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The War's Liberal Enablers

Rummy’s Not the Only One Who Should Go

by MICHAEL DONNELLY

Accountability is no longer creeping, but racing up on the Bush gang. No, not the shuffling of the decks chairs — the "transfer" of Karl Rove; Scott McClellan’s Snow job replacement; or even Scooter’s spilling the beans on the deliberate misleading of the Plame Grand Jury. Nope. It’s the big brass Rummyache that’s got the roaches scurrying. If Rummy goes, who would make decisions for the Decider-in-chief?

All this is quite entertaining and offers hope, but it also brings up: where’s the equivalent to the Generals’ accountability call on the other side? Who’s holding the failed Peace Movement’s feet to the fire? Where’s the call for replacement of its inept, ossified misleadership?

Can it actually be that the same folks who always claim that the military is "hide-bound and incapable of change" have less insight and less accountability? Yes. And Yes.

The ABB Delusion

After producing an Open Letter to Sen. John Kerry prior to the 2004 election that laid out all the relevant issues, United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ – the paymaster cartel of Peace groups) quickly took his No for an answer and endorsed the disastrous ABB gambit. {Perhaps a factor was that over 100 of the groups under the UFPJ umbrella received money from the foundations controlled by Teresa Heinz (Kerry)? Money from Heinz and George Soros led to Global Exchange’s role in starting both UFPJ and Code Pink.}

Ignore for a moment that UFPJ has always been woeful at addressing the Elephant in the Living Room — the Mother of All Issues; the Israeli occupation of Palestine (a condition of the funders?) and how that puts the larger movement on the sidelines before the game is ever begun.

Just how could the ABB inanity ever see the light of day, given that, at the time, polls showed that over 52% of Americans already opposed the illegal war and occupation? And Kerry was one of its main supporters. By the time of the ABB capitulation, Kerry was already on record calling for "winning the war" and calling for "40,000 additional troops" to do the job.

In one ludicrous endorsement, the Peace Movement went from a body that righteously turned out millions in the streets before the war – to a partisan non-entity. Given the chance to rise to the occasion and declare the illegal war just that and declare that any candidate who supported the war would not enjoy the political support of the Peace Movement; instead, the Peace Movement allowed the entire issue to disappear from the debate.

Equally unconscionable was the movement’s betrayal of Ralph Nader, the major anti-war candidate; even attacking him with lies about how his run would be "give us four more years of Bush." Yet, a Gallup/USA Today poll at the time showed that 52% of Nader’s voters would vote for Bush if Nader was not on the ballot, 44% would vote for Kerry if Nader was not on the ballot.

Early ABB advocate, The Nation magazine’s Nation Institute opined in the face of such polls, "If Nader was not on the ballot in key battleground states, three times as many of his backers in battleground states would vote for Kerry as for Bush."

The Nation was equally devious when it wrote its Open Letter to Ralph Nader – a transparent pro-ABB swipe, "The odds of this becoming a race between Bush and Bush Lite are almost nil."

"Nil" in this case turned out to be a "sure thing." The war-mongering Night of the Generals Kerry coronation (Democratic Party Convention) was the "in-your-face" slam dunk response of the Movement’s darllng.

And, somehow, folks like Noam Chomsky, Troy Duster, Barbara Ehrenreich, Jim Hightower, David Corten, Michael Lerner, Manning Marable, Frances Fox Piven, Studs Terkel, Eddie Vedder, Cornel West, Howard Zinn, Medea Benjamin, Michael Moore, Phil Donohue, Tim Robbins, who should have known better, jumped on the ABB bandwagon, signing on to yet another Open Letter. This time it was to the public urging support for ABB, saying, "For people seeking progressive social change in the United States, removing George W. Bush from office should be the top priority in the 2004 presidential election. Progressive votes for John Kerry in swing states may prove decisive in attaining this vital goal."

That Was Then. Is It Any Better Now?

OK. So the "progressive" celebrities were full of it. But, what about the paid professionals at the helms of all those UFPJ groups – neutered by pro-Democrat sentiments, funding imperatives, ties to Israel, wishful thinking or other illogical reasons?

There appears to be no soul-searching and honorable resignations from this pack of over-the-hill self-promoters. So, where’s the equivalent of the Rummy Generals? Who is stepping up to demand accountability?

The Nation has been calling for Rumsfeld’s head since at least its April 21, 2003 issue. Air America is abuzz with such calls and mockery for the "Heckuva job, Rummy" stance of the Decider.

Yet, again, why no calls for fresh blood at the top of the Peace Movement? It’s a very sad day when the Peace Movement leadership gets away unscathed with endorsing a war-monger; deceitfully attacking an anti-war candidate; eliminating the most important issue from an election year debate, etc.

Ironically, at a time when opposition to the war mounts daily, with over 60% consistently polling against the war, the Peace Movement presence has been mostly invisible. Having capitulated when it mattered back in 2004, the Movement is having quite the time getting the soufflé to rise again. And, at every turn, it harkens back to the brain-dead misleadership. Had Cindy Sheehan not jump-started the dead vehicle, one would think that no one cares at all. And, now that she’s no longer in the headlines, it’s back to invisible as far as Peace activism opposition.

During the Vietnam War, huge peace rallies were a matter of course. The Moratorium to End the War in Vietnam turned out 600,000 in Washington DC alone and millions in cities all across America on Oct. 15, 1969. May 9, 1970, over 100,000 returned to DC to protest. On April 24, 1971, over 500,000 protesters descended on DC. On May 3, 1971, over 10,000 were arrested in DC while attempting to shut down the government over the war.

Despite all this, Congress failed to cut funding for the war until a 1975 – year after the last US troops were withdrawn! Despite this history and recent pro-war voting patterns, UFPJ continues to hold to the wishful theory that their Democratic Party allies will step up and bring about an end to this latest misadventure.

Three major rallies against the Iraq insanity have been pulled off, despite UFPJ’s best efforts to derail them: October 25, 2003 saw 100,000 in Washington; March 20, 2004 100,000 in New York City and a September 24 demonstration saw more than 300,000 march in Washington. In each case, the call was issued by A.N.S.W.E.R. (Act Now to End War and Stop Racism). In each case, UFPJ first refused to go along with a united front, even threatening parallel demos. UFPJ’s dedication to the Israeli Elephant in the Living Room was and still is the main cause of its balking. A.N.S.W.E.R. sought to link the Palestinian occupation issue with greater US Middle East policy and UFPJ’s political strategy relies solely on the fantasy of their pro-Israel Democrats eventual coming around. Ultimately UFPJ itself came around and like their Democrat allies jumped to the head of the parade — even claiming total credit.

During Bush the Elder’s Iraq war of 1990-1991, the UFPJ leadership broke with the larger movement and actually held rallies calling for sanctions — again at the behest of their Democrat allies; even hoisting banners that read "Economic Sanctions Not War." UFPJ got the war and its wish. The resulting sanctions have been cited as responsible for the deaths of over 500,000 Iraqi children under age five and some million Iraqis overall. Way too late, the UFPJ leaders came around and opposed the deadly sanctions. Though, as with the Bush lack of accepting responsibility they decry, they saw no need to resign over the deadly policy they promoted.

On Saturday, April 29th, UFPJ and others held a rally in New York and turned out 300,000 against the current war. Despite UFPJ’s continued pro-Israel leanings, this rally took on the prospective Iran attacks, as well. (Though, somehow NOW’s pro-choice banners dominated press footage.)

Saturday’s rally is dwarfed two days later by the millions neophyte immigrant rights activists turned out on May Day across the country. Less than two months into their effort, these activists are already far further along at addressing their issues than the long-established Peace Movement is after three years of illegal war.

Where Are the Youth?

It’s not just the lack of consistency regarding Israel’s belligerence and its dedication to the Democratic Party that diminishes the Peace Movement’s effectiveness. The old guard at the UFPJ convention last year even voted down a proposal from the very youth most at risk. That proposal would have committed UFPJ resources to dogging recruitment centers and recruiters on high school and college campuses. Somehow, that was deemed "too provocative" and unworthy! Is it any wonder that UFPJ skews to an average age somewhere over 40?

And, just as Bush would have the public swallow the very same lies all over again re: Iran; the UFPJ wing of the Peace Movement is gearing up for yet another unquestioning, pro-war Democrat endorsement in 2008. In election year 2006, we have yet to hear any clarion call, or even a peep, from the movement elders (and, yes, "elders" is the correct term) calling for opposition to every one of the Democrat war hawks now up for reelection. (Oh, they’ll gladly do it for the Republicans)

Historians will find this lack of accountability in the Peace Movement as a major cause for the prolongation of the Iraq war and quite possibly the reason Bush and/or his successor was able to also attack Iran. Only by cleaning house at the top and bringing in a much younger leadership can the Movement mitigate this historical judgment and begin to regain credibility after the unending free pass given Israel and the ABB stand-down.

NOTE: You’ll notice I do not use the term "Anti-War Movement." Partly, as one can easily see in the Palestine issue, the movement is not such as a matter of unwavering principle. But, also, I strongly believe that folks have the right to be called whatever they desire to be called. And, though in many ways it is a distinction without a difference, Peace Movement is the shaky coalition’s chosen term.

MICHAEL DONNELLY is a Vietnam-era Conscientious Objector and veteran of many (far too many) anti-war efforts. He can be reached at pahtoo@aol.com