Cindy Sheehan is the Founder and President of Gold Star Families for Peace. When her son Casey was killed in Iraq in the spring of 2004, she threw herself into the campaign to end the war.
Sheehan became a thorn in the side of President Bush, following him wherever he went. She camped outside the White House and established “Camp Casey” next to the Bush ranch in Crawford, Texas. Her challenge to the president was simple and heartfelt:
“You tell me the truth. You tell me that my son died for oil. You tell me that my son died to make your friends rich. You tell me my son died so you can spread the cancer of imperialism in the Middle East. You tell me that.”
Democrats and liberals loved Sheehan when she attacked Bush and the Republicans, but they turned on her when she held them to the same standard.
The Democrats were swept into Congress on a wave of popular revolt against the war. Despite their anti-war posturing, they gave Bush billions more dollars to continue the war. Outraged, Sheehan condemned the Democrats as heartless hypocrites:
“How can you even go to sleep at night or look at yourselves in a mirror? How do you put behind you the screaming mothers on both sides of the conflict? How does the agony you have created escape you? It will never escape me…I can’t run far enough or hide well enough to get away from it.”
The Democrats have shown themselves to be just as committed to dominating the Middle East as the Republicans. In 1998, Democratic President Bill Clinton signed the Iraq Liberation Act to force regime-change in Iraq. Barely two months later, he ordered the bombing of Baghdad. And it was Clinton who presided over the deadly UN embargo against Iraq.
Neither of the two Bush presidents could have invaded Iraq if the groundwork had not been laid by Democrats. And the war could not continue if Democrats did not support it. Both parties serve a capitalist class that is determined to dominate the world, and controlling the Middle East is central to that domination.
We expect to be attacked by our enemies. We don’t expect to be betrayed by our friends. Back-stabbing Democrats accomplished what Bush and his supporters could not – they brought Cindy Sheehan to her knees. On Memorial Day, she announced that she was too depleted to continue fighting.
Sheehan urges us to “figure a way out of this two-party system that is bought and paid for by the war machine.” However, sections of the anti-war movement will continue to back the Democrats, no matter how often this proves to be a dead-end, because the only real alternative is to reject the entire capitalist project.
We owe Cindy Sheehan a tremendous debt. She shouted the truth in a world full of lies. She confronted the war mongers and unmasked the hypocrites. In her exhaustion, she confirms that none of us can change the world alone. We must step up the fight to end the war NOW.
Dr. Susan Rosenthal has been practicing medicine for more than 30 years and has written many articles on the relationship between health and human relationships. She is also the author of Striking Flint: Genora (Johnson) Dollinger Remembers the 1936-1937 General Motors Sit-Down Strike (1996) and Market Madness and Mental Illness: The Crisis in Mental Health Care (1999) and Power and Powerlessness. She is a member of the National Writers Union, UAW Local 1981. She can be reached through her blog: www.powerandpowerlessness.typepad.com