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Cut and Run


The Democrats in Congress are having trouble coming up with a position on the War in Iraq because they are so afraid of Republican charges that they are the “cut and run” party.
It’s a pathetic spectacle, and they should give it up. The way I see it “cut and run” is the slogan the Democrats should adopt as their own for the 2006 election year.

Democrats: the party of cut and run.

But I’m not talking about the war.

The “cut” should be for cutting the defense budget.

It makes no sense for the U.S. to be spending more money than the rest of the world combined on the military. All that taxpayer dough certainly doesn’t do anything to combat terrorism. As the insurgents in Iraq are demonstrating daily, all that heavy equipment and those billion-dollar supersonic aircraft, and those guys bundled up like it’s the North Pole running around with heavy artillery in their hands aren’t doing much about catching guys armed with creaky AK-47s and home-made explosive devices. And they sure aren’t catching Osama bin Laden.

Meanwhile, all that money is just providing excuses for Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and their gang of yes-men generals to get the country and its out-of-work young men and women into bloody, pointless messes like Iraq.

The answer is to take the toys away. Just think what could be done with the $250 billion a year that would be freed up instantly if the $500-billion military budget were cut in half! And it would be easy to do. Close all the bases that are just sitting around the U.S. to give members of Congress places to give 4th of July Day speeches, cancel spending on fancy new weapons programs to fight imaginary enemies, decommission half the soldiers, marines, sailors and pilots on the payroll—and of course bring the troops home from Iraq, not next year but now. (Surely a nation that was still spending half as much as the rest of the world combined wouldn’t be at the mercy of anybody, though it might be a little harder to be an out-of-control imperialist bully.)

That gets us to the second part of the slogan: the “run” part.

And here’s where the real fun starts.

For the last five years, we’ve had an administration that has proven it can’t run anything. Look at the record: Bush has run the government into the ground, run the military into a ditch, run the nation’s international reputation into the sewer, run our schools into crisis, run the budget off the rails, run away from his responsibility to protect the nation, and literally run away from taking the blame for any of his countless mistakes.
How inspiring it would be–and what a blessed relief–to have a party that was committed to actually “running” the government for a change.

With all the money saved by “cutting” the military budget back to a level appropriate for a nation that is not at war (and in case you haven’t heard, the U.S. is not at war even today, given that the so-called War on Terror is no war at all, the War in Afghanistan is a U.S. effort in which the U.S. is merely a participant there at the invitation of the Afghan government, and the troops currently in Iraq, who would be withdrawn in any case under this proposal, are merely guests of the Iraqi government, serving in a police function to help support the government, which according to the Bush administration, already has over 200,000 of its own troops–ten times the estimated number of rebels, terrorists and criminals opposing it), all things would be possible.

Democrats, with all that money saved from “cutting” the military budget, could actually “run” a government. They could provide funding for significantly smaller classroom sizes–the one reform that is guaranteed to improve the nation’s dismal education system. They could restore all the cuts in child welfare programs and rebuild the network of free-access community health clinics that years of Republican and Clintonian cuts have virtually eliminated. They could build a state-of-the-art flood control system to protect New Orleans, and a WPA-like program to help all New Orleans residents get back to their city. They could provide real assistance where it’s needed in poor countries of the world that are suffering from lack of sanitation, clean water and basic health care.
If the Democrats came back into power and “cut” the massive tax giveaways of the Bush years out of the tax code, they could even do more. They could run the country back out of bankruptcy. They could provide real tax relief where it’s needed: those working people who are barely getting by on $30-60,000 a year. They could make serious investments in public transportation to get the country out of polluting and oil-guzzling cars. They could fund research into non-polluting energy alternatives, and into developing a crash program to slow or prevent global warming.

The list is almost endless.

All the Democrats need to do is adopt a policy of cut and run, and take it to the people of the United States.

The first step would be for the American people–the ones who are fed up with the mendacity and rank incompetence of this administration and its backers in Congress–to get of their couches and to demand that the supposed opposition party stop diddling around with deadlines, and get serious about being in opposition.

My message for Democrats: Cut the crap. Run like you want to win. Cut the military. Run a real government.

Cut and Run.

It’s a winning slogan.





Dave Lindorff is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, an online newspaper collective, and is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).

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