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November 22, 2005

Iraq and the Nation: Doing The Right Thing (a Green rant)

-- by Thomas Leavitt

The referendum on the Iraqi Constitution has come and gone, passed, and been demonstrably irrelevant in its effect on the day to day lives of Iraqi citizens (and the American soldiers conducting the war). We continue to pour untold billions of dollars down the rathole of occupation, with little or no benefit to the Iraqi people (and certainly no demonstrable benefit to the U.S. taxpayer). The only rational means of stemming the bleeding is an end to the occupation, and the immediate withdrawal of US troops from Iraq.

The call by a few Democrats for a withdrawal plan by the end of 2006 is encouraging only in the abstract, as evidence that the ultimate futility of the situation is beginning to dawn on our "leaders" in Washington. That even this weak position is a minority one within the leadership of the Democratic Party is atrocious, since it translates to nothing less than another full year of inaction while the human and monetary losses, in Iraq and at home, continue to mount. How is this rational? What compelling argument can be made that things will be fundamentally different a year from now (as opposed to a year ago)?

"Resident" Bush and his coitere of neo-"conservative" unilateralist thugs, along with their collaborators in the Republican House and Senate have brought shame and international condemnation on our nation, defied international standards of decent conduct and shown an unsurpassed contempt for the rights and privileges granted by the U.S. Constitution. In the process, they have immesurably damaged our national security, both now and in the future, by weakening our moral authority and the credibility of multi-lateral international institutions.

China and India are three or four times our size, and will soon have economies equal to and greater than our own, along with the military and economic might to match... the international institutions and standards of conduct the present administration has displayed so much contempt for are likely to be the only thing that stands between us and the raw economic and military power of those twin superpowers in the 21st century. Weakening them is a folly that will bring down the condemnation of history upon this administration, when future U.S. Presidents rue the day "Resident" Bush was ever (s)"elected".

But let us not forget: Bush has done this with the aid and consent of the Democratic Party's leadership (are at least the passive failure to mount a strong and effective opposition) - most of whom voted for the war, and many of whom are only now (if even that) putting forth weak mea culpas. Their failure to mount a substantive opposition to the Bush Administration's policies of global destruction (let's not forget the environmental havoc Bush's policies have wrought) has only compounded the failure of the mainstream media to fulfill it's most basic functions: to inform and educate the public on the full implications of the actions taken (or not) by our government and leaders, and to act as a check on the untrammeled arrogance of power. We need to hold them all accountable, and we need new political leadership (and it won't come from the Democratic Party or Republican "mavericks").

Rep. John Murtha (D-Penn.) and those other Congress members who have condemned the Iraq War deserve our thanks, but why did it take them so long to speak out? They're only saying now, what we all knew in early 2003, even before the invasion begun: the war was and is based upon a lie, and a delusional neo-con vision of transforming the Middle East into a democratic paradise by force of arms (while simultaneously securing their oil for our own uses).

While most of the Democratic Party (including just about all of the leadership, past and present) and the media fell for the White House's fraudulent claims (in some cases, even helping forward them as credible), tens of millions of Americans were skeptical. (to say the least). Many of us spoke out and demonstrated against the invasion, including those of us in Green Party, whose presence at the many anti-war protests I attended in 2002 and 2003 was matched only by the myriad array of "WWWD" (What Would Wellstone Do?) banners - the Democratic Party as an institution was utterly absent (and has been, at every point since) at the same time the Green Party was (and has been) institutionally invested in supporting the anti-war effort at every level.

When Republicans and many Democrats voted to transfer Congress's constitutionally mandated war power to the White House in October 2002, they undermined the balance of power between the executive and legislative branches, and created the foundation for the deceit and massive abuse of power that would be (and is being) perpetrated by the Bush Administration's radical ideologues.

There was plenty of intelligence by early 2003 to show that Saddam Hussein had no WMDs, although CIA analysts were pressured to show otherwise - even Henry Waxman's database of misleading statements can only muster up the courage to suggest that opinion was divided, when all evidence suggests that only a few ideologies in Richard Perle's renegade coitere of politicized analysts seriously believed this was the case. The inspectors' search for WMDs in Iraq had turned up nothing when President Bush interrupted them by launching the invasion. The accusation that Saddam Hussein had conspired with al-Qaeda was never plausible, and Bush officials already knew that the nuclear weapons charge was based on a forgery. President Bush, in his 2003 State of Union address, and Secretary of State Colin Powell, in his February 2003 speech before the UN, misled the US and the world -- and the Democratic Party's leaders in Congress should have known it, and called them on their deception right then and there, regardless of what the polls indicated about Bush's level of support (we Californian's know how euphemeral a 70% approval rating can be, in the face of a skilled and withering assault combined with a few mis-statements and blunders).

"Resident" Bush still insists that the invasion of Iraq was a necessary part of his 'War on Terror', even though no one outside of his administration and its apologists seriously believe that Iraq played any role whatsoever in the 9/11 attacks or had any serious level of involvement with Al Queda. The Democratic Party's leadership has yet to seriously challenge him on this fundamental point, or to highlight the negative effect the war in Iraq has had on our international standing, and the opinion of the woman and man on the street in Europe, the Middle East, and elsewhere (to say nothing of how it has fanned the flames of radical Arab and Islamic nationalism, and lead to a flood of easy recruits for Al Quada and other terrorist organizations).

Ever since the Project for a New American Century (whose leaders now hold positions in the Bush Administration) tried to persuade President Clinton to invade Iraq in 1989, it has been clear that an extreme Republican faction wanted to remove Saddam Hussein and gain control over Iraq's oil resources. This faction has reintroduced the concept of invasion for 'preemptive' purposes, which had been outlawed after World War II by international laws, including the UN Charter, to which the US was signatory.

Ahmed Chalabi recently visited Washington and met with Vice President Cheney and other leaders. This is the same Ahmed Chalabi who fed the US misinformation about Iraqi WMDs, who allegedly passed US secrets to Iran, who was convicted of embezzlement in Jordan -- and was named Interim Oil Minister in Iraq, with the Bush Administration's blessing. If this isn't a political resurrection to rival, and perhaps even surpass, that of Richard Nixon, I can't imagine what else would be. Frightening, ridiculous, a mockery of all that is right and sane... these are all words that still fail to due justice to the absurdity of Chalabi's political resurrection and subsequent tour of Washington, D.C. under the aegis of the American Enterprise Institute. With barely a whimper of protest from the Democratic Party about the presence of this treasonous and criminal character on our soil.

The news from Iraq could hardly be worse, and shows no signs of improving: 2,000-plus dead American servicemembers (at least), over 10,000 severely wounded, over 100,000 eligible for disability benefits; tens of thousands of dead Iraqi civilians (at least), untold millions more physically and mentally scarred for life (including many many children); a flood of evidence of torture in Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib, and other sites, prompting the absurdity of Senator McCain being forced to have the Senate formally declared that torture is not formal U.S. policy; wartime profiteering on an untold scale by firms like Halliburton that hold multi-billion-dollar single-source contracts (not to mention record profits being made by oil companies such as Exxon-Mobil); the use of hyper-toxic depleted uranium and outlawed chemical weapons (white phosphorus) in civilian areas like Fallujah... the list goes on and on and on (and this is only Iraq related policies). Meanwhile, White White House officials commit literal treason in an attempt to smear war critics as unpatriotic, and Vice President Cheney lobbies for de jure legalization of a defacto Bush Administration policy of torture (conducted both by U.S. forces and sub-contracted out to pliant third world governments, such as Syria) that it took a Republican to put on the front burner.

While we have to endure three more years of Mr. Bush's lawless, rock-bottom presidency--a "Residency" that has fostered a proliferation of bumper stickers along the lines of "Richard Nixon Is No Longer THE WORST PRESIDENT EVER" (which is saying something)--we know it will eventually come to a final and definitive end (absent, of course, an even more radical turn of events), this is not the worst we have to look forward to. The perfidity and political cowardice of the national Democratic Party's leadership leaves us with the very strong possibility that the Bush Administration's worst legacy, Iraq, could continue to live on, indefinitely, under the aegis of a Democratic war hawk like Sen. Hillary Clinton (much like Vietnam dragged on for another 7 miserable years under Nixon and Ford after destroying LBJ's administration) - one of many Democrats under the delusion that pouring even MORE troops (and money, and blood sweat and tears and the treasure and toil of overworked and underpaid working and middle-class American taxpayers) into Iraq is the best solution available to end the war in Iraq.

Five years from now, if the biggest issue entering the 2010 election season is the Democratic Party's conduct of the war in Iraq, I won't hesitate to say I told you so, and say then, what I'm going to say now: the only real, authentic alternative to the warmongering corporate dominated duopoly that dominates the American political scene is not the "progressive" wing (dare I say, "wing-tip"?) of the Democratic Party, but rather, the Green Party, the only party established around a set of core values that by their very nature, preclude corporate co-optation and criminal warmongering.

The Green Party of the United States is part of an international movement, one that is growing stronger and more widespread and more effective politically every day, a movement that truly "puts people first" (and the world around them) - the only party that has a real vision for the future that consists of more than empty slogans and recycled rhetoric.

The Ten Key Values of the Green Party of the United States (California version):

Ecological Wisdom
Nonviolence
Social Justice
Grassroots Democracy
Decentralization
Community-Based Economics
Feminism
Respect for Diversity
Personal and Global Responsibility
Sustainability

For more details, visit this web page: http://www.cagreens.org/platform/10k.htm

If this isn't a platform for the 21st century, one that addresses the key issues we as a nation (and world) face, I don't know what is. These are the nstitutional and spiritual core values of the Green Party - I challenge anyone to come up with a Democratic Party document of equal weight, significance to party doctrine, and relevance to the challenges we face today. I KNOW the Republican Party has nothing of the sort.

If you agree, then it is far past time to do the right thing, for Iraq, and the nation, and the world: join the Green Party, and help it transform the American political landscape from a desolate Republicatic monoculture, to one where the average voter has a real choice that speaks to his or her true values when she or he walks up to the ballot box. Pragmatism be damned, it is time to stand up and be counted.

What would you rather tell someone thirty years from now? "Yes, I collaborated with the Democrats and Republicans to ruin the environment and perpetrate the miserable fiasco that was the Iraqi war," or "No, I was a part of the grassroots opposition, helping to make the Green Party what it is today, a proud and effective voice for the life of the planet and the people on it."

Posted by Thomas Leavitt at November 22, 2005 1:35 AM

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Comments

I made a personal committment to work with DFA and the progressives in the Democratic Party through the 2006 election and re-evaluate at that time. I'm currently giving five or six hours a week to Steve Young in the CA-48 special election in a couple of weeks.

If Chuck Schumer, Hillary and the DLC have their way in the Democratic Party, I will be joining the Greens by this time next year. It is absolutely appalling that the Democratic Leadership is so stupid they cannot recognize that Jack Murtha's position is militarily and politically the only morally defensible position as a matter of conscience.

Great post Thomas. I'm not certain I can tolerate the moral ambiguity of the Democratic Party for another full year. If I can free up some time following Young's special election I'll see if I can track down a Green Party Meet Up in Orange County.

Posted by: Gary Boatwright [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 22, 2005 7:41 AM

1) I wonder if you know the ratio of the words "Democrat" and "Republican" in your piece about who started the war? News flash - the REPUBLICANS started the war.

2) I have information that might shock you - sit down. The Republican Party controls the House, the Senate, the White House, the Courts, the intelligence agencies, and the news media.

3) More news that might surprise you - nothing that the Democrats did could have made any difference at all on whether we went to war or not.

4) The leadership of the Democratic Party has changed since - and because of - the war. It was changed by regular people showing up at local Democratic Party meetings and voting. (The Repubican Party doesn't work that way.)

5) The President was claiming he had secret intelligence that Iraq was about to attack the country with WMD. You write that "the Democratic Party's leaders in Congress should have known it." But you neglected to explain HOW they should have known it. They voted to get inspectors back into Iraq -- read the resolution that they voted on.

6) You say that the "Democratic leadership" is "yet to seriously challenge him on this fundamental point" that al Queda and Iraq were linked. For future reference, the Democratic Party's website can be found at DNC.ORG. For example, Bush Administration Once Again Links Iraq and 9-11 is one of literally hundreds of statements challenging this.

Posted by: Dave Johnson [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 22, 2005 8:27 AM

I'm afraid I have to agree with you, Thomas! Brilliant rant!
On the other hand, Dave makes very valid points ..

Posted by: Helga Fremlin at November 22, 2005 2:04 PM

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