FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

How Democrats are Buying the Iraq War

by JEFF LEYS

Last week, members of the Smedley Butler Brigade of Veterans for Peace organized an office occupation of Representative Ed Markey’s office in Massachusetts. Their demand was simple: refuse to continue funding the Iraq war and vote against the $93 billion supplemental spending request submitted to Congress by President Bush on February 5. Their action was one of a growing number of office occupations taking place during the Occupation Project campaign of civil disobedience to end Iraq war funding.

Markey adroitly launched into song and dance, agreeing to meet and promising, in writing, to vote against President Bush’s request. The next day, he pivoted and swirled, doing the finest two step you’ll ever see. He pronounced that he will most definitely vote against President Bush’s request. He also pronounced that he will wait to decide whether to vote for or against the final supplemental spending bill being crafted by Representatives John Murtha and David Obey in the House Appropriations Committee. Talk about having your cake and eating it too.

Let there be no mistake. The Democrats are buying the Iraq war lock, stock and barrel. Indeed, fewer votes may be cast against continuing Iraq war funding this year than last year (or the year before) if so-called, erstwhile antiwar Democrats follow the logic of Markey.

The Democrats, led by Murtha and Obey, must be told in no uncertain terms that they cannot simultaneously be against the Iraq war and continue to fund the war. Murtha’s proscription is aptly dubbed a “slow bleed” strategy, as reprehensible as the “slow bleed” strategy of the Bush administration. The Bush administration made a clear and coldly calculated decision that, so long as deaths of U.S. soldiers were kept to a “minimum” and spread out amongst communities across the U.S., his administration could continue to wage this war without arousing active opposition to this war from middle America. Similarly, Murtha seems to be calculating that he and the Democrats will survive a “slow bleed” of U.S. soldiers and Iraqi citizens while he nibbles at the edges of ending the war in and occupation of Iraq.

Murtha’s proposals to end stop loss and stop move orders should be supported. A grave injustice is done to members of the U.S. military when they are forced to serve beyond the end of their enlistment contract or forced to extend their tour of duty in Iraq. His proposal to require that U.S. service members should also be at home for a minimum of one year before being deployed back to Iraq is also worthy of support. Indeed, I and three others were arrested at the U.S. Military Entrance Processing Command here in Illinois last July pressing those demands.

Murtha fiddles on the edges of using the power of the purse to end the Iraq war while Rome-Baghdad-is burning to the ground.

The situation is not all that much brighter on the Senate side of the Congress. Senators are posturing to be the most antiwar Senator, especially those who are running for President. None is yet showing the political courage of their predecessors in the Senate-to actually vote against any additional funding for the Iraq war. The end of the U.S. war in Vietnam began in 1965 when three Senators voted against funding the war.

Senator Feingold introduced S. 448, “The Iraq Redeployment Act of 2007”, which calls for the cessation of most funding for U.S. military operations in Iraq 180 days following passage of the act. Senator Obama introduced S. 433, “The Iraq De-Escalation Act of 2007”, which, in excessively convoluted language, moves towards calling for the withdrawal of U.S. combat brigades from Iraq by March 31, 2008. However, if you read S. 433, enough loopholes exist to drive a Mack truck through, which ensure continuation of the Iraq war, most notably the provision that the withdrawal of U.S. military forces from Iraq can be suspended with the simple certification by Bush to Congress that Iraq is achieving the benchmarks spelled out in the legislation. Neither S. 448 nor S. 433 contain any kind of enforcement language if the President decides to ignore the resolutions.

Senator Feingold and Senator Obama, will you dare take the requisite steps to end the war by cutting war funding? Senator Bernie Sanders, I’m calling you out on this one too. And you too, Senator Sherrod Brown. Each of you voted against funding the Iraq war while in the House. But you both conveniently lost your principles and your conscience when you voted for Iraq war funding last year when you were running for the Senate.

If you can’t bring yourself to vote against this supplemental spending bill on its face, will you at least commit to the intermediate step? Will you commit to introducing an amendment to the supplemental spending bill, as well as to the regular Department of Defense Appropriations bill (which contains another $142 billion for the war next year), which will specify that any and all funding for the war will be ended by a specific date and that all U.S. service members will be withdrawn from Iraq by that date? Will you further commit to voting against any supplemental spending bill and / or regular appropriations bill which does not contain such a provision?

If not, Senators Feingold, Obama, Sanders and Brown and Representatives Obey and Murtha-and all other erstwhile antiwar Senators and Representatives-allow me to introduce you to Representative Markey. I’m sure we can arrange ball room dance lessons so you can refine the Markey Two Step as you sway to the Chattanooga Choo Choo train of war funding.

JEFF LEYS is Coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence and a national organizer for the Occupation Project campaign of sustained nonviolent civil disobedience to end Iraq war funding. He can be reached via email at jeffleys@vcnv.org.

Information on the Occupation Project campaign can be found at www.vcnv.org.

 

JEFF LEYS is Co-Coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence. He can be reach via email, jeffleys@vcnv.org

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

Weekend Edition
August 26, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Charles R. Larson
Review: Paulina Chiziane’s “The First Wife: a Tale of Polygamy”
August 25, 2016
Mike Whitney
The Broken Chessboard: Brzezinski Gives Up on Empire
Paul Cox – Stan Cox
The Louisiana Catastrophe Proves the Need for Universal, Single-Payer Disaster Insurance
John W. Whitehead
Another Brick in the Wall: Children of the American Police State
Lewis Evans
Genocide in Plain Sight: Shooting Bushmen From Helicopters in Botswana
Daniel Kovalik
Colombia: Peace in the Shadow of the Death Squads
Sam Husseini
How the Washington Post Sells the Politics of Fear
Ramzy Baroud
Punishing the Messenger: Israel’s War on NGOs Takes a Worrying Turn
Norman Pollack
Troglodyte Vs. Goebbelean Fascism: The 2016 Presidential Race
Simon Wood
Where are the Child Victims of the West?
Roseangela Hartford
The Hidden Homeless Population
Mark Weisbrot
Obama’s Campaign for TPP Could Drag Down the Democrats
Rick Sterling
Clintonites Prepare for War on Syria
Yves Engler
The Anti-Semitism Smear Against Canadian Greens
August 24, 2016
John Pilger
Provoking Nuclear War by Media
Jonathan Cook
The Birth of Agro-Resistance in Palestine
Eric Draitser
Ajamu Baraka, “Uncle Tom,” and the Pathology of White Liberal Racism
Jack Rasmus
Greek Debt and the New Financial Imperialism
Robert Fisk
The Sultan’s Hit List Grows, as Turkey Prepares to Enter Syria
Abubakar N. Kasim
What Did the Olympics Really Do for Humanity?
Renee Parsons
Obamacare Supporters Oppose ColoradoCare
Alycee Lane
The Trump Campaign: a White Revolt Against ‘Neoliberal Multiculturalism’
Edward Hunt
Maintaining U.S. Dominance in the Pacific
George Wuerthner
The Big Fish Kill on the Yellowstone
Jesse Jackson
Democrats Shouldn’t Get a Blank Check From Black Voters
Kent Paterson
Saving Southern New Mexico from the Next Big Flood
Arnold August
RIP Jean-Guy Allard: A Model for Progressive Journalists Working in the Capitalist System
August 23, 2016
Diana Johnstone
Hillary and the Glass Ceilings Illusion
Bill Quigley
Race and Class Gap Widening: Katrina Pain Index 2016 by the Numbers
Ted Rall
Trump vs. Clinton: It’s All About the Debates
Eoin Higgins
Will Progressive Democrats Ever Support a Third Party Candidate?
Kenneth J. Saltman
Wall Street’s Latest Public Sector Rip-Off: Five Myths About Pay for Success
Binoy Kampmark
Labouring Hours: Sweden’s Six-Hour Working Day
John Feffer
The Globalization of Trump
Gwendolyn Mink – Felicia Kornbluh
Time to End “Welfare as We Know It”
Medea Benjamin
Congress Must Take Action to Block Weapon Sales to Saudi Arabia
Halyna Mokrushyna
Political Writer, Daughter of Ukrainian Dissident, Detained and Charged in Ukraine
Manuel E. Yepe
Tourism and Religion Go Hand-in-Hand in the Caribbean
ED ADELMAN
Belted by Trump
Thomas Knapp
War: The Islamic State and Western Politicians Against the Rest of Us
Nauman Sadiq
Shifting Alliances: Turkey, Russia and the Kurds
Rivera Sun
Active Peace: Restoring Relationships While Making Change
August 22, 2016
Eric Draitser
Hillary Clinton: The Anti-Woman ‘Feminist’
Robert Hunziker
Arctic Death Rattle
Norman Solomon
Clinton’s Transition Team: a Corporate Presidency Foretold
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail