Early this week, in yet another moment of transparent machismo and blatant stupidity, President Bush revealed his hand and said he would throw his executive trump card on any house legislation bill that landed on his desk, which would potentially set a date for the withdrawal of our troops from Iraq. The Democrats seized this opportunity to paint Bush into an uncomfortable corner, and did so today by passing the Iraq spending bill by a narrow margin of 218 to 212. However, several Democrats on the left who are firm on ending the war now voted against the appropriations bill, as did some of the more conservative Democrats who did not want to call for a withdrawal date for whatever rationalizations they may have harbored.
To briefly recap, the legislation is calling for a $124 billion dollar spending bill to fund both the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, with the stipulation that President Bush removes "most combat troops" by Sept 2008. The House bill also tacked on an additional 20 billion dollars for everything from agricultural subsidies to farmers to money for VA hospitals, in short, any group or issue which may cast the Bush administration in a negative light got a big check that will knowingly never be deposited, cashed, or in any case even written.
The Democrats want to send a clear message to the public that they will support the troops on the ground by sending them lots of money, in stark contrast to the reality that the only real way to truly support the young men and women in uniform is to pull them out of Iraq immediately.
It is widely agreed—and I when I say widely I mean globally—that U.S. presence in the region is only fueling and spreading the insurgency across the Middle East faster than a Californian brush fire in the midst of a summer drought. Furthermore, while the American and Iraqi death tolls are on the rise, fundamentalist terrorist networks are gaining more popular support by the hour, sectarian violence is polarizing and creating an atmosphere of terror all over Iraq, hatred and resentment against Americans is growing throughtout the region, and Iran and Saudi Arabia seem eager to fill the power vacuum created by the war, one which the U.S. cannot successfully fill on its own terms. Most Americans are familiar with the timeless expression "you've opened a can of worms", well President Bush, and Congress, thanks a bunch for making us understand the true meaning of this expression.
Today, not only does over half of the Iraqi population feels that it is O.K. to kill Americans, but the war is causing mass U.S. and Iraqi causalities, and costing the U.S. taxpayer 195 million dollars a day, as we soon sail past the trillion dollar mark. With these kinds of numbers what makes the Democrats think that September of 2008 is a more feasible and publicly acceptable date to withdraw than Sept 2007, or even by next Wed at 7:00 P.M.? Nothing is the answer, but in their sloppy, yet somewhat savvy partisan maneuver, they have created a whole new set of unanswerable questions and skepticism as to the party's commitment to take concrete steps to end the carnage and misery of people at home and abroad.
So the primary question before us is: why then and not now? If U.S. commitment to a stable Iraq is the Achilles heel in our ambitious agenda to democratize the region (assuming it is in earnest), why keep trying to walk on broken legs? Well folks, the answer is election time, and as President Bush called it "Political Theater".
People, I say it unflinchingly, and with the utmost confidence that many share my viewpoint now and many more tomorrow, that this House bill was unprincipled, and that the Democratic leadership, headed by "Nancy Impeachment is off the table Pelosi" failed again to pass anything with real fangs, passing instead a premeditated paper tiger which was guaranteed to come out stillborn. For those of us who know what a real tiger looks like, the result was far from surprising. There are certain characteristics unique to the species which only a few, mostly isolated members of the Democratic Party's top echelon posses, so the travesty in the "carrying out the people's will" was a foregone conclusion.
Fact is, instead of being tigers with fangs, the vacillating and wobbling old "Decrepitcrats" broke out the Poligrip and put on a pair of dingy dulled dentures, and broke a few teeth trying to pull off such a blatantly obvious political stunt in the process.
Had the party deviated from their usual course, and pulled off Partisan Street, onto Principled Parkway and headed the troops home, they might have actually regained the people's valuable confidence, and proved to us that they really want to end this war. Instead they pretended to respond to the bold cries from their Democratic voters. Unfortunately---yet predictably--- mostly all of them betrayed our trust once again. We must learn our lesson, and in the immortal words of George W. Bush, heed this priceless piece of wisdom: "you can Fool me once, shame on...shame on you. Fool me — you can't get fooled again". Yup. That's the way folks.
There are those of us who would like to fool ourselves into thinking that the troops are stuck in the middle of a civil war not of our own doing. On the contrary, John Murtha stated recently that, "Our troops have become the primary target of the insurgency". Murtha also states the insurgents "are united against U.S. forces, and we have become a catalyst for violence,"
What is it going to take for the Democrats to overcome their opportunistic rhetoric and maneuvering, which has come to infect most of the party's vaguely populist blood cells? When will they come to learn in their hearts that honesty, and guts, inspire movements, and achieve change? We need a movement, which can push this party so far to the left that the U.S. can completely overhaul its foreign policy. We still have the potential to be a benevolent force in the world, so let's not forget to seize the moment when it presents itself, as it appears to be doing now...and that if we recognize that the moment is what is real, what clearly aligns with truth in our home and international affairs, that if we grasp it hard enough and with honesty and humility...that we can change our role in the world, maintain what dignity we have left, and set this world on a new brave path.
Currently, the United States of America has the power and influence to achieve these lofty goals, which should realistically be commonplace. But before anything can be done we need to disarm the received indoctrination. We need to re-learn that people come before profits, and that the interests of the Corporation, and the Pentagon, its watchdog, do not overshadow the interests of labor, or the people who make up our communities, and work hard for a living. It is they who are the object of society's existence. In the words of our deservedly revered Abraham Lincoln,
"Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if Labor had not first existed. Labor is superior to capital, and deserves much the higher consideration."
I say let's end this occupation once and for all, and spend a trillion dollars on rebuilding our nation and Iraq, and other nations we have wounded. If we are to live in a true civilization, not a gilded, pretentious Darwinian cage, we must begin to give much higher prioritization to economic morality, humanistic as well as vocational education, healthcare for all, and equal rights and respect to all minority groups. Muscle and immoral cunning can't go on being the final arbiters of social policy in the United States. This country was built on the backs of slaves, and immigrant workers, and visionaries with contradictory, but nevertheless progressive ideals. Everything great human civilization has created sprung from the soil of such vision and bravery, and was never planted by those who confused opportunism with prudence.
Paul Donovan is Cyrano's Journal's Assistant Editor. As you may gather from this essay, he's not terribly happy with the Democratic Party leadership.