At the precise moment Bush’s Iraq coalition began to show signs of some fatal fissures, John Kerry strode forth to do the president’s bidding for him.
After the newly-elected Prime Minister of Spain, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, announced his intentions to pull out Spanish troops from Iraq, Kerry, anxious to prove that he can manhandle world leaders into compliance with US imperial objections with more efficiency than Bush, rushed in front of the cameras to demand that Zapatero reverse himself. Withdrawing Spanish troops now, Kerry chided, would send the wrong signal.
Wrong signal? And what signal is that? That there is more than a dime’s worth of difference between Aznar and Zapatero on Iraq as opposed to the bloody harmony between Kerry and Bush? That politicians should keep their promises for at least a week?
Fortunately, Zapatero, who had previously said that he’d like to see Kerry elected president, was having none of it. He swiftly rebuked the senator’s meddling. “My commitment is my commitment,” Zapatero said. “Maybe John Kerry does not know–but I am happy to explain it to him–that my commitment to withdraw the troops goes back before the tragic, dramatic terrorist attack. If the United Nations does not take over the situation and there is not a rethinking of this chaotic occupation we are living through, in which there are more dead in the occupation than in the war phase, the Spanish troops are going to return to Spain.”
Zapatero called the occupation of Iraq a fiasco that will lead only to more violence and hatred of the US-led forces. “There have been more deaths since the end of the war than during the invasion itself,” Zapatero said. “Our allegiance will be for peace and against war. No more deaths for oil.”
The feisty socialist also lashed out at the Bush administration’s war on Afghanistan, which Kerry also backed without regret. “Fighting terrorism with bombs and Tomahawk cruise missiles isn’t the way to defeat it,” he said. “Terrorism must be combatted by a state of law. That’s what I think Europe and the international community must debate.”
Kerry could learn much from Zapatero’s firm and sensible stand. But don’t expect the senator to take any signals from abroad. The US presidential election is shaping up as a battle over manliness, a kind of political bodybuilding contest. Kerry wants to run as senator machismo. He doesn’t want to pull out US forces. He wants to top Bush by calling up 40,000 more troops and inserting more European forces to join in the bloodbath. No wonder Kerry has a hard time naming the European leaders that want him in the White House.
Watch the death count soar from now to November.
JEFFREY ST. CLAIR’s new book, Been Brown So Long It Looked Like Green to Me: the Politics of Nature, is just out from Common Courage Press.