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A recent Boston Globe article focused on the fact that the Democrats are struggling to find one voice on Iraq. We don’t need one voice from the Democrats. We need every Democrat who voted for this war to apologize for this illegal and immoral war and to insist that we leave Iraq immediately.
On October 11, 2002, the Senate voted 77-23 and the House voted 296-133 to authorize President Bush to attack Iraq if Saddam Hussein refused to give up weapons of mass destruction as required by UN resolutions.
It didn’t matter that Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction and hadn’t had any since 1995, according to UN Weapons Inspector, Scott Ritter, a fact he says was known by US, British, Israeli and German intelligence. It didn’t matter that Iraq harbored no Al Qaeda terrorists. It didn’t matter that the weapons inspections were moving along, despite Hussein’s moodiness on the subject. It didn’t matter that the whole world was watching Hussein and there was no way he could possibly bring any more harm to his own or any other people.
To get the Congress and we-the-people on board, in the words of General Anthony Zinni, the administration "cooked the books" and the majority of us nodded approvingly. On March 20, 2003, President Bush, well armed with the unchecked power handed to him by Congress, declared pre-emptive war against Iraq. Well over two thousand Americans and, according to the Iraq Body Count Project, over 42,000 Iraqis have died to date. Thousands have been wounded. Many have been tortured. An anti-American insurgence has grown long, sharp teeth. No one has been held accountable.
The truth was available to all members of Congress at the time of the vote and some chose to heed it. Senator Mark Dayton said, "There was never any suggestion in any briefings I attended that Iraq had or was about to acquire a nuclear weapons program." Senator Kent Conrad took it upon himself before the Iraq vote to read the book, "1919," a history of Iraq’s independence. He learned about the long-standing conflicts between ethnic factions and knew that the Iraqi people would not be waving US victory flags. "I knew none of that was true," he said. Senator Dick Durbin didn’t believe the hastily produced national intelligence document about Iraq’s weapons, stating "I knew that much of the document was conjecture." According to Senator Lincoln Chafee, the only Republican to oppose the war, "I never believed that the Iraq war was about weapons of mass destruction. It was this grand vision of changing the Middle East."
Grand vision of the Middle East? How grand is a vision that requires bombing a country and depriving its children of medical care for ten year during sanctions? How grand, even effective, can the vision be if the visionaries don’t even know the history of the region? How grand is a vision that requires killing over 42,000 people, over 26,000 of whom were civilians. How grand is a vision that destroys the infrastructure of another county and pays your own people big bucks to build it back up again?
Even though many of the dead and wounded are their own constituents and the children of their own constituents, the High Profile Democrats–the ones who have announced or who are rumored to be preparing to announce a bid for the Presidency–are not hollering about having been lied to. They are not apologizing to the families of the dead for their misguided votes. They are not insisting upon an immediate withdrawal from Iraq.
These Democrats who voted for the war, including Joseph Biden, Hillary Clinton, Diane Feinstein and Joe Lieberman, are muttering about political divisions, stewing on mindless strategy about why the US should stay in Iraq or mildly asking the administration for exit strategy plans.
To his credit, John Kerry has proposed a tepid plan for withdrawing the troops, but insodoing, he referred to the war as "a foreign policy misadventure." It is not a misadventure. It is a bloody, immoral foray backwards into cruel US colonialism which was illegally manipulated by a bankrupt administration and approved by a large majority of our elected officials. The only possible choice open to us is to denounce the action and bring it to an end as quickly as possible. The best way to support our troops is to bring them home before any more lives are lost.
Melvin Laird, former Republican Secretary of Defense, urges expeditious withdrawal contending, "Our presence is what feeds the insurgency in Iraq." Howard Zinn, historian and author, argues that "because the US occupation lies at the root of the civil war in Iraq, the slower you phase it out, the slower you end the insurgency. Troops should begin leaving as fast as ships and planes can bring them out."
It is time for the elected Democrats who supported this tragic debacle to come clean and start running.
LAURA SANTINA lives in San Francisco, where she writes on political affairs. She can be reached at: LSantina@sbcglobal.net