FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Democratic Delusions

“The question most Americans want answered about Iraq is this: When will our troops come home?  We already know the likely answer.  In 2006, they will begin to leave in large numbers…In 2007, a significant number of the remaining 100,000 will follow…We cannot sustain 150,000 Americans in Iraq without extending deployment times.  Even if we could, our large military presence – while still the only guarantor against total breakdown – is increasingly counterproductive.”

Joe Biden, November 2005

The Democratic nomination of Barack Obama and Joe Biden for President and Vice-President has cemented the party’s role as a fair-weather “opponent” of the Iraq war.  Sadly, Obama’s choice of Senator Biden looks like it will further contribute to the politics-as-usual cynicism of the Democratic Party.  Biden’s comments, excerpted above, may pay lip service to withdrawal, but they reveal much about his delusional beliefs concerning Iraq.

Biden’s statement demonstrates a warped understanding of the Iraq conflict, as well as the U.S. position in that conflict.  Americans have never been seen by Iraqis as the glue that’s holding a fragile Iraq together.  Quite the contrary, the vast majority have felt for years that the U.S. occupation is actually contributing to instability, greatly contributing to the violence, and serving as a lightning-rod for encouraging Islamist radicals to travel to Iraq and attack the U.S. head-on.  Historically, the U.S., rather than any scattered “insurgents,” has been the primary party responsible for the destruction of Iraq.  The U.S. funded both sides of the Iran-Iraq war, which cost an estimated one million lives, intentionally destroyed Iraqi infrastructure during the 1991 Gulf War, supported mass murder through sanctions throughout the 1990s (with another estimated 1.5 million killed), and presided over an occupation that has taken by some estimates as many as another one million lives (how many insurgents in Iraq can claim the power to kill 3.5 million people?).  Don’t expect to hear any about these inconvenient truths from Joe Biden though.  His chastising of the Bush administration overwhelmingly focuses on tactical failures to efficiently further the war, not substantive criticisms of the U.S. “right” to occupy a foreign country in violation of international and national law.

Don’t anticipate reading about any of these critical issues in the press either, as they have misrepresented Biden’s views on Iraq in order to further the myth of the Democratic Party as “anti-war.”  Following Obama’s announcement of Biden as his VP choice, for example, the Today show on NBC reported that Biden “voted for the Iraq war in 2002, but became a vocal critic” in recent years.  If Biden is a critic of the war, then it is only in the most narrow and parochial of terms.

To be sure, Biden has amassed an impressive record of anti-war rhetoric.  However, talk is cheap in the world of American political spin – only actions count.  Biden has long been an opportunistic critic of the war, voting for authorization of force in 2002, and only later criticizing the war on tactical grounds as Democrats tried to recapture Congress and the Presidency (in 2006 and 2008).  As late as April 2008, Biden criticized President Bush for having “no strategy for success in Iraq…his plan is to muddle through, and hand the problem off to his successor.” His vacillation between anti-war rhetoric and pro-war policy, however, demonstrates the astounding heights in which the Democratic Party’s schizophrenia has reached.

Joe Biden has not supported an end to the Iraq war or a withdrawal of troops, contrary to media and political propaganda.  In reporting Biden’s acceptance of the VP spot, major papers such as the Chicago Tribune, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and New York Times framed Biden as a fierce “critic” of the Iraq war.  However, closer inspection reveals that these claims are false.  Biden has publicly gone on record arguing that Democrats don’t have the necessary votes to end the war, even though they clearly do retain the power to end combat operations by voting down funding: “As long as there is a single troop in Iraq, I know if I take action by funding them, I increase the prospect they will live or not be injured, I cannot and will not vote no to fund them.”

Biden has historically denounced those who favor immediate withdrawal and an end to Iraq funding: “the hard truth is that our large military presence in Iraq is necessary.  They are the only guarantor against chaos.  Pulling out prematurely or setting a deadline divorced from progress in the areas I’ve discussed [throughout the country] will doom us.”  He warns even more starkly that a premature withdrawal may embolden “the most radical extreme elements of the jihadis,” and embolden Saudi Arabia and Syria to continue to fund these groups.  Readers could be forgiven for thinking that these comments were made by John McCain or any member of the Bush administration, rather than an “anti-war” Democrat.

Joe Biden has no anti-war credentials to stand on.  It is true that, at times (like Barack Obama), he has voted for and supported a timetable for withdrawing some troops from Iraq.  However, like most Democrats, he refuses to condemn plans for permanent military bases, and supports a continued military presence, albeit in smaller numbers than preferred by Bush and other Republicans.  The much discussed, albeit toothless Brownback-Biden bill (which gained bi-partisan support in 2007) is not anti-war in the least.  While this bill supported a redeployment of troops by 2007, and a theoretical withdrawal of most troops by 2008, it was non-binding in its language, and even attached to a spending bill authorizing continued funding of the war.  Most specifically, the language of the bill “authorize[d] the President to continue participation by U.S. Armed Forces in Multi-National Force—Iraq.”  This bill contains none of the enforcement mechanisms needed to bring about an end to a war which Republicans have enthusiastically supported for over five years.  If its contents can be classified as anti-war, then the term itself is truly vacuous.

Media outlets continue to frame the Obama-Biden team as committed to the anti-war cause.  Obama has always been framed as anti-war, but even the Hawkish Biden is increasingly depicted in similar terms.  The Associated Press speaks of Biden’s bill supporting indefinite funding for war as “anti-war” in its efforts to “redefine the president’s authority in Iraq, but defended the effort as key to prodding the president in a new direction.”  The neoconservative New York Post condemns his “pathetic anti-war antics” and his effort “to repeal the authorization that Congress passed overwhelmingly in 202.”  While none of these statements are in the least bit grounded in reality, we can expect more of them to arise following Biden’s acceptance speech this Wednesday.  Biden will likely continue to cash in on opportunistic anti-war rhetoric, while failing to back it up with any real efforts to end the war.

ANTHONY DiMAGGIO is the author of Mass Media, Mass Propaganda: Understanding American News in the “War on Terror” (2008). He teaches American Government at North Central College in Illinois, and can be reached at: adimag2@uic.edu

 

 

Your Ad Here
 

 

 

 

More articles by:

Anthony DiMaggio is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Lehigh University. He holds a PhD in political communication, and is the author of the newly released: Selling War, Selling Hope: Presidential Rhetoric, the News Media, and U.S. Foreign Policy After 9/11 (Paperback: 2015). He can be reached at: anthonydimaggio612@gmail.com

Weekend Edition
July 20, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Atwood
Peace or Armageddon: Take Your Pick
Paul Street
No Liberal Rallies Yet for the Children of Yemen
Nick Pemberton
The Bipartisan War on Central and South American Women
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Are You Putin Me On?
Andrew Levine
Sovereignty: What Is It Good For? 
Brian Cloughley
The Trump/NATO Debacle and the Profit Motive
David Rosen
Trump’s Supreme Pick Escalates America’s War on Sex 
Melvin Goodman
Montenegro and the “Manchurian Candidate”
Salvador   Rangel
“These Are Not Our Kids”: The Racial Capitalism of Caging Children at the Border
Matthew Stevenson
Going Home Again to Trump’s America
Louis Proyect
Jeremy Corbyn, Bernie Sanders and the Dilemmas of the Left
Patrick Cockburn
Iraqi Protests: “Bad Government, Bad Roads, Bad Weather, Bad People”
Robert Fantina
Has It Really Come to This?
Russell Mokhiber
Kristin Lawless on the Corporate Takeover of the American Kitchen
John W. Whitehead
It’s All Fake: Reality TV That Masquerades as American Politics
Patrick Bobilin
In Your Period Piece, I Would be the Help
Ramzy Baroud
The Massacre of Inn Din: How Rohingya Are Lynched and Held Responsible
Robert Fisk
How Weapons Made in Bosnia Fueled Syria’s Bleak Civil War
Gary Leupp
Trump’s Helsinki Press Conference and Public Disgrace
Josh Hoxie
Our Missing $10 Trillion
Martha Rosenberg
Pharma “Screening” Is a Ploy to Seize More Patients
Basav Sen
Brett Kavanaugh Would be a Disaster for the Climate
David Lau
The Origins of Local AFT 4400: a Profile of Julie Olsen Edwards
Rohullah Naderi
The Elusive Pursuit of Peace by Afghanistan
Binoy Kampmark
Shaking Establishments: The Ocasio-Cortez Effect
John Laforge
18 Protesters Cut Into German Air Base to Protest US Nuclear Weapons Deployment
Christopher Brauchli
Trump and the Swedish Question
Chia-Chia Wang
Local Police Shouldn’t Collaborate With ICE
Paul Lyons
YouTube’s Content ID – A Case Study
Jill Richardson
Soon You Won’t be Able to Use Food Stamps at Farmers’ Markets, But That’s Not the Half of It
Kevin MacKay
Climate Change is Proving Worse Than We Imagined, So Why Aren’t We Confronting its Root Cause?
Thomas Knapp
Elections: More than Half of Americans Believe Fairy Tales are Real
Ralph Nader
Warner Slack—Doctor for the People Forever
Lee Ballinger
Soccer, Baseball and Immigration
Louis Yako
Celebrating the Wounds of Exile with Poetry
Ron Jacobs
Working Class Fiction—Not Just Surplus Value
Perry Hoberman
You Can’t Vote Out Fascism… You Have to Drive It From Power!
Robert Koehler
Guns and Racism, on the Rocks
Nyla Ali Khan
Kashmir: Implementation with Integrity and Will to Resolve
Justin Anderson
Elon Musk vs. the Media
Graham Peebles
A Time of Hope for Ethiopia
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Homophobia in the Service of Anti-Trumpism is Still Homophobic (Even When it’s the New York Times)
Martin Billheimer
Childhood, Ferocious Sleep
David Yearsley
The Glories of the Grammophone
Tom Clark
Gameplanning the Patriotic Retributive Attack on Montenegro
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail