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The Kool-Aid That Kills

by JOSHUA FRANK

It could have been the defining moment of the campaign season. But last weekend’s Iraq Winter Solider Hearings were not only ignored by the corporate press, they were also snubbed by the mainstream candidates including alleged antiwar Democrat, Barack Obama.

None of this should come as much of a surprise if you’ve been watching Obama backpedal over the last few months. Somehow the Democratic frontrunner seems to believe that Hillary’s defeat will only occur if he steers clear of a legitimate peace platform, merely paying lip-service to the conflicts in the Middle East instead.

While John McCain pronounces the US will be in Iraq for ten more bloody decades, Hillary and Obama aren’t raising any qualms in their policy papers. In fact, as author Jeremy Scahill has pointed out, Obama’s plan for Iraq not only includes continued funding for the gargantuan US Embassy in Baghdad, the senator also wants to leave at least 40,000 troops to roam about the country and allow mercenary forces like Blackwater to operate above the law indefinitely. Hillary Clinton, of course, seconds Obama’s thirst for more occupation and both senators aren’t the least bit hesitant to leave “all options on the table” in regard to Iran.

Warmongers all of them.

Sadly, many have unwittingly gulped the Kool-Aid this year, swallowing the notion that Barack Obama somehow represents a mild, pragmatic antiwar position. Even Antiwar.com’s Justin Raimondo, who usually provides keen insight into our militarized political sleaze, believes Obama may be the real deal.

“Clearly, Obama is the candidate the neoconservatives fear and loathe: the loathing is on account of his antiwar views, at least when it comes to Iraq, and the fear stems from the fact that campaigning against him will be difficult,” Raimondo recently wrote. “Hillary they can handle: she’ll mobilize the troops and weld together the fractured Republican coalition in opposition.”

The Republican establishment certainly deems Obama a serious threat. Not for the reasons Raimondo notes, however. The neocons fear Obama because of his grassroots support, not his “antiwar views”. Simply put: Obama is not antiwar but his following seems to be. At least when it comes to the turmoil in Iraq. But a true antiwar movement should not get behind a candidate that promises to pander to Israel and continue an aggressive policy toward Iran — which includes threatening to murder the poor bastards if they don’t comply with our hypocritical demands.

On the contrary, those who oppose war ought to oppose candidates that support Empire in any of its ugly forms.

The differences between the big three campaigns at this point are only marked by rhetorical persuasions and not on the ground strategy. Iran will be threatened, Israel will be funded, and the war in Iraq will rage on despite whatever Obama’s followers believe their man represents.

Movements are most effective when they remain independent, refusing to wrangle up their pleas in the circus of electoral politics. The tearful testimonies given by our bold veterans during last weekend’s hearings are an indication that dissent is growing, not only among the public, but also among the military in general. And that’s good thing. Americans are becoming fed up with perpetual war and the political machinery that supports it.

Without a doubt Barack Obama would love to capitalize on this mounting disgust. But co-opting our efforts won’t end the war, it will simply finish off the movement that seeks to end it.

JOSHUA FRANK is co-editor of Dissident Voice and author of Left Out! How Liberals Helped Reelect George W. Bush (Common Courage Press, 2005), and along with Jeffrey St. Clair, the editor of the forthcoming Red State Rebels, to be published by AK Press in June 2008.

 

 

 

 

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JOSHUA FRANK is managing editor of CounterPunch. His most recent book is Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, co-edited with Jeffrey St. Clair and published by AK Press. He can be reached at joshua@counterpunch.org. You can troll him on Twitter @joshua__frank

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