“House, 218 to 212, Votes to Set Date for Iraq Pullout” reads the New York Times. “Democrats Tout Plan for Troop Pullout,” headlines the Washington Post. “Pelosi’s Gamble on Iraq Pays Off,” beams the Los Angeles Times. The reader is to believe that the Democrats have “employ[ed] their new Congressional majority to create the most forceful challenge yet to President Bush’s war policy.”
Today’s headlines are parroting the lies of pro-war politicians — AGAIN!
Today, the lying headlines borrow from the script of leading Democrats, but are every bit as dangerous as the headlines that repeated George Bush’s claims four years ago that Iraq had WMDs.
Today’s lying headlines are declaring a “victory” against George Bush’s murderous Iraq war and working to lull into satisfied passivity the people who need to be raising their voices and raising hell right now more than ever!
As Howard Zinn put it, “To me [this vote] is tantamount to the abolitionists accepting a two-year timeline for ending slavery, while giving more money to enforce the Fugitive Slave Act.”
To everyone who was relying on or hoping that the Democrats would act to end the war, the actions of the Democratic leadership are a sharp wake-up call. Only the people in our millions, mobilized in massive and ongoing resistance, can bring this war and this president’s whole program to a halt.
Buried is the real story of:
How Nancy Pelosi, Rahm Emmanuel, Jack Murtha and other leading Democrats maneuvered, bribed, threatened, reprimanded and bullied their party into voting to continue the war on Iraq in the face of overwhelming, widespread, deeply-felt, and growing public opposition.
How the new appropriations bill continues to fund Bush’s wars to the tune of $124 billion dollars — more than Bush even asked for!!
How the timetable for withdrawal from Iraq in the bill is so distant (seventeen months away!) it can mean nothing to the people of Iraq whose country is under the ruthless boot of U.S. occupation and is spiraling down a path of sectarian civil war that grows worse by the day.
How this timetable is so conditional — insisting merely that Bush seek the approval of Congress before extending the date by which troops are supposed to be withdrawn — that it is easy to imagine that deadline coming and going with no meaningful change in troop levels.
How the new bill — and the politicians who pushed it — put the onus for Iraq’s misery on the Iraqi people themselves, demanding they meet benchmarks determined by the country that illegally invaded it! Closing the arguments for the Democrats just before the vote, Representative Patrick Murphy of Pennsylvania, asked, “When are these Iraqis going to come off the sidelines and fight for their own country?”
And barely mentioned in today’s lying headlines is the fact that liberal Democrats had originally proposed an appropriations amendment that would only have provided enough funds to bring the troops back from Iraq and that this wasn’t even allowed by leading Democrats to make it out of the committee to be considered by Congress.
Finally, who could ignore Bush’s brazen promise to veto this new bill anyhow and the Democrats know they don’t have enough votes to override him?
In the words of White House spokesman, Tony Snow, “You’ve got to ask yourself, why go through this long, drawn out exercise of going and wheeling and cajoling and trying to buy votes within your own party when, in fact, you know its not going to go anywhere?”
Anyway you slice it, yesterday’s vote is no “victory” for the people of this country, of Iraq, or of the world, all of whom overwhelmingly oppose the Iraq war and are aching for it to be stopped. Instead it means that after four years of war crimes, massacres, rapes, torture and what can only be called a colonial occupation that has cost more than half a million deaths and led to the fastest growing refugee crises in the world, the Iraqi people must now brace themselves for more!
This is a moment that cries for clarity and boldness among those who are able to see the stakes of this, actions and voices that can cut through the lies about a “victory” that threaten to quiet and pacify the anti-war movement right when it needs to be louder than ever before.
The war must be stopped! The War-Criminal-In-Chief must be impeached!
Self-deception or self-censorship about this right now will be paid for in blood. But bold truth telling and defiant political actions will find a wide and receptive audience in the anti-war majority. This majority has begun to reemerge in the streets across the country, on the Pentagon, and in recent student strikes. Whether this spreads like wildfire or is dampened at this critical moment is up to all of us.