FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

So You Thought They’d End the War

by DAVID VEST

Welcome to the Show, kid.

The Democrats have “surrendered” on Iraq. Liberals are “shocked.” And all the innocents who didn’t know any better, didn’t see it coming, feel “betrayed.”

Poor Duncan Black, better known as “Atrios,” is nearly at a loss for words: “People hate Bush, hate Republicans, and hate this war,” he protests, and yet the Democrats caved!

“I don’t understand these people,” he wails.

Precisely.

Keith Olbermann, using the same tone of humorless, near-postal anger he uses in every commentary, no matter the topic, calls the Democratic rollover a “Neville Chamberlain moment.”

I prefer to think of it as a teachable moment.

At a time when even conservatives have come to loathe Bush, when people who thought he was going to round up all the “illegal aliens” and deport them are so upset, they think impeachment’s too good for him, the Democrats labor to craft legislation “acceptable” to him.

Liberals have already spent six and a half years loathing Bush — longer if they live in Texas, a state whose statutes are said to recognize two classes of persons: Fuckors and Fuckees.

(Republicans and Democrats, the big shots, belong to the former class. You and I belong to the latter.)

There is nothing particularly wrong with loathing Bush. It only becomes a problem when it prevents progressives from finally figuring out that the people they’re really going to end up having to fight are the Democrats.

As Big Walter the Thunderbird used to say, “Sho’ is tough.”

Right now, both major parties are playing dodge ball with the planet, trying to avoid “ownership” of Iraq. The only way at this point to “own” the war is to stop it, and there is no serious move afoot to make that happen.

Having used antiwar sentiment, and disgust over Katrina, to regain control of Congress, the Democrats have no intention of relinquishing power. They all “support the troops,” who are being asked to “lay down their lives for America” in far Mesopotamia — but you didn’t expect these people you elected to lay down their political careers for the good of the country … did you?

Of course not. Already Michael Tomasky is praising the Dems for practicing “smart politics,” as though winning the White House in 2008 were far more important than “merely” ending the war in Iraq.

How quickly “put us into power and we’ll change things” becomes “put us into power and watch it change us.”

For the corporate powers behind the candidates, the rule is as it ever was: from time to time, things have to change in order to stay the same.

But (someone protests), can’t you at least admit that the Democrats are better than the Republicans? And if you love the country, or care about the world, aren’t you obligated to support the lesser of two evils, even if it’s only slightly less evil?

To which I reply: What’s really evil is being forced to choose between people on the one hand who support the war, and accuse anyone who questions it of “helping the terrorists” — and people on the other who oppose the war, criticize the war, pledge to the end the war, and then vote to keep it going.

Or being asked to choose between the village idiot and someone who’s consistently outsmarted by him.

Once upon a time, Bill Clinton filled the Interior Department with “environmentalists.” Bush filled it with oil company hacks. Who was more honest?

Lo and behold, when they cut down the old growth forest, it didn’t make much difference to the trees and the rivers and the critters, whether oil company insiders or professional environmentalists were sitting at the desks in Washington. Eight years of Clinton-Gore, two terms of Bush-Cheney: the toxic dumps remain, and only the rhetoric has changed, to protect the naïve.

Demonstrably now, it makes no difference to the war whether Republicans or Democrats control Congress. Do you suppose the shooting will end, on the day when a refined, well-spoken Democrat, who reads poetry perhaps and scorns the religious right, and who doesn’t embarrass us when receiving foreign dignitaries, succeeds the bumbling oaf Bush?

Think so? Or do you suspect people will soon be wailing, “I don’t understand these people! They control Congress, the White house, and the military! Why don’t they stop the war?”

Perhaps apologists will go on CNN to reassure us: “The president wants to stop the war, really. But first she has to form a consensus, and set her legislative agenda in Congress, and build up her political capital. And when, not if, she wins re-election, then in that second term she’ll be free to act, and she’ll have that mandate, and I think you’ll start to see some movement on ending this war.”

Sound about right?

Look. Millions of people marched in the streets trying to prevent the invasion of Iraq, long before Bush sent a cruise missile into a Baghdad neighborhood trying to “take out” Saddam Hussein with one wild lunge, like the man who shot Liberty Valance. Without result, in either case.

People marched and listened to speeches and then went home. The opinion of the multitudes counted for nothing. No one in power saw the slightest need to pay attention to them. They’re still not paying attention. Why would they, as long as those bags of money keep coming in through the transom?

The system is broken. It can’t be fixed. As long as the Fuckors run it, it will continue to be utterly unresponsive to the will of the Fuckees.

The system tolerates, even welcomes antiwar people, but it co-opts them if it can. Just as the oil companies co-opted Earth Day, and just as the nuclear power industry hopes to turn global warming into a wholly-owned subsidiary.

In one party, if you’re antiwar, you can get a job as Rudy Giuliani’s foil.

In the other one … well, if you still “don’t understand these people,” what’s it going to take?

As the great working class poet Charlie Musselwhite says in “Black Water,” the devastating post-Katrina anthem from his CD Delta Hardware:

“Hello America — are you ready for more?”

DAVID VEST can be reached through his web site at www.rebelangel.com. A new CD featuring him, “The Last of the Best: Live Recordings by the Paul deLay Band,” will be released on June 12.

 

 

 

More articles by:

DAVID VEST writes the Rebel Angel column for CounterPunch. He and his band, The Willing Victims, have just released a scorching new CD, Serve Me Right to Shuffle. His essay on Tammy Wynette is featured in CounterPunch’s new collection on art, music and sex, Serpents in the Garden.

Weekend Edition
November 17, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Thank an Anti-War Veteran
Andrew Levine
What’s Wrong With Bible Thumpers Nowadays?
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
The CIA’s House of Horrors: the Abominable Dr. Gottlieb
Wendy Wolfson – Ken Levy
Why We Need to Take Animal Cruelty Much More Seriously
Mike Whitney
Brennan and Clapper: Elder Statesmen or Serial Fabricators?
David Rosen
Of Sex Abusers and Sex Offenders
Ryan LaMothe
A Christian Nation?
Dave Lindorff
Trump’s Finger on the Button: Why No President Should Have the Authority to Launch Nuclear Weapons
W. T. Whitney
A Bizarre US Pretext for Military Intrusion in South America
Deepak Tripathi
Sex, Lies and Incompetence: Britain’s Ruling Establishment in Crisis 
Howard Lisnoff
Who You’re Likely to Meet (and Not Meet) on a College Campus Today
Roy Morrison
Trump’s Excellent Asian Adventure
John W. Whitehead
Financial Tyranny
Ted Rall
How Society Makes Victimhood a No-Win Proposition
Jim Goodman
Stop Pretending the Estate Tax has Anything to do With Family Farmers
Thomas Klikauer
The Populism of Germany’s New Nazis
Murray Dobbin
Is Trudeau Ready for a Middle East war?
Jeiddy Martínez Armas
Firearm Democracy
Jill Richardson
Washington’s War on Poor Grad Students
Ralph Nader
The Rule of Power Over the Rule of Law
Justin O'Hagan
Capitalism Equals Peace?
Matthew Stevenson
Into Africa: From the Red Sea to Nairobi
Geoff Dutton
The Company We Sadly Keep
Evan Jones
The Censorship of Jacques Sapir, French Dissident
Linn Washington Jr.
Meek Moment Triggers Demands for Justice Reform
Gerry Brown
TPP, Indo Pacific, QUAD: What’s Next to Contain China’s Rise?
Robert Fisk
The Exile of Saad Hariri
Romana Rubeo - Ramzy Baroud
Anti-BDS Laws and Pro-Israeli Parliament: Zionist Hasbara is Winning in Italy
Robert J. Burrowes
Why are Police in the USA so Terrified?
Chuck Collins
Stop Talking About ‘Winners and Losers’ From Corporate Tax Cuts
Ron Jacobs
Private Property Does Not Equal Freedom
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Mass Shootings, Male Toxicity and their Roots in Agriculture
Binoy Kampmark
The Fordist Academic
Frank Scott
Weapons of Mass Distraction Get More Destructive
Missy Comley Beattie
Big Dick Diplomacy
Michael Doliner
Democracy, Real Life Acting and the Movies
Dan Bacher
Jerry Brown tells indigenous protesters in Bonn, ‘Let’s put you in the ground’
Winslow Myers
The Madness of Deterrence
Cesar Chelala
A Kiss is Not a Kiss: Sexual Abuse and Exploitation of Children
Jimmy Centeno
Garcia Meets Guayasamin: A De-Colonial Experience
Stephen Martin
When Boot Becomes Bot: Surplus Population and The Human Face.
Martin Billheimer
Homer’s Iliad, la primera nota roja
Louis Proyect
Once There Were Strong Men
Charles R. Larson
Review: Mike McCormack’s Solar Bones
David Yearsley
Academics Take Flight
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail