Hezbollah and Iraqi Shiite Militias Defeat ISIS in Syria and Iraq?
John Stanton
Vietnam 2.0 and California Dreamin’ in Ukraine
William John Cox
The Pornography of Hatred