FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The War Election

Maybe it sounded good when politicians, pundits and online fundraisers talked about American deaths as though they were the deaths that mattered most.

Maybe it sounded good to taunt the Bush administration as a bunch of screw-ups who didn’t know how to run a proper occupation.

And maybe it sounded good to condemn Donald Rumsfeld and George Bush for ignoring predictions that several hundred thousand troops would be needed to effectively occupy Iraq after an invasion.

But when a war based on lies is opposed because too many Americans are dying, the implication is that it can be made right by reducing the American death toll.

When a war that flagrantly violated international law is opposed because it was badly managed, the implication is that better management could make for an acceptable war.

When the number of occupying troops is condemned as insufficient for the occupying task at hand, the White House and Pentagon may figure out how to make shrewder use of U.S. air power — in combination with private mercenaries and Iraqis who are desperate enough for jobs that they’re willing to point guns at the occupiers’ enemies.

And there’s also the grisly and unanswerable reality that Iraqis who’ve been inclined to violently resist the occupation can no longer resist it after the U.S. military has killed them.

If the ultimate argument against the war is that it isn’t being won, the advocates for more war will have extra incentive to show that it can be won after all.

If a steady argument against the war maintains that it was and is wrong — that it is fundamentally immoral — that’s a tougher sell to the savants of Capitol Hill and an array of corporate-paid journalists.

But by taking the political path of least resistance — by condemning the Iraq war as unwinnable instead of inherently wrong — more restrained foes of the war helped to prolong the occupation that has inflicted and catalyzed so much carnage. The antiwar movement is now paying a price for political shortcuts often taken in the past several years.

During a long war, condemned by some as a quagmire, that kind of dynamic has played out before. “It is time to stand back and look at where we are going,” independent journalist I. F. Stone wrote in mid-February 1968, after several years of the full-throttle war on Vietnam. “And to take a good look at ourselves. A first observation is that we can easily overestimate our national conscience. A major part of the protest against the war springs simply from the fact that we are losing it. If it were not for the heavy cost, politicians like the Kennedys [Robert and Edward] and organizations like the ADA [the liberal Americans for Democratic Action] would still be as complacent about the war as they were a few years ago.”

With all the recent media spin about progress in Iraq, many commentators say that the war has faded as a top-level “issue” in the presidential race. Claims of success by the U.S. military have undercut precisely the antiwar arguments that were supposed to be the most effective in political terms — harping on the American death toll and the inability of the occupying troops to make demonstrable progress at subduing Iraqi resistance and bending the country’s parliament to Washington’s will.

These days, Hillary Clinton speaks of withdrawing U.S. troops, but she’s in no position to challenge basic rationales for war that have been in place for more than five years. At least Barack Obama can cite his opposition to the war since before it began. He talks about changing the mentality that led to the invasion in the first place. And he insists that the president should hold direct talks with foreign adversaries.

The best way to avoid becoming disillusioned is to not have illusions in the first place. There’s little reason to believe that Obama is inclined to break away from the routine militarism of U.S. foreign policy. But it’s plausible that grassroots pressure could pull him in a better direction on a range of issues. He seems to be appreciably less stuck in cement than the other candidates who still have a chance to become president on January 20, 2009.

NORMAN SOLOMON is the author of Made Love, Got War.

The documentary film “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death,” based on NORMAN SOLOMON’s book of the same name, launches its New York City theatrical premiere with an engagement at the Quad Cinema starting March 14.

 

 

 

 

 

More articles by:

Norman Solomon is executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy, where he coordinates ExposeFacts. Solomon is a co-founder of RootsAction.org.

December 13, 2018
John Davis
What World Do We Seek?
Subhankar Banerjee
Biological Annihilation: a Planet in Loss Mode
Lawrence Davidson
What the Attack on Marc Lamont Hill Tells Us
James McEnteer
Breathless
Ramzy Baroud
The Real Face of Justin Trudeau: Are Palestinians Canada’s new Jews?
Dean Baker
Pelosi Would Sabotage the Progressive Agenda With a Pay-Go Rule
Elliot Sperber
Understanding the Yellow Vests Movement Through Basic Color Theory 
Rivera Sun
The End of the NRA? Business Magazines Tell Activists: The Strategy is Working
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
Historic Opportunity to Transform Trade
George Ochenski
Trump Trashes Sage Grouse Protections in Another cCollaboration Failure
December 12, 2018
Arshad Khan
War, Anniversaries and Lessons Never Learned
Paul Street
Blacking Out the Yellow Vests on Cable News: Corporate Media Doing its Job
Kenneth Surin
The Brexit Shambles Rambles On
David Schultz
Stacking the Deck Against Democracy in Wisconsin
Steve Early
The Housing Affordability Crisis and What Millennials Can do About It
George Ochenski
Collaboration Failure: Trump Trashes Sage Grouse Protections
Rob Seimetz
Bringing a Life Into a Dying World: A Letter From a Father to His Unborn Son
Michael Howard
PETA and the ‘S’-Word
John Kendall Hawkins
Good Panopt, Bad Panopt: Does It Make A Difference?
Kim C. Domenico
Redeeming Utopia: a Meditation On An Essay by Ursula LeGuin
Binoy Kampmark
Exhuming Franco: Spain’s Immemorial Divisions
ADRIAN KUZMINSKI
Democratizing Money
Laura Finley
Congress Must Reauthorize VAWA
December 11, 2018
Eric Draitser
AFRICOM: A Neocolonial Occupation Force?
Sheldon Richman
War Over Ukraine?
Louis Proyect
Why World War II, Not the New Deal, Ended the Great Depression
Howard Lisnoff
Police Violence and Mass Policing in the U.S.
Mark Ashwill
A “Patriotic” Education Study Abroad Program in Viet Nam: God Bless America, Right or Wrong!
Laura Flanders
HUD Official to Move into Public Housing?
Nino Pagliccia
Resistance is Not Terrorism
Matthew Johnson
See No Evil, See No Good: The Truth Is Not Black and White
Maria Paez Victor
How Reuters Slandered Venezuela’s Social Benefits Card
December 10, 2018
Jacques R. Pauwels
Foreign Interventions in Revolutionary Russia
Richard Klin
The Disasters of War
Katie Fite
Rebranding Bundy
Gary Olson
A Few Thoughts on Politics and Personal Identity
Patrick Cockburn
Brexit Britain’s Crisis of Self-Confidence Will Only End in Tears and Rising Nationalism
Andrew Moss
Undocumented Citizen
Dean Baker
Trump and China: Going With Patent Holders Against Workers
Lawrence Wittner
Reviving the Nuclear Disarmament Movement: a Practical Proposal
Dan Siegel
Thoughts on the 2018 Elections and Beyond
Thomas Knapp
Election 2020: I Can Smell the Dumpster Fires Already
Weekend Edition
December 07, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Steve Hendricks
What If We Just Buy Off Big Fossil Fuel? A Novel Plan to Mitigate the Climate Calamity
Jeffrey St. Clair
Cancer as Weapon: Poppy Bush’s Radioactive War on Iraq
Paul Street
The McCain and Bush Death Tours: Establishment Rituals in How to be a Proper Ruler
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail